REORGANIZING THE HOME FOR A DISABILITY

Reorganizing your home to allow an independent lifestyle for a person with a physical disability is usually not a DIY project. That doesn’t mean it’s a pipe dream either.
There are concrete steps you can take to make your home accessible for everyone and in a manageable way.

Considerations

Different Objectives

Every person’s disability is a unique situation with different obstacles and challenges. So, before you begin making adjustments to your home, consider the specific goals you want to achieve.

Explore a few different questions, like:

What are yours or your loved one’s specific issues or obstacles?
Will they/you require assistance from another person short or long term?
How intensive will that assistance be? (constant supervision or available aid as needed)
Are tripping hazards/clutter an issue?
Is their/your current living situation suited to their/your needs?
Do they/you have assisted walking devices like a cane or walker?
Which rooms do they/you most frequently use (and will this require more attention)?
Tripping hazards and stability within the home’s structure, particularly in railings, staircases and bathrooms, are especially important for seniors. Those who use wheelchairs need accessible entryways using ramps, lifts and widened doorways.

In several cases, developing an efficient organizing system for documents and possessions is beneficial. Removing clutter and objects from the floor decreases potential hazards.

Different Spaces

Just like every person has their own considerations, so does every room. The three spaces to pay the most attention to are the exterior entrance, the bathroom and the kitchen. These areas are used most often and have some of the biggest dangers.

The exterior obviously needs to be equipped so that it is accessible for everyone to enter the home, while the kitchen presents height challenges and fire hazards.

Give special care to the bathroom because this is where slips and falls are most common. Seniors, you’ll want to invest in grab bars, non-slip mats and new bathtub/shower combos that you can more easily get into.

Research

Research is, as always, the most important part of a home organization. There’s not much of the actual process that you can do yourself, so research is a great area to focus on to feel in control of the overall project.

Professionals

Like we said before, this is not typically a DIY job. While you can be heavily involved in major organizing and downsizing efforts, any actual renovation or restructuring in the home requires professionals.

We recommend reaching out to as many as possible in different areas. There are several resources available to you and making use of them can only benefit the overall process.

Occupational therapists are your best bet for information on technology, tools and renovations for people with disabilities. This is their forte and it makes them your greatest asset
Professional organizers can help with organizing existing possessions and creating more efficient storage systems once the renovation is complete. They can also be consulted prior to the renovation
Accessible Renovators, contractors who work heavily on renovations for disabilities, are also valuable, as they can offer ideas you may never have thought of. They will also be the most familiar with the proper codes in your province or municipality
For seniors, a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) can offer you the best solutions to create a safe environment in your current home
Products and Technology

Technological advancements have made better solutions to different physical challenges. The amount of options available to you is amazing.

For those in wheelchairs, ‘reachers’, hydraulic shelving, portable ramps and chair lifts are just a few of those options. There are fire alarms and door bells linked to blinking lights for those who are hearing impaired.

Technology is continually progressing so do a little research and you’ll be sure to find solutions for you.

Financing

Unfortunately, this usually isn’t a cheap project, but you’re not completely on your own. Researching different financial options is important because there are a few routes to help afford the changes.

Look into:

Provincial and municipal financing for disability renovations
Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)
March of Dimes Canada
President’s Choice Children’s Charity
Online forums based on your specific needs
Whether this accessible organizing project is for yourself or a loved one, we understand how daunting it can be. Your best move is to do your research and use your resources. We encourage you to reach out for more information on reorganizing your home for a disability.

Ronny Wiskin, a certified environmental access consultant, and Joanne Strang, my valued client, contributed, in part, to this blog.

HOME ORGANIZING ON A BUDGET

Everyone can use a little organization in their life but not everyone can afford to break the bank on it. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you organize your home on a budget. These tips will help bring a little order to your house until you’re ready to do a full project.
1. Magnets are your friend

Magnets (strips, surfaces or containers) open up a whole new space for storage: the walls! Without pulling out the tools or spending money on good quality shelves, you can go vertical with your organizing.

Use magnet strips to shelf these items:
– Hair pins
– Kitchen knives and spatulas
– Spice jars
– Nail clippers
– Tools
– Screws, nails etc.

And the list can go on and on. If you’re creative with it, just about anything can go up on the wall with magnets.

2. Repurpose old items

A lot of items can serve several purposes if you’re clever enough to think outside the box. Milk crates are awesome stackable storage baskets, while filing cabinets laid down horizontally (with drawers removed) can act like buckets for large tool dividers.

Take a good look at every old item or piece of furniture you’re ready to toss. Turn it on different sides, imagine different colours, explore all your options. Odds are, there’s a way to use it for organizing!

3. Paint works magic

Something that makes it difficult to see other purposes for old items is their finishes. However, there is an easy and affordable fix!

Head down to your local dollar store, hardware store or arts/crafts store and pick up some basic kid’s acrylic paint. This stuff will work on just about any surface. For larger jobs, there is a huge variety of colours available in spray can form.

4. Around the house items

You’d be surprised how many everyday items can be great organizers, particularly product packaging. A lot of this packaging is designed with organization in mind, so they lend to storage beautifully.

Consider:
– Egg cartons
– Paint trays
– Cupcake liners
– Baking trays
– Ice cube trays
– Toilet paper rolls
– Old CD racks

All of these items can be used for organizing and storing items like:
– Jewellery
– Christmas decorations
– Wires, cables and cords
– Pins and buttons
– Beads and craft supplies

And virtually anything you can fit in them!

5. Dollar store and donated bargains

Insider tip: a lot of those drawer organizers, mason jars and storage caddies from specialty stores have similar versions in dollar stores. There’s no need to spend so much on smaller items like this when the bargain versions work just as well.

Take a look through one of the larger dollar stores in your area for organizers and storage products.

While we always recommend consulting with a professional when doing major projects, there are a few budget-friendly DIY options for quick fixes. Share some of your genius storage-hacks with us!


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11 Things You Don’t Need Now. So Purge Them

11 THINGS YOU DON’T NEED: SO PURGE THEM NOW!
Before your pile of ‘stuff’ reaches Everest proportions, let’s take a realistic look at those items. When it comes down to it, you just don’t need them.
1. Hardcopy files and manuals

Don’t go throwing all your important documents away just yet, but you can seriously reduce the amount you have. Bills, receipts and product manuals are making a quick move towards digital these days and that means less paper for you to store.

These are common documents/items you can get digitally instead of through hardcopy:

Phone bills
Hydro/Electrical bills
Cable bills
Internet bills
Newsletters/Magazines
Receipts
Invoices
Product manuals – technology and software
Credit card bills
And many more non-traditional items too. Switch your hardcopies to digital versions and you can toss the unnecessary paper.

2. Cheap travel souvenirs

While some travel souvenirs can be literally and emotionally priceless, some of them are just shot glasses and bottle openers.

Go through those items collected from your travels and really weigh what they mean to you. Can you live without it? Toss it.

3. Paper scraps

Having children tends to build up a lot of scrap paper over the years; construction paper, Christmas wrapping paper, drawing paper – the list goes on.

The last scraps of a paper pad or a roll of wrapping paper rarely get used. Instead of letting them accumulate, recycle them now and clear space for newer items.

4. Old receipts

Kudos to the responsible adults who keep track of receipts but anything older than a year is usually unnecessary. Keep important receipts for tax or warranty purposes but the rest? Don’t drag yourself down with more loose items – those things are garbage.

5. Un-paired items

Can’t find that missing sock, earring or glove? Accept their fate as officially lost. No point in hanging onto items that are no longer useable.

6. Dated items

Like receipts, you don’t need to hold onto dated items either. Décor and books that just don’t meet current standards can be donated or recycled. Old magazines are notorious for piling up where they don’t need to be. Unless you regularly go back and read year-old magazines, it’s time to let them go.

7. Clothing

We all want to hold on to our old wardrobe for nostalgia or in the hopes that our high school pants will fit again one day. We’re not teenagers anymore and it’s only holding you back. Donate your old clothes to people who need them; clear space for a new wardrobe.

8. Unused items

It should go without saying that items you haven’t used or looked at in over a year have got to go. Take stock of household items that have gone unused for a year and put them straight in the ‘donate’ or ‘recycle’ bins.

9. Toys/Nursery furniture

Parents know that toys can pile up fast and they get discarded by kids even faster. Don’t go down the route of storing toys and change tables for your children to pass on some day. Yes, a few sentimental ones can stay but there’s no need to keep all of them.

Gifting old cribs, tables, rocking chairs etc. to new mothers, fathers or grandparents can benefit another family.

10. Old technology

A lot of people are guilty of holding on to old iPods, cell phones, laptops etc. for a couple of reasons. One reason is the worry that they’ll be needed again at some point and the other is that most people don’t know what to do with old electronics.

Some can be recycled, while others can be dropped off at designated areas in your community. Try your local waste management site or businesses that sell those items, like Staples or Best Buy.

11. Knick-knacks

How do you decide which knick-knacks to get rid of? Pick any bowl, small garbage pail or Tupperware (the size is your choice) and promise yourself to fill it with knick-knacks to be donated. Setting a strict goal will encourage you to purge honestly.

There are several other household objects and possessions that have the potential to clear out, but this is a great place to start. Get in touch with us for more ideas on how to make some space in your home.

Back In The Nest

BACK IN THE NEST: HANDLING A CHILD MOVING BACK HOME
After a brief spell as empty nesters, more and more parents are welcoming their adult children back home. This is happening at a high rate, for many different reasons:
The current job market is limited and incredibly competitive
To build up savings for a home, paying off loans, etc.
Increasing debt from OSAP, tuition, school housing, etc.
The cost of living is too high for new grads
Job layoffs becoming more common
A difficult breakup or divorce
Helping a parent(s) through a loss, injury or illness
Whatever the reason, it’s a new dynamic that needs to be navigated carefully. It can also be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with your kids as adults. Consider these important steps for a smooth transition:

1. Initial Conversation

Have a serious talk with your child before any moving begins. You’ll want to discuss:

1. Goals and reasons for moving back home

2. Finances

Will your child be contributing to expenses like groceries, utilities, etc. and will you as parents be contributing to expenses like car insurance, cell phone bill, etc.?
It’s important to remember that parents are under no obligation to help with bills like these once a child has moved home. For adult children: yes, moving home is often about saving finances, but you shouldn’t be dipping into your parents’ savings to do so.
3. End date

It doesn’t have to be a strict move-out day with serious consequences if not met (although it can be)
For everyone’s peace of mind and motivation, it helps to set an end date so both parties know this arrangement isn’t forever
4. Storage and disposal of belongings

A new graduate won’t usually have a lot of items to bring home with them, but there still could be some necessary downsizing
Organize their items into categories: trash, store, donate, keep – distribute them accordingly
Consider storing some larger items in garages, attics or basements of larger homes or renting a storage unit if the move back home is short-term
2. Moving Back In

The next big step is planning the logistics of moving your son(s) or daughter(s) home.

About 1-3 weeks prior to a move, you and your child should have these items arranged:

Deciding what items are staying or going
Packing the non-essential items
Developing a plan and timeframe for packing the essentials and larger items
An organized labelling and packing system to keep track of their belongings
Selecting and setting up child’s new room
Booking moving vehicles and crew if necessary
Arranging times if family/friends are helping with move
Cancelling any utilities to the old space
Changing information and address on important billing information
3. Setting Ground Rules

Once the move has occurred, it’s time for another conversation between you and your adult kid; to set some ground rules.

This isn’t like the old days though, as both parties need to be acknowledged and act as adults. There will be no setting curfews anymore, but this should be obvious.

Both sides will need to acknowledge some harsh realities and be prepared to work together as adults, rather than just as parent and child.

Parents:

Your kids will be going out and even (take a deep breath) dating. This is ok as long as it doesn’t disrespect your home
If your child is looking for a job, understand that the job market is nothing like it was in your day – really think over any undue pressure you try to place on your kid
If your child already has a full-time or (possibly) many part-time jobs, understand that there is another working adult in the home – they don’t get handed a special helping of household jobs because they’re still the child; it’s an equal partnership of adults
Adult moving back in with parents:

At the end of the day you are not the homeowner, so parents get the final word
Just like with a roommate, run it by your folks before having friends or a significant other over; it comes down to basic consideration and common sense
You are not a kid anymore, so you will and should take on more responsibility than before you moved out
Help take equal care of the household chores like lawn care, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping etc.
With these realities in mind, negotiate the responsibilities to be taken on by each party and clearly outline anything you aren’t comfortable with the other party doing. Trust us, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches in the future.

4. Perspective

Keeping things in perspective is an important element to making this move successful. Getting a better grip on the other party’s mindset is the truest way to handle the arrangement.

Adult Kids:

Remember that parents didn’t grow up ever expecting to live in a world where children would need to move back home at the rate it happens now. It’s a serious adjustment, one they may not have planned for financially or otherwise.

Just remind yourself that any hesitance or restrictions they give is not a reflection of their love for you or trust in you, it’s just an adjustment. You’re an adult now, expect to be treated as such.

Parents:

It often gets lost in this recurring conversation, that this isn’t ideal for the child either. Having to move back in with the folks after finally gaining some independence is a big impact in most young adults’ pride. The harsh reality of the current economy and job market is also another devastating blow.

Generations in their 20s are becoming increasingly cynical to their current prospects and you’d be amazed what a little understanding can do to help motivate them to achieve greater success.

Additionally, it’s really important to remember that this is a common reality right now. Upwards of 25% of young adults in their 20s and 30s are living at home again after college or university. Jobs are scarce, the cost of living is high and student debt is a big problem.

This is not a reflection of poor parenting or a child’s lack of ambition. It is what it is and you all need to navigate it together.

5. Communication

Communication is the single most critical factor involved in this transition, as with any big life change. As adults, open communication is the key to keeping things going smoothly.

Any issues that arise or changes in either party’s situation should be brought up, discussed and resolved as soon as possible. This avoids any irritation or resentment from building up. Don’t let things fester.

While the logistics and process management of this move back home might seem difficult, don’t let that blind you to the positive potential. Your children can save a little money to kick start them for a more successful future, you can get a little extra help and company at home, and both of you can reconnect for a better relationship.

Physical Activity Has an Anti-Aging Effect on Cardiovascular System

Posted February 19, 2010

Brought to you from FindHelp4Seniors.com

Article by SeniorJournal.com, December 1, 2009

People who engage in regular physical activity are gaining an anti-aging weapon that will help them live longer lives. New research finds intensive exercise prevents aging of the cardiovascular system by preventing shortening of telomeres – the DNA that bookends the chromosomes and protects the ends from damage, a protective effect against aging.

Researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association that they measured the length of telomeres in blood samples from two groups of professional athletes and two groups who were healthy nonsmokers, but not regular exercisers.

The telomere shortening mechanism limits cells to a fixed number of divisions and can be regarded as a “biological clock.” Gradual shortening of telomeres through cell divisions leads to aging on the cellular level and may limit lifetimes. When the telomeres become critically short the cell undergoes death.

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to researchers who discovered the nature of telomeres and how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.

“The most significant finding of this study is that physical exercise of the professional athletes leads to activation of the important enzyme telomerase and stabilizes the telomere,” said Ulrich Laufs, M.D., the study’s lead author and professor of clinical and experimental medicine in the department of internal medicine at Saarland University in Homburg, Germany.

“This is direct evidence of an anti-aging effect of physical exercise. Physical exercise could prevent the aging of the cardiovascular system, reflecting this molecular principle.”

Essentially, the longer telomere of athletes is an efficient telomere.

The body’s cells are constantly growing and dividing and eventually dying off, a process controlled by the chromosomes within each cell. These chromosomal “end caps” — which have been likened to the tips of shoelaces, preventing them from fraying — become shorter with each cell division, and when they’re gone, the cell dies. Short telomeres limit the number of cell divisions, Laufs said.

In addition, the animal studies of Laufs and colleagues show that the regulation of telomere stabilizing proteins by exercise exerts important cellular functions beyond the regulation of telomere length itself by protecting from cellular deterioration and programmed cell death.

In the clinical study, researchers analyzed 32 professional runners, average age 20, from the German National Team of Track and Field. Their average running distance was about 73 kilometers (km), a little over 45 miles, per week.

Researchers compared the young professional athletes with middle-aged athletes with a history of continuous endurance exercise since their youth. Their average age was 51 and their average distance was about 80 km, or almost 50 miles, per week.

The two groups were evaluated against untrained athletes who were healthy nonsmokers, but who did not exercise regularly. They were matched for age with the professional athletes.

The fitness level of the athletes was superior to the untrained individuals. The athletes had a slower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure and body mass index, and a more favorable cholesterol profile, researchers said.

Long-term exercise training activates telomerase and reduces telomere shortening in human leukocytes. The age-dependent telomere loss was lower in the master athletes who had performed endurance exercising for several decades.

“Our data improves the molecular understanding of the protective effects of exercise on the vessel wall and underlines the potency of physical training in reducing the impact of age-related disease,” Laufs said.

The German Research Association and the University of Saarland funded the study.

Co-authors are: Christian Werner, M.D.; Tobias Furster, medical student; Thomas Widmann, M.D.; Janine Pöss, M.D.; Christiana Roggia, Ph. D.; Milad Hanhoun, M.D.; Jürgen Scharhag, M.D.; Nicole Buchner, Ph. D.; Tim Meyer, M.D.; Willfried Kindermann, M.D.; Judith Haendeler, Ph. D. and Michael Böhm, M.D.

Additional Resources:
• The American Heart Association’s Start! initiative encourages all Americans to participate in regular physical activity. Start! includes personalized walking plans for people at any fitness level. Visit http://www.startwalkingnow.org to download the Start! Walking Plans and locate Start! Walking Paths near you.

Saskia Wijngaard is founder of FindHelp4Seniors.com, which is home to the most comprehensive online directory for senior-friendly services across Canada. FindHelp4Seniors.com is a meeting place for seniors across Canada as well as their families and caregivers. The goal has been to ensure that Canadian seniors have access to the best senior-friendly community resources, services, agencies, and businesses – giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.

Saskia can be reached at 905.855.1558 or via email at Saskia@kw.com

Is Retirement Bad for Your Health?

Is Retirement Bad for Your Health?

A friend told me about some pretty shocking statistics indicating that retirees experience dramatically poorer health than their working counterparts. At first, I couldn’t believe it, so I did some research of my own.

Sure enough, many studies (some of which are referenced at the bottom) have shown that statistically, people who retire have not only poorer physical health but poorer mental health as well. They were more likely to have mobility issues, serious ailments and experience depression.

However, this doesn’t mean that we should try to keep working until we’re 90. Upon closer inspection, the statistics show that it is those people in full retirement who are suffering these ailments. Retirees who take on part-time jobs or have full social calendars generally maintain much better health than those who retire and become idle.

When you think about it, these statistics makes sense. The workplace provides an automatic social network which gives people more incentive to take care of themselves physically. You don’t want to be seen as slovenly by your colleagues, and so you are more likely to eat well and exercise. Even if all the exercise you get in a day is walking up the stairs to your office, at least it means you’re moving from the couch.

It is well-established that people with healthy relationships sustain better mental health. The workplace provides a place to form those friendships and support systems. It allows you to see your friends consistently and without too much effort on your part. After retirement, it becomes a task to get together- you have to set up a lunch date instead of just stopping by a friend’s work desk. As a result, many of these relationships fall away after retirement. Unfortunately, mental health seems to be falling away with them.

All of these statistics seem to be trying to scare us away from retirement, but we need to remember is that retirement is NOT a death sentence.  It provides endless opportunities to do things that you never had time for. You could take up hiking, get a dog, take a cooking class, join a book club and the list goes on; anything to keep your life busy and fulfilling. The secret is not that we shouldn’t retire, it’s that we must learn to retire right.

 

 

Way Back When

Toronto Company Launches Canada-Wide Directory of Senior-Friendly Services

Toronto – May 21, 2009 – We are proud to announce the launch of FINDHELP4SENIORS.com, the most comprehensive online directory of senior-friendly services, products, and business across Canada. FINDHELP4SENIORS.com is for seniors, about seniors, and contributed to by seniors.

“I am absolutely thrilled to introduce the launch of my new website, a consumer-reviewed directory that is the most comprehensive senior-friendly listing of companies in Canada. ” said Saskia, the President of www.findhelp4seniors.com “We have seen enormous interest from corporations throughout Canada. For the last 2 years, it’s been my dream to deliver a resource like this to every senior in Canada.”

The FINDHELP4SENIORS logo is a testament that the products and/or services offered have been created for and cater to seniors. The directory features user-generated content with reviews from the actual people who have used the services and/or purchased the products, providing seniors with invaluable information with which to make an informed purchasing decision. Our website is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and offers information that every senior in Canada deserves to have at their fingertips.

About FINDHELP4SENIORS.com

FINDHELP4SENIORS.com is the most comprehensive online directory for senior-friendly services across Canada, ensuring that Canadian seniors have access to the best senior-friendly community resources, services, agencies, and businesses.

For more information or to advertise, contact:
www.FINDHELP4SENIORS.com
905-855-1558
saskia@findhelp4seniors.com