Archive for Senior Home Downsizing

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.

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 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.

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

Photo ©Amy Muschi / Depositphotos

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