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Christmas Memories Old and New

With Christmas around the corner and the New Year approaching, it’s scary to think that 2013 is already coming to an end. Christmas can be a very stressful time for many people, as of course you are on a time line for purchasing, wrapping, and decorating, as well as planning for family and holiday meals.

For couples with young families, most likely both parents work and are taxi drivers at night to get their children to their after school activities.

As a mother of four grown children, when my kids were little, I would start Christmas shopping midyear so it was not so stressful. The only trouble with that was I would have to hide the purchases for months. Sometimes I would forget what I had bought, then over purchase. So that is when the list of who and what was implemented.

Over the years, you find out by trial and error what works best for you.

For seniors, Christmas is often a season for stress and tears. With the weather change, seniors may be scared to go out shopping for fear they fall, and perhaps they no longer drive. Maybe they have a hard time with the cold. In some cases, their children are deceased and all they have left is memories.

I have been working with a client in her mid-70s for three years. She has never married nor had any children. Her health is slowly deteriorating. She has one older brother, who also has health issues. They live 1.5 hrs away from each other. Unfortunately, they will not be able to spend Christmas together this year, which I am sure will be hard for both of them.

On the upside, today we got all her gifts wrapped, ribboned, and ready to go. Next week we will be decorating the inside of her house to make it festive for Christmas. Like other years, it will take a whole day as she has a lot of homemade decorations which we put out, and she will take the time to reminisce about when she made them at the craft group she used to belong to.

My husband, daughter and I have an annual tradition of dressing up our dogs and taking them into a retirement home to put smiles on faces of dog lovers.

Christmas dogs
If you know anyone that needs help in preparation for the season, please have them call my cell at 905-971-9568.

Making Peace with Downsizing

elderly womanIt’s not easy to give up a home you’ve lived in for years, maybe decades, even when you know it’s the best thing for you to do.

Let’s just say it: Change is scary.

And moving somewhere different, maybe to a different neighbourhood, or even a different town altogether, is a HUGE change.

Downsizing adds a whole new layer to all that. Having to choose which of your possessions you can take with you, and what you’re going to do with everything else, is tough.

Just know that you’re not alone in all this.

I’ve dealt with many individuals who have left their homes to move to a retirement home. I also have personal experience coping with family and parent illness and understand all this encompasses.  I know the emotional difficulties of the transitional steps one may take in caring for their aging loved ones. I’ll be happy to help you and your family to cope with downsizing and entering the next stage of life.

But if you’re not ready for that (and I understand if you’re not – it is a big deal, after all) you might take comfort in reading an e-book written by one of my American colleagues. It’s called Making Peace with Downsizing and you can download it free of charge.

Then, when you’re ready to take the first step, complete our free questionnaire. We’ll help you evaluate your situation and prepare for the next phase in your lives.

Home Staging Tips for Downsizers

How to Stage Your Home for a Quick Sale in 30 DaysSo, the time has come for you to sell your house and move to a smaller house, a condo or apartment, or maybe a retirement home or long term care facility.

Putting your home on the market is one of the most stressful and confusing events you can face. Especially when you realize that buyers are not seeing your home; they are seeing your house. A buyer’s critical eye can be a little upsetting. Okay, let’s face it… a lot upsetting.

Whether your move is for health reasons or you’re just ready for a change, you will benefit from “staging” your house for a quick sale. This is just another way to say you are going to make your house the jewel of the real estate market in your neighbourhood.

Potential buyers will be looking at many properties, and if yours doesn’t measure up, you can be sure they won’t come back for a second look.

Keeping the grass cut and the dishes put away is no longer enough. These days, savvy sellers know that someone is much more likely to make an offer if they can actually picture themselves living in the home. The best way to achieve this is through staging.

Home buyers are fastidious and have visions of neat perfection. These same buyers may live with life’s clutter in their own house, but when they go shopping for a new house, they expect neat, tidy, and absolutely uncluttered.

But, the truth is that we LIVE in our house. It’s hard to separate our house from our life. We end up with shoe piles in the hallway, laundry baskets permanently perched at the bottom of the stairs, and small appliances lining our kitchen counter-tops like little culinary soldiers. Is this so wrong? The awful truth is, yes. When you are staging your house to sell, clutter is a deal-breaker. Is that fair? Maybe not. Is it true? Definitely.

In order to make your house as salable and appealing as possible, you need to match the buyer’s dream, and a clean slate is the only way a buyer can see their dream. To you, the seller, this may mean some big changes.

Home staging is about removing certain items so potential buyers can envision their own furniture and family living in your house, preparing each room to enhance the architectural features of the house, and turning your rooms back to their intended purposes.

We can help you with this process, and our 1 hour Walk & Talk consultation is only $100.00! (within 50 km of Dunnville only). Ask your realtor if they’ll cover the cost of your Walk & Talk – it will help them sell your house more quickly.

If you’re on a tight budget, our e-book, How to Stage Your Home for a Quick Sale in 30 Days, may be just what you need. Click here for more details and to order your copy.

For more information about staging  your home, email us at or call 905-971-9568.

‘Time or No Time’ Say No to Compromise to the Needs of Your Elderly

old woman readingThere is a common viewpoint that as people, we have become less sensitive to the core morals and ethics which we were taught as we grew up. We all have superfast lives and time management has become increasingly difficult. And taking care of the elderly has become a sensitive issue.

For those who have lost their perspective, and are looking for a reason, a reason to go through all of the pain of the elderly together, we might contemplate why they act the way they do and why are they in need of the care and time. They come across the qualms of memory lapse and forgetfulness, with the growing anxiety of being in unfamiliar surroundings. And then there is the frustration budding due to their dependence on walkers, canes, oxygen supplies or wheelchairs. It is not uncommon for people to not have had a perfect childhood or a pretty ‘messed up’ relationship with their parents. But the smart thing to do is to look forward and not in the past, therein lays the answer. You know that if you could turn back in time, both of you would have done everything in your power to ensure that things were different. However hard it might be, happiness will always be in forgiving and forgetting.

Job is keeping you busy?

Even if you have a job that keeps you busy or you are too busy taking care of your home and children, you can always find time to be there for your elderly, by the little things you do. Being the caretaker of your parents can be hectic. But life is not easy. Give them due time and attention with a stance of love, not compulsion or something you got to do. Spending the traditional holidays by themselves can be the most overwhelming feeling for them. So make it a point to be with them and enjoy some quality time.

Engage Engage Engage!!

Talk about life, work, their life experience and you might be surprised to hear their responses and their happy faces. Play a game or watch a movie over television. Gift them a special comforter or a pashmina or their favourite cookies. Make the holidays what it’s really about- family. Give them a soothing hand or back massage. If you have children, leave them for some time with their grandparents as this is one thing that every elderly craves for.

And when the holidays are not around, it never takes up a whole lot of your time to check up on them once in a while, say every other weekend or visiting them with flowers unannounced on your way back from work and help them make dinner.

Make your elderly feel your presence

Some might be embarrassed of their deteriorating mental and physical functioning, empathize. If they are in a facility, give them a warm hug and smile every time, ask how they feel. Try to spend an afternoon with them during weekends. If suffering from dementia, give them a picture book, which they can comprehend easily and enjoy. And enjoy their peculiarities, embrace them. You might be short of patience at times, but fight back your frustration and echo it to your dignity that they deserve the best.

It is a universally known fact that one day we will be in their shoes and have to go through what they are going through now. But don’t make it the reason to care for them. Do it because you love them, and they were there, wishing all the best things for you all along.

Today’s guest post is contributed by Suzie Hart. She works for a home health agency who try to make people more aware of their rights so that they can lead a more dignified and happy life.

Image courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut /

We’re in the News!

business newsIf you’re a regular reader of the Sachem and Glanbrook Gazette, you might have seen a recent article featuring Pamela Culp-Blanchard, owner of and Be Clutter Free.

In case you missed it, just go to to learn about the history of our company and the steps we take when helping seniors downsize. Thank you, Lori Maracle, for the interview and the article!

We hope that understanding our experience, our code of ethics, and our values will convince you that we are the right people to help you or your loved ones with this important transition.

For more information, give us a call at 905-971-9568 or email

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan /

Helping Elderly Parents Transition to a Nursing Home

family visit at Grandma’s nursing homeAt some point, allowing your elderly parents to live alone in their own home will mean a safety or health risk, which means it’s time to move your elderly parents into a nursing home. This is one of the most difficult decisions for a senior. It’s imperative that friends and family understand that many elderly individuals feel a loss of independence during this process. There are things you can do to help your parents through this process and make even the most difficult transition a smooth process.

Moving is an Emotional Process for Elderly Parents

While you may be tempted to think of the move in terms of practicality, moving can be a very emotional process. Transitioning from a large house to one-room will require significant down-sizing. Your parents may insist on keeping items that they don’t need. For example, although the retirement home may not have a kitchen, your parent may want to keep their pots and pans. It is important to remember that members who lose their home may also feel like their losing some independence and ability to make decisions for themselves. By being sympathetic and allowing them to make their own decisions, you are allowing them to maintain a sense of ownership and independence.

How to Talk to your Parent

Timing is key when approaching your elderly parent about moving into a nursing home. On certain days, they may feel like living in their home is a luxury, and on others the strain and difficulty will show. It’s best to talk to your parent about moving on a day when they express difficulty with the home. Is the gardener bill to high? Are they having difficulty with their health? By waiting to speak with your parent when they face a difficulty with the home, they will be more likely to see your point of view.

Finding a Home

Make preliminary visits and do some research on the best homes in the area before taking your parent on a search. Encourage your parent to make a list of questions and address their concerns. Never belittle or brush-off your parents’ concerns about where they live. Encourage them to take ownership of the process. Once you’ve settled on a home, be sure to visit at least one additional time with your parent before moving day. Find out if the home has moving and storage options to make the move easier.

Moving Process and Planning

The moving process and planning can be quite difficult for your parents. Realize from the beginning that they will not be able to take all of their belongings. Seek out moving and storage options, and perhaps a moving company that has experience moving the elderly to nursing homes. Invite friends and family on moving day for emotional support. Most importantly, give yourself extra time and keep the pace slow. Though the move may be possible in one day, consider giving it two. Rushing through what is a very emotional process for your parent will make the day even more difficult.

Finding Support

If necessary, be willing to take your parents to the moving and storage facility to gather additional items. Maintain a frequent visiting schedule, at least in the beginning, to help your parent feel at home. Encourage family and friends to visit often until parents feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

Though every move can be stressful, early planning and preparation will drastically reduce stress for all involved. Remember to be patient with yourself and your parents during the process. Taking care to purposefully plan every stage of the process from the talk to moving and storage will ensure a pleasant transition for your parents.

Paul Benjamin works for EZ Storage, a company specializing in secure and clean storage rental since 1971.

Image by Jeremy Bronson and licensed through Creative Commons.

Talking to Your Parents about Their Housing Needs

Last month, we shared some tips for talking to your parents when you can see they need help with their activities of daily living.

Although most seniors would ideally like to stay in their own home (sometimes referred to as “aging in place”), sometimes in-home care just isn’t enough.

Today, we hear first hand from someone who went through this with his own mother, in this video from the Family Caregivers’ Network in BC.

Does his situation sound similar to yours? Feel free to share your story in the Comments section below.

If you’d prefer to discuss it privately, we invite you and your parents to take our free questionnaire. We’ll help you evaluate your situation and prepare for the next phase in your lives.

How to Tell Your Parents They Need Senior Care

older mother and daughterAs years pass by, you will notice that the physical vigor of your parents starts to diminish. The used-to-be strong and healthy people would start to exhibit weaknesses and would experience different health related problems. It is very crucial for you to monitor the day to day activities of your parents. Signs of aging start to manifest in a myriad of ways. With ailing health along with physical incapacities, you will start to think of providing senior care for them. Sometimes, this appears unnoticeable where you might think everything is just normal.

But there are certain occurrences that will lead you to think that your parents need proper senior care. You need to monitor them regularly. If this is the case, you need to provide quality care for your parents. How would you tell them that they need senior care?

1. Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

Once your parents are diagnosed with either dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, a condition where a patient slowly loses his or her memory, you can expect that this medical condition can lead to serious complications if not handled the right way. Apart from undergoing medications and other treatments, senior care is definitely important. People with this medical condition have a hard time remembering even the most important details in their lives. Some elders do not see the importance of having senior care because they think they are still healthy. But with the prescription and medical advice of a doctor, you can easily talk to them about the matter.

2. Difficulties in Doing the Usual Routines

Due to their old age, you can already start to notice that they are having a hard time walking or moving around the house. There are instances where they can no longer do their basic and usual routines. This is where the importance of senior care comes in. A professional senior care provider can definitely help your parents in their grooming and other hygiene routines. Some elders find it extremely difficult to mobilize and to even move. Most seniors would insist that they do their routines on their own. In this aspect, you need to be really patient and you can just provide the kind of assistance that they need without making them feel like they cannot do anything.

3. Drastic Weight Loss

Not all elders suffer from any illness. There are just some who need proper care and attention. This is actually normal for seniors. Without any assistance, there is a high tendency for most elders to have poor diet and end up experiencing drastic weight loss. Since you want to make sure that they are always healthy, you need to provide the right meals and other supplements. With proper senior care, every aspect of your parent’s daily life will be handled with utmost care. If your parents are hesitant, you can always encourage them to look better and to be more physically active.

4. Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Other Physical Activities

When you get old, the tendency is for you to lose enthusiasm to do the activities that you used to do. If your parents do not suffer from any medical condition, it helps to improve and invigorate their senses whenever they do their usual hobbies. If you notice your parents losing interest in physical activities, there might be something wrong and you might be lacking in physical care and attention for them.

This article was written by Artchee Mendoza exclusively for this site. Artchee also writes for, a Jacksonville Home Nursing Care.

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut /

Choosing a Phone That’s Right for Older Users

cell phone for seniorsMobile phones are an essential part of modern life. Everyone, from teens to the elderly people, requires a mobile phone.

The needs of elderly people are very different compared to other people. Handset developers such as Dora Phones have taken this in to consideration and they have come up with a range of handsets specially designed for the elderly people.

They have understood that while elderly people have needs to communicate, it is very difficult for them to do so using the regular phones which are used by younger people. The sleek yet complex design and operating system which is highly desired by the young population may be the reason elderly people are not able to use the phone.  They may resent such phones because with age many people start to have health issues, their eyes are not as sharp as it used to be, they may develop hearing problems or they may be suffering from amnesia.


Regular mobile phones are tiny and have a small keypad. With weakened eyesight and clumsy fingers, these phones are very difficult to make calls and use by the older generation. Phones made for the elderly are designed keeping the functionality in mind and not the looks.

Mobile phones with a large display and big keypad with buttons that are separated from each other have been developed specially for them. This increases the convenience for older people as they can easily read the numbers on the screen and can type the numbers easily using the keypad.


For elderly people suffering from hearing problems, phones equipped with loud speakers with high decibels that are easier to hear are now available in the mobile phone market. These phones are simple and easy to use and can be used with hearing aids in place.

Other Handy Features

Other features that are incorporated in a mobile phone for elderly people are a torch light and long lasting battery. Features such as quick dial buttons are extremely useful for elderly people suffering from dementia or during an emergency.

Previously stored numbers can be automatically dialled on the press of a button using the quick dial feature.

The flaps on the back of the phone also contain a notepad where people can write down important numbers, so that they can easily access them.

Apart from mobile phones, there are fixed line telephones which are specifically developed for elderly people. These fixed line telephones have similar features. While the disadvantage of a fixed line phone is that it does not offer portability. However, these can be useful for elderly people who have a habit of losing their phones. Also, elderly people prefer to stay at home most of the time rather than going out and to use their fixed line telephone more than a mobile.

The Future

With the number of elderly people rising, this market segment is expected to gain popularity. It is expected that new designs will come up in the future which will further simplify communication for elderly people or those with memory or dexterity problems.

Phil Turner has spent many hours looking for mobile phone deals rel=”nofollow”. He did find some good ones, but it took a while.

How to Protect Yourself when Selling Online

selling on KijijiWhen you’re downsizing, there will probably be a lot of things that you won’t be taking to your new home, either because you won’t have room for them, or because you won’t need them anymore.

If you’re concerned with the environment and your community, you’ll likely choose to donate a lot of your unneeded items to people in need or local charitable organizations such as Goodwill or the St. Vincent de Paul Society, but if some of your items are valuable, you might be more inclined to try and sell them.

There are lots of ways you can sell used goods, but newspaper classifieds can be expensive, and flyers in the grocery store might not get noticed. That’s why Kijiji and Craigslist are so popular. Because your ad is on a major website, you have access to a lot of potential buyers, and it’s free, so you don’t have to worry about selling the item for less than you paid for the ad or not selling it at all.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Well, it is pretty good, but there are a few things you need to watch out for.

Really vague emails which use the phrase “your item” instead of referring to it by name are usually from a scammer. Such emails will often mention such things as having someone else pick up the item, agent’s fees, or other details that wouldn’t normally apply in a person-to-person sale.

If you receive a suspicious message like this, do not respond to it; just delete it.

If the initial inquiry includes an offer to pay you online, this may also be a fraud attempt. Never divulge your PayPal email address, your home address, or any other personal information until you have communicated directly with the buyer and are satisfied that everything is above board.

For your protection, it’s recommended that all transactions take place in person in a public place and that you only accept cash payments.

For more information, check out this video from Kijiji’s customer service team.

If you need help selling, donating, or disposing of your unwanted items in an environmentally friendly way, email us at or call 905-971-9568.