Our Clearwater home health agency mission is to create an environment where we set our team members up for success empowering them to provide the best in home care to the community.
EasyLiving Home Health Services Blog
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
The first week in August is “Simplify Your Life Week”. This is a great theme and we’ll be offering some simple tips and ideas leading up to it, as well as regular doses of inspiration during the week (come on over to our Facebook page!).
Today, we’d like to tackle one of the “simplification” issues near and dear to us. We work with many seniors who need to transition to senior housing, or simply have years of stuff that has become overwhelming (and at times, unsafe) in their home. Too often, we hear from families who are dealing with how to get rid of mountains of belongings when their loved one relocates to Assisted Living, or after the person’s death. Dealing with all that stuff at a time of crisis and loss is stressful and does not allow the time to properly deal with it (along with everything else!).
This is why we encourage everyone to use Simplify Your Life Week as a time for a mini (or not so mini!) downsize. Doing at least a yearly purge has so many benefits! First, you won’t stick yourself or your loved ones with that stressful, unpleasant crisis situation (or it will be a lot easier to face at least). Most importantly, it feels good to simplify and helps you treasure what you do have. You might be able to avoid buying things you already have, but can’t locate. You could possibly find some treasures that have an emotional memory for you, and take the time to share it with someone you care about. It also helps keep your home environment clean, safe and more pleasant.
So, how do you go about a “mini” downsize?
- Consider tackling a specific and reasonable area. Is there one closet that is the catch-all for old items or desk drawers which have become the dumping ground for all papers and trinkets? Plan to purge and organize that spot.
- Sort in to piles: keep, give away and trash. The give-away pile might include charitable donations as well as items you specifically want to gift to a particular person. After your initial sort, go back and look at your “keep” pile again and reconsider your reason for keeping the item.
- Consider ways to capture the emotional connection of the item without keeping it (or by repurposing it). For example, old tickets or paper items picked up on travel or from events could be used to cover a notebook or cover a little table. Make a collage of old photos (or scan them in to digital form to enjoy on your PC, tablet or phone any time) you really would like to enjoy rather than hiding them away. Going through items might allow you to reminisce about the memory and then purge the item. Or, you can take a digital photo to have a “memory” of the item (maybe it can become your screensaver). Read some fun ideas from Ask the Unclutterer (the readers’ comments offer all kinds of ideas).
- Find more efficient ways to store necessary items. Scanning documents and photos can save a lot of space, but make sure to backup properly. Go through files on a regular basis to purge excess paperwork. Make sure paperwork and small items are well-labeled and easy to access. Reorganize your pantry to ensure you can see and reach food, and get rid of expired items. Do the same for closets or areas where you keep supplies, so you avoid buying more of what you already have.
This is a good project to work on with older relatives over time. When you visit, you can take some time together to go through rooms and do some purging. Hopefully, this gives you and your loved one some time to talk, reminisce and share. Our EasyLiving Personal Care Assistants can also be hired for various organizing and cleaning projects if you need some help!
When you do find yourself in the position of having to do a big downsize/transition, this regular maintenance will make a big difference. There are also lots of resources to help with big moves. Check out the Aging Wisely blog for Downsizing a Lifetime of Belongings and An Interview with an Estate Liquidation Expert.
Contact us at 727-447-5845 if you need help with home safety, household projects and maintenance or relocating. Join us on Facebook during Simplify Your Life Week for some continued inspiration to KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Monday, July 14th, 2014
Caregiving involves a lot of sacrifices. However, balance is important to maintaining the caregiver’s health and the well-being of the care recipient. What happens to your vacation plans as a caregiver? Can you go on your usual summer vacation? Can you attend the special family event or take that long-awaited anniversary trip with your spouse? Do you bring your care recipient along? Will you be able to put aside your anxiety to enjoy a trip?
The first thing we will say: it is possible. We work with many families who take vacations smoothly, even traveling overseas and not always being very accessible. Evaluate your personal situation, do some research and plan so you’re prepared. Come to think of it, this is a lot like planning the trip itself!
And, caregiver breaks are necessary. Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and well-being, avoid or delay out-of-home placements, and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect. One pilot study showed that respite may also reduce the likelihood of divorce and help sustain marriages.
But, now on to the practicalities…
- Evaluate the current situation and what is going on with your loved one. Depending on your loved one’s health and concerns, there may be times that are better or worse for a get-away. If you have control over scheduling, take this into consideration. You may also be able to work around a relative’s schedule so that someone familiar can come stay with your loved one.
- Think about taking a smaller break or “testing the waters”. This could mean trying out some daytime respite to run errands first, or taking a short weekend break nearby to see how things go. If a relative can come stay with your loved one, plan a few days together in advance to give instructions and provide a sense of the routine. This gives your substitute caregivers in either case the chance to ask questions and to get a feel for any potential concerns.
- Consider location and flexibility. Again, if you have control over where you are going, you might want to consider somewhere accessible and relatively close, in case you had to return in emergency. The idea of being out of communication may cause you more anxiety than it is worth. Nowadays, communication is possible and fairly easy from almost anywhere. Of course, a remote location overseas with spotty internet may not be best right now. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in communication a lot while gone. Make sure to give yourself permission to take a break. But, knowing you can be reached might help ease your mind. Also, especially if going further afield or on a costly trip, look into trip insurance and ensure you could get refunded due to an emergency with your loved one.
- Think about what kind of break you need. Maybe you need to completely recharge and just sit on the beach. But, if that’s never been your style, you might enjoy a more active trip which can take your mind off of things at home and recharge you in a different way (but don’t exhaust yourself trying to do too much!). It’s also important that you can attend events that are important to you (family milestones and celebrations, for instance), though if you’re feeling obligated and overwhelmed, it is okay to say no as well.
- Now, the most important piece is to prepare…this will ensure things go as smoothly as possible AND give you peace of mind. Download our Respite Care Checklist for an overview of the steps to prepare your substitute caregivers, questions to ask and how to find respite care help. Even if you have a family member who will be coming to help while you are gone, you may want to hire professional caregivers to assist with certain tasks. This is another reason why using occasional professional respite services can be helpful…you will already have a comfort level with a company and caregivers.
- Consider hiring a geriatric care manager to help you evaluate the best options, set up and oversee the care. He/she can be your eyes and ears while away, and handle any emergencies that arise. A care manager is that extra little bit of travel insurance you need!
If you do have a situation where you want to have your loved one travel with you, EasyLiving also offers tips on senior travel as well as senior concierge/travel escort services. You can check out our past blog posts on the topic and give us a call for help any time!
Contact us at 727-447-5845 for respite care help on a regular basis or for your travel plans. When you want real peace of mind, we’re here to help!
Monday, July 7th, 2014
A Roundup of Some “Best of the Web” for Elders and Caregivers: You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks, Humor and Caregiving, Staying Cool
EasyLiving’s home care team scours the web for the best advice and resources for senior caregivers, advice for aging wisely and we bring our experts to you with special articles and replies to your questions. This week, we share some inspiration and keep you thinking positive as you face the summer ahead.
First, if you have about 10 minutes, check out this great video for a little “positive aging” inspiration. This is a poignant reminder that it’s never too late to try something new (and us “old dogs” can always learn a few new tricks) and to remember to find wonder in our lives. Watching these ladies experience their first flight, you might find yourself remembering back to how amazing (and maybe a little terrifying) that experience was, along with so many other things we do that become commonplace over time. Let’s all aspire to try to return to some of that sense of wonder about things and see life with fresh eyes.
Next, we revisit one of our favorite topics, Humor in Caregiving. We were mentioned in a Tweet about this post and were pleased to read that this caregiver/blogger had enjoyed our article about Humor and Caregiving. We love the Bob Hope quote she shares, ”“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.” Come on over to our Facebook page for shared caregiver inspiration and tell us about your favorite way to incorporate laughter into your life.
To stay cool this summer, check out our Tampa Bay Senior Friendly Summer Activities post and view this video on Heat Safety for the Elderly. And, for some fun and interesting tricks, check out this video of “Summer Hacks“.
Need help this summer or any time of year? Call our expert home care team at 727-447-5845 for Pinellas and Pasco county home caregiver services, senior concierge and travel assistance and caregiver support and respite. Visit us regularly, follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletter for regular tips and inspiration!
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
This past week the EasyLiving and Aging Wisely team officially kicked off our Alzheimer’s awareness and fundraising campaign. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, during which we joined the Alzheimer’s Association in shining “a purple light for the millions of individuals world-wide and all the family members and caregivers locally affected by Alzheimer’s disease.” Our team donned their purple and kicked off several upcoming months of awareness and fundraising activities as we prepare for this fall’s Pinellas County Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
As we prepare for the walk, we will continue to bring you educational information here on our blog and we’ll have a series of events to raise awareness and donations. This month, we are having a 50/50 raffle drawing. Tickets can be purchased from Meredith or Laura in the EasyLiving office (1180 Ponce de Leon Blvd., #701 or call 727-447-5845).
As our founder, Linda Chamberlain, shared with our team, “we care about Alzheimer’s awareness because it takes awareness to get more funding, to make our legislators and voters aware. While we think about this disease every day as we work with families struggling with dementia , many people have less frequent reminders of the disease.” However, more and more families are being affected so we need to keep focus on the Alzheimer’s Association’s goal of a world without Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a few quick facts:
- More than 5 million Americans are living with dementia.
- There are approximately 500,000 people dying each year because they have Alzheimer’s.
- Last year, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion.
Check out our upcoming events and contact us if you’d like to know how you can join us in supporting the Alzheimer’s Association (or if you need help with questions or concerns related to dementia). Check out our Facebook page for regular updates too!
Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
EasyLiving’s senior caregivers and concierge specialists are experts at coming up with fun activities and helping our clients stay engaged, active and healthy. Here we share some of our ideas to help you take advantage of all kinds of fun activities in Tampa Bay:
Check out the great local performing arts scene.
Ruth Eckerd Hall always has a great lineup and you can find their accessibility information as well as some other great activities on our Pinellas County/Tampa Bay Senior Indoor Activities post. Check out Tampa’s Straz Center for a wide array of shows. The St. Pete Opera Company has a performance of West Side Story on right now (through July 6th) and several of our clients enjoy concerts by the Florida Orchestra on a regular basis.
Take in a game.
Since the Tampa Bay Rays play indoors, you’ll never have to worry about the heat or rain ruining your plans. There is also great (and inexpensive) minor league baseball all over town, from the Dunedin Blue Jays to the Clearwater Threshers and the Tampa Yankees. Many teams offer senior specials or special events, so check their sites.
Go see some of the unique offerings of our area.
The Tampa Bay History Center has a special exhibit from June 14-August 17th of The Highwaymen. Here is a blurb about the exhibit:
Unable to show their work in local art galleries, a group of African American artists decided to take their art directly to the people. They sold their paintings featuring colorful Florida landscapes out of the trunks of their cars along Florida’s highways, usually for no more than $35. They worked collaboratively, sometimes finishing each other’s paintings, and employed a “fast painting” method that allowed them to produce hundreds of paintings. Dubbed “The Highwaymen” in the mid-1990s by art collector and critic Jim Fitch, works by these previously unknown, self-taught folk artists became highly sought after by private collectors, and galleries all over the world started exhibiting their work.
The Dali museum is an amazing treasure for us to have right here in Tampa Bay as well. They also host the “Our Town Conversations“, a monthly series of talks with local heroes about their visions, accomplishments and contributions to shaping the identity of our town.
Check out our other blog posts (type “activity” in to the blog search bar) for more unique Tampa Bay offerings, along with home-based activities that are great when the weather is at its hottest. During summer, you can still enjoy the outdoor beauty of Tampa Bay during the cooler times of day. Get out early for a walk along the beach or enjoy watching the sun set over the Gulf.
A special note: If you have active duty military in the family, several local museums are participating in the Blue Star initiative, offering free admission to active duty military and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
EasyLiving is here to help ensure that age, disease or disability do not affect our clients’ quality of life. Contact us for help arranging activities, elder companion services, senior travel and concierge services and more!
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