Aging in Place and the Holidays

Aging-in-Place-Christmas.jpgElsie and John are celebrating the holidays simply this year.  Christmas dinner is being simplified and the decorations are going to be minimal.  Why?  Because things are much harder these days for this senior couple and simplification HAS to happen.
Elsie and John sat down with pen and paper in hand to list what they want to get done and what has to be done.  Here is their list:
Must Do:
  • Get a flu shot
  • Make sure the grandkids and kids only visit if they are healthy
  • Make sure our prescriptions are filled so we don’t run out when the drug store is closed
  • Keep things simple
  • Make sure the heaters are running safely and there isn’t anything around them that could catch fire
  • Bring out the sweaters and slippers to layer for warmth
  • Call the kids and divvy-up the dinner plans (*plan to provide side dish and a dessert and they can pitch in on main dish and bring something to share)
  • Send Christmas cards only to those we regularly hear from and keep extras ready if we receive one from someone we hadn’t sent to
  • Clean up only the rooms we will be using
    • Don’t worry about the bedroom
    • Don’t worry about washing drapes, windows, etc.
  • Tell the kids if they are coming to visit they will need to bring an air mattress and sleeping bags or plan on sleeping on the sleeper bed.
    • Better yet, check out the hotel nearby with the indoor pool so the grandkids will have something to do
  • Tell the kids they are responsible for taking care of their own children and feeding them while they are here.
  • Purchase gift cards for the kids and grandkids
  • Bring out only the decorations we love
    • Put the ones we don’t like in a pile for the kids to see what they want then we can donate the rest
  • Get some of those sprays that smell like pine instead of dealing with a live tree that we have to water, etc.
    • Put up the little pre-lit tree and John’s assorted Star Wars, Star Trek and airplane ornaments.
Want to do:
  • Enjoy the kids and grandkids
  • Call our friends and wish them a Happy Holiday
  • Stay healthy
  • Get through without stressing out over the little things
    • No meltdowns over a missing juicer!
  • Make my homemade cranberries that just isn’t a holiday without it
  • Get the kids to fix a couple things we can’t do anymore
    • Remind them we aren’t able to do these things anymore and need their help
So, the plan is in place, the list is made for John and Elsie and their simplified holiday plan.
What are your plans to make the holiday easier for an Aging In Place person? 
Happy Holidays to you and yours and may you have peace and joy in the coming year.

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Guest Post: 5 Steps to Unclog Your Sink

This guest post is submitted by Home Improvement Writer David Glenn.
5 Steps To Unclogging Your Sink
Do you have a clogged sink or bathroom drain? If so, it may be an easy fix. By following a few simple steps, you can probably clear the drain yourself. Of course, if it’s in major problem, you’ll need to call a plumber. Most home warranty plans cover plumbing problems, so if it ends up being a bigger challenge than just a clogged drain, this option will help. To see of its a clogged drain, you will first need to invest in a couple of simple tools–a plunger and a snake.

Two Important Tools

Most hardware stores carry plungers and snakes. Make sure that the plunger that you buy has a strong, sturdy handle. This will allow you to apply a good deal of force when it’s time to unclog your sink. As for the snake, you’ll want something with an auger that is 20 feet long and 3/8 of an inch thick. Along with those items, keep a bucket, flashlight and some rubber gloves on hand.

Check Your Disposal

The first step that you will want to take to unclog your sink is to check your garbage disposal. If you flip it on and only hear a low buzzing sound, it’s probably stuck with debris. Make sure that the unit is turned off and unplugged from the wall, and proceed to free the blades by manually turning them with an allen wrench. Many units have an area underneath the disposal that has a hole for an allen wrench. After you have turned the blades, plug the unit back in and flip the switch on to see if that clears your clogging problem.

Clear Any Blockage

If your disposal isn’t the culprit, attempt to plunge the drain. If you’ve got a dishwasher hooked up, you’ll need to clamp off the drain hose. After that, fill your sink with about 5 inches of water to ensure a nice tight seal with your plunger. If you have a double sink, put a wet rag over the other opening to help increase suction from the plunger. Your next step is to plunge away. Be sure to force only water down the sink. This step may take several minutes to complete.

Cleaning the Sink Trap

If plunging the sink fails to work, the next step is to disassemble your sink trap and remove any grease, gunk or other debris. First, arm yourself with some gloves and loosen the slip nut that holds the P-trap in place. Keep your bucket handy so dirty water doesn’t end up everywhere. You may need a pair of slip joint pliers to initially break the slip nut free. Pull off the P-trap and clean it out with a screwdriver. If it doesn’t seem to have any debris, your clog may be further down the drain pipe. In this case, you will need to use a snake.

Snaking Your Drain Pipe

Loosen the set screw of your snake and pull out about 10 inches of cable. Tighten your set screw and swirl the snake down the open hole in the drain pipe. Release your set screw and pull out the rest of the cable. Tighten the set screw and continue moving the snake into the drain line. You may hit obstructions along the way. Switch the spin on the auger so that it turns counterclockwise and pull the cable out. It will probably be full of a lot of gunk that needs to be removed. Continue this process until you don’t feel any obstructions.

Final Steps

After you have finished snaking your sink, it’s time to flush it with warm water. Use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to help with the process. A half cup of each should be enough. Pour the mixture down the drain of your sink and let it react for a couple of minutes. Flush with warm water and repeat the process. By combining vinegar and baking soda, you should remove any foul odors and break down any leftover residue.

Completing this process will take some time and the proper tools, but it will also free you up from having to pay a plumber, and really should be part of your home maintenance checklist.

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Guest Post: Financial Security Through Your Golden Years

A rule of thumb says retirees need 70 percent of their pre-retirement income to maintain their normal lifestyle. Some reasons for this include having fewer people to support, being in a lower tax bracket, having your mortgage paid off, and not having to save for retirement.

However, a few expenses will actually increase during retirement like the price of hobbies, travel, and healthcare. These expenses can sometimes put a strain on your finances if you’re not properly prepared.

So, where will this retirement income come from? Hopefully you’ve set up a retirement fund of some sort, not just the money stashed in your piggy bank or bookcase. Many individuals have set up a 401K, pension, IRA, or other investments for this purpose. Social security is another source but should not be too heavily relied on. Social security benefits average out to equal roughly 40 percent of your pre-retirement income. This still leaves another ~30 percent that needs to be covered by your other retirement investments.

Another option that can greatly increase your funds during retirement is a reverse mortgage. This type of mortgage allows you to use the equity that you have built up on your home, while still staying in your home for as long as you live. This equity can be paid back to you in the form of monthly installments, a lump sum, a line of credit, or any combination of the three. The best part is that you’ll never have to make another mortgage payment for as long as you live.

When performing your research, you’ll want to be sure to speak with a reserve mortgage counselor to ensure that is the best financial decision for you and your family.

About the Author: Annie Doisy is a Reverse Mortgage Specialist. She has been working in the mortgage industry for over 5 years, and regularly keeps a blog on topics ranging from retirement planning to senior benefits.

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Guest Post: 5 tips for Making a Bathroom Senior Friendly

Written by Tim Smith via Modernize

As you journey through your golden years, your home should be a safe haven where you can relax and enjoy life. For a bathroom that makes personal care a breeze, a few minor improvements will go a long way.

1. Handheld Shower Head

To avoid awkward twisting and turning while bathing, invest in a detachable shower head. Quickly installed and easy to use, this style allows you to direct water exactly where you need it with minimal effort. With its long, flexible hose, such a shower head is ideal for remaining seated, which provides a safe and relaxing experience.

Tim Smith sr bathroomhttp://modernize.com/photos/14202/

2. Water Heater Settings

As you age, skin can burn more easily and at lower temperatures. Straight from the manufacturer, most water heaters are set to 140 degrees, but sensitive skin can be burned at just 120 degrees. With this in mind, check your water heater’s setting, and lower it if necessary. For extra protection, consider using no-scald regulators or faucets to ensure your water remains at a safe temperature.

3. No-Skid Floor Mat

While suction-cup bath mats are essential for secure footing within the bathtub, you could also use one directly outside it. Escaped water from your bath or shower can make the surrounding floor slippery. Since the last thing you need is the floor to fly out from under you while exiting the shower, use a non-slip mat that grips the ground and provides a safe platform to exit.

4. Raised Toilet

If you suffer from arthritis or other chronic pain, the trek to the toilet can be downright painful. To make this necessary task more pleasant, consider purchasing an insert that raises the height of your commode. Raising it just a few more inches can help take the strain off of your knees, hips and other problem areas.

5. Talking Scale

As a senior, you can track and maintain your weight as a means of staying fit and healthy. With a traditional scale, you may have to squint and bend over to read the results, which could lead to an accident. A talking scale, however, displays the result in large-print font and reads it aloud.

Tim Smith sr tubhttp://modernize.com/photos/412/Pink+Tiled+Bathroom
Via Modernize

With just a few simple adjustments and additions, you can create a bathroom that is conducive to your lifestyle and needs.

To find out more, visit Modernize.com.

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Guest Post: 5 Things that Seniors Should Look for in a Rental Property

Looking for a new home to rent isn’t exactly the same now as it was when you were younger. Your lifestyle has changed, and what you’re looking for in a home has changed right along it. Whereas the most modern appliances or architectural details used to be at the top of your list, now your concerns are a little more practical.
Sure, a rental home is only temporary and you can always move again if you decide it’s not a great fit, but who wants to go through the hassle of moving every year? It’s best to take the time to find a place that you’re sure will work for you for several years.
When it comes to looking for a good rental property, you’ll have your own unique wish list, but there are certain things that all seniors should consider when choosing the right rental property for them.
1. Affordability
This should always be the first thing that you take into consideration when choosing a rental property. Are you able to afford the monthly rent and will you continue to be able to afford it if you stay for many years? You should also take into account that many rental fees do not include the cost of utilities such as water and electricity.
When you’re comparing the prices of a few different properties on your list, be sure to include the predicted cost of monthly bills. To get an idea of what you can expect, ask the owner or leasing agent, who may have access to past utility bills. But always leave a little wiggle room in your budget, because there’s no exact way to calculate what you’ll pay for utilities per month.
2. Accessibility
Accessibility is definitely an important part of your rental search, even if you are in tip top shape. You should think about the fact that, if you plan on staying for a while, your needs may change over the years. Additionally, you may have friends or family members with limitations come visit you, and you want to be sure that the building is accessible to them as well.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
• How easy is it to get around the rental property? Does it have ramps for wheelchairs, or does it at least have shallow steps for those who find it hard to walk around?

• Do all the rooms (especially the bathroom and bedroom) have facilities that allow those who are in wheelchairs, walkers, or canes to move around freely and comfortably?

• What floor is the unit on and is there an elevator to all areas of the building and parking areas?

• Will the home still be right for you if you become more physically limited?

• Is there a designated parking spot close to the apartment?

• Is there convenient access to public transportation nearby?

3. Proximity
While there’s something to be said for the peace and quiet of a home in a sparsely populated area, the trade-off is that you might be hard-pressed to find what you need, when you need it. For example, a rental property that’s located in the heart of a bustling city might be lacking in terms of tranquility, but if you need to go to the store, get money from the bank, or go out to eat, it would be as easy as leaving your front door and calling a cab.
Also, think about the fact that you might want to have neighbors close by. Not only does it give you the opportunity to meet new people, but it can be handy in case you have an emergency or just need to borrow some sugar. And don’t forget to check out the proximity to things like churches, senior centers, libraries and anywhere else you enjoy spending time.
4. Amenities
Normally you might associate the word “amenities” with a hotel, but these days many residential buildings are positively loaded with convenient extras. While you may not consider them to be required, you should think about how much easier they can make your life. Common amenities include: gyms, lounges, technology centers, pools, dry cleaning, valets, storage units, outdoor barbeques, party rooms, and even restaurants. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of those things right in your own building?
5. Community
Whether you live with a partner, friend or on your own, it’s important to consider the community aspect of any possible rental home. You may want to be in a diverse area with people of all ages, or you may want to talk to a rental agent about finding a particular area or building that’s popular with seniors. These types of buildings are ideal for those looking for new opportunities to meet people and socialize with peers.
Before you make a decision, take a day or two to visit the area around the home and try to strike up a conversation with a few of your future neighbors. It’s a good way to get some of your questions about the neighborhood answered and it gives you an idea of what kind of people live nearby. If all you see is young professionals or college students, for example, it may sway your decision.
If you’ve lived in a home you’ve owned for a long time, it can be strange to start the search for a rental. But it can also be very exciting, as there are so many great options out there and you’re sure to find one that meets all your needs.
Just be sure to put in the proper research and time in order to make the right decision and settle on a place you’ll be happy in for many years to come.Noah Tennant
About the Author: Noah Tennant is an experienced leasing agent who loves helping people find their dream apartment. He’s the founder of Chicago Apartment Leasing Group, which specializes in luxury rentals in The Windy City’s best neighborhoods. Noah also frequently contributes to online publications, in which he shares his knowledge of the real estate market and apartment living tips. For more info, check out Http://www.ChicagoAlg.com.

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Guest Post: Senior Home Safety

Submitted by Max Gottlieb (max@seniorplanning.org):

While there’s no 100% absolute way to ensure your elderly parent or loved one doesn’t fall, there are ways to make the event much less likely. I’ll give you a quick checklist of five steps to a safer home for a senior.

  1. Furniture, accessories, and narrow pathways:

Is there furniture crowding a room or creating narrow pathways? Are there inessential items or decorations all over the house? None of us like to throw things away and we all know seniors love to keep antiques and knick-knacks, but sometimes they can pose a hazard to elderly home safety. That old rug underneath the coffee table can trip you easier than you think. Make sure there is nothing impeding easy travel throughout the house. A straight path is the easiest path so there should be no navigating around corners or edges.

Doorsills and steps:

Now, these two sound like obvious culprits, but you’d be surprised how often they’re underestimated. A quick remedy is to paint doorsills a different color or buy reflective tape for the edge as a reminder that they’re there. This goes for the edge of stairs as well. Confirm that there’s no loose carpeting, unstable wood, or erosion of any kind on steps or doorsills. Also, make sure any area with a step or uneven surface is very well lit.

Lighting:

This one is perhaps the easiest of all. Double-check that all areas of the house are well lit, with bulbs at least 60 watts or higher in each socket. Remove all exposed cords and make sure any lamp or light-switch is within easy reach. If the lamp closest to a favorite reading chair is hard to reach while sitting, move it closer. Also, check that there is no risk of any lamp falling or being tripped over. Again, lamps should remain within reach, but still out of the way.

Telephones:

Keep a telephone, within easy reach, in each room. This prevents your elderly loved one from feeling compelled to rush to a ringing phone. Not only can getting up too quickly cause light-headedness or dizziness, but it can also cause an elderly person to lose focus on their surroundings and mistakenly fall in an easily preventable situation.

Bathrooms:

Bathroom floors and shower tubs can get slippery, we know this. To combat slipping, guarantee there are either bars affixed to the wall or a counter to grip while getting up and down off the toilet and in and out of the shower. Also, purchase adhesive grip-tape for the tub bottom and again, provide adequate lighting throughout the bathroom. Shower rugs can also slip so place double-sided tape on the bottom of the rug to impede the rug’s movement.

If you are worried about a loved one, these are very easy and painless steps to minimize the risk of in-home falls. As mentioned before, however, there is no 100% way to prevent accidents so medical alert systems provide a great backup. Not only do they give you peace of mind when you’re not around your loved one, but they make the wearer feel safe as well.

Jacob Edward is the manager of Senior Planning in Phoenix Arizona. Jacob founded Senior Planning in 2007 and has helped many seniors navigate the different types of care available in Arizona. This includes assistance to seniors and the disabled, finding and arranging care services, and applying for state and federal benefits. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State’s Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe Arizona.

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