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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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How to Keep Your Brain Happy, Healthy, and Strong as You Age

Use it or lose it.

We hear that phrase a lot when it comes to keeping our bodies healthy and strong. Use it or lose it is just as true for keeping our brains healthy as we age.

Learn Something New

People used to think that our brains stopped growing once we hit maturity. Science has discovered, though, that our brain changes throughout our entire lives.

Every time we learn something new, we activate or “fire” the neurons in our brain to communicate with one another. As neurons communicate, they create neural pathways that make sense of the learning experience and hold onto it. The neurons are now “wired” together. They are there when we revisit the experience, either to practice a skill or to build upon it.

The more you fire and wire your neurons, by challenging yourself to learn something new, the more networks you create and the stronger they become. That all translates into healthier brain function.

There are endless opportunities to learn something new that can both be enjoyable and help maintain cognitive health. Many of them can be found online or through phone apps.

  • Learn an instrument Think it’s too late to learn a new instrument? Think again! You can learn to play an instrument at any age. The only things you need are some decent instruction and the time and discipline to practice. You can find free beginning piano lessons or guitar lessons all over the internet. If your become more advanced most free programs have a paid option to match your skill level.
  • Learn to code You probably didn’t grow up with computers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least try to match wits with the younger generation. There are a ton of online sources for learning how to code for free.
  • Take an online course Many top universities offer free courses  Other good sources for academic courses include the Great Courses and Coursera.
  • Use your hands You don’t have to go the academic route to keep your brain sharp. Skills such as woodworking, knitting, and mechanics use different parts of brain. Vary your learning experiences and you can keep all areas of your brain in fighting shape.
  • Learn a new language Apps such as Babble make learning a new language fun and convenient. In bursts of ten or fifteen minutes, the apps give you daily practice that builds on previous lessons. Local libraries sometimes have access to free language-learning apps.

Keep Your Body Fit to Keep Your Brain Fit

We know exercise and staying active provide a ton of health benefits. Staying active helps you maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, and promote a sense of well-being. What you may not realize is that physical exercise is also good for your brain.

Studies have shown that exercise can have a protective effect on cognitive functioning. Physical exercise can impact the structure of your brain, increasing gray matter and preventing damage to it. Exercise increases bloodflow to the brain which helps prevent age-related cognitive decline and reduces the risk of dementia.

If you’ve been sedentary for a period of time, it’s important to speak with your doctor before increasing your level of activity. Reaping the benefits of physical exercise doesn’t have to mean trips to the gym, or hours on a stationary bike. Do something you enjoy. Take a walk in your neighborhood. Take a bike ride, play tennis, toss a ball around. Check with your local senior center to find out about local fitness classes and online classes for seniors.

Stay Connected Socially

Late adulthood can be a lonely time. We no longer have the structured interactions that happen at our jobs. If we have children, they are busy working and raising their own children. It all adds up to a lot of time alone.

Being alone can be enjoyable, but being alone too much of the time can lead to loneliness. In fact, an AARP Foundation survey found that one in three older Americans reported being lonely. Loneliness is a risk factor for many mental and physical heath conditions, so it’s a good idea to put your relationships front and center.

Staying connected with others can keep cognitive functions sharp and possibly reduce the risk of dementia.  Here are some ideas for staying connected:

  • Schedule a weekly phone call or video chat with important people in your life.
  • Volunteer for something you care about. You can help out at park clean-ups, teach English as a second language, or mentor a young person.
  • Take advantage of social media to correspond with others with similar interests.

Eat Right and Get Enough Sleep

What happens in one part of your body effects your whole body. If you want to maintain a strong healthy brain, you need to take care of the basics. With regards to nutrition, follow the 80/20 rule—aim to make 80% of what you eat nutritious food that will fuel your whole body. Save room for dessert and enjoy the indulgences up to 20% of your diet.

When we sleep, our brain consolidates knowledge from the day and flushes out toxins. Lack of sleep robs our brain of the opportunity to build neural pathways and to create memories. Sleep is essential to concentration, and learning. Be sure to catch enough zzz’s to keep your brain, happy, healthy, and strong.

 

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.

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Simple Living Trends for Seniors

Henry David Thoreau famously took to the woods alone to live a simpler life. More than a century later, many people are looking for ways to live our lives more simply, to focus on what’s meaningful for us and whittle away what’s not.

Many seniors find they’re at the point in their lives where simplifying their living arrangements makes sense. Unlike Thoreau, though, today’s seniors, and their grown children, are looking to trade a little independence for strengthened family bonds.

The thought of lower housing costs, fewer possessions to care for, and more time with family, has a lot of seniors looking into these housing options.

Don’t Call it a Granny Pod

You’ve decided that you want to live close to family. Your son or daughter, or niece or nephew, is ready to roll out the red carpet for you. Truth be told, they don’t have a big enough house for everyone to be comfortable—including you. You’re worried that you’ll be too much in each other’s space.

Meet the granny pod. (We know, it’s a terrible name.) Otherwise known as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), it may be the perfect choice for you and your family.

The granny pod is essentially a detached in-law apartment. While in-law apartments are generally part of the main house, an ADU is a separate structure. In general, granny pods have these features in common. They:

  • provide between 400-800 square feet of living space
  • include a bedroom, living area, bathroom and kitchenette
  • costs range from $40,000 to $125,000 (Medically equipped structures will cost more.)
  • hook up to main home’s utilities and water supplies
  • include universal design features, such as wheelchair accessible bathrooms

There are a lot of advantages to ADUs. Being close to family can prevent loneliness, and pooling resources for expenses–groceries, household upkeep, real estate taxes–can benefit everyone.

The other main advantage is that living close to family can mitigate the need for assisted living or nursing home care.

If you’re seriously considering an ADU, there are several different options to explore.

  • Converting an already existing structure on the property, such as a shed.
  • Having a structure built by contractors.
  • Ordering a pre-fabricated kit for contractors or someone in the family to build.
  • Investing in a medical ADU that’s designed to meet seniors’ more serious medical needs.

You may encounter a few obstacles that will weigh into your decision. The biggie is zoning restrictions. Many housing lots aren’t zoned for ADUs. Often, local housing associations prohibit their use. Another obstacle is you will likely have to pay cash upfront for the structure, as mortgage lenders often deny loans for ADUs.

Tiny Homes

It wasn’t so long ago that Americans we enamored of the idea that bigger is better when it came to housing. Over the last decade, Americans have done a lot of soul-searching on whether the price tag on those mega-homes was really worth it, and….voila! The trend of tiny homes was born.

The first thing to know about tiny homes is that they’re, in a word, tiny. The average tiny home is less than 200 square feet, compared to a rough average of 2500 square feet for a typical American home. They are not for everyone, but there are perks that many people find appealing.

Tiny homes:

  • cost a fraction of typical housing costs, resulting in less debt and more savings
  • are moveable, so owners can easily pull up stakes if they wish
  • appeal to people of nearly all ages (2 out of 5 tiny house owners are over 50)
  • have unique design features that help maximize space
  • create a smaller environmental footprint that a traditional home

The tiny home movement is also part of a broader social movement that embraces environmental consciousness, simpler living, and focuses on experiences over things. You’ll find virtual tiny home communities on numerous social media platforms.

As with granny pods, tiny homes face obstacles in terms of zoning and lack of traditional financing options. Mortgage lenders view tiny homes as poor investments and usually won’t issue loans.

In-law Apartments and Moving in with Family

In many cultures worldwide, grown children stay nearby their parents, especially when their raising families of their own. Intergenerational living is the default option.

In America, we value independence and freedom. We move far away from family for work, for adventure, even for love of the topography of another state.

Yet, we’ve begun to rethink these values and recognize what’s missing. All of our independence often leaves us without a support system. We miss out on the bonds that can enrich our lives, no matter what our age. That’s why so many people are creating in-law apartments or turning a dining room into another bedroom.

The number of people living in multigenerational homes has almost doubled since 1980. An increasing number of home buyers are looking for housing that flexible enough to accommodate their senior parents. Part of this is economic, no doubt, but we’re longing for more connection, too.

Intergenerational living has plenty of benefits, for grandparents, parents, and children. Time with family, health benefits for seniors, and more adults for children to interact with are just some of the pluses. Economic benefits include decreased housing costs and less money spent on senior care.

You want to consider a number of things before taking the plunge on living under the same roof as your adult children or other family. Consider the exact accommodations. Would you have a separate kitchen and living area? If not, will you be comfortable sharing those? Can you easily get away from the noise of children and teenagers when you wish? Do you have the privacy you need?

Finally, and most importantly, think about whether you’re ready to be interdependent with other people, offering and accepting help as needed.

 

Ready to simplify your life?  Contact us to find out how Smooth Transitions can help.

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How to Manage the Stress of Moving

It’s no secret that moving is stressful.

For one thing, there is an avalanche of tasks that have to be performed in a fairly short time frame.

Then, there is the emotional aspect of moving. Every move involves sifting through belongings to some extent. Whether it’s photos, books, or dishes, the things we have in our home are a storehouse of memories which can bring up a range of feelings.

You don’t want the stress of moving, though, to get the best of you. There are a lot of ways you can ease the stress of moving and make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well.

Stay Focused on Your Health

It’s easy to let moving take over your life.  Sometimes you just want to power through so that things get done. Don’t push yourself too hard, though, or you may pay the price by getting sick.

First and foremost, you have to be vigilant in prioritizing your health.

  • Keep your medical appointments.
  • Make sure you are taking all of your prescribed medications and doctor-recommended vitamins.
  • Continue with your normal exercise regimen. (Exercise relieves stress and helps you get better sleep. A double-whammy you don’t want to miss!)
  • Eat nutritious food and eat enough of it. That will keep your immune system from taking a hit.
  • Take time for relaxation, and continue to do the things that you enjoy.
  • Above all, be sure to get enough rest.

Try Relaxation Techniques

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn some relaxation techniques. You can try deep breathing exercises or do some guided meditations.

When we get stressed, we tend to take short, shallow breaths. By slowing your breathing, and doing “belly breaths,” you can slow your stress response.

To do belly breaths, place your hand on your upper abdomen, under your rib cage.  Inhale through your nose and count to four as you allow your belly to expand as you inhale. Your belly will flatten as you exhale. If you do even three rounds of belly breaths, you’ll feel more relaxed.

Apps, such as headspace or calm.com, offer simple guided meditations that you can do in about 10 minutes. Both Headspace and Calm.com have paid versions, but you can do a lot of meditating on just their free versions. Search for ‘guided meditations’ on YouTube, and you’ll find a ton of videos there as well.

Break Large Tasks into Smaller Actions

Moving is a huge endeavor, and it can seem overwhelming if you think of it as one big job.

The way to make it manageable is to break it down into smaller chunks that are doable.

One way to do that is to write a list of all the different type of things that need to be done for your move. Start with larger categories (find a new home, sell my home), and work your way down to smaller tasks.

For example, the category of “sell my home” could be broken down like this:

Those categories are still huge.  Break them down further.  “Get rid of old junk” might look like this:

  • Gather boxes, markers, and tape.
  • Label some boxes: Donate, Keep, Trash, Recycle
  • Schedule two one-hour sessions to declutter kitchen.
  • Ask a friend to come and help.

The idea is to break the jobs down into manageable tasks that you can accomplish in a fairly short amount of time.  You’re still getting it all done, but you won’t exhaust yourself in the process.

A spiralbound notebook or legal pad might be helpful for this.  There are also task-management apps, such as rememberthemilk and Trello that can help keep you organized.

Ask Others for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.  Start with family and friends.  They can help you think through how to break down tasks, make necessary calls, and start sorting and packing some of your things.

It’s important to have others involved in the process.  Not only can it ease the load of work, but having social interaction is good for your mental health.

You can also work with a senior move manager. A senior move manager can help oversee the whole moving process or help with certain parts of it.  They are invaluable for making the moving process less stressful.

If you’re looking for ways to keep stress down during your move, take a look at our services page, or give us a call at 216-381-7418. We’re here to help!

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Intergenerational Living and Its Benefits

What do you think of when you hear the term senior housing? Most people think of it as housing that caters to the specific needs of seniors, typically by moving seniors towards age-specific communities, and away from younger generations.

This makes a certain amount of sense. Seniors often do have specific needs and preferences. Many seniors rise early, dine early, and go to bed early. They don’t want to be dealing with younger neighbors who are socializing late at night. They may not want to be around the hubbub and sometimes frenetic pace of people who are in the midst of their working lives. And, heck, it’s nice to talk with people whose good old days are the same as yours.

There are pluses and minuses to everything, though, and senior housing is no different. Healthcare professionals who work with seniors are finding that while senior living communities can bring a lot of positive benefits to seniors, there are drawbacks to living in a generationally-sorted environment. One of the downsides is that interaction with younger people is often very limited. This fact can have implications in terms of seniors’ health and well-being. Because of this, people are giving more consideration to intergenerational living options.

The term intergenerational living is a bit of a catch-all phrase. It means different things to different people and can indicate any number of housing situations. We’re sure be hearing a lot more on the subject as our population ages and housing shortages increase.

Living with Family in a Multi-generational Household

The number of people living in multi-generational family situations is the highest it’s been since the 1950’s. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five Americans lives in a multi-generational household, a growth of 8% from 1980.

There are a number of forces that have contributed to this change—the 2008-2009 recession, housing shortages, and changing cultural demographics are a few. Adults with young children often return to their parents’ homes to save on housing costs. In other situations, seniors find that managing and paying for their own housing becomes untenable and move in with their adult children.

In the best scenarios, where family relationships are emotionally healthy, intergenerational living offers benefits to everyone. For example, seniors can sometimes take on childcare duties for harried parents. Many grandparents feel that having an active role in caring for their grandchildren keeps them healthier and more active.

Children benefit, too. Grandparents have a lifetime of learning to pass on to children. Children often enjoy having someone else to play with them when their parents are busy. There’s even some indication that children who have regular contact with seniors have more advanced social and emotional skills than those who don’t.

Planned Intergenerational Communities

Well-planned intergenerational living environments communities aren’t all that common….yet. There are multiple health, cultural, and economic benefits to such communities, though, so we can expect to see more of them in the coming years. Planned intergenerational communities can take many forms.

Some intergenerational communities have senior housing and daycare facilities housed in the same complex. Programming is established to ensure intergenerational interaction. In other communities, planners build upon senior housing already in place, adding restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores in addition to housing that attracts a younger population.

Some communities offer free or low-cost housing to young people in exchange for offering various community activities. In Cleveland, Ohio, the Judson Manor retirement home provides seniors and college students a unique opportunity to interact with one another. For elders, having sustained social interaction, especially with younger people, is believed to have numerous emotional and physical benefits including reduced levels of depression and lower levels of systemic inflammation.

In response to housing shortages at area universities such as the Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University, Judson Manor offers free housing to select college students. In exchange for housing, students assume the role of artists-in-residence. They give concerts and teach classes to residents. Sometimes, they just hang out with residents, cook together, or offer to do small errands.

Aging in place by sharing housing with students/young adults

Many empty-nesters are getting creative when it comes to their housing choices. Instead of down-sizing and moving to a smaller home, they are opening up their homes to the next generation. Retirees who have an extra bedroom or two are offering college students and young twenty-somethings affordable housing. Given that there are an estimated three million unoccupied rooms in the U.S. that could be rented out to younger people, that amounts to enormous untapped potential for intergenerational living that benefits everyone.

The Intergenerational Homeshare Pilot program in Boston pairs graduate students with empty-nesters who have a room available to rent. Through the program, students are able to save thousands in housing costs. Older homeowners reap benefits such as having help with home maintenance, increased social interaction, and decreased loneliness. Additionally, hosts report a feeling of pride in having something to offer students to help them achieve their goals. Participants in the program overwhelmingly reported positive experiences and would recommend the program to others.

Ready to make a change in your housing situation?  Check out our services here or follow this link to contact us.

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How to Search for the Right Senior Living Community for You

Considering moving to a senior living community?  You probably have a lot of questions. How do I find the best situation for me?  Where do I look?  Where do I start?  It’s a big decision and there are a lot of factors to consider.

One thing is for sure, it’s never too early to start planning. Take a look at these tips to help you get started.

Define Your Priorities

Start by defining what you absolutely must have in order to feel comfortable and happy in your new home. This list could include proximity to family members, organized social events, accessible shopping areas, or on-site amenities such as fitness equipment. Keep these ideas front and center as you make your plans. Then, make a second list of nice-to-haves. A scenic view, outdoor seating, or an easily accessible ATM machine may be important but not as crucial.

 

Know Your Options

Most importantly, you want to think about what level of independence and care you want and need, now and in the future. When it comes to senior living communities, there’s no end to what they offer or how they are organized. Here are the most common types of senior living options available:

  • Age-restricted housing Age-restricted housing simply means that in order to be able to rent or buy in the housing complex, you have to be at least a certain age, usually fifty or fifty-five years old. In this type of setting, residents may have entirely separate units, or they may live in a more apartment-like setting. Often, aged-restricted housing offers common gathering areas and social activities. Pricier options can include anything from tennis courts to swimming pools and more.
  • Assisted-living facilities Assisted living facilities offer an array of supports for seniors with a wide variety of needs. Assisted living have staff available around the clock. When needed, they assist with daily living tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and providing meals. In most assisted living facilities, residents have their own room or apartment.

Quality assisted living facilities provide numerous opportunities for residents to socialize and engage in enriching activities that benefit their physical, emotional and cognitive health. Residents have individual care plans for each resident. They place a premium on the rights of their residents to self-determination. They encourage residents to have a say in their care plan while also involving family members in the process. Residents are free to accept some services offered, but opt out of others.

  • Nursing homes Often confused with skilled nursing facilities (which provide short-term acute care following a hospital stay), nursing homes offer long-term care daily living and medical care for elders with significant physical or cognitive impairments. Some specialize in certain health conditions, such as dementia, while others do not. Nursing homes are staffed by nurses, aides, and attending physicians, with 24-hour nursing care. Most offer on-site physical and occupational therapy.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) CCRCs encompass a range of independent living and care options, all in one general location. They have independent living options, assisted living and nursing home facilities that provide a continuum of care if and when a resident needs them.

People often choose a CCRC because they know their needs will be addressed with a minimum of change thrust upon them and their families. Living in a CCRC gives some people peace of mind to know where they will be if they ever need increasing care.

Do Your Research

Once you have an idea of what type of community you are looking for and where, it’s time to do some research.  This is true, especially if you are looking at options that include daily living support services. You want to be sure you are comfortable with those who will be offering you care.

There are a multitude of resources you can use to find reviews, rankings, and accreditations for senior living facilities. There are so many that it can be overwhelming. To keep it simple, start with the following:

  • Word-of-mouth

No one has the skinny on what it’s really like to live in a senior facility than the residents who live there. If you know someone who already lives in the type of facility you need, and it’s in the location you want, ask them what their experience has been. Ask: Is the facility clean? Do you enjoy living there?  Are the people who provide services kind and upbeat?  What are the downsides of the facility? Ask your doctor if they have any recommendations.

  • Research the accreditation process in your state

We agree, this sounds like a royal pain in the backside. Not exactly how you want to spend an afternoon, but it’s worth taking a look at which agency in your state (this is not done federally) is responsible for monitoring the quality of senior housing.

This resource from After55.com gives a state-by-state breakdown of the agencies you can contact in your state. Once you have an idea of who’s in charge and what accreditation means in your state, you can look for facilities that meet the highest level of accreditation. Some states don’t require accreditation at all, but quality facilities often go through a voluntary process, indicating their commitment to higher standards.

  • Your local senior center or veterans’ affairs officer

These are probably two of the most underappreciated civil servants you have access to in your community. Senior centers (sometimes referred to as the Council on Aging) have helped countless people navigate the process (and paperwork) of senior housing. The VA is available to assist vets in everything from applying for disability benefits, to applying for financial assistance for senior housing and pointing you in the direction of a good elder care lawyer.

If your local council on aging or veterans’ affairs officer doesn’t have an answer you need, chances are they’ll research it for you, or at least refer you to someone who can help.

  • View websites of facilities

Of course, everyone is going to try to put their best foot forward on their web page. Take a look, though, at some places you are considering. You may be able to take a virtual tour, or at least see photos, to get a lay of the land.

More importantly, take a look at the “About Us” section or their mission statement. These can tell you a lot about their philosophy and whether you would be happy in their facility.

Schedule Some Visits

After you’ve done some research and you have an idea of what you’re looking for, schedule a visit with at least a couple of facilities. Grab yourself a three-ring binder and keep notes on your visits. The facilities will give you a lot of standard paperwork and some of their own, and a binder helps you keep track of it all.

Be ready with your criteria and questions. Some of the things you’ll be looking for are:

Is the facility clean?  Is it bright and cheerful or dark and drab?

How do you like the people you meet?  Are the staff members warm and welcoming?  Do they seem like they genuinely enjoy working with the residents?

Does the staff demonstrate respect for the residents?  Do they encourage resident’s independence?

Does the staff look holistically at their residents’ well-being?  Do they concern themselves with mental and emotional well-being as well as physical health?

If you meet other residents, what do they have to say about the facility?

Do you see people gathering in common spaces?  

Are safety protocols easy to observe—fire extinguishers, proper exit signage, well-lit hallways.

Are individual units spacious enough for your comfort?

What range of services are available?

Don’t Go It Alone

When you are ready to look at alternatives to your current living situation, don’t go it alone. Call on friends for advice. Enlist family members to take on specific tasks—online research, making calls, etc. Take advantage of the services you are entitled to as a senior. Finding the right senior living situation is worth the effort.

 

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Why You Should Hire a Senior Move Manager

There is a new and growing service industry that you probably have never heard of before. Senior move management companies are part of a new industry that has emerged to meet the needs of an aging population.

Senior move managers (SMMs) offer services to help with multiple aspects of a senior move, far beyond what moving companies typically offer. They help with downsizing tasks such as sorting, decluttering, and packing boxes. They help find the right places to rehome your belongings, take measurements to ensure furniture will fit in your new space, and coordinate timing and schedules. Senior move managers combine the nitty-gritty skills of project management with the emotional support needed during a senior move.

If you are facing the prospect of a senior move, for yourself or for a senior relative, you may want to look into hiring a certified senior move manager. Consider some of the benefits listed here before navigating this unfamiliar terrain on your own.

Protecting Family Relationships

Let’s face it. We don’t all have ideal relationships with our parents or our children. Even in the most loving relationships, there are issues and emotional baggage that stress can amplify. Downsizing a home that has decades’ worth of accumulated possessions is sure to put everyone involved under a fair amount of stress. Senior move managers can ease stress and support family relationships.

It’s an uncomfortable reality that the roles of parent and child slowly change as the parent ages. When adult children help their parents with a move, they often find themselves playing the role of the bad guy. The parent wants to hold onto things that hold memories, and the children, knowing there will be limited space in the new place, find themselves constantly saying no—similar to role they play with their children. Having these conversations over and over can be a constant reminder to the parent that they are becoming more dependent on their children. It’s a recipe for quite a lot of family arguments.

When senior move managers are involved, some of that friction goes away. The onus of being the bad guy is lifted from the adult children, and they can get back to being supportive of their parents. Parents are often more likely to say yes to an SMM than to their children (and to be happy with the results).

The Emotional Aspects of Downsizing

The senior move management industry formed their trade organization, National Association of Senior Move Managers, because they recognized that senior moving was a different experience than other kinds of moves. These weren’t moves that were inspired by relocating for work or needing more space for a growing family. The experience of leaving behind a home that took decades to create is an extremely emotional one.

Many people facing a senior move have likely experienced a great deal of loss at this point in their lives. The people connected with many of their possessions may be gone. The children whose drawings are collected in boxes are now grown and possibly far away. Parting with family mementos is tremendously difficult for many seniors, and senior move managers offer emotional support during the process.

Senior move management companies that are NASMM-certified operate by a code of ethics that includes patience, acceptance, and respecting the decisions of the client. While working with a client, managers are allowed into a client’s private life via photos, documents, letters and more. Senior move managers view that access as a privilege and demonstrate compassion and understanding for their clients throughout their transition.

Lightening the Workload

Moving is intensely physical, something that can be difficult for seniors. Senior move managers help with all aspects of the process. They help with:

  • Sorting items into boxes for keeping, donating, or selling
  • Keeping track of donations and sales of items for tax purposes
  • Packing and coordinating with the moving company
  • Arranging estate sales or online auctions or liquidators
  • Removing trash
  • Taking measurements of furniture to ensure items will fit in the new space
  • Cataloging items and sharing digitally with family members who might want certain pieces
  • Unpacking boxes in the new space

Senior move managers can also help with finding the best places for unwanted items. Whether it’s local charities, auctions, or even arranging for household hazardous waste disposal, they have done it all.

Senior move managers remove unwanted items from your home as soon as possible. Very often they will remove a few boxes during each of their appointments so you can see progress being made.

Keeping Up an Efficient Pace

Sometimes a senior move either takes too long or goes too quickly. If family members need to travel to help with the move, it’s likely they’ll be rushing to get as much done as possible during their stay. This can be overwhelming for the person being moved and, again, can strain family relationships.

On the other hand, families sometimes spend a year or more preparing to sell a home. Adult children who live locally may finding that helping only on weekends just isn’t enough time. If the person moving has a problem with hoarding, all that weekend work could be undone by the next session.

Senior move managers find the sweet spot—not rushing the move and not having too much lag time between sessions. They know the right questions to ask to help people get through the process efficiently.

Getting You Settled in Your New Home

Senior move managers earn their acclaim as “heaven sent” by going above and beyond what you might expect. They want their clients to truly love their new homes, and they do whatever is necessary to make that happen.

In one example, senior mover manager, Laura Armbruster, once worked with a couple moving from a large home in Michigan. They were relocating to a 2-bedroom apartment in a senior living facility near their children in Cleveland. The move was difficult emotionally, as they loved the home they were leaving behind. They wife had a collection of over 35 wall-mounted clocks. It was very important to her that her clocks be displayed in her new home the same way they had been in her old home.

Armbruster coordinated with their SMM in Michigan on the move. The SMM in Michigan took photos of the clock display, carefully removed the chimes and batteries from each clock, labelled and packed them. Armbruster’s team in Cleveland met the moving truck at the couple’s new home to help them unpack. They immediately hung the clocks on the main wall of their living room, using the photos as a guide. The clocks worked as the focal point in the new space, and the couple felt instantly at home.

These are just some of the benefits to hiring a senior move manager. If you’re ready to find your own SMM, ask for references from friends, the local senior center, or check out the NASMM website. You can even ask your primary care physician. Senior move managers will make your move easier, more efficient, and less stressful for everyone involved.