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Aging in Place and Why You Need to Think About it Now

Once you reach a certain age, the subject of senior housing options is going to come up. You start to see your peers making changes—moving to a senior living community or downsizing and moving to a warmer climate. Family members start asking about your plans.

Everyone seems to want you to do something. Often that something means moving out of your home into some place new.

What if you don’t want to go anywhere, though? What if you love your home and you want to stay right where you are? You’re not alone. Many seniors want to stay in their own home, the place that holds memories, brings comfort, and feels like, well..….home.

What is Aging in Place?

Aging in place is the process of determining what types of housing and care considerations you need and want as you age.

An aging in place plan should support your quality of life goals. It requires thinking through different scenarios and potential outcomes. The sooner you start to plan, the more prepared you’ll be to meet the challenges that come with aging.

Making an Aging in Place Plan

The most important part of an aging in place plan is having a plan. That doesn’t mean you have to write it all down (though you could). That means thinking about things such as:

  • Where do you want to live?
  • Who do you want to live near?
  • What kinds of activities do you want to continue (or begin) in your retirement years?
  • How is your current health? Do you need special medical help or equipment?
  • What kinds of help might you need with your daily living tasks? (These tasks are often referred to as activities of daily living or ADL.)
  • How is your current mobility? What supports might you need if your mobility decreases?
  • Do you need to create changes in your home that will make it safer for you?

It’s helpful to have this conversation with family or loved ones. Talking it out can help you clarify things for yourself. Family and friends can weigh in with their concerns. They can also let you know if they will be able to provide you with any kind of support.

Think About Support in Categories

You can have some control of what you want aging in place to look like, especially if you plan ahead. Use the following categories to help you start planning.

Household chores Things like lugging laundry, scrubbing the bathroom, or general cleaning can become more difficult as we age. Shopping for groceries and cooking can as well. This is often the simplest and least expensive type of assistance to find.

Homeowner chores If you own your own home, you know there is always something that needs to be done. Seasonal chores, spring cleaning, and repair work are challenges even when we’re young and healthy. Think about who can help with these bigger tasks.

Personal Care Personal care assistance includes things like showering, shaving, and dressing. Don’t postpone getting help with personal care if you are at risk for falling, especially with regard to showering. You’re more likely to fall in the bathroom than anywhere else in your house.

Transportation Being able to drive or take public transportation when and where you want is a given when you’re young and healthy. Add age and physical or cognitive health issues, and it’s a whole new ballgame. You don’t have to be stuck in your house, though. There are many services that are offered to get seniors to and from where they want to go.

Accepting Help from Friends and Strangers

Once you’re ready to accept help with personal or home needs, there are two avenues for getting support. You can get help from

  • people you know—-family, friends, or neighbors.
  • people you don’t know—-either private individuals or agency professionals.

Some people are adamant that they don’t want strangers in their home. Others don’t want to bother their friends and family and would prefer to work with professional home care workers. Only you know your comfort level with these choices.

Where to Find Caregiving Help

There are tons of agencies that deal with senior services. It’s a good idea to start making a list of resources you can call upon when the time comes.

Your local senior center

 As many seniors and caregivers will tell you, local senior centers are an incredible resource. Whatever stage you’re at in needing care or planning for care, they can point you towards the right resources. They know the agencies and can give you information on avenues for financial help.

In addition to social activities (both onsite and virtual), senior centers often have a medical escort program where volunteers drive you directly to medical appointments. Senior centers usually have a dedicated van that makes regular trips to grocery stores, downtown shopping areas, and medical buildings. Often there is no fee for medical escort drivers or the van.

Veterans’ organizations

If you’ve served in the military, your local veterans’ administration can also be a resource for getting assistance. You may be able to receive financial assistance and medical care, depending on your eligibility.

In-home care services

Your senior center or doctor can give you a list of recommended agencies. Look for one with a sliding fee scale. In-home care agencies can help with household chores, shopping, and cooking. They factor in time for companionship, which is often what seniors appreciate the most.

These agencies offer personal care assistance as well, such as showering, shaving and dressing.

In-home medical assistance

If you go to the hospital for any reason, your doctors may prescribe in-home nursing care to follow-up and make sure you’re healing okay. Insurance will usually cover the cost, but only for a prescribed period of time. If you need ongoing in-home medical assistance, you may have to dig deeper to find agencies that offer these services.

Pro tip: Start a file to keep track of phone numbers, brochures, and any other resources you gather concerning your aging in place plans.

Monetary Considerations

When it comes to choosing your care options, money is always a consideration. Getting in-home services can certainly come with a price tag. Even if you have several types of in-home assistance, though, the cost will likely be far less—potentially thousands of dollars less—than moving to an assisted living facility.

Money is another reason to start this process early. The more research you do, the more likely you are to find avenues for financial supports.

Look Around to Reduce Your Risk of Falling

Have a friend or hire a professional to take a good look around your home for common falling risks. Innocent things like area rugs that slide or flip over can cause a fall. A tub without non-slip treads is a big no-no.

It may seem silly, but having too much stuff in your home can spell trouble. Piles of paper or magazines can tumble over exactly where you’re stepping and land you in the hospital. Too much furniture can impede you walking safely from one room to another.

Making Accommodations to Your Current Home

A qualified contractor can make provide a home safety assessment for a few hundred dollars. That’s money well-spent if it helps you avoid injury. Several physical changes can be made to your home that can make it safer and more comfortable as your physical needs change.

You can:

  • have doorways and hallways widened
  • add ramps to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs
  • have bathroom grab bars installed
  • make a cut out in your bathtub so it’s easier to get in and out
  • switch out lower kitchen cabinets for easy-slide drawers

Aging in place is worth pursuing for physical, emotional and financial reasons. Start making plans early, so you’re ready for whatever comes your way.

Need to clear the clutter so you can stay safe in your home? Contact us to see how we can help!

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Reducing the Risk of Falling as We Age

Every year millions of people over the age of 65 in the United States fall. At a rate of one in four, falling is one of the most serious threats to our health as we age. Around 800,000 people go to the emergency room as a result of falling.

Falling can cause broken bones, head injuries, and loss of mobility which can have serious long-term impact on senior health. It’s important to know both the risks and consequences of falling and to learn ways to prevent falls from happening.

Risks Factors for Falling

As a general rule, our risk of falling increases as we age. There are certain factors that make that risk higher.

  • Medications Some medications can cause lightheadedness or dizziness. Talk with your doctor about the kinds of medications you take.
  • Low muscle tone This is especially true for core strength and lower body strength.
  • Vitamin D Deficiency Vitamin D is essential for bone health. A simple blood test can show if your levels are low.
  • Previous falls One of the biggest risk factors for falling is previous falls. More reason to prevent ever having the first one!
  • Vision or foot problems Be sure to get your eyes and your feet checked yearly. Poor vision or problems with your feet put you at a higher risk.

These risk factors can put us in a tough bind. The higher our risk, the more cautious we become in how we move. Fear of falling can cause us to move less which only increases our chances of falling.

The best remedy is to talk with your doctor about your risks and ways you can safely navigate this catch-22.

Potential Consequences of Falling

When you’re young, and you fall down it’s often not a big deal. Your bones are strong and your muscles are toned. Often, we simply jump back up. The same type of fall in an older adult looks a lot different. There’s no jumping. Falls can have much more serious consequences.

Falls can result in:

  • Broken Bones Wrists, arms, ankles are frequently broken during falls. A broken hip, which happens to 300,000 elders per year, can land you in rehab for months.
  • Head injuries The most common cause for traumatic head injuries in seniors is falling. Given the importance of brain health as we age, we want to avoid head injuries as best we can.
  • Fatal injuries Falling is the number one cause of fatal injuries in seniors. More than 27,000 seniors die each year from falls—that’s one person every nineteen minutes.
  • Quality of Life Decline After falling, people are understandably frightened of falling again. Many begin to limit their activities, both physical and social. This can result in an even higher risk of falling, social isolation, and depression.

The news isn’t all bad, though. There are lots of ways you can reduce your risk of falling.

Ask Your Doctor About Your Risk About Falls

The first step in addressing your risk of falling is to talk with your doctor. When you get a yearly exam, your doctor should be conducting an individual risk assessment to determine your level of risk for falling. They will ask questions about your activities and how steady you feel on your your feet. Doctors can also observe your movements and assess your balance and strength.

Even if you’re healthy and active, the assessment can establish a baseline and alert you to factors you may not have considered. How you reach for things and what kind of tripping hazards you have in your home may not have crossed your mind as something to address. The CDC has a self-assessment checklist that you can do at home and share with your doctor.

Once you have a sense of your risk factors, it’s time to talk prevention. Since one of the ways to prevent falls is to keep your muscle strength and balance, you want the all-clear from your doctor on what kinds of physical activities are safe for you.

What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

We all like to have a sense of control over our lives. Falling and fear of falling take away some of that sense of control. Take action to reduce your risk and maintain your independence.

  • Keep moving There are so many options for staying active, there is bound to be one that’s right for you. Walking, strength training, gentle yoga, Pilates, gardening, swimming, or tai- chi can all help with muscle tone and balance. If you can’t get out to an exercise class, there are lots of free exercise videoson YouTube you can do at home.

  • Remove tripping hazards Make sure you have clear pathways for walking through your house. Get rid of piles of papers or books on the floor that can easily sprawl out at your feet as you are walking by. Check on area rugs. If they slide across the floor or the corner pulls up, you’ll be better off without them.
  • Use adaptive equipment Ask your doctor about what kinds of adaptive equipment you may need. Grab bars and slip-resistant mats or adhesives can help avoid falls in the bathtub. A reacher can be used for retrieving items from the floor or from up above.
  • Avoid wearing slippers Occupational therapists will tell you they don’t like their clients wearing slippers. People with mobility and balance issues need to wear comfortable, supportive footwear, even inside the house.

Need help removing clutter?

Check out our services at Smooth Transitions.

 

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How to Stage Your Home for Maximum Appeal

It wasn’t so long ago that no one outside of real estate agents and interior decorators knew what it meant to ‘stage’ a home for selling. The rest of us can thank HGTV for letting us in, at least a little bit, on the concept.

Staging a home means preparing your home to showcase its best features to potential buyers. A properly staged home can mean higher selling prices and less time on the market.

Ultimately, the goal of staging your home is to allow buyers the chance to imagine themselves living there. If potential buyers can imagine themselves living in your home, the offers will follow—heck you may even end with a bidding war.

Make it Looks Like Nobody Lives There

This sounds so counterintuitive. People are viewing a home after all. Don’t they expect to see just that, a home where people live?

Actually, no. People want to be able to picture themselves living there. To that end, you’re aiming to make your home like a blank canvas that your buyers can paint themselves in.

To create this blank canvas, you have to do a lot of things that will make your home feel less homey to you. It’s part of the process of moving, but it will be temporary. Staging your house will help your home sell more quickly, and you’ll be that much closer to settling in your new place.

How do you make things look like a blank canvas? Start with these ideas.

  • Remove most of the items from your shelves, including bookshelves. Remember, your potential buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living in your home, not you. So, put away the knickknacks, souvenirs, and especially photos.
  • Speaking of photos, take down all of your family photos from the walls, shelves, and nightstands. We get it, those photos are precious to you. You enjoy looking at the faces of your loved ones. If you’d rather not keep them out of sight indefinitely, tuck some of your smaller frames neatly away in a drawer. You can take them back out when your house isn’t being shown.
  • Clean off the refrigerator. Magnets, grandkids’ art work, calendars, and yes, photos need to go.

Declutter and Create Space

People in the market to buy a home are going to pass over any home that’s cluttered and crowded. Again, when there’s too much of your stuff taking up space, prospective buyers can’t picture themselves in it. You don’t want this to happen to you, so get ready to create some space in your place.

Decluttering and creating a more spacious feel are going to take some serious work. Here are some things that need some attention:

Papers We’re not judging here. We never get to the bottom of our paperwork either. But you’re trying to sell, so it’s time to make those mounds of paper disappear. Newspapers, sale flyers, catalogues, and magazines need to go. Last week’s mail in your foyer needs to be taken care of, or at least be out of sight.

Cabinets Did you think no one would be poking in your cabinets? Cabinets are part of the house, so yes, people will be looking in all of them. If the cabinets are crammed full, that is a major turnoff to buyers. You probably have stuff in there you never use (we all do). Sell it, donate it, or gift it to a friend.

Closets Closets are part of the house, too. People will be opening them and peeking inside. Don’t have them stuffed to the gills. Take out off-season clothing and store it away. It’s better that people see an extra box in a storage space than a closet bursting at the seams.

Countertops You’re going to be glad you cleared out your cabinets for this. You want to have as little as possible on your countertops. Move as many of your everyday appliances—toasters, coffee makers, utensil caddies—off the counters as you can, without cramming your cabinets. Do use some of the space you cleared in the cabinets to neatly store essential kitchen items away.

Tabletops and Nightstands Again, we all tend to accumulate little bits of things that reflect our habits and interests. Books, cards, knickknacks, day planners all say “personal,” so clear that stuff away. No one should be looking in your bureau drawers, so it’s okay to tuck items away in your drawers.

Deep Clean Everything Before Showing Your Home

The kind of cleaning we’re talking about goes beyond the kind you do before hosting a family gathering, or even having overnight guests. It’s a scouring, polishing, wipe-every-smidge-of-grime, banish-every-dust-bunny, kind of clean. It’s all the stuff you do for spring cleaning, but more.

No one wants to see years-old grime lurking near a doorknob or a baseboard. A sparkling clean home, on the other hand, makes a might good impression.

Get the rugs cleaned, clean the windows, and dust the overhead light fixtures. It’s a ton of work to get your home this clean. Many people opt to have it done professionally and use those hours saved for all other moving tasks that need attention. If you can afford it, it can be well worth the money.

Downsize Your Furniture

It’s time to think about which pieces of furniture you’ll be taking with you to your new home. For the pieces you know you’re not taking, get rid of them as soon as possible. Not sure who wants your old pieces? Ask a senior move manager. They know where to bring donations and whether or not it’s worth it to try to sell your pieces.

The space you gain by getting rid of unwanted furniture will make moving tasks easier. It will be especially helpful in staging your home. Once a couple of pieces are cleared out, you can then rearrange what’s left to highlight the space. Moving furniture away from the walls often makes a room look bigger. It’s worth experimenting with the layout.

Paint the Walls in Neutral Tones

This is big job. Sometimes, it makes sense to invest the time and money into painting. You’ll recoup the costs and more when you sell. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Only you can know what’s right for you. There are two things to consider that may help you decide.

First, dark colors make rooms look smaller. It’s why sometimes a bold, dark color in a den feels cozy. The flip side is that lightening the color palette makes rooms seem larger.

Second, neutral colors help make the blank slate buyers need. Bold colors—bright oranges, deep burgundies, etc.—can have an either love-it-or-hate-it quality to them. That’s a chance you don’t want to take.

Staging your home can be a lot of work, but the benefits are significant. A higher offer on your house and getting your home sold more quickly can make it worth the effort.

 

Ready to start staging your home? Contact us here to get started.