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?!
When plans change and we find ourselves with nothing to do, we often have a little found time, and that’s a treat! If you were going out but cooler weather has cancelled your plans, you can use that time that’s been freed up to do a mini “fall organizing session” that will help keep things tidy and give you a head start!
Got 15 minutes? Grab the Vacuum!
For this kind of cleaning, you just grab the vacuum, and give the nozzle a quick wipe (you don’t want to contaminate your drawers with something gucked on there). Then, pull out the drawers in the kitchen, vacuum out the crumbs and dust that accumulate in the corners. You can also open cupboard doors, the refrigerator, and the drawer in your stove, to give the ledges a quick update and a refresh!
Have a peek in the bathroom cabinet, under the sinks, and anywhere that you have squirreled away medications (over the counter or prescription). Gather anything that is expired and put them (still in their containers) into a plastic bag. Medications can usually be disposed of through your local pharmacy, or at your community health centre.
This is the perfect amount of time to do some tidying in your car, and made really easy if you have a rechargeable vacuum or dust-buster. First, remove all the rubbish in your car and tie it up in a garbage bag. Then, vacuum any place you can fit the nozzle. Remember to get the space between the seats, and under the floor mats. In this time (depending on the state of your car), you could also use a couple of glass wipes to clean the inside of your windows, the handles, and edges around the doors. All that’s left is to drive through a car wash or visit your local wand wash, and your car will be looking good as new!
Most fridges and stoves have good casters on them these days. Roll out the fridge, vacuum the bits, and then wash off the sides, top, and floor underneath before you roll the fridge back into its place. For extra points, grab a spay dishcloth and wipe the rubber trim around the doors (be sure to coax it out of its wrinkled state, so you can get ALL the crumbs in there).
I was recently working on a kitchen where the building is octagonal on the outside, and so the inside apartments have all kinds of off angles to them. The fridge had to cross a metal transition piece to maneuver it outside of its hole. That was a two- person job that required emptying of the fridge and freezer, plus the muscle of two people and it was still a tough job. Make sure you know your appliances before you try to move them.
Picking up leaves can be a lot of work and plenty of people try to skip this clean up, but your yard looks so much better (and is much easier to prep in the spring) if you can devote a little time outside. If you’re in a condo you probably don’t have to worry about this, but you may be helping someone with this job, and so I urge you to read on!
If you’re not someone who enjoys raking or you physically can’t do it, you can always put the catcher on your lawn mower and try to rake them up that way, or split this up into several quick trips outside rather than trying to get it all done in one day.
While you are out in the yard, have a look at trees for loose or dead limbs that need removing. This is the perfect time of year to check your eavestroughs to make sure they are clear of debris, and if they aren’t you’ll want to call someone with a good ladder and insurance to do this for you (you can do this yourself, but this is one of those jobs I bring in a professional for because of the height and angles of my roof).
That’s it for now! I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to some warm fall days when the threat of frost isn’t right over me, but at least this way we get to pull out a favourite sweater or too and enjoy the crisp air!
If you’re in the Edmonton, Alberta area and you’d like some help organizing, downsizing, and more, let us know by completing the form on our contact page!
Just because you’ve got a teeny balcony or patio space doesn’t mean you have to miss out on gardening this summer. Teeny gardens are the way to go! Bring some food and colour to your balcony, window, or little gardening space.
My parents always planted and managed a big garden, including vegetables, roses, carnations, and several of my favourites…Lily of the Valley, lavender, and mint. When Dad got older, he set up a self-watering system of planters using recycled cloth bags and eavestrough so that he could continue to garden but not spend so much time on his knees. It was very effective, though still required lots of room. The next step was to reduce the garden in size and have everything contained in a teeny space.
I too am adjusting to teeny gardening this year, and there are oodles of ants, ticks, and other creepy crawlies right outside our door. We’ve placed some lavender pots out there, and a boundary of mint since both of them are a deterrent to what’s walking around the yard. Unlike marigolds, however, I can harvest the lavender for sachets and use the mint in several different recipes!
On wandering around the garden centre last weekend, there were some beautiful pots and planters and so I was looking to see what’s available this year for small spaces. I love the little mixed window boxes that have four or six herbs in them. They range in size from about 16 inches to 24 inches wide and they’ll produce a nice crop of greens through the summer, for about $20 or less.
The flower boxes and baskets are looking fabulous, and I see that they are going on sale this weekend so now is a great time to get a show of colour, for a bargain!
I noticed a couple of neighbours have started some vertical gardening with tall structures that you can insert plants directly. You can grow herbs, greens, and strawberries effectively this way. And, if you want to grow in the winter, you can use this idea with some special lighting to grow greens all year long.
You can set up a vertical garden by leaning an old pallet against an outside wall and hanging plants off it, or getting hooks from the garden centre to hang from your railing. Don’t forget to check out your local Dollar Store either – something they have all kinds of hooks, pots, and stuff that can be repurposed.
Air plants are trendy right now. These succulent plants can be popped into a vessel or can rest on top of an old brick and need next to no attention. Spritz them with water as directed, and they will last for ages.
If you’d like to get some help organizing a new home or somewhere you already live, with or without a teeny garden, we help with that! Fill out the contact form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
It’s Mental Health Awareness month, and to celebrate we’re taking a look at some women who are great examples of staying healthy, happy, and productive well into their third act.
Remember that great Ted Talk from Jane Fonda where she shares Life’s Third Act? You can check it out here https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_fonda_life_s_third_act . Jane Fonda’s had a great career, been applauded for outstanding work, and has revived her career after retiring more than once. Some people want to retire at 65, and lots of people don’t like the idea at all. Jane Fonda’s in the latter group.
Dame Helen Mirren has had a great career on stage and in film, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, either. She turns 73 this year and has six projects currently in production. In addition to playing a queen six times in her career, she played a tough retired spy in RED and RED2, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have a feeling that her role in Retired Extremely Dangerous is as close as she will voluntarily get to retiring.
Speaking of women who don’t show signs of slowing down, Dame Judi Dench turns 83 this year. Judi she has played the complicated M since the 1990s in the James Bond movie empire, in between many fascinating roles. Like Helen Mirren, Judi also has several movies in the works presently, and she reportedly likes to do embroidery to fill long stretches of waiting on movie sets. She makes intricate, elegant pieces, and finishes them with the rudest of phrases and cuss words before giving them as gifts!
What things are you doing to stop yourself from retiring or taking a back seat to life? Jane, Helen, and Judi have all had long, successful careers and continue to have fun, contribute, and work. They don’t show signs of stopping.
If you’d like to get some help with downsizing, organizing, or relocating so you can spend more time doing things you love, give us a call. We love to help people! Contact us here!
This month we’ve been talking about loneliness here on the blog. From grandparents babysitting to things to do to beat the isolation factor, we’ve come across some great projects and community efforts.
It’s not unusual for people to feel lonely when surrounded by others, although the feeling might be temporary. Feelings of loneliness get compounded when someone is isolated, feels unloved, or unlovable.
The reality is that loneliness can’t simply be eliminated by increasing social activities, or by sharing expressions of love with someone you know is lonely. Some people carry a past that is peppered with lonely periods, and others have been lonely repeatedly. And let’s be honest, there are people who are tough to be around, even when we feel like we could offer them some company.
This week, we found an interesting project by Marissa Korda, a Canadian writer who launched The Loneliness Project. You can read poignant, heart warming, and gut wrenching stories there, and if you feel alone and isolated right now, it might offer you some solace to see that there are others who share your circumstances. (Added bonus: and the design and function of her site are stunning, so check it out!).
Are we responsible for helping others to feel included, cherished, and loved? That’s a tough question. The easy answer is that we are not and cannot be held responsible for someone else’s happiness. We are each responsible for ourselves. However, there are people and programs designed to help, and they are worth checking out if you’d like to get included, involved, and maybe have some fun (I love the stories about the chickens, and the students who serve lunch!).
We don’t have all the answers, but we do hope that this month’s series on building community and combating loneliness have provided some food for thought. We also hope that celebrating great ideas like this will help make our communities good places to be.
While writing this month’s blogs we came across some great quotes on loneliness. We’re leaving some here for you, and will share them on our Facebook page. If you feel like they are something you’d like to share, please do so.
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!
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 second article in our Spring Cleaning Series, with a focus on where pets hang out, eat, and play. Instead of trying to get all our spring cleaning done at once, go ahead and break it up over several days.
The toughest thing to clean can be a cat litter tray. The hard plastic bottom takes quite a beating.
Clean the trays as part of your seasonal clean up routine, unless you see them on sale someplace and opt to replace them. That’s my favourite kind of cleaning for this particular item – get a new one!
To keep the outside area tidy, use a “boot tray” or a cute rubber mat outside of the litter box entrance. You can also use a big tray that sticks out all the way around the tray if you don’t use a covered box. The tray will catch lots of the litter that the cat flings about when covering his poop, and it’ll also catch some of the litter that gets caught between their toes.
Your cat(s) will be very happy to have a clean area for doing their business, and so will you!
Cat and Dog Beds
Can there be anymore hair anywhere, than in your pet’s favourite place to sleep?
Lightly dampen some paper towel to help “lift” the bulk of the hair, then vacuum the area with an upholstery brush to help remove the remainder. Depending on the fabric and the type of hair you’re dealing with, you can also use a tape roller or the sticky side of packing or masking tape, to pick up what’s left.
Remove zippered covers and prepare to wash the outside of the beds. If you can wash the insides, that’s a bonus too. If not, throw the bed away if there are signs of wear or pests, and always replace them if they stink. Sometimes it’s hard to pick up unpleasant odours in your own house, so ask a visitor if they can smell animals when they come in the door. If they can, you know you’ve got some deeper cleaning, or replacing, to do.
Be sure to wash water and food dishes daily. Hot soapy water is usually all you need, and use some vinegar to rinse them, then rinse again in clear water. While you are spring cleaning, be sure to wipe the walls behind the dishes (Mr. Clean erasers or Microfiber cloths are great for this), the dish holder, and wipe up the floor. Clean the mats (or replace them with something colourful and fun if they are beyond saving), and the area where you store animal food and treats.
Using Cedar? Try Wool!
If your pet beds have cedar in them (sometimes dog beds are filled with cedar chips), then washing the bed will destroy the power of the cedar to ward off bugs, so these do have to be replaced regularly. If you are tempted to restuff the bed yourself, you’ll need to be very careful with what you select, since certain types of cedar can be toxic to pets.
As a great alternative, check with your local wool shop or a sheep shearer (there are a few in Alberta) and pick up some washed, 100% wool roving to stuff the bed. Wool has properties that make it naturally antibacterial, resist moisture and mildew, and they are washable [though you have to clean them carefully to avoid shrinkage]. Wool can last for years if you keep it free of moths, and you’ll find that cats and dogs both love laying on a wool stuffed bed.
As always, if your pets tend to chew their beds and remove the stuffing, then a padded bed is not recommended, whether you are using cedar, wool, or polyester.
Pat Yourself on the Back!
Now that you’ve got the pet stuff cleaned up for spring, it’s time to take a break and spend some time tossing a ball for Rover, or playing chase the light with Felix. Enjoy!
Ready to get organized?
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, move, and more. If you’re ready for some help, contact us here.