To all the women out there who have given their time, energy, and love to ensure we become the best we can! It takes a village to raise a child and it’s never been so true! To the Mother’s, Step Mom’s, Aunt’s, and Grandma’s! Happy Mother’s Day from us at Elder Move!
By Stephanie Chamberlain
University of Alberta
EDMONTON – LIVING – What happens when a person grows older and can not make health and financial decisions for themselves – but also doesn’t have family or friends who can make those decisions on their behalf?
Health and social services use a hard-hitting term to describe this growing population: unbefriended.
Unbefriended individuals may have experienced homelessness, mental health issues or substance abuse; they may be estranged from their family, have outlived their family or never had a partner or children. Although the unbefriended can be of any age, they’re often older adults.
Unbefriended seniors are the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable — and we need to do more to safeguard their access to basic daily needs, including companionship, and improve their quality of life.
Not much is known about this population, which is why we undertook a study – the first of its kind in Canada – examining the quality of care and quality of life for the unbefriended across seven long-term care homes in Alberta.
Our study found that many of these individuals are low-income, living on limited government-provided pensions. Even though they’re living in long-term care facilities where they have food and shelter, few can afford basic personal care items, such as clothing, lotions or denture adhesive. Similarly, uninsured services, such as dental, hearing and eye and foot care, are beyond their financial means.
Even those who can afford these basics frequently go without these items because they have no one to purchase them on their behalf or arrange for appointments.
Our study found that overworked care aides in long-term care facilities – who often make a basic wage – frequently purchase supplies out of their own pockets to help the unbefriended. One care aide reported buying dental adhesive out of her money so the residents in her care could put in their dentures. Another reported seeing unbefriended seniors in worn and threadbare clothing so they scouted out second-hand clothes for them.
We also found that unbefriended individuals have limited social interaction, especially if they exhibit challenging behaviours due to mental illness or dementia. Little social interaction contributes to a lower quality of life. Those with more financial means could hire a companion for social interaction, but most are unable to afford this luxury or are unable to facilitate hiring someone.
In Canada, unbefriended seniors are assigned a government-appointed public guardian to take over decision-making responsibilities on their behalf, such as for their health care and living arrangements.
But public guardians are not care providers or family members. They don’t spend much time with their clients who live in long-term care facilities because they’re deemed safe and housed. Many public guardians carry large caseloads of well over 50 clients. While they’re supposed to visit their clients four times a year, they often struggle to meet this goal.
What can be done to improve the quality of life and access to basic daily living needs for someone deemed unbefriended?
We could expand the public guardian role to include basic living needs beyond food and shelter, such as quality of life markers and social interaction. Alternatively, governments could fund organizations to work alongside public guardians to systematize such services so that no individual is left neglected or forgotten, or relying on the charity of care aides.
But first and foremost, we need to simply put the unbefriended on the map. We can’t address what we don’t count and measure, and largely, they are the forgotten population in the policy landscape.
With the numbers of single households rising dramatically, more of us could find ourselves in this position as we age. We owe it those who are at their most vulnerable to provide a life of basic dignity and security.
This article published by the Financial Post is a really good read and I recommend it for any age. It’s important to know what the future holds for us as we age. Questions to ask ourselves, will be have enough money to survive? What will taxes be like? Is there additional help for me if my income is less? Where will I live?
This article talks briefly about what living expenses will decrease, tax credits that are helpful, additional funding available, personal care expenses and more!
“There are five important factors that make the monthly expenses much easier to handle” – Ted Rechtshaffen
What better time than Fall to declutter, clear out, and clean up! Starting next Tuesday, October 9, 2018 we are sponsoring a 15-day declutter challenge where you can get some helpful tips, information, and win prizes as you declutter your home.
We know it can be tough to declutter and to stay motivated, especially if you have a lot to do. If you’re someone with a lot of clutter, you’re probably familiar with how one day you can be raring to go and make your living room look welcoming, but a few days later you can’t find your keys (or wallet, or phone, or the book you were reading, or whatever!). We set up this challenge to help you with motivation, information, and to have some fun.
At Elder Move Inc., we work almost exclusively with baby boomers and seniors in the Edmonton area, but we also know that we have people reading our blog and visiting the Facebook page from afar, and we want to help everyone. So, this 15-day decluttering challenge is for all to jump in, whether you want to get things tidied up, you are getting ready for shifting space, or you just want to create a more comfortable home and get rid of some clutter.
To Declutter is Different than Downsizing
First, let’s differentiate between downsizing and decluttering. Downsizing can be a HUGE undertaking, including methods for making better use of a space, creating storage, and decluttering. If you are downsizing for the first time, it can be overwhelming, and we’d like to make this challenge easy and fun, so we are going to focus on decluttering only.
Each declutter challenge during the 15 days will take just 15-30 minutes. That’s it! To be successful, make sure you set aside 30 minutes so you aren’t being interrupted by the phone or a visitor. Put the time in your schedule or a planner so you’re not tempted to fill it with something else. The challenges will be posted on our Facebook page each morning by 7:00 a.m. Mountain Time, so you can start anytime you like.
Each weekday will include one decluttering task, and it’s designed to be completed in 15-30 minutes. Complete all the tasks, and your home is going to be a more pleasant, safe, and wonderful place to be in. If we set up a task that you don’t need to do, you can either complete a task of your own choosing, or you can have that day to yourself. It’s up to you! You’ll also get the weekends off to catch up on any challenges that needed more than 30-minutes, or to spend some time curled up with a good book. Click here for some recommendations! In between, we’ll post some motivational and interesting tidbits on our Facebook page for you.
This coming weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, so we will launch declutter challenge next Tuesday, October 9. In the meantime, check your supplies. Make sure you have some supplies ready to help with the challenge. Handy items include:
- Black or green bags for garbage
- Clear or blue bags for recycling
- Bins or boxes for items that you want to donate
- Packing tape for the boxes
- Felt pen for labelling
This challenge is open for anyone who wants to have some fun while decluttering, and it’s open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 118. Encourage your parents, relatives, and neighbours to get involved.
Anyone who takes part in at least seven of the challenges AND posts their before and after pictures on our Facebook page (or you can email them to us if you’re shy) will be entered into a draw for a special little treat that won’t clutter up your house.
Now, where are those bags and boxes?!
We’re looking for examples of seniors being connected to their communities. It’s a simple concept, and the motivation behind it is that people who live in seniors’ residences can sometimes find themselves shut in, or at the very least, disconnected from their previous neighbourhood. The problem gets compounded when they aren’t able to drive or have trouble with mobility and can’t take a bus, or afford a cab.
A fun, healthy business where you can learn how to make your own meals, or simply go in and purchase healthy, pre-made meals, is Simply Supper. Have you been to their kitchens yet? Did you know they also do classes on location in two kitchens in Edmonton? Plus, they will also do classes for special occasions, groups, etc. that you set up. I spoke with Monita, the owner, and she said that things are very busy in their kitchens because people are committed to eating right, even when they are too busy to cook. Check out the fab reviews on their Facebook page, here.
Have you noticed the Fresh Express Bus in your neighbourhood yet? This is a service started by Andrew Lineker, in Edmonton. Mr. Lineker’s background includes working at farmers’ markets, and now he is bringing the markets to neighbourhoods and communities on a bus. The company was featured recently on CTV News Edmonton, and the reviews from customers are ecstatic! The bus has stops all over the city, with plans for a larger fleet in the works. Check out the video here.
Making Something Old New Again
Having groceries delivered might seem novel, and I chuckle since that’s how people used to get a lot of their groceries around here. Some of the newer options are great, though, including green box and organic box deliveries, or meal kits in a box that you can put together in a hurry, or even click and collect at the big grocery chains. Look around for what’s available near you.
Some of the boxed meals are designed for a minimum of two people, and if you’re single you’ll have to be prepared for leftovers or invite a friend over. Simply Supper also offers a single serving option, and other options are handy where they offer delivery to your home or work, or a handy pick up spot.
So Many Options
Community kitchens, travelling markets, and grocery delivery are all terrific options for healthy eating, and for gathering with others. The sense of belonging that comes from joining friends at the table can’t be beat, and if you prefer to eat on your own, shopping at businesses like these can help you keep connected, and full of healthy grub.
A big problem for seniors is that of loneliness. We’ve written this article to help seniors, their families, and professional caregivers to help create healthy, active lives that fight loneliness.
You may have connected with organizations that will help you help others. If you’re not connected, have a look for local agencies in your city by Googling the name of your city and adding the term “seniors association” to find local support. You can also speak with a social worker, staff in your doctor’s office, and checkout the Caregiver’s Association of Alberta.
Some folks enjoy time to themselves, and they may not feel lonely. Being lonely is about a sense of isolation that can bring on feelings of sadness, decreased appetite, and contribute to people closing themselves off even more. The list here are some practical things you can do to help fight loneliness for people you care for, including your parents, grandparents, neighbours, and yourself.
If you’re going to visit someone you don’t know that well and find it awkward, create a list of conversation starters. Although this idea may sound silly, it really works because you’ll always have something to talk about! Avoid topics that you know are hot buttons for the other person. Ask open questions so that you don’t accidentally kill the conversation or make it awkward. Since loneliness can be worse if someone spends a lot of time living in the past, it’s important to try and learn about the person while encouraging them to appreciate the present. For example, if they loved playing football and you know of a high school or university football team in the area, you could find out when the next game is and go watch it together.
- What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? (Great discussion starter)
- What’s your favourite lunchtime snack? (You could make lunch together)
- What kind of reading / shows do you enjoy? (How about a trip to the library?)
- Who were your friends when you were growing up? (More great discussions)
- What were your favourite activities / sports at school? (A great way to connect with activities of interest in the community)
Get out of the house
If mobility is not a challenge, offer to take someone out for a fancy tea or coffee and get them out of their home. There are lots of independent places, or you could visit a big chain. Stopping at a local park and taking in an outdoor exercise class for seniors, or having some fun with an activity reminds people what is happening in the community.
If mobility is a challenge, bring a fancy drink to them or bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it together. Sharing pictures from your laptop or a tablet can help bring the outside to someone who is confined indoors.
Help the kids
If your kids are shy or find it awkward to go visiting with you, help them out by giving them a list of conversation starters, too. They might be fascinated by some topic but find it hard to ask about something and you can help them out. You can also take a game that’s kid and family friendly that everyone can play – cards, board games, and puzzles (get the right sized pieces for your crowd) are often a hit. If you don’t have any games handy, you can often pick them up inexpensively at Value Village or borrow them from the library. Get creative with this, and don’t think you have to stick with old fashioned games. Modern card games for older kids and adults like Mad Gab, or Cards Against Humanity, are a hoot.
Take a class together
With great little businesses like Clay and Cupcakes, Plant Nite, and Paint Nite available, plenty of fun can be had in stress free, short, creativity based outings. Of course, there are always longer classes to commit to, and seniors love classes that are short one-time events (like a how-to class on computers, for example), and longer series of classes, too. If you know of a group of seniors who share interest in a topic, you can even bring the instructor to them to make things easier to coordinate.
If you know a senior who is lonely, speak with them about what they want to do. They may need just a little help, or a few ideas. They might want to do something that makes them feel appreciated, or needed, or valuable. They may want to do something that offers a distraction, or do something creative, or perhaps they really need some medical help and are afraid to ask. If you can’t help them get what they’re after, get their permission to speak with a social worker, health care provider, and whomever else you need to. Regular social visits, activities, and outings can make a huge difference in people’s lives, replacing loneliness with purpose and motivation.
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, and relocate. We’re specialists at making sure that your home is the place where you feel comfortable, safe, and content. If you’re interested in getting some help and you’re in the Edmonton, AB, complete the contact form and get in touch!
There’s a story that has resurfaced about how babysitting is good for grandparents. It’s a catchy headline to explain a study from 2014 that demonstrated how people who were around their grandkids had better cognitive scores and were able to prevent or delay the onset of dementia (although childminding for 5 days or more a week led to lower results).
The results make sense, even though this study was conducted on a tiny sample of people. Seniors who don’t see their families much tell us how lonely they are. Sometimes a senior ends up spending a lot of time alone because they are a widow, divorced, their kids have moved away, and there are plenty of seniors who never had children. Anyone can be lonely, even if they are surrounded by people.
About the grandkids
If you’ve got grandkids and they are close to you, do invite them over. Have some games or activities that they can participate in so they get to know you, and they aren’t left getting bored while the adults do all the talking. Go see their concerts at school, be a cheerleader at their sports events, and take an interest in what they are doing. If you learn about some pop culture, you’ll have lots of avenues to connect with them.
Lots of grandparents live a long way away from their grandkids, but these days it’s easy to connect by phone, FaceTime, and all kinds of technology. Kids still love getting a card or note in the mail too.
Of course, there are other things you can do to keep busy, and social.
Plan some events
Create an excuse to get out! Rent a social room in your building, or book space at a café or restaurant in the neighbourhood. People love to connect around food and even if no one wants to cook, it’s very convenient to pick up ready to serve food at a local deli or have it catered. Create a simple theme for your event (an unbirthday party, or an unretirement event, or host a paint nite), and make something happen.
Join a club or create your own
If you belonged to clubs or associations before now, this is probably easy for you. Find a club that interests you and get started. If you’ve never been a joiner, think of this as an opportunity to do something new and exciting. You can start small and attend one off events instead of committing to something for a long period of time. Attend a feast at the local seniors’ centre or legion; volunteer to collect tickets at a festival; check out a walking or exercise club. If those ideas don’t sound interesting, keep exploring until you find something that clicks. To get some more ideas, check out Meetup to see what’s in your local area.
Go back to school
Hanging around kids can be a great way to pick up on their infectious laughter and zest for life. Most schools have a formal process for their volunteers, including setting up a schedule, vulnerable sector screenings, and so on. They are also notoriously short staffed, so go to your local school and see what kind of help you can provide. If you love to read or have a flair for dramatic voices, you could read stories during reading week. At the beginning of a school year, little ones need help putting on their shoes at recess, and extra hands are welcome for hot lunch days. Figure out what you are good at, and help with that.
Get to the hospital
Have you heard of these programs for volunteers to manage a coffee and water trolly to take around to hospital visitors, or cuddle babies in the NICU? If you’re in good health and enjoy the long walks of hospital corridors, being a volunteer at the hospital could be a great way to help others. Hospitals are another place that can be notoriously short staffed and very appreciative of their volunteers.
Leverage the internet
Maybe you don’t like getting out, or your mobility is limited. If that’s the case, jump on the bandwagon and explore the internet! Lots of seniors are connecting in meaningful ways by leveraging the digital age. If you’re not computer savvy, take a class! Always be smart about protecting your personal information, and make sure you learn how to avoid getting scammed. Connect in online groups where you can meet other seniors and chat about what’s on your mind, find things to do in the community, play online games that help keep you sharp, and so much more.
Be conscious about avoiding loneliness
Getting lonely can happen very quickly. Lonely people can even feel isolated when surrounded by others if no one is connecting in a meaningful way. Make a choice to foster some great connections, and if you sometimes find it hard, remind yourself that stopping yourself from feeling lonely is something that you can do. It might feel hard at times, but the best things sometimes are.
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, and relocate. We’re specialists at making sure that your home is the place where you feel comfortable, safe, and content. If you’re interested in getting some help and you’re in the Edmonton, AB, complete the contact form and get in touch!
Today we’re bringing you tips to make the kitchen sparkle as part of our spring cleaning series. Some of these jobs can take a little time so be sure to spread them out if you need to.
Where we talk about soaking, wiping, or washing surfaces, here’s your recipe: a mixture of hot water, a good squirt of dish soap, and a half to one cup of white vinegar. Always use rubber gloves when you are washing with vinegar.
- Check the junk drawer and throw away anything you haven’t used in the last three months. Flyers, menus, elastic bands, twist ties, bread tags can all go as part of your spring cleaning.
- Vacuum crumbs out of the kitchen drawers, stove drawer, and cupboard fronts. Here is a handy gadget that’ll help make vacuuming those spaces simple and really quick! It’s about $20 CDN through Amazon, and might be available for less in other places, but it sure makes cleaning your drawers breeze! (This photo is not an affiliate link, but is just a link so you can check out the product easily.)
- Clear expired food in the fridge. Tip crumbs out of the drawers, and wipe them out. Check the bottles of condiments and throw out anything that is expired. Wipe the shelves, and inside of the door. To clean the rubber seal that goes around the edge of the door, pull on it gently to stretch it almost flat and reveal the crumbs and dust inside; wipe the bits out.
- Pull out the stove and fridge to clean underneath them (hopefully they are on rollers!), and wipe the front and sides of both appliances.
- If you have a self-cleaning oven, follow the directions for turning it on and open the windows.
- If your oven requires a manual cleaning, make sure you have a couple of cans of oven cleaner, a proper fitting face mask, and rubber gloves ready. After you are finished, make sure you have something fun lined up, because this one is the worst job in any kitchen.
- Remove the exhaust fan cover and soak it in soapy water and vinegar in the sink for up to a half hour. After soaking, give it a good rinse, shake it outside to remove the excess water, and set it aside until dry.
- Clean the fan hood and be sure to remove any grease (stubborn grease should come off if you pour a quarter cup of baking soda onto a plate, then dip your damp sponge into it, then scrub with the sponge).
Cupboards and Counters
- For that wretched (and wasted) space above the kitchen cabinets, scrub them down (this is where getting help is handy) with soapy vinegar water, and wipe them well. Once they have dried completely, cover the area with wax paper. Next time you clean, all you have to do is change the paper!
- Clear clutter off the counters. Items that you use every day (like the kettle, coffee pot, or paper towel) can stay on the counters. Things that you use less frequently need to be stored in your cupboards. If you have a big collection of mugs, drinking glasses, or mixing bowls and they are out on the counter, consider donating them to a charity.
- Descale your kettle (and tea pot) with 1 cup of vinegar and two cups of water and letting it soak for about 20 minutes. Scrub the inside gently with a plastic scrubber to remove any residue. Rinse well.
Celebrate your clean kitchen with a coffee and a nice plate of goodies!
If you’d like some help getting things sorted out at home, or you’re ready to downsize, move, or get settled somewhere new, let us know! Contact us here.
This is the third article in our Spring Cleaning Series and we hear you! Who has time for spring cleaning when there is so much else to do? And, if you have uncooperative joints, pain, or are prone to dizziness, there are things you don’t want to tackle. Here are some great tips to freshening up your bedroom, fast.
If some of these things are tough for you to do, invite a friend, family member, or consider hiring a reputable cleaning company. They have people who love to do Spring Cleaning!
Tackle the Bedroom
Your bedroom will feel like an oasis if it is clean, clear of clutter, and you create a comfortable space. If you want to change up the colour or mood, consider changing your bedspread, or adding some new cushions, or a pretty blanket at the end of your bed.
Spring cleaning includes doing the jobs you don’t do regularly, like these ones:
- Use an extendable handle and a reusable duster to clean the tops of door frames, windows, light fixtures, and baseboards.
- Check floor mats for wear and tear and decide if they need replacing. Mats need to have a non-slip backing but if you use a walker or wheelchair, or have a habit of tripping, you could get rid of them entirely.
- That extendable duster can be perfect for getting dust bunnies out of the corners, under the bed, and behind the dresser. Be sure to clean dust off of electrical cords, too.
- Use the upholstery or a dusting brush to vacuum the inside of your window screens and tracks.
- Take a few minutes to declutter the tops of dressers, nightstands, desks, and entertainment areas. Limit yourself to ten minutes per area, and be snappy about it so your Spring Cleaning doesn’t turn into a full organizing project.
- See this post for tips on getting your windows clean.
Enjoy your refreshed bedroom, and have a good sleep!
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, move, and more. If you’re ready for some help, get in touch here.
This is the first article in our Spring Cleaning Series and we hear you! Who has time for spring cleaning when there is so much else to do? And, if you have a wonky shoulder, or bad knees, or other uncooperative body parts, there are things you might not be able to tackle.
Below are some handy hacks to make your windows sparkle. Clean windows and their coverings can make you whole home look bright and cheery. You don’t have to tackle them all at once; remember that you need to go at a pace that works for you. Most of these jobs are best done with a friend around for an extra pair of hands and some cheering if you get tired. Friends are also helpful if you get yourself stuck somewhere, and you can always return the favour by helping them to spring clean at their place.
If you don’t want to tackle this job, scroll down to the second last paragraph to see an easy way out of it!
If you have washable curtains or drapes, take them all down and get the washer going (remove any drapery hooks first). Get help with this if climbing up and down on a stepstool is not your thing. Wash your window coverings using the gentle cycle and if they aren’t too wrinkly when they come out, you won’t have to iron them before they go back up.
If your curtains can’t go in the wash, you might get away with a good vacuuming (especially if they were dry cleaned last fall). Use an upholstery brush, and for delicate fabrics, put a nylon sock over the end of the brush to protect the material. If they won’t stand up to the vacuum, give them a good dusting with one of those extendable handles and a replaceable fluffy duster.
The best way I have found to clean horizontal blinds is to remove them from the window, and hose them off out side or wash them in a tub. That is a pretty physical undertaking, so you may want to wash them while hanging up. Vinyl, aluminum, or plastic blinds are usually washable. Prepare a bucket of warm water, with some mild dishwashing liquid, some vinegar. Wear a pair of rubber gloves, grab durable sponge or dishcloth, and get scrubbing. Careful not to move the grime from the blinds to your window frame or the walls, and be prepared to wash the window afterwards.
When you think you are done, close the blinds and then turn the louvers in both directions to check to make sure you got everything off them. Sometimes there is an edge that hides behind the louvers on either side.
Hanging vertical blinds are trickier. You can wipe the hard plastic ones with a vinegar and soap solution (careful not to let it drip on your floors), then dry them with a soft cloth. Fabric verticals can be vacuumed like the curtains above. Finish the job off by wiping with a duster to clean cobwebs and debris out of the hardware.
Roller blinds can be a pain to wash. You’ll want to clean them in sections, and leave them extended to dry…but not so extended that you can’t get the blind to roll back up.
The best time to get your windows sparkly is while the drapes and blinds are down. While you can get them clean with vinegar water and a little soap, there are also products (like Windex) that make it even easier. Be careful not to breath in the fumes from a cleaner.
If your windows are tall, it is worth investing in a squeegee tool to make the cleanup even easier. I saw one at Dollarama this week for $4 with a short handle, or you can get an extendable one at places like Canadian Tire or Walmart for about $12.
Take a Breath!
Once your windows are clean, your home will feel bright and beautiful. That might encourage you to get to the tasks in our next few blog posts, and it might not. That’s okay. By the way, if you’re not up to cleaning the windows yourself, check with your neighbours and see if two or three of you can agree on a time to bring a cleaning crew in to do everyone’s windows. You might be able to get a discount or a referral fee if you do it as a group.
Ready to get organized?
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, move, and more. If you’re ready for some help at getting organized for Spring, contact us here.