Amy Jones, GHHM Transition Coordinator

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 9.37.50 PMAmy joined GHHM in 2015, probably thinking she’d just help us with a little project here and there. And lo and behold – we can’t imagine our team without her! Before joining GHHM, Amy began working as a Home Care Aid after seeing how challenging it was for her mother to care for her own out-of-state parents. Senior Move Management was a natural fit for her, and after helping us with the large move of the entire Memory Care unit at The Lodge, she was hooked.
As Transition Coordinator, Amy connects with our clients, manages our schedules and keeps us all on track. She spends hours assisting our senior clients with sorting, organizing and preparing for a move to a new home and finds it incredibly rewarding to help others through their often challenging transition. She admits to getting quite attached to our clients, and sure enjoys getting to know each of them on personal level.
 
When she isn’t managing someone’s move, this soon to be empty-nester loves to spend time boating and camping with her family, cooking, reading, serving at her church and watching football (of course!).

Question and Answers from NASMM’s Senior Move Managers

questions and answersThis December, many adult children of aging parents will make the long-distance trek back home for the holidays. As they plan for their reunion, they can’t help but wonder if this will be the turning point in their parent’s living arrangements for the new year. Here are some answers to common questions asked at this time of year of NASMM’s Senior Move Managers.

How do I approach this awkward topic with my elderly parents?

If you are increasingly concerned that critical things are slipping at your parents’ home (the food is spoiling, or the unpaid bills are piling up), then it is important to bring up the issue with them. Use a light-hearted tone, show respect and most of all remember that most of us don’t feel our age – can’t you relate? Emphasize the goal of asking for extra help: less stress, fewer burdens and easier chores (point out they get to define the parameters to protect their privacy and dignity).

Consider taking them out for dinner or for a walk so that you can have the conversation in neutral territory. Be patient – it often takes time to process.

How do I talk about my loved one’s loss of autonomy?

Imagine being in their position: what are they feeling? Fear? Uncertainty? Loss? Understanding those emotions will better prepare you for the patience required. If their safety is at risk, you’ll have to take action to protect their well-being. But giving them power over even the smallest of decisions (and as many as possible) is important.

Consider hiring a professional Geriatric Care Manager to act as a neutral party in evaluating options and offering support.

What can I do if my parents refuse to talk?

While honoring their perspective, it is also helpful to share how you feel. “When I see you struggling to do your own laundry, it makes me feel sad that you are carrying this responsibility all on your own. I would really love to help so that you can have more time to relax and do the hobbies that you love.” Speak with empathy, emphasize the positive outcomes and practice active listening. If one parent is clearly playing a caregiving role, privately ask how well he or she is coping with that, as they are likely hiding their struggle.

Geriatric Care Managers advise families when the next step isn’t clear. In-Home Caregivers assess and provide feedback. Referral Agencies make recommendations for senior living communities. Senior Move Managers trained by NASMM provide organizational support and oversee a transition to a new home when the time comes.

Remember you are not alone in wanting what is best for your parents. Ask lots of questions, evaluate options and ask for support. Take care of yourself, so that you’ll have the physical, mental and emotional energy to support them.

Make Your House a Home for a Lifetime with an Aging-in-Place Specialist

CAPSAging-in-place means remaining in one’s home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level. It means the pleasure of living in a familiar environment throughout one’s maturing years, without changing health conditions requiring a move to a new home.

There are three main categories of Aging-in-Place:

 

  • Without urgent needs: This group includes individuals who want to age in place and although they are not experiencing immediate or significant health issues, they have a preference for Universal Design.
  • Progressive, condition based needs: This group is made up of those with chronic or progressive conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, cataracts, macular degeneration or hearing loss that will require special modifications for aging in place. These individuals are usually aware of their needs but meeting them isn’t necessarily urgent.
  • Traumatic change needs: This group includes those who experienced an abrupt or traumatic change such as a stroke, a fall resulting in a broken bone or recovery from surgery that necessitates modifications to allow them to stay in their home.

Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists (CAPS) are remodelers, general contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants who have received formal training through the National Association of Home Builders.

“Through the training program, I was taught specific strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically enriching, barrier-free living environment,” says Margit Glenn, co-owner Visionarch, LLC in Port Orchard. “Barrier-free homes have features such as plentiful lighting, thresholds that are flush with the floor, no-step entries, wide doorways and hallways and floors and bathtubs with non-slip surfaces.”

CAPS Professionals like Margit can partner with a Senior Move Manager to ensure that every aspect of a home has been organized to suit your needs. Trained through the National Association of Senior Move Managers, At-Home Specialists can assist with:

  • re-purposing existing spaces
  • clearing clutter
  • increasing safety in main walkways
  • simplifying kitchen cabinets
  • organizing closets
  • donating or selling items no longer needed.


Senior Move Managers apply the same coordinated, compassionate organizing techniques to help you STAY in your home as they do to help you move. They can also recommend local experts when further assistance is needed from occupational therapists or caregivers.

To live safely and comfortably at every stage in your life, talk to a CAPS Professional about modifications to your current home, or building a new home, in order to make your home a home for all times.

You Can Do it All – A strategy for juggling life’s responsibilities

Juggling lifeNo more goofing off into the late summer nights: back to business, new schedules and school routines. The responsibilities you threw out the window in August are back on the to-do list in October.

Many women struggle to find balance and sanity while trying to accomplish the work of Superwoman.

With the catchy title “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” Anne Marie Slaughter’s 2012 article in The Atlantic created much controversy as women across the nation debated on whether “having it all” was just a myth.

According to Patricia Falotico, an IBM executive, women need to dispel the myth that work and life have to be equal parts all of the time. She shared a personal story of when she was caring for her sick father. “There were days when I had to be daughter first and executive second,” she said.

“I’m really concerned about people feeling like they have to define balance based on anyone else’s definition. It’s got to be what works for you,” says Marilyn Midyette, CEO of Girls Scouts of Greater Atlanda, Inc. She tackles “having it all” in seasons. “In one quarter, I may hunker down because I have major initiatives I need to get accomplished. In another quarter, it may be my kids are getting ready to go off to college and I want to be present for that.”

For a visual picture, local therapist Teresa Renner suggests that you imagine a pile of balloons at your feet. Write one responsibility on each balloon: work, son, daughter, partner, grandparent, family time, self-care. Now throw them up in the air. How hard is it to keep them all afloat? But what happens to the ones that do fall to the ground? They’re resilient…bouncy…patient. Could this be true of our real “balloons”? Could we take turns with responsibilities as our seasons change, and let some fall gently to the ground – if just for an hour, a day or week?

Last month I watched with admiration as my employees practiced the art of choosing which “balloon” to keep in the air as they strived to be present during changing life seasons. Some had kids starting middle school, high school and even going off to college. Husbands traveled for work, grandkids visited, self-care took a turn and a couple weekends were devoted purely to business initiatives. Because of their efforts to make conscious choices for their time and devotion, they entered their new beginnings with peacefulness, fewer regrets and energy for what comes next.

As you settle in to the changes the Fall has brought, challenge yourself to find the deep satisfaction of balance and peacefulness that can only come from within, when you are just exactly where you need to be in the moment that life hands to you.

*Above Quotes taken from www.womenpoweringbusiness.com.

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 www.NWFurnitureBank.org.

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!

Mölkky
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?

KUBB
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.

Cornhole
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!