Putting a Smile on Someone’s Face

Christmas, decorationsI have a client, let’s call her Sally.

Sally never married, nor did she have any children. She is a senior.  She lives alone in her home.  All of her relations – brother, nieces, nephew – live afar so she has no one to help her.

Sally has been my ongoing client for 1 ½ years. She books me to work approximately three times a month, sometime even more, for clutter control/organizing, running errands, gardening, and seasonal decorating.

Last Christmas she booked me for three days: one day for decorating her house, one day to help her do wrapping, and one day for undecorating.

As we undecorated, we prepared for next year’s decorating. We used bins, which were numbered and labelled as to what was in them, e.g. tree decorations. While I was placing items in the bins, Sally was making her own detailed lists.

Sally’s decoration are stored in her basement, and due to health limitations, she is unable to carry her bins up or down the stairs, nor does she climbs ladders any more, but my service for seasonal decorating helps my client still get in the festive mood.Christmas dogs

Mascot Marley puts a smile on elderly faces at Christmas time too.

Every Christmas morning, Marley and his friend Ella  put on their outfits and tour our local seniors home. Not all seniors are fortunate enough to be able to visit their families, so Marley and Ella go in to cheer them up.

Merry Christmas from Be Clutter Free

Arthritis in Seniors and How it Affects Your Bone Function

senior health careApproximately one of every four seniors will be affected by arthritis. The most common forms of this degenerative joint disorder diagnosed in seniors are osteoarthritis, caused by injury or excessive joint wear, and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. Both cause deterioration in the joints over time and when they affect weight-bearing joints, such as the knees or hips, can lead to disability. However, proper diagnosis and care can slow the progression of arthritis, minimizing damage to cartilage, joints and bones and lessening the odds of needing joint replacement surgery.

Arthritis Basics

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in seniors and is typically caused by gradual wear-and-tear damage to the joint over many years. Other factors, such as previous joint injury or congenital joint defects, can contribute to its development. In osteoarthritis, cartilage that cushions the joints is damaged or worn away, eventually allowing bones to grind together as the joint moves, causing pain, inflammation and stiffness. Over time, that stress and inflammation can lead to bone overgrowth around the joint or the development of bone spurs, which make the joint more painful and can significantly impair movement.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is caused by a malfunctioning immune system that attacks joint linings, causing severe inflammation. Over time, that inflammation causes joint deterioration, damaging the joint lining, cartilage and often causing bone deformity. Affected joints can become red, swollen and warm to the touch, as well as stiff and painful. Stiffness and pain are typically worst for the first hour or two after waking in the morning, improving gradually as the day progresses.


Anti-inflammatory medications are used in both forms of arthritis to control inflammation, stiffness and pain. For rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are used to slow disease progression. Topical ointments, heat packs and ice packs are often used to ease symptoms.

Physical therapy is an integral part of treatment for both conditions. Reduced activity due to pain causes weakening in the muscles that support the hip and knee, as does inflammation. That weakness can increase joint wear, damage, pain and stiffness. Exercise is used to strengthen those muscles, increasing joint support for better joint alignment, stability and function.

Joint replacement surgery is the treatment of last resort, used when arthritis has become disabling and lesser treatments are no longer effective. As with any surgery, there are risks involved with knee or hip replacement. Being well-informed can help minimize those risks.

One aspect that is particularly important for seniors to learn about is implant types, especially in hip replacement. Faulty metal-on-metal implants have been problematic lately. Metallic implant debris has caused metallosis in some patients, a condition that occurs as debris builds up in the soft tissues of the hip, which can cause severe pain and inflammation, as well as tissue and bone death.

Several metal-on-metal implants have been recalled, including the DePuy ASR hip replacement systems, popular products that were used in thousands of patients. Some of them have had to undergo more surgery to replace the faulty implants, a costly and painful procedure, and hundreds of DePuy lawsuits have been filed.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

Helping a Hoarder so she can remain living in her home

So far, this blog has focused on general topics related to senior downsizing, senior living adaptation, and senior home services.

This time I’d like to tell you about one of the clients we’ve worked with recently.

Mary (not her real name) is a 90-year old woman who lives on her own in the Niagara Region. She owns a duplex and rented out one side while living in the other.

Mary is a hoarder. Over time, her floors became covered with accumulated clutter as well as dog and cat urine and feces. By the time the situation became unbearable, she no longer had a tenant, so she moved to the other side of the duplex, which was in the same state before long.

For years people tried to help Mary, but she wouldn’t let anyone inside.

In addition to the unsanitary conditions described above, there were issues with the utilities and the pipes had burst due to insufficient heat. Mary had no water in her home for 3 years. The hydro in the kitchen was not working; therefore the food in the fridge had rotted, and she was unable to cook.

kitchen afterkitchen before









Circumstances unfolded in such a way that Mary was removed from her home and hospitalized. With much pain it was discovered that Mary had a fractured hip; she then had surgery and went to rehab.

Mary had been sleeping sitting up in a lazy boy chair for years, so a bed was purchased and placed on the main floor until such time as she is strong enough to do the stairs.

Several organizations were involved in this case, including Gate Keepers, Public Health, the Fire Marshall, a plumber, and an electrician.  Mary was not allowed to return home until health and safety standards were met.

That’s when Be Clutter Free was called in. Our team of five spent seven days in Mary’s home, during which time we removed three bins of soiled and contaminated items.  We were also careful to arrange the  furniture in such a way that everything was easily accessible for her when she returned to her home.

living room before & after

It was very rewarding to restore Mary’s home to a clean and safe environment where she continues to live independently. Mary is very happy to be home.

To see more photos of this project, please check out our Facebook page.  And while you’re there, be sure to “Like” us or leave a comment!

5 Key Questions To Ask When Looking At Assisted Living Facilities

nurse with elderly woman in assisted living facilityMaking the decision to move a loved one into an assisted living facility can be very difficult. There is a lot to consider when finding the right home. You want your loved one to have the care they need but also get the independence they want. Here are several questions to take into consideration that will help you find the appropriate assisted living facility for your senior loved one.

How much will it cost?

Assisted living can be a big investment, it’s important to research your options. There isn’t a standard in how much assisted living will cost. Usually there are many payment options, plus the amount of care your elder needs can play into the overall cost. Price also can vary as to if your senior lives alone or has a roommate.

How many residents live at the center?

When it comes to the size of the living center it varies, some facilities have as few as 10 apartments to many that are huge complexes with over 400 apartments. It’s like choosing to live in a small town or a big city. If a senior enjoys an intimate atmosphere than a smaller facility may be best, or if they are used to a lot of people than the larger facility may be the way to go.

Is there availability?

Obviously, a very important question, if there isn’t availability than you may be put on a wait list. If this is the case always ask how long the wait is and continue looking at other options.

What is the aid to resident ratio?

The reason you’re choosing assisted living is care. It’s important to take the aid to resident ratio into consideration. You want to make sure that no matter the amount of care and assistance is needed, it’s important they are getting the appropriate care.

Does the facility offer specialized care services?

If your family member suffers from a disease that requires special care such as Alzheimer’s disease, you need to make sure that the facility has the appropriately trained staff so that your loved one gets the absolute best care possible.

Deciding the future of a loved one is a major decision and there are many questions that need to be asked. With the five questions above you’ll be able to get a better feel for the type of facility your loved one will feel comfortable in, the cost of it and the care that your loved one will receive.

Post provided by Lifestyle and Family writer Bruce Zander on behalf of The Meadows in Castle Rock, CO.

Get to Know Your Community Care Access Centre

Community Care Access CentreIf you’re a senior, or are caring for a senior parent or other family member, there will probably come a day when you need some extra help. Talk to your doctor, and he or she will make a referral to your local CCAC, or Community Care Access Centre.

The CCAC staff has access to a wide range of community services to help you or your loved one continue living independently or explore other options such as retirement homes, long-term care homes, or supportive housing.

When you contact their office, you’ll be introduced to a case manager, who will talk with you about your needs, conduct a health care assessment, and answer any questions you may have. They’ll then develop a plan that’s customized to meet your specific needs.

That’s where we come in.

If the case manager believes that you can stay in your home, we can assist by making the recommended home modifications and providing or arranging for any additional support services you may require.

If it’s not practical for you to remain at home, we can help you through the entire downsizing process, from deciding what belongings to take with you to coordinating your move to helping you settle into your new residence.

If you’re not ready to contact the CCAC, take our free questionnaire and we’ll be happy to help you evaluate your situation.

What Are Active Adult Living Communities?

Seniors in the Hot tubWhen it comes to downsizing your home, there are many options and it can be confusing to figure out which one is right for you. My guest blogger today will shed some light on one of those options.

When you hear the term ”retirement community,” what comes to mind? I think of a place that isn’t exactly what I would call exciting unless you like to be able to hear a pin drop.  I think retirement communities have a stigma attached to them.  However, when you hear the term “active adult living communities,” how does that sound?  Probably a lot better huh?  Now before you start thinking that it is merely a matter of semantics and that “retirement communities” and “active adult living communities” are the same thing, think again.  They are vastly different.

What Are Active Adult Communities?

I think one of the main stigmas associated with retirement communities is the reality that you need assistance and are in some way dependent on someone else’s care.  With that being said, that is primarily what distinguishes active adult communities from retirement communities.  The residents are independent of anyone else’s care.

So, the real question is, “Why would someone want to live in an active adult community?”  The answer is simple: lifestyle.  These communities offer a resort-style lifestyle.  First of all, you own your own property just like you would normally, but these “resorts” offer certain amenities that you would certainly not see in your average neighborhood.  Everything from mini golf, to private movie theatres, to dancing, private gyms, swimming pools, etc. can be found in these communities.  You name it, and you can probably find it at these communities.  Also, they are typically located near medical facilities.

Who Are These Communities Designed For?

Typically you must be 55 years of age or older to “get in” to one of these communities.  Also, given that the residents are expected to be independent, you want to make sure that “independent living” is something that is of interest.  Also, because of the many amenities that are included in these resort-style communities, they are very well suited for children.  So, if you have grandchildren, they will certainly love coming to visit.  So, remember, when you imagine these communities, it’s not about giving up your dependence, it’s about entering into the retirement lifestyle that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Added Benefits to Living in an Active Adult Community

I realize that selling the home you raised your kids in to move into a foreign community may seem like a difficult choice to make, but here are some added benefits to doing so:

Sense of Community

It becomes more difficult to meet and make friends as we get older, however, since most people in these communities will be of a similar age as you, socializing becomes all that much easier.

Smaller Homes

Let’s face it.  If it is just you and your spouse, you don’t need as much space as you did when you were raising your kids.  The home styles offered at these communities will be a perfect fit for just the two of you.

Less Yard Maintenance

Many of these communities provide, via their Home Owners Association, lawn service, snow and ice removal, garden upkeep, etc.

Brandon enjoys writing about active adult living communities like http://www.nathancarlisle.com

Photo ©Amy Muschi / Depositphotos

How Will You Spend Your Last 3 Decades?

Today we can expect to live at least 30 years longer than our great-grandparents. That’s another half a lifetime!

In a presentation she gave at TEDxWomen in 2011, Jane Fonda referred to these years as “life’s third act” and described them as a time to rediscover and reinvent ourselves. Watch this video to see the entire presentation (it will take approx. 11 minutes):

Fortunately, today there are a lot of resources available to help you spend those last three decades just the way you’d like. Some builders are even designing houses that adapt to your changing needs as you age!

Although a new custom-built house is probably beyond the reach of most of us, many adaptations can be made to your current home to allow you to continue living safely and independently. This includes items such as built-up toilet seats, grab bars, tub chairs, and much more.

And if you’re having trouble climbing stairs, like Jane Fonda – we can help you with that too.

For your free, no obligation consultation, please email us or call 905-971-9568.

Downsizing Your Belongings Before Downsizing Your Home

old china cupsIf you’ve lived in the same house for many years, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff in your garage, basement, and/or other storage areas. Much of it has been packed away for so long that you don’t even know what you have, but because you’ve always had room for it, it’s never been an issue. But now that it’s time to move to a smaller house, a condo, or a retirement home, it’s time to make some decisions. You won’t have room for all that stuff in your new place, and even if you did, there wouldn’t be much point in moving it, just to store it away again.

There are a number of ways you can get rid of items you won’t be taking to your new home.

1. Offer them to family members.

Certain items will be more valuable than others, whether we’re talking about monetary value or sentimental value, and you may wish to keep them in the family. Ask your children or grandchildren if they would like to have them, but don’t be upset if they don’t accept everything. Something that is important to you may not have any significance to them, and they may have limited space.

2. Sell them.

If you have a large number of sellable items, you might consider holding a garage sale or auction. Individual items may be advertised for free on bulletin boards in local stores or on Kijiji, or sold at a second-hand store or consignment shop. A second-hand store will buy the items from you and then resell them at a higher price, whereas a consignment shop will display them in the store and give you a percentage of the price once a sale is completed.

3. Donate them to charity.

Different charities accept everything from mittens to tractors. Some distribute them to persons in need, while others sell them to raise funds for their programs. Here is a list of Canadian charitable organizations and the types of goods they accept.

4. Give them away.

Perhaps you would prefer to make sure your unneeded items go directly to a person or family in need, instead of donating them to an organization.  One way to do this is to join The Freecycle Network and offer your items to other members in your local area. Here is a list of active Freecycle groups in Ontario.

5. Dispose of them responsibly.

Most items should not be simply tossed in the garbage.

Any papers that show your name, address, or other personal information, should be shredded. If you don’t own a shredder, your documents may be taken to a UPS Store or other facility for secure shredding.

Be sure to recycle any paper and containers that are accepted in your community, and take household hazardous waste to a designated facility.

We would be happy to help you distribute or dispose of your unneeded belongings.

Give us a call at 905-971-9568 or email us to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

Photo © Cheryl Empey – stock.xchng

Seniors Considering Downsizing: A Moving Checklist for Helping You Decide What Stays & What Goes

moving checklistThis is the tough part. Where do you begin if your current home is packed full of years of accumulation? How do I decide what stays and what goes? Here’s a simple checklist to help you in this process… and remember, it’s never too early to begin planning.

Start by space planning to determine what will fit in the new home.

Sorting through your belongings:

Start in rooms that will be easier (i.e., not being used).

Take it a room at a time = less overwhelmed.

Start with larger items to decide how much space you need.

Save the family photos and treasures for last.

Call a family meeting to distribute personal belongings and share your memories about each item before giving it away.

Determine what to keep, what goes to family and friends, what to donate, what to trash and what to sell (it’s OK to re-gift).

When in doubt, throw it out. If you can’t bear to lose the memory of an item, take a picture of it before you let it go.

Keep a list and mark all items.

What does go, arrange for an auction (including E-Bay), Garage Sale or Estate Sale.

Have a moving party and share the favorite memories of your home.

Pass on the history of your home to the new owner to keep the memories alive.

JoJo Harmon is a realtor with Prudential California Realty in Orange County California and has earned the Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation (SRES). Realtors with the SRES designation have demonstrated the knowledge and expertise to counsel senior clients through lifestyle transitions. She specialized in residential homes, relocations, investment properties, senior 55+ housing and fine homes and estates from Newport Beach to San Clemente.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=JoJo_Harmon

Photo: ©Depositphotos / Ruth Black

Are You Ready for Retirement?

saving for retirementPeople today are living much longer than any previous generation. However, according to a recent article in the Hamilton Spectator, few Canadians are saving enough for their retirement years. This is even more serious in light of the recent federal budget delaying eligibility for Old Age Security to age 67.

Living longer costs more. That’s simple math. So, the sooner you start planning for retirement, the more you’ll be able to enjoy your “golden years.”

“Income is one of the most important health determinants and the basis of an individual’s ability to access appropriate housing and transportation required to maintain independence; nutritious and sufficient food to maintain health; and non-insured medical services and supports such as medication and home support.”  – Planning for Canada’s Aging Population

Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who loves their job and doesn’t plan to retire early, stuff happens. You might become ill or injured, you could be laid off, or you may have to stay home to care for your parent(s) or your spouse.

The earlier you begin investing in your retirement savings, the better off you’ll be!

This online retirement savings calculator will help you figure out how much you’ll need to save, but you should get in touch with a certified financial planner to discuss your situation in detail and figure out the best approach for you.

Proper planning can make a big difference to the housing options that will be open to you in the future!

Photo © Wayne Ruston – PhotoXpress.com