September 28, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
You have a lot of stuff that you have collected over the years! You have a lifetime of beautiful memories and well, just stuff! You have artwork that you saved from your children and grandchildren, collectibles when collectibles were a fad, clothes that are out of style, paperwork that is no longer relevant. You may even have furniture and old holiday decorations in the basement or attic that just need to find new homes.
Decluttering your home of all these things as an active Senior is a labor of love for your family. It will also make it much easier for you to sell your home and make your next move.
Leaving the cleaning out and decluttering of your home to your loved ones can be an overwhelming task for them. It is an emotional journey and physical labor of love that adult children and family members endure on their own. They may not know the family history of what is important in your home and can cause family friction. If you declutter your home now, you can share in the memories and find common ground in your cherished family keepsakes.
Whether you hope to live out your days in your current home, retire to a smaller home, retirement community, or the possibility of a continuing care retirement community. The reality is eventually your home will likely need to be sold. Decluttering of the past to move toward the future is a gift that you not only give your loved ones, but yourself.
Studies have shown that clutter causes anxiety, depression, stress, and general feeling of being overwhelmed. Cleaning and decluttering can be a stress-reliever.
There are also tax benefits to decluttering. If you donate your unwanted items to a charitable organization, you may be eligible for a tax write-off. You can also get very creative in donating or re-selling vintage items to re-sell shops or donating to schools looking for theatre production costumes.
Does all of this sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be! Get organized and make a plan!
- Set aside a weekend or specific timeframe
- Make sure you have supplies: garbage bags, boxes, cleaning products
- Start with one room, then have a plan to go room by room
- Go through everything in that room: Label: Keep, Donate, Trash
- Old Documents, you may want to shred
- Ask your family members to join you
- Keep what is important- not to suggest you throw out priceless mementos, most people find out they do not miss “things” that they get rid of after a clean out. Items that do not serve a purpose or cannot be shared with other family members should find new homes.
While the process of decluttering is giving away, throwing away, and passing along to your loved ones is a process that has an element of an emotional journey with things that tie you of your past. Your memories and family legacies are your true history.
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May 31, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
As the rate of Alzheimer’s Disease increases and we seem to be on the brink of a cure or treatment. It still seems all too futuristic to those in the here and now fighting for loved ones with the disease.
As the idea that there may be a cure around the corner lingers, the disease is still growing in numbers and being aware of the signs at home in order to get treatment as early detection are keys to potentially living more independently longer, subsiding the symptoms.
Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes the slow decline of memory, thinking and reasoning skills. Let’s review basic warning signs. These signs may be experienced differently by each person to varying degrees.
- Memory loss – One might forget recent information like dates or events. Asking the same questions over and over. Using things like post it notes, reminder notes, electronic devices, or even family to remember things they used to remember on their own.
- Problem Solving – One might have problems developing and following a plan or working with numbers. They may start forgetting to pay monthly bills, work electronics like phones, stoves, and remotes, etc. that were everyday routine devices.
- Losing Track of Times and Dates – One might start losing track of dates and time. They may start forgetting how they got somewhere or even where they are.
- Visual Changes – Some Alzheimer’s patients have experiences changes in vision with judging distance, color, and depth perception. These are problematic to those who may still be driving.
- Problems with Speech – One might have trouble following or joining a conversation, they may stop in the middle of a conversation or have no idea how to continue, repeating themselves. They struggle with their words and sometimes are unable to find the right words, calling things by the wrong names at times.
- Misplacing Things – One might start putting things in odd places, losing things, and unable to recall steps to find them. Some may accuse others of stealing those things. This may start occurring more frequently as they may appear to be paranoid.
- Poor Judgment – One may start having poor decision-making and changes in their judgment. They may not be able to deal with money, giving large amounts away or handling it improperly. This makes them more vulnerable to people who may want to take advantage. They may start bathing less and not taking care of their hygiene.
- Withdraws from Family, Social, and Work – One might begin removing themselves from their social activities, hobbies, projects, and even their own family. They start avoiding these situations because of the changes that they are experiencing.
- Mood Changes – The mood and the personality of someone with Alzheimer’s changes as they become confused and become experiencing depression, fear, and anxiety in their daily lives. They are no longer able to find a “comfort zone”.
Clearly, many of these signs can be normal in aging adults. Recognizing multiple and ongoing signs in someone you love should not be ignored, schedule a doctor’s appointment.
There is treatment available with early detection, relief of the symptoms and will help them maintain a level of independence longer.
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May 24, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
The decision has been made to keep your aging parent at home a little while longer or they are living with you, but you cannot be there 24/7 and need to take a few safety precautions when you cannot be there.
As 1 in 4 adults over the age of 65 takes a fall, safety is important. This is typically the primary safety concern along with each senior having their own individual health and mental concerns.
Having a plan and exploring what options fit your family, your senior, and the home is always a great start.
If getting a full evaluation of the homes safety is a goal, you may want to contact a certified aging-in-place specialist, occupational or physical therapist, or a geriatric care manager. They will be able to make safety recommendations.
A few quick and easy solutions:
- Raised Toilet Seat
- Shower Chair
- Textured no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower
- Stair climber
- Waterproof seat in the shower
- Controls and switches near bed and/or wheelchair
- Remove throw rugs
- Add monitors and alarms to the home
- Remove locks from doors inside the home
- Change doors to the outside of the home to levers
- Hallway and stairway lighting is efficient
- Adjust thermostat on hot water heater to avoid water getting too hot
Another option in the form of preventative safety when your aging parent or senior is unable to be alone or alone for long periods of time, consider a home healthcare service. They can provide a range of services including: transportation, cooking, light housekeeping, dispensing medication, and other services. Home Healthcare services vary on their offerings, visit www.SeniorLivingGuide.com‘s Home Health tab in your area to find out what specific services that fit your family’s needs.
You have followed all these steps to be proactive with safety, but accidents and emergencies still can happen. What then?
Remember the commercial with the catchphrase, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”? Since this commercial became a pop-culture phenomenon in its 80’s debut, personal response and medical monitoring devices have been the answer to in-home senior safety and security especially as technology has progressed over the years.
Medical Alarm Monitoring such as, Bay Alarm Medical, may be a turn key and inexpensive solution providing you peace of mind. If your senior has an accident, gets frightened, or has a need for any type of medical attention, a touch of a button alerts the company, authorities, and specific contacts easily.
Whatever your home situation is with your aging parent; keeping safety and security top of mind is key. There are many solutions to consider, but there is a magnitude of resources available both online and offline. Make sure that you do your research and utilize what is available.
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May 16, 2018
Courtesy of Janet Campbell
It’s never too late to become financially literate. Statistics show that 65 percent of Americans do not have a budget, which suggests that many enter their elderly years uninformed about personal finances. Taking good care of your finances at this stage of your life is essential – your financial stability, health and personal happiness are at stake, so consider carefully these tips that financial advisors consider crucial for older adults.
Set a budget
Establishing a budget helps you keep track of where your money is going and makes it considerably easier to plan for the future. Most advisors contend that setting up and sticking to a budget is the most important building block in maintaining one’s financial health. It’s especially important for seniors because it ensures that you’ll have enough money to pay for the things you need and want. If you’ve never lived according to a formal budget, once you’ve got it down and incorporated it into your routine you can predetermine what months you’re likely to be tight on money and when you’ll be in the black. A budget helps you plan for unexpected expenses, those times when life bites you and forces you to dig deep into your funds.
Sidestep the scams
Beware of fast-talking salespeople and telemarketers looking to take advantage of confused and vulnerable elderly people. They’re usually the first ones to be targeted, so watch out for “deals” that involve a lot of complex detail, evasive answers or an unwillingness to answer questions, a lack of documentation (i.e. no paper trail), and pressure to sign a contract right away. This is always a red flag, no matter who’s involved or what stage of life they’re in.
Be skeptical about investments
If you retired with investments, they can give you a real advantage in your senior years but it’s dangerous to rely on them too heavily. A budget can help you forecast but it can’t help you where the market’s concerned. An over-reliance on the returns it can bring is a dangerous way to approach your finances, especially if you’re working with limited funds to begin with. Unscrupulous salespeople are especially dangerous when it comes to stock market investing, which can be arcane and intimidating to someone with limited experience. A good rule of thumb is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, savings, a good budget and careful money management are the building blocks of a solid financial foundation.
Many people nearing or having reached retirement age tend to see Social Security as a nest egg or financial magic bullet. Yes, you can begin drawing on your social security benefits beginning at age 62, but it can be well worth your while to wait a bit. Nevertheless, it’s estimated that 75 percent of Americans start going through their benefits early, which means they’re not maximizing what they could be getting from Social Security. Timing is a big part of doing Social Security right. Put simply, the longer you wait to draw Social Security, the more you’ll get each month. Taking Social Security before official retirement age (between 66 and 67) results in an unnecessary reduction of your benefits, whereas your benefit increases as much as 8 percent a year if you wait until you reach 70.
Follow the basics
The old rule that says you should have three months of expenses ready to go still stands once you reach old age. If you’ve ignored that rule during your working lifetime, make a good stab at it. Set aside what you can in case the unexpected happens when you’re at your most vulnerable. Some people age 65 or older are able to sell their life insurance policy, which may be an option to consider if you can’t afford the premiums or don’t need one anymore. Just be sure to do your research first so you understand the ins and outs of the process.
Keep following the same good financial advice you’ve gotten throughout your life once you reach retirement age. Budget, save, and stay away from “can’t miss” investment offers. Much of what’s served you well all those years won’t go wrong once you hit 67.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com.
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May 4, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Do you remember the days with the house and the yard and the upkeep? There are days that it seems like yesterday and it was very rewarding, but it was also a lot of work and commitment! You spent your Saturday’s mowing the yard, edging, weed eating, and tending to the garden. You may have really loved the garden most, but all of the work had to be done.
Now you are retired! It’s time to do more of what you enjoy! You’ve moved into a smaller space to fit your retirement lifestyle; to give you more time to yourself, to play golf, to travel, to spend more time with your family, and less time on home maintenance. What you miss the most is the relaxation and satisfaction that you received from gardening. Don’t despair, there are a lot of options for gardening in a small space. Spring is here! Spend some time outdoors tending to a garden and be able to enjoy it!
Here are some fun ideas on how to plant a garden in a small space:
- A Container garden – Containers of different sizes and shapes, including galvanized tubs, in a small outdoor space with various flowers and even vegetables and herbs can create a tranquil setting for anyone to entertain, relax, and enjoy a good book.
- Vertical Planters – Maximize your space by planting vertically! Visit your local nursery or hardware store. Tip: repurposed shutters can be used as a vertical planter.
- Hanging planters – If you have the ability to hang your plants from the ceiling or a wall post, they can be a fun asset as you can also include plants and flowers that will trail down adding a different dimension to your patio or small space.
- Ivy fence – Growing ivy on a small fence around an outdoor space can add a lot of depth to your space and easily provide the garden look and feel you might be looking for.
- Herbs – Mixing and matching herbs in small pots and planters is not only eye-catching, but edible!
- Window boxes – If your space is very limited, a window box may be your best option. Succulents do very well in these and are fairly low maintenance with good drainage.
- Birdbath – How great is this idea? Repurpose a birdbath and pack with hardy succulents and pebbles to hold in the moisture.
If you enjoy gardening, downsizing into a senior living or retirement community may not mean that you must give up that part of your life! There are so many options available to consider. The key is appropriate lighting for your plants and soil, the rest you can get very creative with and create a beautiful and functioning gardening.
Another great article on gardening in small spaces:
April 25, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
Typically, as people age and it becomes increasingly clear that they are unable to care for themselves, their adult children are left to decide on how to care for them and what those next steps look like, especially for those whose parents are living alone.
You may notice that Dad is forgetting where the car keys are or he is misplacing his phone. Maybe he is not as interested in social interaction with family and more resigned to spending time alone. You recognize that these are signs that he should not be living alone. You find yourself saying to your siblings and family members, “What are we going to do about Dad?”. You know that you need to look at the different options available. You may opt to move them in with a capable family member, choose a home care provider, or move him into a senior living community.
To help make these decisions and form a plan that works for everyone, it can be helpful to have a family meeting with your siblings, other relatives, and/or friends. The family meeting should begin by working out any conflicting care option opinions. Ideally, you will be able to compromise and end with a plan. If you do not feel the meeting will be generally agreeable and emotions have the potential to run high, you can involve a social worker, a family counselor, or a mutually agreed upon mediator to help ensure that the meeting is successful.
As these options are weighed, a clear vision of what success looks like is very important. Consider their mental and physical conditions and how they may progress and the kind of care and assistance they will require in the future. Benefiting your parents’ well-being and health, while maintaining a peaceful and balanced family life should be considered the primary objective.
If you choose to move your family member into your home, please be aware that there are some considerations to make before committing to this role, including a large amount of time. You need to take be honest with yourself and your other family members. Make sure you fully understand the commitment and demands of caring for an aging person and ask yourself if you have the ability to take those on. There will be disruption in your life and relationships, frustration, and a large amount of additional stress that you will be adding to your home.
You may want to look into options of in-home providers, they provide a myriad of services that can be very helpful and free up your time while providing different social interaction for your parent. Understanding the pros and cons – such as how comfortable your family member will need to be with their in-home provider – should be considered before relying on them for specific tasks.
Caring for an aging parent and making decisions regarding their on-going care can be overwhelming. Take the time to consider all of your options, use your support system as a resource, and keep your parents’ best interests at heart – you will find a care option that works for everyone.
http://dailycaring.com/7-things-you-must-do-when-hiring-an-in-home-caregiver/ -Tips for Hiring In Home Care Provider
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April 19, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
The more and more that I work in this industry, I think back to the times that made the older folks that mean so much to me the happiest. They are mostly “a-ha” moments, not anything that I could have bought and shipped through Amazon, texted, or even the quick drop in just to say “hi”. It was the time that was spent visiting with them. It was time sharing a meal, going to CVS to help them pick out a birthday card, sharing the stories of my life, reminiscing about the past, and the times that they themselves were an integral part of my family and daily life. I remember how proud they would be to introduce me and my children to complete strangers. It was like being introduced for a “lifetime achievement” Award at the Golden Globes. That is what we are to our elderly loved ones. We are their lifetime achievements.
When my son was little, his school adopted a Senior retirement community at Christmas time. He was in Kindergarten and they took a field trip to the community, each child “wrote” a book and colored it, we all made Christmas cookies, and the kids sang carols. My son sat in a complete stranger’s lap reading his story with such pride as she intently listened, holding him on her lap so happy with the biggest smile on her face. She was so entrenched in his story and hung on to every word that he said. It meant the world to him because he knew she loved his story, and I know it meant the world to her because you could see the visible joy on her face. I sat there and realized I was holding back tears because it made me happy to see this connection between two strangers vastly different in years. I regret that he never saw her again, I truly believe that it would have been really good for them both.
Buckner Parkway Place, a senior living community in Houston, Texas hosted a group of young people who volunteered at their community through their local high school. “This partnership with Westside High is what Buckner is all about,” said Susan Phelps, executive director of Parkway Place. “Buckner exists to serve both vulnerable children and senior adults, and what better way to do that than by engaging a multi-generation partnership with students who otherwise might not have these opportunities? Plus, seeing the way Parkway Place residents light up around these students is a joy. I feel more confident than ever about the future of senior living because of their eagerness to serve.” http://www.buckner.org/blog/learning-to-serve
Family life is changing. Unlike in the past, when extended families lived close to each other, older folks are living longer and more self-sufficiently, but they are also living alone. With the change in lifestyle and the growing distances from family members, even though their adult children have healthier and more active parents, they are less likely to visit them, and their grandchildren are less likely to know and visit their grandparents as often as in the past.
Developing connections between young and old generations can help both groups. Visit your local Senior Center, Senior Community and ask how you can volunteer by spending time with their residents. You can also visit http://www.servingseniors.org/get-involved/advocacy/ , include children in advocacy, they too are your future. #payitforward
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April 4, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
In honor of the month that can be very tax focused if you are the last minute, down to the wire, can’t find all of your receipts, but are determined to get all the deductibles allowed by law like me. I am going to share one tax deduction that you may not know is available! Its an important one, as you know assisted living costs continue to rise every year. These costs can be very stressful on you or your family members. Did you know that some of these costs may be tax deductible?
The criteria for the tax deduction is that the resident in assisted living must be considered “chronically ill”, meaning a doctor or nurse has certified that the resident either:
- Is unable to perform on their own two daily activities. Ex: eating, bathing, dressing, etc.
- Diagnosed with a cognitive impairment, (Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, etc) and requires supervision
You may ask what do you mean, “certified”? To qualify for the deduction, a doctor, a nurse, or social worker must prescribe a plan of care and certify the plan. Luckily, most assisted living facilities offer and can prepare this for their residents within the guidelines required.
How these costs are determined to be tax deductible are based on medical expenses and long-term care expenses. Typically, only the medical expenses of assisted living are deductible and living costs are not. However, there are exceptions. The exception to this may if the resident is chronically ill and the facility is primarily for their medical care and is part of the residents certified care plan, then it may be tax deductive, much like a hospital vs. a home environment. The tax deduction is calculated based if expenses are more than 7.5 percent of the adjusted gross income.
There is also an opportunity for Adult children to receive a tax deduction if their parents or other family members live at an assisted living facility and qualify as their dependents. The adult child may be eligible for this deduction even if it is less than half of the total support according to a “multiple support agreement.” The adult child is required to pay more than 10 percent of the total support for the year. There are variables to this agreement and I would recommend speaking to professional counsel such as, a Elder Law Attorney/Tax Consultant to make sure that you are meeting all legal obligations before taking the tax deduction as there may be multiple parties on this agreement.
I always recommend if you have complicated tax planning have questions about your taxes, seek professional advice. Asking for a reference from a trusted family member or friend is a great start to a Elder Law Attorney or Tax Advisor, www.superlawyers.com have highly rated lawyers to refer online.
If you have uncomplicated quick question about tax deductions, you may want to visit online resources such as Intuit.com https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/3612566-how-do-you-determine-what-portion-of-assisted-living-is-deductible-and-what-is-not-is-this-provided-by-the-facility
Getting the most out of your tax deductions doesn’t have to be complicated if you know what you qualify for and you utilize your resources.
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February 12, 2018
By: Darleen Mahoney
I could review the statistics of heart disease in America and the surprising fact that women are more prone to die from heart disease than men or that it is the leading cause of death over cancer. Yes, that’s right! Cancer!
“In the United States, 1 in 4 women dies from heart disease. In fact, coronary heart disease (CHD)—the most common type of heart disease—is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States”. (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-disease-women).
At the end of the day, the important facts that we need to know are how to help prevent heart disease in our everyday lives and the signs that we may be in “trouble” and need to seek medical attention.
Preventing heart disease can be challenging for those who are conditioned to living an unhealthy lifestyle based on their choices of food, alcohol, exercise, etc. Getting healthy doesn’t happen overnight and must become a way of living, not a short-term solution to a medical issue.
Healthy living choices to help prevent heart disease include:
● Eat healthy.
● Get active.
● Stay at a healthy weight.
● Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
● Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
● If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
● Manage stress.
Have you ever been surprised to hear that someone who was “perfectly healthy” died of a heart attack? The people close to that person said, “he was never diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, we all thought he was perfectly healthy. Who knew?” Everyone is shocked when this happens. This is because someone might not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease until he or she has a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or angina. Therefore, watching for heart disease symptoms prior to a heart event is critical.
According to Mayo Clinic, (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118), symptoms in men and women can be different. Men will more likely have chest pain, while women may experience chest pain/discomfort along with shortness of breath, nausea, and extreme fatigue.
Other symptoms may include:
● Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
● Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
There are also various other symptoms for different types of heart disease:
● abnormal heartbeats (heart arrhythmia’s)
● heart muscle (dilated cardiomyopathy)
● valvular heart disease
● heart infections
In a nutshell, all these different types of heart disease have 3 symptoms in common and they are your keys to knowing that you need to seek medical attention right away. They are chest pains, shortness of breath, and fainting.
Heart disease can be treated more proactively when treated early on. Contacting your doctor to discuss your heart health concerns is being proactive in a longer, happier, healthier heart and life.
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February 5, 2018
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By: Darleen Mahoney
Once it’s been decided that potentially downsizing for retirement living or moving into a senior living community is on the horizon, the most stressful aspect can be selling the home. There are many things to consider outside of the emotional tolls of leaving a home with years of memories attached. There is also the reality that the house itself is most likely the largest source of income/equity, therefore, its very important to sell the house at the best price that the market will allow.
Staging a home and making it more appealing to a wide range of buyers is a best practice and that may be challenging for some Seniors while they are still living in the home. There are a few options for staging a home. It can range from keeping living spaces very organized and decluttered and quick paint fixes to having a professional “stage” the home for sale. Typically, a service will stage a home to make it look larger, utilize neutral colors and will take any personal items of the current homeowner and put them away. These services may replace existing furniture and other personal items which can be stressful for Seniors but can also raise the value of the home. Buyers should not focus on the current homeowner’s taste, style and personal choices.
If a Senior is moving to an Assisted Living community, they will most likely need to downsize right away. This can be such a taxing process both emotionally and physically. According to AARP https://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/info-08-2011/retirement-downsizing.html , it’s recommended that you plan to, “hit the ‘heart of the home’ rooms first. That’s usually the kitchen, living room, and family room, which tend to be the most cluttered and contain items with the greatest emotional value and everyday use. Make four piles-keep, donate, give to family members and trash.”
Other things to consider while staging is touching up paint, changing out hardware, new blinds, replacing burned out lightbulbs, adding fresh flowers or potted plants, fixing visible issues around the house that a buyer would notice, and rearranging furniture to create the look of a larger space. Best practice is to keep in mind that when a potential buyer walks through your home, they need to be able to picture their own personal items and sense of style as well. If there is a strong color palette in the home, it may be necessary to re-paint a more neutral palette to assure that the potential buyer is seeing the actual house and not just the wall colors.
Also, consider the front of the house. A potential buyer should never drive up and before they even enter the house think, “what a lot of work” before entering the home.
Remember the most important things in staging with Seniors is that there may be more emotional attachments to their personal tastes and their personal items Its important to be cognizant of that and walk through the process at their pace while explaining why “staging” will only benefit them in the long run.
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