Snowbirds Prepare to Safeguard Their Homes – Home Watch Services Gaining in Popularity

Always Superior Quality

“During a season that brought ants into our kitchen and rainwater into our basement, we’re so glad we hired our Home Manager to check on our home and oversee calls from service providers in our absence.” -Sandy, happy Gig Harbor homeowner

secure houseEvery fall, snowbirds prepare to pack up and head south for the winter. Many of them discover just how much can go wrong inside their home where no one can see what’s happening.

“I’ll just turn off the water heater…”
Did you know that turning off your water heater has the potential to void its warranty?

“I’ll just turn the temp down…”
Did you know that a cold water heater can interfere with water softener systems, and lead to speedy corrosion and spring a leak overnight?

“It’s clean enough for while we’re gone…”
Did you know that sugar ants can literally explode in a feeding frenzy when unchecked, and are one of the hardest infestations to eliminate?

“The Security Guards will walk around the exterior every day…”
Did you know that a running toilet can waste up to 4,000 gallons per day and cost thousands if no one is inside to hear it?

A growing number of local residents are seeing the value in hiring a home watch manager to check the inside of their home for a variety of hidden risks:

  • UTILITIES – water heaters, thermostat settings, leaks under sinks
  • CLEANLINESS – food management, clean surfaces and visiting pests
  • APPLIANCES – Refrigerator settings, washing machine odors, car battery chargers
  • OUTSIDE – 
Patio furniture during windstorms, outdoor faucets and freezing temperatures, flooding at foundations

DISCOURAGING BURGLARIES – light timers, changing curtains & blinds, watering plants on the front porch, snow removal, packages left on porch

Gain peace of mind for the safekeeping of your home by hiring a professional, licensed and bonded home management company that will check potential problem areas. A home watch manager will meet with you personally, create a customized checklist and inspection plan, and schedule regular visits that accommodate your concerns and wishes.

The cost of hiring someone to look after your home is far less than the cost of a major emergency going undiscovered for weeks or months. Don’t count on the friendly neighbor who keeps on eye on it from down the street; the worst disasters aren’t seen from the outside! A trustworthy and dependable home watch manager will give you an added layer of protection, and bring you peace of mind while you’re gone.

Why Don’t My Kids Want My Stuff? Making peace and letting go.

“A seismic shift of stuff is underway in homes all over America. Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, family photo albums and leather sectionals. Their offspring don’t want them.” The Washington Post, 3/27/15

empty nestWhether you’re a baby boomer becoming an empty nester (finally!) or a parent of a baby boomer downsizing into a senior community, the dilemma is the same: you’ve spent your life collecting meaningful treasures…and now your children don’t want them. In my work as a Senior Move Manager, I’m often in the position of comforting clients whose children no longer have any sentimental attachment to family heirlooms or a desire to take furniture hand-me-downs.

Here’s a few tips for making peace with your own downsizing and de-cluttering process:
Give your kids permission to throw out their own trophies, yearbooks and t-shits they’ve saved in your basement for decades. Gen Xers and Millennials live life digitally; perhaps taking a picture of the memorabilia is better suited to their lifestyle. Treasure the memory, laugh at the good times it brought you, and say goodbye.

If you’re the parent of a baby boomer, recognize that your adult child already has a home of her own, and may not have space for your favorite items. And your grandchildren, Gen Xers and Millennials, are living in smaller homes, simplifying or still transient as they settle into careers. Although you may desperately want to save them money with your hand-me-downs, understand that this generation simply operates differently (whether you agree with it or not). There are often hurt feelings in this process. Remember that it isn’t that your kids don’t love you – they just don’t love your furniture.

Auction houses and thrift shops are flooded with furniture pieces – often selling for bargain prices. Consignments stores have either closed due to a declining market or they’re so selective on which items they’ll consign that many clients are turned away. So if your kids don’t want your items, and there isn’t a local option for selling, find a reputable organization like the NW Furniture Bank. Knowing that your furniture is going to a good cause can help ease the pain of giving it away. Take a look at

Peacefully accept that your children or grandchildren may not be as nostalgic as your generation. It’s difficult, but important for your family relationships. Senior Move Managers can assist you in recording your family history in ways that conserve space and make it easier to share with others – such as digitizing the stacks of photo albums or taking pictures of family heirlooms and then writing the relevant family history behind it.

Remind yourself that there is great freedom in letting go, even when the process is difficult. Be easy on yourself and find a way to say goodbye to the item while treasuring the memory that it gives you. Be grateful for the journey it took with you. And let it go.

Backyard Games

With the early arrival of summer heat, families across Gig Harbor are gearing up for neighborhood parties. Back by popular demand, here’s a listing of outside for kids and adults alike – just make sure to get out the camera. We’ll be watching for you on Facebook!

A unique game involving strategy and skill and can be enjoyed by both young and old. Toss the throwing dowel underhand and knock over the skittles. Topple one skittle and get the amount of points branded on that skittle, topple multiple skittles and get the amount of points equaling the amount of skittles toppled. First one to 50 wins! Mölkky is a great way for children to learn math skills and have fun at the same time.

Lawn Twister
Make Twister on your grass! Simply use spray paint for the colored circles. (Seymour Paint makes a quick drying marking paint that washes away after a few heavy rains or with a garden hose.) The soft grass cushions any falls, and doesn’t everyone like laying around in the yard in the summer?

Be the first team to knock down all your kubbs and then the king, or be on the opposite team of the player that knocks down the king before knocking down all of their kubbs. Watch out: Knocking down the king without knocking down the kubbs is like sinking the eight ball out of turn.

Think beanbag toss… but with rules, scoring, teams and way more fun. This can be played with 2 or 4 players. Each team has a platform with a hole in it, and 4 corn bags. You take the beanbag, toss it at a rectangular plywood board about 30 feet away, and hope to either stick it somewhere on the platform or sink it through the single hole cut into the surface.

Egg & Spoon Relays
A classic for all ages. You can go the old fashioned route and use real eggs and spoons; use plastic Easter eggs; or purchase a wooden version online. Divide players into teams, line them up, and run a classic relay race. If a player drops the egg along the way, he or she must return to the line and begin again. Make the game more challenging by setting up an obstacle course. Or, add another twist: The kids must hop like a bunny, waddle like a duck, crawl like a turtle…. The possibilities are endless!

Scavenger Hunts
Don’t forget the reliable, always entertaining scavenger hunts. Hide goodies around the neighborhood for the young kids to keep it simple. Or step it up for the older ones by making it a photo scavenger hunt: provide them with a list of required photos (in certain locations with certain objects) that they have to submit via text. First group to submit all of them wins the tournament!

This list is just a start. Hop online and you’ll be surprised to discover all the options for backyard fun.

While the summer brings out the best in most of us, it can also be overwhelming if you’re the one hosting the backyard BBQ or patio party. Plan ahead, make a list, and ask for help!

Our home organizer can help you get ready for the big parties and guests this summer. Call us today for more information 253.225.4864.


This article was first published in Gig Harbor’s Latitude 45 Magazine.

Aging in Place

daughter_elderymom_dog_hug37423266_mlSTAY-AT-HOME STRATEGIES FOR SENIORS

Many adults would prefer to “age in place” and remain in their own home safely, independently and comfortably for as long as possible. This requires much consideration and planning in order to ensure your well-being and peace of mind.

Here are some aspects to consider:

Location: Is your home close to your support circle of family and friends? How close is the nearest grocery store? Doctor? Pharmacy? Hospital? How will you access these necessities when you can no longer drive safely? Will you be able to afford to pay someone to pick up your medications and groceries, and take you to the doctor? Do you have family to assist with yard maintenance and home repairs? Can you afford to pay someone?

Home Modifications: Are there stairs in your house or on your front porch? Is there room for a wheelchair ramp to be added if there comes a time you can no longer walk? Are hallways well-lit and free of obstructions like boxes, tables and loose throw rugs? Does the shower have safety handles in case you lose your balance? Is the bathroom big enough for a walker when you need extra support to stand?

Emergency Services: Do family members live nearby in case of an emergency? Do they have power of attorney for your medical and financial matters? Who will check on you regularly to ensure you are safe and doing well? How will family members know if you are remembering to take your medications, or eating enough?

Several strategies and resources are available to help you stay in your home as long as possible. One option is to hire an Occupational Therapist who’s primary focus is to understand your physical limitations, and help you implement strategies for modifying the home in order to make it safe enough for independent living.

A second option is to utilize caregiving technology that allows family members to check on you from afar. With the ability to choose from smart phones, tablets, necklaces with emergency buttons or cameras, there’s a wide variety of options that can provide peace of mind to everyone.

Additionally, you can hire an in-home care worker who will visit regularly to help with meal preparation, laundry, medication reminders and errands. By simply relying on a little extra help when needed, you can maintain your independence and stay in your home.

Lastly, many Senior Move Managers are trained to provide guidance, encouragement and hands-on help for those Aging in Place.

Their focused services can accomplish a lot in very little time. A trained SMM can organize your home for easy access to what’s most important, create a floor plan and repurpose your existing space so it works better for you, help you decide if any items will be donated or sold, sort old paperwork and photos, explore home safety and maintenance concerns and provide you with the resources to plan for your future needs.

Aging in Place can be a viable option for many individuals, as long as it is done with careful consideration for your physical, emotional and mental well-being in the years to come.

Call us at 253.225.4864 for more information on how we can help you stay in your home; we’ll be happy to suggest some local resources for you.
This article was first published in Gig Harbor Living Local Magazine.

Summer Trends

Photo_sandals_VacationRental_cropPrepare for fabulous outdoor entertaining this season by relying on advice from Houzz and Zillow Dig. With this collection of 2015 summer trends, your outdoor patio will be the hit of the neighborhood.

Colors & Patterns: Say goodbye to warm, Tuscan colors and give a happy hello to light, fresh lime green. Easily add lime green to your current décor by purchasing accent pieces like throw pillows, vases and outdoor umbrellas. Take a step back, analyze ways to integrate the color scheme on your patio, and observe how even a small floral arrangement can connect the dots. Excessive patterns are a thing of the past; look for solid colors that contribute peacefulness and simplicity. Lime green brings an airy, natural feel to the streamlined spaces of 2015; throw in some citrus hues and you’ll be ready for sunshine.

Gardens: With possible water shortages on the west coast, succulents, herbs and low-maintenance native plants will be popular. Planting these in trending “vertical gardens” will provide a unique sophistication to walkways and privacy screens. Vertical gardens act as excellent camouflage for undesirable views.
Blended gardens are increasing in popularity because they combine beauty and food throughout the entire yard. Consider size, sun requirements and color before planting, and soon you’ll be picking dinner’s veggies alongside your rosebushes.

Lighting: Creativity is at the heart of this summer’s hurricane lighting trend. Group hurricanes together on tables, place a collection of different sizes on the front porch and line up along pathways. Hurricane candles create natural ambiance and intimacy as daylight fades.

Furniture: According to the experts, 2015 is all about simplicity and clean lines. Some homeowners will replace intricate, detailed shabby chic and wrought iron with sleek and modern. But don’t worry if you aren’t ready to part with your favorite pieces. Many of you will find ways to bring in the new trends without having to start over on the whole patio set. Adjust your color and pattern scheme, add some new lighting and you’ll love your patio, simply because it represents YOU!

Bring the inside out: Consider your backyard as an extension of your house, and create “rooms” for different uses: dining, cooking, playing and relaxing. Outdoor rooms create interest and encourage utilization of the whole yard.

Water & Fire: In addition to contributing ambiance and relaxation, water features also provide an excellent distraction from neighborhood activities and nearby traffic. Outdoor fireplaces help extend the short summer season, and keep you outside long after the sun has gone down.

Plan for the summer you want to have, and then make it happen. Review your to-do list and your busy schedule; consider the advantages of hiring a professional organizer to prepare the outdoor kitchen before the big party, or de-clutter the guest room before extended family arrives. Schedule family get-togethers before everyone’s calendars get too full, and go make a memory! Visit our blog for more summer-fun ideas.


This article was first published in Gig Harbor’s Latitude 45 Magazine.

Senior Living Communities:
Understanding their Differences

As one of the Top 5 Best Small Towns in America (according to Smithsonian Magazine), Gig Harbor has become a premier retirement destination.

In our own backyard, there are a multitude of residential communities for those 55+, and understanding their different advantages can be challenging. If you or a loved one are considering a move to a senior living community, the following descriptions will help you find the most appealing and beneficial type for your own lifestyle.

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) combines residential accommodations with a continuum of health care services designed to meet all your medical needs, without having to move to another community in the future. CCRC’s must provide a minimum of two types of service: fully independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or hospice; some offer all of these options.

CCRC residents are charged a “buy-in” or “entrance fee” which generally ranges from $150,000 to $1,000,000, as well as continuous monthly payments. Within any CCRC, there are three contract types (A, B & C) that reflect whether medical/health care costs are fully covered, partially covered or paid for as needed.

Assisted Living is a residential community that provides housekeeping, social activities and assistance with eating, walking, hygiene, dressing and occasional transportation. Constant nursing care is not provided, but many have Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s) on staff. Assisted living prices start at $3,000/month, and will increase based on the care required. Alzheimer’s/Dementia care is often provided in a designated area of the community that is specially designed to be safe and secure for those with memory loss.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (nursing homes) provide 24-hour medical care by licensed nurses for both short-term and long-term residents. Specialized Memory Care (for Alzheimer’s/Dementia) may be available as well. Prices range from $7,000–$13,500/month, depending on the level of medical care.

Some individuals prefer to stay in their own home as long as possible. In-Home Care organizations provide non-medical assistance with housekeeping, food preparation, dressing and bathing. In-Home Health Care organizations provide medical assistance through nurses, occupational and physical therapists. These services are priced at $25-35/hour.

Adult Family Homes provide 24-hour care for 2-6 adults in a residential setting. In addition to essential services such as meals and laundry, the staff will create customized care plans for residents that may include: Stroke/Dementia/Alzheimer’s/Memory Care, Diabetic Management, Medication Administration, Physical/Occupational/Speech Therapy or Hospice Care. Prices are usually $3,000-$8,000/month, depending on care levels.

There are so many choices within the local area, and it is wise to spend plenty of time researching which options are best for you or your loved one.

Some options to try out in Gig Harbor are:
The Lodge at Mallards Landing
Harbor Place at Cottesmore
Family First Adult Family Homes
Sound Vista Village
Brookdale Senior Living (formerly Emeritus/Merrill Gardens)
Brookdale Harbor Bay (formerly Clare Bridge)

We also encourage you to call upon Graham and Graham Elder Care Consultants for a free referral service based on your particular needs and interests.

Tell them we sent you!

Take Back Your Weekends:
The appeal of Minimalism

All winter you’ve looked at that garage piling up with stuff. It’s a disaster, so you’ve dragged everything out to the driveway to re-organize and put it back together again. Not surprisingly, your kids quickly lose interest and start begging for your attention.

“Are you done yet? Come play with me!” you hear it over and over again. Late afternoon arrives, the driveway is still covered with all your prized possessions and you shake your head in disbelief. And that’s when you see the child waiting for you in the backyard, because you’re his favorite playmate.

At a recent Florida conference for Senior Move Managers, Blogger Joshua Becker shared this story to a mesmerized crowd, speaking openly about his personal experience. “I looked out across the yard at my child, and saw the one thing I loved more than anything on this planet. And I suddenly realized that my stuff was keeping me away from him.”

This experience was the catalyst for the blog as he and his wife began a journey of re-claiming their lives, their time, their money and their energy.

Living a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t have to be extreme. Becker describes it simply as “the intentional promotion of everything you most value, and the removal of anything that distracts you from it.”

Think of how many hours you spend every day, every week, every month simply taking care of and managing your stuff: buying it, organizing it, cleaning it, storing it.

Does the way you spend your time (and your money) reflect what you most value in your life?

Are you discontent with how little free time you have available to simply be with those you love?

If so, be encouraged: “Discontentment is the greatest seed of change,” Joshua states.

Maybe it’s time to let go of those household items, and make space in your life for what you value most. Simply put, everything has to be dealt with eventually. When would you rather be free of the clutter and the financial burden: Now or Later?

Here’s some practical advice from Becker:

    1. Ask yourself: “How could owning less stuff make my life better?” Rather than looking at the “evils” of excess, look at the positives of less. For example: I’ll have more space, more energy, more time for my passions, more gratitude, more contentment, less stress, fewer
      responsibilities, more money.
    2. Experiment with what “enough” feels like, after all, you’re the one who gets to define this process. “Living with Less” will look different within each family.
    3. There are two steps: #1 Owning Less and #2 Wanting Less (and this is where true contentment arrives – so look forward to it!).


For more tips on getting started, visit our blog.

Transforming Transitions

“You’ve sorted my undies; so I suppose it’s ok for you to help me again tomorrow,” Margaret* said with a twinkle in her eye as her tired body leaned against the walker. Newly diagnosed Parkinson’s was quickly stealing her independence as she struggled to maintain balance.

Her daughter Carol* evaluated options from her own home out of state. Somehow, from afar, she had to move Mom into the safety and care of a senior living community. Fortunately, Carol was quickly introduced to a unique type of assistance that would go far beyond what a mover could provide. Often partnering with a moving company, a Senior Move Manager® offers expertise, oversight and compassion during a senior’s transition to a new living space.

A Senior Move Manager’s® work can begin hours, days or weeks prior to the arrival of a moving company. The SMM will get to know Mom, establish trust, and help sort her most private and closely held belongings. She’ll measure furniture and create a floor plan, make a moving schedule, ensure family members have arranged for continuity of care, and oversee the transition in order to ease stress levels on family members.

Senior Move Managers® take pictures before packing a single box, so that on Mom’s first night she’ll have the familiarity of knowing exactly where her phone is on the bedside table, or that her toothbrush is in the top right hand drawer in the bathroom, just as it has always been.

Before the movers pack the kitchen, she’ll sort the food, throwing out expired items that cause illness. Aware that the small area rugs are tripping hazards, she’ll make sure they are left behind.

The movers do a very specific job of getting belongings from one location to another, while a Senior Move Manager® looks at the entire transition: she knows Mom will need a quiet, warm place to go when her doors are open and people are traipsing through her house; she’ll realize Mom hasn’t had any food and needs a bite to eat; she’ll even suggest improvements for making her new home as safe as possible.

By evening, Mom’s boxes will be unpacked, her bed made just the way she likes it, and her pictures hung on the wall. And after the move, her Senior Move Manager® will visit to make sure she’s settled in happily.

If your loved one is moving soon, review your options thoughtfully. Hiring a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers will ensure high ethics, compassion, efficiency, organization, safety and responsiveness to your needs and wants. Click here to read more about how we can help you!

*Article originally published in Gig Harbor Living Local, April 2015.

Taxes and Paper Records

Tax season is approaching… and you’ve probably been looking at all the paperwork and wondering, how long do I need to keep this stuff? Well, it isn’t as long as you think!

The IRS says:
“You must keep your records as long as they may be needed for the administration of any provision of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, this means you must keep records that support items shown on your return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.” Need more clarity?

Here are some tips from

Generally, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return.

Individual taxpayers should usually keep the following records supporting items on their tax returns for at least three years:
• Bills, Credit cards and Invoices
• Mileage logs
• Checks or any other proof of payment
• Any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return

If you aren’t saving bills / statements, verify that you can request records from a service provider for at least three years after you close your account, just in case you need a statement.

You should normally keep records relating to property until at least three years after you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

Visit the above website for specific information related to small business owners, especially for employee records.

A word of caution regarding digital storage: Some websites suggest that you store old tax returns electronically in order to cut down on paper storage in your home. Please consider the risk associated with online data storage sites. Large organizations promising security and privacy are still susceptible to hackers. Your tax return contains extremely confidential information, and if stolen could provide significant identity theft opportunities. Be wary and careful when weighing your options.

If you’re facing paper overload in your home office, Gig Harbor Home Management’s professional organizing team can bring some calm to your chaos. Call us today 253.225.4864

Senior Living Colors

IMG_5197I’m intrigued by Sherwin Williams’ new “Senior Living Colors” that provide retirement/independent living homes with color pallets designed specifically for seniors.

From Independence color schemes that are “a favorite of seniors who crave spaces that reflect their culturally active lifestyles” to Memory which helps “aging eyes see better by highlighting the location of certain rooms or pathways,” these pallets are a jewel.



Here at the NASMM conference for Senior Move Managers, I spent three hours in a space planning session yesterday with ViewIT Technologies. Amazed to hear that even in high-end, new, pricey facilities there are still obvious signs that designers are not consulting health care professionals.  Rooms that are all beige – from carpets to linoleum to walls and shower curtains – are potential hazards for seniors with eyesight difficulties when there’s no color and contrast. Mirrored closet doors create confusion when a resident tries to walk across the room and hits the mirror instead, falling to the floor.

I’m excited to be engaging with so many experienced, caring professionals this week. The Senior Move Industry is growing leaps and bounds as more seniors and their caretakers see the value in hiring expert consultants to navigate the challenge of moving into a new home.

We aren’t moving companies. We’re move managers. We’re there to make sure the area rug is removed, so our client doesn’t trip and fall. We’re there to make sure that on the first morning she wakes up in her new home, she knows that her toothbrush will be exactly where she always keeps it – to the left side of her kleenex box. We’re there to relieve stress, reduce the chaos of a move, provide feedback to distant family members. We’re there to be an advocate in the middle of a challenging and sometimes daunting transition.

If you have a loved one who is considering a move to a new home this year, please call me to set up a free introduction of our Senior Move Management services. I’d be honored to share with you all the ways we can make those decisions easier for your whole family.

I can be reached at or 253.225.4864

Click here for more information.