How to help your parents downsize.

Helping your parents downsize is an emotional process for you and for them. With some compassion, tact, preparation, and possibly some outside help, it can be a smooth experience for everyone involved.

Caring Transitions of Northeast Atlanta offers some wonderful tips to help you begin and go through the downsizing process with older loved ones.

Before helping your parents, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Sometimes the emotional aspect of downsizing goes overlooked as you focus on the more practical aspects. Checking in with yourself and setting your perspective goes a long way in creating a more positive experience.

Recognize that this won’t be easy. Even with a plan, downsizing can bring up some tough emotions. Expect the process to be a little messy and stressful and be compassionate towards your parents and yourself.

Be patient. Downsizing can be especially difficult if your parents are leaving the family home, or if an upsetting circumstance triggered the downsize. On top of that, it often takes longer than expected, depending on how many possessions must be decluttered. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes as best you can. A little patience goes a long way.

Don’t try to take over. Unless there is an issue of impaired cognitive function, know that your parents are ultimately the decision makers. Trying to force them into anything will only be counterproductive. If your parents are losing cognitive functioning, still be respectful and involve them as much as you reasonably can, so they feel they still have some control.

>>Click here to read the remainder of this important article on how to help your parents and loved ones downsize with many more tips to help you.

What you need to know before remodeling your bathroom.

https://aginginplace.org/what-to-do-when-you-redo-your-bathroom/

Remodeling a bathroom for someone who is aging in place is very different than one based on aesthetics or home value. If you or a loved one are remodeling with an eye toward future needs, there are some very important issues to consider before you start and as you’re going through the process.

From design, to safety, to ease of use, remodeling a bathroom will take time and effort, and there will be costs involved. But for anyone who wants to age in place it can be very worthwhile to have a bathroom that is comfortable and safe to use easily as needs change.

From something as simple as sensor lights to adding another bathroom, there are options and considerations for anyone who intends to stay in place. But without a clear picture of what you really want to do with your project, you may find that the costs continue to rise and the needed changes either don’t get completed or aren’t what you really expected. Changes have to be effective – and sometimes this means completely revamping an existing space to accommodate what’s needed in the future.

>>Read the full article: What To Do When You Redo Your Bathroom 2022 – AgingInPlace.org

Gardening can offer older adults surprising benefits

It’s not just your imagination. Gardening is good for your health. Science tells us “interacting with plants can increase self-esteem and reduce feelings of anger, sadness and stress.”

This article, published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution March 2022, explains the science behind the good feelings you get while gardening.


As the weather continues to warm up, many of us will find ourselves back outside pruning, planting and playing in green spaces. This is good news for our bodies and minds, as gardening offers some big benefits for both physical and mental health.

Gardening can help combat depression, anxiety and loneliness

We likely know from our own experiences that bright blooms and warm sun can be a powerful antidote to a less-than-stellar mood. Getting outside and playing with the dirt, mindfully tending to a plant and watching it grow from seed, gives us both a sense of peace and accomplishment that can keep anxiety and depression at bay.

But science backs this up too.

A study from Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service found that interacting with plants can increase self-esteem and reduce feelings of anger, sadness and stress. It also helps keep people in touch with their communities and creates socializing opportunities. All of these factors are critical for maintaining positive emotional health.

Working in a garden keeps the brain sharp

One study found that daily gardening may reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%. A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health also found that planting a vegetable garden can improve brain nerve growth factors related to memory, and can improve functioning in the hippocampus, which is critical for memory, and cortical regions of the brain.

Gardening also helps combat stress and low mood and increases feelings of joy and happiness, all of which contribute to a healthier, happier, more resilient brain.

>>Click here to read the rest of this article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Helping Older Adults Through the Moving Process

(Posted with permission from Mike DeLeon at Caring Transitions)

Here are a few tips from the experts to help you create a plan that can help you manage a move for an older adult.

  1. Don’t make seniors feel guilty. Avoid saying things like “Why did you hold on to this for so many years?” while sorting through belongings. Statements like this can cause stress and make seniors feel like a burden.
  2. Save photo albums for LAST. They can surface too many memories at once, which slows the process and triggers waves of emotions.
  3. Set a timer. Grab a kitchen timer or your phone and set it for one hour. Take a break once that hour is up.
  4. Color-code with Post-It Notes. Seniors have a tough time reading small writing. Color-code with post-it notes so PINK is pack, GREEN is sell, and BLUE is give away.
  5. Bring a door stopper. Doors get in the way, especially for older folks. Bring door stoppers to prop doors open to allow for easy room access for Grandma, and for large boxes and furniture.
  6. Consider online platforms for estate sales. Most seniors are not internet savvy, but their children/grandchildren usually are. There are many online estate platforms like CTBIDS.com, that sell everything online as buyers bid.  No in-person estate sales with strangers walking through the home and haggling over prices. The online estate sale platform handles it all, allowing the family to make money from hidden treasures around the home. 
    Best Sellers:  Electronics, jewelry, collectibles, and durable medical equipment.
    Items That May Not Sell Well: Large off-trend furniture, off-trend or well-worn clothes and kitchen utensils.
  7. Keep a schedule. Many seniors like a routine and stress if it’s altered. If the senior goes to bed at 10pm every night, don’t try to keep packing late at night.

Caring Transitions® takes steps to train and screen every employee and has developed estate sale standards that uphold the values of integrity and honesty for over 10 years. Since many of our clients are older adults, each of our offices are independently certified to support a “senior move” and help mitigate the effects of stress, health and common cognitive issues which are frequently challenges for late life relocations. In Atlanta, contact Caring Transitions’ Mike DeLeon – mdeleon@caringtransitions.com.

Tough Transitions

(Published with permission from Caring Transitions of Northeast Atlanta)

Tough TransitionsThe holiday season is over and many people area are now left with a sobering realization that loved ones they hadn’t seen in more than a year need help. The warning signs that can be masked by distance like hygiene, trouble standing, and stacks of unpaid bills became obvious as families reunited with aging parents over the last few weeks.

Now adult children are left with difficult questions about what to do next. Should we move mom to a senior community? Does dad need a caregiver? Is it time to downsize to a smaller home?

#1 Is it time? The first step is to figure out if this is the right time to begin the transition to a smaller and more manageable home or assisted living. Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Did you notice a change in hygiene? Did she appear to have clean hair? Did he suddenly start growing an unkempt beard? Was there a noticeable and uncharacteristic body odor?
  • Were there expired items in the refrigerator? This could mean your loved one isn’t eating enough and isn’t paying attention to basic health and safety.
  • Are there stacks of unpaid bills? Stacks of unpaid bills can cause financial problems for an aging parent and are a major sign he or she can no longer keep up.
  • Did your loved one struggle to get around the home? If you noticed trouble getting in or out of chairs, a slow shuffling pace or frequent stumbling, it’s time to consider a home that is more suited to a senior’s needs.
  • Did you witness a lack of interest in hobbies? Maybe your mother is an avid piano player and you noticed the piano covered in dust. Perhaps your father loves to read, but you didn’t see a book by his bedside. These are signs your loved one’s zest for life is slipping.

#2 Consider your options. The second step is to research different strategies with other family members to find a good fit.

  • It’s time to downsize. Your parent may not need help with daily living, but you have noticed they struggle to keep their large home clean and the grass mowed. This is a great opportunity to discuss moving to a smaller house or even a condo.
  • It’s time for in-home help. Your loved one could benefit from an in-home caregiver who can assist with light housework, bathing and daily living
  • A fulltime care facility is the best option. Your loved one is struggling with all aspects of life from home upkeep to bathing. It’s time to move him to a fulltime care facility.

#3 Plan a move. Moving is listed as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life and it becomes even more stressful if that person has lived in the home for decades.

  • Sort first. Pack later. The hardest part of the move is taking that first step. Help your loved one sort through what to keep, donate and throw away. Each can be labeled with a simple color-coded post-It note.
  • Set a manageable schedule. Don’t expect your aging parent to work on this move late into the evening hours. Try to keep as close to their normal routine as possible.
  • Limit the emotion. Save photo albums for late in the process. Trips down memory lane can cause increased angst and regret about the pending move.
  • Hire someone to help. Downsizing companies like Caring Transitions are specially trained to assist with these kinds of moves. Experts can help ease the stress, streamline the process and speed up the move.

If you’re looking for helping with a cleanout, downsizing, packing/unpacking or liquidating an estate, you can contact Caring Transitions’ Mike DeLeon at mdeleon@caringtransitions.com.

Choosing the right senior living option.

Choosing the right long-term care option is an important decision many older adults face daily. If a late-life move is part of your healthy aging plan, the next step is choosing a new place and preparing for what’s next. The hardest part for many people is getting started on choosing the right residence and planning for the move.Understand Your Situation

If you are still undecided about your move that’s okay. Moving somewhere new can be a difficult decision at any age. If you are an older adult moving may have improve your quality of life, here are a few ways to tell it’s time:

  • You have health complications that are not suited for the current layout of your residence
  • The thought of caring for or paying for landscaping, cleaning multiple bedrooms, or other general upkeep tasks and costs seems stressful
  • Moving could save you money in retirement
  • Your home has lots of space that is never used

Understand Your Health

Before embarking on this journey, there are three important areas you will want to factor into any senior living decision with the support of your doctor or care team:

  • Medical Concerns
  • Cognitive Concerns
  • Assessment of functional abilities or “Activities of Daily Living”

Understand Your Options

After gathering all the information you need about you or a loved one’s medical condition, start the selection process by making sure everyone helping you make a decision understands the difference between each senior living option. Here are simple definitions to share for some of the senior living options you and your loved ones may be considering:

  • Retirement Communities: A housing option where community residence is specifically for people in a retirement age range and may include single-family homes, condos, townhomes or apartments modified for older adults needs.
  • Continuing-Care Retirement Communities: A campus-like community that offers different levels of care like independent living housing, assisted living, and skilled nursing care in one location. 
  • Skilled Nursing: A facility that provides a wide range of health and personal care services that typically includes medical and nursing care, social and mental health care, and rehabilitation services. 
  • Respite Care: An assisted living or skilled nursing facility that caters to short-term medical care for older adults and others recovering from surgery or a serious illness.
  • Assisted Living:  A housing option that provides support for Activities of Daily Living that typically includes transportation, meals or meal preparation, housekeeping, laundry, recreational and exercise activities. In some cases, these communities will help with care tasks like bathing, washing hair, or dressing if they become harder for a resident to do on their own.
  • Memory Care Facilities: A skilled nursing or assisted living community with larger staff that offers more supervision and security features designed specifically for people living with memory impairment.

Compare Your Options

Once you have a firm understanding of your options, asking the right questions can help you make an informed thoughtful decision. Use the questions below to help pinpoint what senior living option will be a good fit.

Do I have health conditions that require extensive care or minimal care?

If you or your family member has health complications that require a specific care plan or accessibility accommodations, it is important to factor this into your senior living selection process. This could be something as simple as moving to a space with a simpler layout or a wheelchair friendly entrance. Remember it’s better to understand what you need to make a decision you will enjoy.

Do I still have the ability to drive or would I prefer transportation is provided?

Driving is often associated with independence for some seniors. If you have physical limitations or take medications that make it unsafe or uncomfortable to drive, you will want to consider how that makes an impact on where you decide to live. Depending on the option you choose you will want to know the proximity to the grocery store, family members and friends, a community’s walkability, and transportation options.

Which option is the best choice for my social life?

Social interaction has been associated with health benefits like a sharper memory, increased physical and emotional health, and longevity for older adults. An integral part of quality of life is maintaining connections to those you love as well as maintaining friendships. As we age, it is easy to feel disconnected or out of touch. Strong social connections and interactions with family, neighbors, or other people you see regularly can help you or a loved one maintain quality of life while aging.  

Which option best fits into my financial plan and will accommodate future changes to my health?

Being realistic about your finances and creating a budget is a great step towards planning long-term care for your future. In many cases, budgets and savings have a limit for what is covered. It is important to include the possibility of being a resident in more than one senior living facility in your healthy aging plan. Making solid financial plans or creating a new financial plan could help you decide which move is the right decision for you now and how to prepare financially for health changes that may occur in the future. The National Institute on aging has detailed information on covering the costs of long-term care, you can read about here.

Consider Hiring a Move Manager

Moving can be both a physical and psychological process. From furniture pieces and photos that hold memories, to deciding what to purge, to the labor it takes to move each item, a plan can help simplify the moving process for anyone. Once you’ve decided on the right senior living option, it may be helpful to get expertise from an expert that specializes in late-life moves. Caring Transitions has Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist with specialty training in move management, senior relocation and senior transition services ready to help you. 

This article is shared with permission of Caring Transitions.

Daily Money Managers Help Seniors Remain Independent

If you are an older retiree and have been overwhelmed lately with managing your financial accounts, it might be time to consider hiring a Daily Money Manager (DMM). A DMM is a cost-effective way to help keep your financial life in order by hiring a professional to help you keep track of paying your bills on time, balancing your check book, handling insurance matters and providing tax documents to your accountant. Depending on where you live, costs can range between $75 to $150 an hour and some even charge a monthly retainer instead of an hourly fee.

Atlanta Seniors Real Estate caught up with Barbara Scurry, founder of Senior Partners. Barbara has been a DMM for 6 years and 10 years in geriatric health care/ marketing.

“I’ll share with you the story of Dorothy, a client of mine for almost four years. Dorothy was 79 years old when I started working with her. She never married, had no children, siblings, or other relatives with which she associated and she lived in an assisted-living facility (ALF).She was highly educated and detail-oriented but had stopped paying her bills and was showing early signs of cognitive decline. When I started working with Dorothy, I had great concern that she would run out of money within 12 to 18 months.”

Saving and finding money

Scurry said, “I began basic daily money management services, including opening and sorting her mail, making calls to outside vendors on her behalf, and organizing her files. But I got involved with her life issues as well and quickly realized she was not getting the care she needed (and was paying for) at the ALF where she was living. I helped her find a new ALF that saved her $2,500 per month in living expenses.”

Dorothy was also missing stock certificates that were about to be turned over to the state of Georgia, “one evening, as I was going through some old papers I finally found them! When we deposited those certificates, they ended up being worth more than $125,000! That money helped take care of her needs for the next three and a half years!”

Help with moving

Scurry even advised Dorothy on moving, a service perfectly aligned with the real estate transition services provided by Atlanta Seniors Real Estate Team.

“I referred her to a professional move management company and coordinated their services to get her packed, moved, and unpacked at her new location.”

If you need the services of a Daily Money Manager, a great place to learn more about this unique service and find a professional is with the American Association of Daily Money Managers.

If you or your senior parent(s) are ready to buy or sell real estate in Georgia, be sure to contact Atlanta Seniors Real Estate team of certified and personable Seniors Real Estate Specialists to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Resources

Senior Partners. Main page  AARP. Daily Money Manager Helps Control Finances
American Association of Daily Money Managers. Main page

Will You Downsize or Rightsize?

Is it time to move to a larger or smaller space? Whether choosing to move now or later, you should start asking the right questions today.

Here’s how to tell if you should move to a larger space:

  • You need to make room for aging parents or relatives who cannot afford to age in place or an elder care facility
  • You must make room for returning children
  • Your home is overflowing with furniture and miscellaneous items that have no place to go
  • You are running out of storage space

How to tell if you should move to a smaller space:

  • You or your partner has health complications that are not suited for the current layout of your residence
  • The thought of caring for your yard, multiple bedrooms, or general upkeep seems stressful
  • Moving could save you money in retirement
  • Your home has lots of space that is never used

A few other factors to consider before deciding to rightsize:

  • You’ve decided to move closer to children or grandchildren to make new memories with family
  • As your wants and wishes change, your neighborhood may no longer provide what you need
  • Your home no longer appeals to you and you are not in the position to nor desire to remodel
  • Selling your home could yield exponential financial benefits

Rightsizing can be new, exciting, and in some cases frightening. Considering the tips on this list can give you a great head start. Your next best option is to contact a Seniors Real Estate Specialist who will help you work out a plan of action and time frame best suited to your needs.

For Full Article of questions and video to help you when it comes to relocating Click Here
Source: Lisa Haskell, Owner of Caring Transitions of Central Gwinnett  Click here to contact them.

How Seniors (and Their Families) Benefit from a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®)

Couple laughing

This specially-designated REALTOR can save the children of seniors a lot of time when their parents need to downsize

Not just limited to Conyers but all around Atlanta, many older adults who own homes eventually get to a point where their home no longer accommodates them as it was originally intended. They may no longer need the size of the home, be physically able to take care of the home or can afford the cost of maintaining the home. In too many cases, health challenges compress the time needed to plan for a housing transition, find a new home or other living arrangements and/or sell their current home.

The Challenge

The adult children will find there’s a plethora of resources, housing options and price points to consider, so finding a residence that is the perfect mix of warmth and proximity to health care providers and facilities while being functionally adequate for the challenges of aging means much time and effort is involved in considering all the options. Senior-specific financial and real estate considerations often must be handled by the children of seniors, while juggling their own careers and family life.

The Solution

If your aging parent or other loved-one needs to downsize or find a residence better suited for them, a SRES®-designated REALTOR is best trained to handle your loved-one’s real estate needs. They can sift through the options and present them to your parents, saving you a lot of legwork and time.

Hilary Walker, a SRES®-designated REALTOR®, Broker and Director of American Realty Seniors Division, says it best:

“The challenge is that ‘many adult children of baby boomers’ rarely have the time that is needed to gather all the necessary information about the services that would be helpful to their parent. This means the parent often remains in their ‘ineffective’ situation for longer.  But also, connected to this, is that often the adult child is trying to show the parent that it may be best if they no longer live in the family home that has functional issues relating to the parents’ current health conditions or lifestyle needs. The other challenge is for the adult child to find and provide solid information to parents without making the parents feel as though their child is ‘babying’ them or trying to take over. Seniors Real Estate Specialists like me can help with all of this.”

To be experienced in serving this demographic, the REALTOR® must pass the National Association of REALTORS-designed course. Earning the SRES® designation means the REALTOR® specializes in the needs of clients aged 50 and over who are buying and selling real estate.

SRES®-designated REALTORS® are knowledgeable about these things and will save you time by finding reputable services or handling them for you:

  • Senior housing options and locations
  • Move Management Coordinators
  • Counseling strategies to help in life transition planning
  • Remodel/Renovation contractors in case they wish to age in place
  • Factors and trends in housing, retirement income and finance specific to those 50 and over
  • Identifying and protecting seniors from finance, mortgage and loan scams that target this demographic
  • Aware of Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA), senior communities and housing restrictions
  • Advisers for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, Reverse mortgages, 401k accounts, IRAs and pensions as part of wealth management and to assist in real estate transactions
  • Protecting a parent or senior loved-one from losing access to Medicaid, Medicare, VA or Social Security benefits when selling their real estate

Atlanta Seniors Real Estate Team provides holistic real estate services for the unique needs of older adults and their families. Contact a Seniors Real Estate Specialist today!

SRES® REALTORS® also have partners in the Senior Care Market who help make the transition to a new home as easy as possible for all concerned. Kaye Ginsberg, founder of Peace of Mind Transitions, a full service seniors relocation partner, explains:

“Senior Move Managers take the stress out of moving. We work together with the senior and their family to decide which belongings will go to the new home, then work with them to manage what to do with the rest (sell, donate or dispose). We coordinate packing and moving and then completely unpack the new home; including hanging pictures and making the beds.”

Ginsberg said, “The first step is for the senior to identify what they will take with them and what they would like family members to have – and that’s the hard part. This is the first time in history that we have two generations downsizing at once – and none of the “children” want any of their parents’ belongings. Which means that many items like china, crystal and silver are not holding up in value for re-sale. Perhaps it would be better to focus on what I like to call ‘Doing Good While Downsizing’.  Why not donate items to a local charity who will make sure your items go to people in need who will appreciate them?”

Ginsberg says it’s good to strategize early: “It’s never too early to start thinking about the future.  Even if you’re not ready to move now, it is wise to know what your home is worth and what other housing options are available for you.  And it is certainly never too early to start thinking about what you want to do with your lifetime accumulation of possessions.”

Download “Your Guide to Stress-Free Rightsizing and Relocation” 

Sources:

National Association of REALTORS. SRES

National Association of Senior Move Managers. Your Guide to Stress-Free Rightsizing and Relocation