Journey with Mom

  • Well May has ended and I meant to do a post but here we are at June 1st, my monthly post is late.

This month I would like to talk about my mother. Stella is 95 years old as of last week. She has been a great example for me about aging.

Since this month I’d like to talk about aging and safety, I’d like to give you a few tips. She has Macular Degeneration, central vision problems.

She just had eye surgery for blood in her left eye that obstructed her vision. Now we will wait and see if it helped.

When you are dealing with safety here are some suggestions:P1040284

  • Clear all floors of rugs and loose items that could cause falls
  • Make sure the clocks, phones and TV’s are simple and easy to use and operate, backlighting is good
  • If balance is a problem have them use a cane, walker or wheelchair
  • Educate them on the correct use of the assistive device
  • Openings to doorways should be wide enough for a walker/wheelchair to enter
  • Thresholds should be as low as possible
  • Use grab bars and easy to use door handles and faucets
  • Be aware of safety in cooking areas
  • Explain the “who, what, why and how” of treatments and procedures you expect them to participate in. Repeat as necessary
  • Make their tasks of daily living as simple as possible to encourage independance
  • Allow plenty of time for rest as fatigue exacerbates falls
  • Expect confusion in the night time hours and plan for safety
  • Have a friend or family member accompany them during tasks. In a retirement home there are always willing friends
  • Make staff and caregivers aware of any changes in health

Good luck with your loved ones and if you need any help making their home safe for aging in place call me for a consult.



P1040255 P1040284For the last three months I have been helping my mother move into a lovely retirement home. This was my focus rather than business other than my current clients. I thought I would share the experience as it might help some of you with your parents. I firmly believe that you can make your home prepared for “Aging in Place” by a few extra measures or a small remodel. But when is it time to leave your home? In mom’s case it would not have taken much to prepare the bathroom and add a small ramp to the outside, we already had added handrails in the garage. However she felt that she would not be able to continue to maintain her home or her large yard, which she dearly loved to work in. This concern about getting outside to do her gardens caused her stress and from my standpoint she needed more social interaction. We had talked about this move for years and now at age 93 when a room become available she took it.

My first hint would be to get on a waiting list at the location you prefer, sometimes they are long. And if something happens medically you will need to move fast to secure a room.

I believe the parent or owner needs to go through their own belongings and choose what is important to take. Your job is to be patient in this process, encourage letting go but allow their memories. To do this I removed everything (small items) that we didn’t need to the garage, or you could use an extra room. Her favorite saying was “somebody might want this or give this to… My response was ok I’ll just put this in the garage.” These items were available for the family to see and go through and take what they wanted. Next my sister helped clean her closet and drawers. My daughters and I packed up kitchen items, xmas and photos. We were scaling down from about 1600 sq ft to 600 sq ft.

We had purchased her family room furniture in preparation of scaling down some day so I knew which items were going. When we accepted the room I measured it and drew the layout of the space, then measured and placed her furniture. We were able to take the family room pieces and all of her bedroom furniture. I put her tall dresser in the closet and doubled the closet rods as a space saver. I also took her large desk which she uses all the time instead of purchasing a small table since she eats her meals in the dining hall. I also used a small desk and put it in the bedroom for her sewing machine which was one of the required “memory” items. I tagged which artwork was going. All this was important for her to know what she was taking and how it would fit. Since I knew which furniture was going I added 2 paint colors for accent walls in her new home. I also utilized one set of custom drapes for her bedroom.

This knowledge also allowed me to explain on the walk through of the home with the Realtor how I planned on staging the home so she knew what condition it would be in to show.

We first made the move in one day into her new home and installed and put everything away so that when she came it felt as comfortable as her “owned” home. We hung artwork, made beds the whole works! While we were packing up her existing home I had the helpers move the remaining furniture in place for staging, then we added some artwork. I basically removed everything from an upstairs and merged it downstairs and rearranged art and furniture. We left items for her to be able to live there a few days and her comments were “how beautiful everything looked” but it was still all hers just rearranged! I have to thank my family and the crew who helped us move as I couldn’t have done it without them. So gather your family and friends so you can make it a smooth transition.

Next my girls and sister helped with the cleaning. Then my husband helped update the bathroom with plumbing, we painted it and I add a new mirror and accessories. I did the final stages of staging, mostly her pieces a few of mine and it looked fresh and new. Now we were ready to put it on the market. At this point I had moved mom over to her new home and she was getting used to it.

Now that the home was sold I could move on to the estate sale. I hired a great lady, Darlene, who helped sort, tag and price the items remaining such as household items, linens, yard, tools and more. Then we tagged furniture and art inside. For 3 days Darlene who ran the sale and my 2 sisters and I sold belongings. Some of it was fun as some people were so excited about their new purchase, some of it was sad to see mom’s things sold. At the end of the sale I called 2 neighbors who volunteer for Children’s thrift store and they took some items, a truck from NWC came and we made a trip to Goodwill. Then we took the remaining furniture to a consignment shop for resale and also donated some last pieces. I mention all this because it is not always that easy to dispose of all the belongings in one place, so do some research.

My best advice to someone going through this experience is to take your time and enjoy the process. It is tedious and time consuming. Remember that an elder person isn’t as fast at thinking or remembering as you are, you need to repeat things often. In mom’s case she hadn’t moved for 46 years so this was a new experience for her. It is hard for them to let go of their home and belongings, have compassion. I explained everything I was doing, repeatedly. We laughed a lot, find humor in the process. Mostly enjoy this experience with your loved one, she was so appreciative and I was so glad she was living. And it goes without saying, get good helpers and support from your loved ones. I wish you luck.

One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

69086-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Senior-Man-Character-Tripping-Over-A-CatThis month I am going to celebrate “Active Aging Week” Sept 22-28 and the 6th Annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day which took place on the first day of fall- Sept 22nd. This year’s theme is “Preventing Falls- One step at a Time”. Governor Jay Inslee has declared Sept 22-28 Fall Prevention awareness week in Washington State.

According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 1/3 of adults age 65 and older fall every year and for adults over 80 1 of 2 will fall. In Washington State alone, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among older adults. 10-20% of falls will cause serious injuries such as hip fractures. Those who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again. Many will have to go to a rehab facility to recover and will likely be afraid to resume their activities due to fear of falling again.

Currently adults age 65 plus are the fastest growing segment of our population.

Factors that contribute to senior falling are:

  • Lack of physical activity, which results in poor muscle tone and balance. Some surgeries, such as hip surgery leave the person in pain.
  • Impaired vision due to age or improper prescriptions/fitting of glasses
  • Medications either sedatives or antidepressants or multiple drugs
  • Diseases such as arthritis or Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s
  • Environments hazards- poor lighting, loss carpets, lack of safety equipment. One third of all falls involve hazards at home

The CDC and NCOA, National Council on Aging suggest these 6 steps to use to plan for reducing falls:

1          Keep your home safe

2         Have your vision and hearing checked

3          Talk to your health care provider. Assess risk of falls. Review your medications with your doctor and family

4         Talk to your family members. Falls are not just a senior issue.

5          Review your medications with your doctor

6         EXERCISE: it is the single most effective strategy to fall prevention, it will help to improve your balance and strength. Find a good balance and exercise program. There are agencies and programs to help you achieve this, check your resources to find out the nearest location)   Wear good shoes at all times

Here are some of the Environmental factors leading up to falls:

  • Wet slippery surfaces
  • Uneven or cluttered surfaces/floors
  • Unexpected obstacles
  • Stairs or curbs
  • Improper lighting or sudden changes in lighting
  • Improper shoes or footwear
  • Pets
  • Poorly fitted assistive devices for walking

Things you can do at home are:

  • Get a Home assessment
  • Remove loose rugs in the entry, kitchen and bath
  • Install adequate lighting at entrances/exits, hallways and stairs
  • Lighting can be on motion sensor, nightlights can be used in halls, bedrooms and baths, use 3 way switches
  • Have a flashlight handy for outages in handy locations in your home
  • Consider your surfaces, if remodeling use slip resistant surfaces
  • Clear the clutter from walkways, including be aware of where pets are located
  • Consider installing handrails in halls and bathrooms, which now come in designer finishes
  • Wear socks and shoes that fit and have good support
  • Have assistive devices adjusted for your height and weight
  • Label medications and take as directed, monitor for effectiveness per your physician
  • I hope this information will help to keep you safe and have a good Autumn Season!

Further resources can be found at:


Center for Disease and Prevention

Washington State Department of Health

Senior Services

Aging and Disability Services

National Council on Aging


db91f75d0176691b_4654-w422-h420-b0-p0---Aging in Place refers to your ability to stay in your existing home as you age or modify another home so that you can age in place there. Studies show that most people are requesting to stay in their home and communities as they age. Over 30% of the population will be 65 or older by 2020, 1 out of 4 Americans.

Home modifications can be accomplished by using the Principals of Universal Design.  Universal Design (UD) emphasizes “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation of specialized design.”  Modifying a home for Aging in Place allows not only seniors to live in their home longer, but young adults can share the home with their parents, children can benefit too, but it also allows the home “visitability” which means if you have someone with special needs they can enter the home to visit the occupants. This could be something as simple as allowing a parent to visit the home in a wheelchair or use a first floor bathroom. So how do we modify a home so that seniors can live there safely and comfortably? Try these modifications.

  • Good Lighting at entrances, try a motion sensor light; doors should be 36” wide
  • Use rocker switches, the universal reach range is 15”-48”
  • Place 3 way lighting at stairs and hallways
  • Lever handles on doors, a handrail can be added at 34-38” in height
  • Increase the size of doorways if possible, minimum 32-36” wide. There are hinges designed to swing an interior door open for a wider opening, i.e.: in a bathroom
  • If possible plan for at least the first floor bathroom to be accessible
  • Use blocking in the walls for the addition of grab bars later
  • At kitchens and bathroom sinks use single handle lever handles, consider automatic on/off faucets
  • Use anti scald faucets;  hand held shower head on a vertical bar
  • Arrange cabinet heights for access, 24-36” off floor
  • Place the cooktop knobs to the side so you don’t reach across the heat
  • Side by side refrigerators are easy to enter
  • In bathrooms use nonslip surfaces, do not use throw rugs
  • Use contrast in texture or color in surfaces when remodeling
  • Use devices that are tactile and auditory, that are intuitive to use
  • Plan for safety, the most dangerous place in the home is the bathroom where falls occur frequently

Certified Aging in Place Specialists can help you modify your spaces for safety. Call if you need a home audit done of your existing spaces.