Senior man reading book

For caregivers, the John Lennon lyric “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans,” could easily be rephrased to read “Caregiving is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” There often is no advance notice that you will suddenly assume the role of caregiver, whether for a mother, uncle, spouse, or sibling. And for many new caregivers this means rearranging one’s life to make room for these new responsibilities. Yet this rearranging shouldn’t mean abandoning your own ambitions.

This is why SeniorHomes is proud to announce our brand-new Student-Caregiver Scholarship program to help caregiver-students continue their schooling. We are offering two $1,000 scholarships for caregivers who are actively enrolled in a U.S. college or university. To apply, student caregivers may submit their story through a 1,200-word essay or a 5-minute video that tells us of your journey being a caregiver and student. The deadlines for entry submissions is June 30, 2016 and the winners will be announced August 1, 2016.

To learn more about the application requirements, visit our Student-Caregiver Scholarship page. We look forward to hearing your stories.

 

 

senior-fitness-activitiesThe weather outside is frightful, and all you want to do is snuggle on the couch with your warm blankets and a mug of hot chocolate. But after all of those Christmas cookies you ate this holiday season, you know it’s time to get up and moving.

The good news is that being healthy doesn’t have to mean going outside and turning into an ice cube. It’s time to get motivated with some surprising ways to stay active while staying out of the cold.

Playing Games

Who says staying active can’t be fun? The best way to exercise is to forget you’re exercising. Grab some friends and play games that keep you moving.

  • Indoor Mini-GolfChallenge your coordination and visualization skills with miniature golf. The game may be small, but it is big fun. Even regular golfers will be challenged by mini-golf’s clever obstacles.
  • BowlingWhen’s the last time you put on a pair of bowling shoes? Head over to your local lanes and get laced up. Choose your ball, knock over some pins, and cheer your friends as they try to beat your high score.

Taking it Easy

Need to keep your workouts low impact? It’s all about getting creative with where you exercise.

  • Aqua DanceSwimming is the best low-impact activity. Find a heated indoor pool that offers aqua dance or water aerobics classes. Water aerobics is a surprisingly great workout. You will dance and swim your way to better health.
  • Window shoppingThe mall is the perfect place to take a walk on a winter day. Stay warm while enjoying the sights. People watch, look in the windows and maybe try on a few things. Even if you don’t buy a thing, you will have spent the day burning calories without even realizing it.

Staying Home

You don’t have to go very far to start getting in shape—you don’t even have to leave your living room.

  • Video gamesVideo games don’t have to mean sitting on the couch. Wii and the Xbox Kinect were made to get you moving. Play a wide variety of games, from tennis to shuffleboard to bowling. Or grab Dance Dance Revolution and dance to your heart’s content—all without leaving your living room.
  • CleaningCleaning is very few people’s idea of a good time. Why not make a game out of it? Put on your favorite upbeat song and see how much you can get done before the song ends. Make a playlist of your favorite tunes and you’ll find yourself dancing and singing your way to a cleaner house and better health.

Being Adventurous

Don’t let staying inside be an excuse to be lazy. Stretch your limits, push your boundaries, and get your blood pumping while staying indoors.

  • Rock climbingThere’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get from scaling a wall and looking back down at the ground. Revel in your body’s power with an amazing arm and back workout. Rock climbing gyms have walls of different levels so that you can increase the challenge whenever you’re ready.
  • Ballroom danceHave you ever watched Dancing with the Stars and wished you could dance like them? Head over to your local ballroom studio and sign up for classes—no partner required. Before you know it, you will be twirling around the ballroom to your favorite songs and dancing the night away.

Getting Fit

Making your body strong doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights.

  • Tai ChiTai chi is a martial art that is often called “meditation in motion”. You will do slow, flowing movements that stretch out your muscles and promote better balance and body awareness. Focusing on the movement will clear your mind and help you to forget your worries. 
  • PilatesPilates is a favorite of celebrities and dancers—and for good reason! It focuses on strengthening your core and maintaining lean muscles. It can be done with equipment and without, and can be adjusted to different experience levels. It will increase your strength and flexibility without feeling like a traditional gym workout.

Having Fun

Exercise doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Get creative. Find something that you enjoy–something that just so happens to keep you active. You’ll be having so much fun that you’ll surprise yourself with how strong you’ve gotten and how much better you feel.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

joans-journey-last-postWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. Four years ago, on Dec. 22, 2011, Joan’s Journey to Senior Housing launched as a regular feature in SeniorHomes.com‘s blog. Many roads were traveled, chronicled in my 38 Joan’s Journey’s posts. The journey included a decision to relocate, sell a condo, downsize, pack, move across country, and settle comfortably into life in a senior community.

Joan’s Journey has arrived at its destination—Holiday Villa East, an independent living residence in Santa Monica, California. With every arrival comes an ending. My Joan’s Journey chronicling concludes with this post. Thanks to SeniorHomes.com, its management and editors for the awesome opportunity to share my journey with its online readers. Most of all, thank you Journeyers for your readership, questions, comments, and suggestions.

The goal of Joan’s Journey was to share the realities of my lifestyle changing from living alone in a condominium in a city suburbs to sharing life in a +55 residential community. With the assistance of the helpful SeniorHomes.com family advisors, I identified the appropriate community to meet my personal and family criteria, as well as geographic location and budget requirements. The journey was not an easy one. Stumbling blocks and roadblocks appeared along the way. But as we near 2016, I am living happily in senior housing that is close to my children and grandchildren. The New Year beckons with many exciting journeys ahead.

As producers say in nearby Hollywood, “That’s a wrap” for Joan’s Journey to Senior Housing. For further conversations and sharing, visit my Joan London Facebook page, where Journeyers may message—and I will respond. From the staff of SeniorHomes.com and myself, thank you for being part of Joan’s Journey. We hope that by chronicling my path, we have helped families understand the road to successful senior housing. Happy New Year, and remember to enjoy the trip day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children.

decorating-a-smaller-homeWhen you’ve recently moved into a new place, the holidays can make you feel nostalgic for your old home. But even though your place is still fresh and unfamiliar, you can fill it with memories from Christmases past. Don’t have room for your standard 12-foot Christmas tree? Tap into your creative side and find new places for your traditional decorations.

  • Downsize your tree—You don’t need a tall Christmas tree to make the holidays complete. A small tree is easier to decorate and easier to store after the season is over. If you can’t fit all of your ornaments on it, you can rotate them for a different look every year. Put your tree up on a platform to give it a larger presence without taking up as much floor space.
  • Forgo a tree—Can’t get a tree this year? You can still have the symbol without taking up the space. Pin garlands or lights on the wall in the shape of a tree or cut a tree and ornaments out of construction paper. You don’t have to be without this quintessential Christmas symbol.
  • Display ornaments creatively—Do you have more ornaments than will fit on your tree? Hang them on your walls, display them on shelves, and use them to decorate wreaths. Group them together in odd numbers and play with their heights.
  • Pass along old favorites—If your grown-up children have places of their own, gift them their favorite childhood ornament. They can add it to their own tree so they always have a piece of home with them.
  • Use your windows—Limited wall space? Your windows are perfect places to hang wreaths, ornaments, and garlands. Drape garlands around the edge and hang a wreath covered with ornaments in the center.
  • Don’t forget your front door—You may not have a front yard, but you certainly have a front door! Don’t be afraid to go crazy and cover your door in holiday cheer. If your door has windows, hang a snowflake or ornament in each so they can be seen inside and out.

When’s the last time you’ve bought a new Christmas decoration? Take this opportunity to go shopping for a few new statement pieces to perfectly complement your new space. See what’s new and trendy in the shops. Splurge on something you really love to add to your collection.

Making Your New Place Feel Like Home

Moving to a different neighborhood can mean some big changes. You can no longer walk to your town’s annual Christmas parade and there’s no room for your grandchildren to stay over. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have the same holiday spirit. The key to maintaining your traditions is being flexible.

  • Don’t expect perfection—Traditions are important, but they are supposed to be fun. Don’t stress about making everything exactly the way it used to be. If you are no longer enjoying the process, it’s time to adapt or let the tradition go.
  • Stay connected with your children—With everything being different, it can be difficult to gather the family together. Perhaps this year one of your children can host the annual get-together. Or you can gather at a different time of day so that everyone can make it. What’s important is keeping in touch.
  • Remember small rituals—They are as important as big traditions. Some may be as simple as the family gathering to watch an annual event on TV. Don’t let these traditions become forgotten just because you are in a new place. It’s often these small rituals that really make the holidays feel special.
  • Make a home-cooked meal—Nothing makes a new place feel homey quite like the smell of cookies and pies in the oven. Make your old favorites to bring the smells you miss into your new home.

Your new town may surprise you with holiday traditions of its own. Ask your neighbors for their favorite things to do, places to eat, and events to see during the holidays. You may just find a new favorite. 

Mixing the Old and the New

Your first holiday in your new place may be difficult, especially when you look back at what your move has cost you. But your new place is full of opportunity when you look forward. You don’t have to abandon your old ways. Mix the old and the new. Your traditions will make the holidays feel like the holidays and make your new place truly feel like home.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

margerys-retirement-communityThis is the last post for my The Last Stop column. For two years and two months, I have shared my way of life at a continuing care retirement community. You, my readers, have read about the move and my denial that went with it; followed by me, surprisingly, continuing my practice of psychotherapy while I lived in my cottage; the death of my husband after a lifetime of marriage; and finally a move to the Lodge. I have shared many stories of my life in the Lodge that included the occasional almost disasters, good experiences and sometimes the bad. I continue to think of my life here, as I described in an earlier post, as a mixture of group home living—sometimes like an institution and often like a permanent cruise ship.

Read more about my reflections of what I’ve learned about myself and senior living in my post The Last Stop: Part 26.

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”

joans-journeys-transportation-optionsWelcome Joan’s Journeyers. As I sat on the bench waiting for my Uber driver, I learned valuable information: some seniors and disabled Los Angeles County residents may ride the public transportation system for $0.50 and others may ride free of charge.

Moreover, Access, a Los Angeles County-wide door-to-door passenger transportation service, costs $2.75, one way. Even more economical, the Santa Monica home pickup Dial-a-Ride Service costs only $0.50 per trip. To use this service, users only need to apply to the agency and provide proof of residence, age or/or disability.

My source for these public transportation options was unexpected—a 94-year-old resident of Holiday Villa East, my senior living community in Santa Monica. The lovely lady, I’ll call Sophia, came strolling down the block with her walker. As she neared my bench, I noticed that a big smile lit up her face.

“Are you out for a walk?” I asked.

“No,” Sophia replied. “I’m returning from downtown Santa Monica. I needed a 2016 calendar. I went to Barnes & Noble.” The calendar was conveniently tucked away in the closed shelf on her walker.

Barnes & Noble is located at least 20 blocks from our mid-town community. I commented to Sophia that she had undertaken quite a walk. Her answer surprised me: she traveled by bus. A comfortable, ramp-enhanced bus stops at the corner of our street. In minutes, Sophia can reach the Santa Monica Main Library, two medical complexes with hospitals, shopping at the outdoor Third Street Promenade Mall and upscale Galleria. Another block and the bus stops at the beautiful Santa Monica Beach, with its abundance of restaurants and hotels along Ocean Drive and the Pacific Ocean.

I’m not certain which fact delighted me more—Sophia’s independence at 94 years or that her bus rides are free. I decided to learn more.

In the United States, transportation grants are distributed to the 50 states for funding programs to serve older adults. The U.S. Transportation for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities (5310) grant is solely targeted for transportation services to seniors and adults with disabilities. The funding, distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation through its Federal Transit Administration, is based upon the number of seniors and persons with disabilities residing in a state, according to the latest federal census data.

States receive and then allocate the funds by a grant or funding process. Recipients are nonprofit groups, government agencies when no nonprofits are available, and government agencies that coordinate transportation services. Some agencies provide transportation-only services. Others  offer transportation services and social services, including meals, operating senior centers, and legal aid. The first step to learning senior transportation options in each state is to inquire with the state’s Department of Aging.

For Seniors, Easier, Reduced Cost Transportation Options May Override Owning an Automobile

In lieu of owning or leasing an automobile, at least eight options exist.

  1. Ride with family and friends.
  2. Ride with van or auto provided by many senior residences.
  3. Ride with personal driver who works per hour or by assignment for client.
  4. Ride with traditional taxi drivers.
  5. Ride with discounted driver services like Uber and Lyft.
  6. Ride on public transportation such as local buses.
  7. Ride with transportation services sponsored by the U.S. Department of Aging in coordination with state and city agencies.
  8. Ride with nonprofit, community-based transportation services, such as ITNAmerica.

In terms of convenience and cost, my Driving Ms. Joan Experiment convinced me that leaving the driving to qualified others supersedes driving one’s own automobile. joans-journey-happy-holidaysTo learn more about the transportation services available to seniors, read our earlier blog post on Giving up the car key’s doesn’t have to affect your parent’s mobility.

The next Joan’s Journey will appear during the last week of 2015. Join me in taking a look back at 2015 and a look forward to 2016. In the meantime, enjoy the journey day by day. From the staff of SeniorHomes.com and myself, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children.

When most people think about volunteering, what comes to mind are opportunities for young adults to work with children, teens, or senior citizens in different settings. Maybe you think about volunteering in a nursing home, or about putting time in at a local school or sports organization to help shape today’s youth.

Often overlooked – or at least not top of mind for most people – are the abundant opportunities that exist for older adults to devote their time for the benefit of others. But it’s not just the people served by an organization or volunteer effort who benefit; older adults who spend time volunteering reap tremendous rewards from the experience, as well. Here’s a look at the volunteer opportunities that exist for older adults and how seniors can benefit from getting involved in community efforts.

Reasons for seniors to volunteer their time Senior volunteers

Older adults who have entered retirement feel compelled to do something that allows them to contribute, making a valuable contribution to society. Most of us spend many years working long hours, and while retirement should be a welcome reprieve, many older adults are hard-wired to set and work towards goals. Volunteering can help fill the gap that’s left when seniors retire from their careers. Among the many other benefits of volunteering for older adults include:

  • Easing the generational gap – Many young people spend more time volunteering today, whether due to more rigorous requirements for graduating high school or college or a simple desire to help others. This means that seniors who choose to volunteer have the opportunity to work alongside individuals from different generations, allowing them to share perspectives and gain an appreciation for those who are younger or older than us.
  • Exercise for the body and mind – Volunteering doesn’t always involve physical activity, but it often does, and it almost always entails using your brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Research has suggested that combining good nutrition with mental, social and physical activities may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity. At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2014, a two-year clinical trial of older adults at risk for cognitive impairment showed that a combination of physical activity, nutritional guidance, cognitive training, social activities and management of heart health risk factors slowed cognitive decline.”
  • Socialization and relationship skills – Volunteering provides ample opportunity to interact with other people who share similar interests. The increased socialization alone is beneficial for older adults, but especially for those who are otherwise shy and find it difficult to make new friends. Because volunteering provides a common ground on which to build the foundation of a relationship, this activity can actually help you refine your relationship skills.
  • Self-confidence and self-purpose – Those who have retired from their career, or have lost a spouse, can find themselves lacking a sense of self-purpose. Volunteering provides a reason to get out of bed each morning – other people (or animals, or perhaps the environment) are relying on you, after all. This can also help seniors increase their self-confidence, particularly should you discover a new skill that you never knew you had.
  • Increased vitality and lower mortality rates – An August 2013 article in BMC Public Health reviewed 40 studies examining the health benefits of volunteering. Among a number of psychosocial benefits, the review found that “helping others on a regular basis — like serving food in a soup kitchen or reading to the blind— can reduce early mortality rates by 22%, compared to those in people who don’t participate in such activities,” according to an article in TIME magazine reflecting on the study’s findings.

These are just a few of the ways seniors benefit from volunteering. But how do seniors go about discovering volunteer opportunities in support of causes that matter to them and with organizations and efforts that are local to them?

How to find worthy volunteer opportunities

VolunteerMatch

There are several organizations dedicated to matching older adults with volunteer opportunities that are both worthy of contributions and are a good fit for the individual volunteer’s skills and interests. RetiredBrains.com offers an excellent list outlining many such avenues for finding local volunteer opportunities, such as:

  • AARP’s Volunteer Resource Center – Simply fill out some basic information, along with your interests and availability, and AARP will get in touch with volunteer opportunities that match your interests.
  • SeniorCorps – Part of the Corporation for National & Community Service, SeniorCorps connects today’s older adults (age 55+) “with the people and organizations that need them most.” This service helps seniors become mentors, coaches, or companions to individuals or families in need, or helps them find ways to put their skills and talents to use to benefit community services and organizations.
  • Idealist.org Volunteer Resource Center – Idealist.org is a “starting place for learning more about and finding great volunteer opportunities around the globe—whether you’re looking to get involved in your own neighborhood or thousands of miles (or kilometers) away.” Users can search for volunteer opportunities using a search tool similar to a job search, or browse a variety of helpful articles about volunteering. A quick search for volunteer opportunities in Seattle, Washington, for instance (at the time of this writing), reveals opportunities for volunteers at the Woodland Park Zoo, opportunities for volunteers to help the United Way fight poverty, tutoring opportunities, and even be a Social Media Wizard for the Rainier Valley Food Bank.
  • VolunteerMatch.org – Another search platform that allows you to find volunteer opportunities near  you, VolunteerMatch.org lets you search by the criteria that you find most important, such as location, to find the perfect way for you to get involved.

Get in touch with local organizations that matter to you

Speaking of what matters most to you, most older adults have an organization that is close to their heart for one reason or another. If a parent suffered from Alzheimer’s disease or a loved one lost their battle with cancer, you might donate to the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Cancer Society. There are many such organizations, and most people have at least one person they love who has been impacted by a disease like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, or any one of the many chronic conditions that plague humanity.

You’ve probably heard of, or maybe even been involved with, events like The Walk to End Alzheimer’s or the Relay for Life. Organizations like these hold major fundraising events at least annually, often more frequently, and have plenty of ways for people of all ages to contribute. The best way to find out how you can help is to visit the websites of national organizations and get in touch with the director or fundraising coordinator at your local chapter.

Walk to End Alzheimer's

You can find a helpful list of these organizations at Lifeline Chaplaincy, and Medline Plus maintains a pretty substantial list of many health-related organizations, including the associations dedicated to raising funds for research to prevent and cure disease, such as:

Don’t limit yourself to health-related associations, though. If you have other interests, find out what organizations in your area do related work, reach out and ask about the ways you can lend your expertise or get involved. Many seniors enjoy volunteering for their local Meals on Wheels program, for example, or a local Boy Scouts of America group. If you love animals, you might find volunteer opportunities through the Animal Welfare Institute or a local rescue group that operates in your city, county, or state – some of which can be found using PetFinder’s Animal Welfare Groups search.

Opportunities to donate your time to worthy causes are usually abundant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your own way to help others. Carve out your own niche and do something meaningful that matters to you.

Bingo and card games–these are the games associated with retirement. For upcoming seniors who cringe at the thought that their social calendar will include bingo or despair that perhaps card games will be the only games they are capable of playing when they get older, think again. You’re never too old for board games, and I’m not referring to the traditional board games of Monopoly or Parcheesi. Instead today’s board games have you taking the helm of a pirate ship, building an empire, or laying railroad tracks across Europe. If your friends complain that they’re too old for board games or games take too long to play, they haven’t experienced the board games of today. With their high-quality art and storylines, you will find yourself in another universe, and many are easy to learn and can be finished in under an hour (no more never-ending board game marathons!).

The board game universe is pretty diverse with games that appeal to any interest, whether more social versus strategy, says Ian, a salesperson at Card Kingdom in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. When seniors visit Card Kingdom, he says they are usually there to purchase a board game for their grandchildren, perhaps becaus they don’t realize that board games don’t have an age or gender bias. HABA even advertises their games for ages 3-99!

This holiday season, consider purchasing a board game for yourself as a way to reinvent what you’ll be doing during retirement. Instead of your friends getting together for coffee, how about a game night instead? Instead of arts and crafts hour at the senior center, how about board game hour? And with the health benefits of keeping your brain active, board games are the perfect way to combine socializing and exercising your brain.

If you need an idea of what board games to consider, here’s  few favorite board games that Ian and Nelly recommended as being easy to learn and fun to master.

Qwirkle

qwirkleForm a row of either six blocks of the same color or with each a different shape. Sounds simple right? Not when you are playing with other people who are trying to block you and create their own rows. And don’t space off for a minute, otherwise someone will steal your space!

This game can include 2-6 players, with more players making it even more challenging. Not only does the game test your ability to strategize, but your math skills are also tested when you add up your points gained when laying down a tile. With all the tiles fitting neatly into a bag, Quirkle is easy to carry around and clean up.

Ticket to Ride

Win by completing all your train routes and building the longest train. With your opponents having the same mission and needing to use the same route as you to reach their destination cities, winning this ticket-to-ridegame requires knowing when to pick up a card or lay down track. That’s because once the track is claimed, you may find yourself cut off from your city! (Helpful advice: When playing with 3 or more people, be sure to claim your track through the middle of Europe early, as this quickly becomes taken.)

Two to five players can participate in this game, which is the ideal for playing when meeting new people because you can learn about where people have traveled or their favorite cities. With game boards featuring Europe, Asia, India, and America you can travel around the globe. Because there are small pieces, this game is for ages 8+, and when you play with grandchildren, they can learn about your world travels and world history at the same time.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 

lanternsThis game I hadn’t heard of before Ian and Nelly introduced it to me, but Lanterns will soon be added to my game collection. In less than five minutes, Ian explained the rules so it’s quick to explain to players who are newcomers to the game.

Splendor

splendorAs a gem merchant during the Renaissance, your goal is to build your commercial empire and gain an audience with Henry VIII. Splendor is another game that I haven’t played but sounds intriguing. Ian describes it as having “almost a chess-level of strategy.”
Yet unlike chess, the game can be explained in five minutes and can be finished in a half hour.

Tsuro

tsuroTsuro is a quick game that can be played with 2-8 players. Simply laying a tile on the board and moving your piece along the chosen path can quickly prove disastrous if someone else plays a card that sends your piece off the board. This game makes you think ahead as to where paths might lead, and the challenge is not to use your finger to follow the path!

For those who like nautical-themed games, they will enjoy Tsuro of the Seas where you are navigating your ship through the treacherous seas. This game has the added challenge of sea monsters to dodge.

Do you feel inspired to visit a board game store build your collection? They are fun to visit and the staff are more than happy to share their favorites, as Ian and Nelly were when I stopped in for a visit. And remember, you can never have too many board games!

holidays-at-homeYou have had moving on your mind this year. You promised yourself you would be packed up and ready to go by September. Then September turned into October, and now it’s the end of the year. You want to downsize, but with the holidays fast approaching, is it really the right time to move?

Don’t worry about lost time. By waiting, you have presented yourself with a great opportunity to enjoy one last holiday at home. You may even have an easier move thanks to some special New Year’s perks.

Less Stress—The holidays are a wonderful time of year, full of shopping, cooking and family events. They can also be stressful as you rush around to finish errands. Think back to last year. How much free time did you have? Unless you have holiday super powers, probably not much time at all. Your schedule is already full. Don’t add house hunting, packing and moving to your to-do list.

Enjoy Your Traditions—Your home is the center of your holiday festivities. It is full of memories of past holiday seasons. Next year you will be making new memories in your new place. This year, cherish your holiday traditions as they are one last time. Have your family over for a holiday dinner and reminisce about the good times you’ve had in your home.

Save Money—Waiting until the new year gives you an advantage in the real estate market. Winter is considered the slow season, which means there’s greater opportunity for bargains.

  • Sellers are motivated to sell their home quickly. They will offer you lower prices and extra incentives. You will have more negotiating power.
  • There is less buying competition thanks to fewer people braving the cold.
  • Moving companies are more flexible with their schedules in the winter. Many top movers will offer incentives and deals to win your business.
  • Realtors are less busy and have more time to devote to finding you the perfect new place.

Winter is a buyer’s market. Don’t put house-hunting off. It’s worth a look to see what’s out there. If nothing else, you will have a better understanding of your options. You might just find your dream home for a great deal.

Pack Once, Not Twice—The end of the holidays means packing the trimmings away in their boxes. Since you are already in a packing mood, this is the perfect time to start the moving process. Start by packing the decorations and downsize them as you go. Save time next year by only bringing decorations that will fit in your new place. Then move on to the rest of the house, organizing and packing room by room.

Get More Help—The more help you have, the better experience moving will be. But during the holidays, everyone is busy. Your friends and family will be much more available and willing to help after the holiday season wraps up.

Stay Safe—Snow and ice may be beautiful, but it is slippery and dangerous. Moving in cold weather has its challenges. Stay safe by keeping these tips in mind.

  • Clear outside paths of snow and ice and salt your driveway before you start carrying heavy boxes.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t need to do this by yourself. Hire a trustworthy moving company or ask your family to help. The move will be faster and you won’t have to do the heavy lifting. It is worth your safety and peace of mind.
  • Wrap delicate china and furniture in bubble wrap. Delicate items don’t like the cold. The bubble wrap acts as insulation to prevent the cold from causing cracks and other damage.
  • Don’t pack winter supplies. You don’t want to be digging through boxes to find your woolies. Leave out wintertime necessities including shovels, ice scrapers and salt so you can easily access them.
  • Dress in layers. Moving is hard work. Dress in layers so you can shed clothing if you start to overheat.
  • Protect your floors. Put down plastic sheeting or pieces of cardboard in high-traffic areas to keep floors clean and in good condition.
  • Check the utilities in your new place. Make sure the electricity, heat and hot water all work before you move in.

A New Year, a New Beginning

This holiday season, concern yourself with just one thing: the holidays. Keep that as your focus and let moving take the backseat. Spend quality time with family and friends, not with moving boxes.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Portrait of senior manOn Monday we compared the senor living care types that are available when your parents require supportive services. While many families express a desire for loved ones to remain at home and receive in-home care or move in with a family member, for some families, this isn’t a realistic situation. In this post we’ll discuss the senior living care options available in a community setting. Although the community setting that most people think of is a nursing home, there are other living arrangements available and, most important, these communities are designed to mimic the privacy of a home while providing the emotional benefits of living within a close-knit community. Answering a few simple questions about your parents’ physical and mental abilities can help you determine which community setting will fit for their needs.

  • Can your parents still cook meals and clean the house but welcome a respite from these daily chores?
  • Do your parents need reminders to take their medications on-time?
  • Would your parents like to remain active and expand their circle of friends?

If your parents are still able to maintain their house and mow the lawn but are remarking that they don’t have time for these chores, then an independent living community is a good option for them. Visiting an independent living community can feel very much like stepping inside a small town because of the many on-site amenities such as a beauty salon/barber shop, a convenience store, bocce ball court, and even on-site banking and postal services.

These communities frequently have a full-time activity director charged with overseeing the activity program. Activities and events are customized to fulfill residents’ emotional, physical and mental well-being and are often tailored to meet a resident’s interest. Other community perks that are now increasingly common include movie theaters, art studios and putting greens.

One of the drawbacks of this type of community setting is that they are often large and those who are not naturally outgoing can find it intimidating. The average monthly rate of independent living communities typically start in the $2,000s and can be higher depending upon the amenities and location.

Should your parents consider an independent living community, ask whether assisted living services or in-home care services are available. Although your parents will be loath to admit they will likely need assistance in the future, you need to prepare for that possibility. By choosing a community that offers assisted living services, this will allow your parents to remain at the community and not have to move.

  • Can your parents remember to dress themselves but occasionally need help?
  • Do your parents need reminders or assistance to take their medication?
  • Do your parents no longer want to cook or clean the house?

When your parents require supportive services to remain independent, either an assisted living facility or a care home may be a good fit. At these communities, caregivers are on hand 24/7 to provide assistance and oftentimes a nurse is also on staff to oversee the residents’ care. Usually the same type of amenities found at independent living facilities, such as a beauty salon, movie theater and library, are found at assisted living facilities. Activities are scheduled Family Using Tablet Computerthroughout the day and residents live as they would at home yet with supportive services provided by on-site staff when needed. Because residents require more personal care, the average monthly cost of assisted living will typically start in the low $3,000s.

If your parents are seeking a more intimate setting that is family-like, care homes are a cozy alternative to the larger assisted living facilities. At care homes, residents live in a residential home so the transition is easy and familiar. The cost is usually less; however, you might not find as robust an activity program or the typical community-amenities like a  salon or concierge.

Some communities also offer limited nursing services or memory care. These are healthcare services you should take into account, should your parents care needs increase or they exhibit signs of dementia, so they won’t have to leave home and seek care elsewhere.

  • Is your mother or father exhibiting signs of dementia?
  • Have they been found wandering or forget where they are driving to?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, your parents may require a memory care community or a care home that specializes in dementia and memory loss to ensure the necessary support. These communities are secured to prevent unsupervised wandering outside, and caregivers receive special training on how to respond to the behaviors and physical symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Larger memory care communities are frequently modeled to look like a neighborhood, allowing residents to wander freely, yet able to easily walk to the dining room, courtyard or lounges from their apartment. Amenities such as beauty salon services and healthcare services can be expected as well. The cost of memory care will be quite expensive because residents require more frequent check-ins and one-on-one assistance to perform activities of daily living which include bathing, dressing or eating. Affordability is a major concern and because of this many families often wonder if assisted living is a better option. In an earlier post, Sandi Flores provides helpful advice on how families can determine whether assisted living or memory care is the best fit.

Change is never easy, but working with your parents to navigate through this new phase of their life before a crisis happens will make life happier and easier for everyone in the long run.