Aging In Place

Everyone has the same concern: What if no-one wants my things?

Every client we work with shares a similar concern – What if nobody wants my things?

The family heirlooms elders have kept safe, polished, and close to their hearts are often not desired by children, grandchildren, or friends, much to the dismay of the elder. A recent article published by The Family Curator ( shared a list of the cherished possessions most often asked about:

  1. Photos and Photo Albums
  2. Yearbooks, Wedding Books Scrapbooks
  3. Journals, Diaries, and Letters
  4. Military or Career Memorabilia
  5. Unique and Vintage Treasures

Absent – dining rooms sets, fine china, furniture. The timing of the gift is also suggested – as presents or gifts during the giver’s lifetime.

Matching a gift and heirloom is key.  We recommend investing the time in matching interests with items, selecting the most appropriate platform for the item, and choosing what is a treasure and what is an object.

  • Scan or digitize family pictures, 16-mm films, or videotapes. It is difficult to share pictures. Often, old films or pictures decay. Digitizing your media offers longevity, opportunity to share, and experiences you can share and comment on in real time.
  • Children and grandchildren find old yearbooks as special occasion coffee books, display items, or special items to bring out at family events.
  • Elders and Baby Boomers complain millennial have lost the ability to write a note. Handwritten notes, cards, speeches, academic, business or hobby/interest items creates a living legacy and places thoughts into words for future generations.
  • Medals, service ribbons, uniforms and other pieces that speak to our ancestor’s military service are often welcome heirlooms. Burial flags tell a story and can be displayed.
  • A pin, bracelet, or collectable becomes a treasure because of the story that it tells. Sharing the story of the item – in writing, on video, or face-to-face, makes something small a true treasure.

The dining chest or flat wear purchased and treasured for a lifetime holds special memories for the owner. It brings back a moment in time that is cherished or an investment that became a milestone in a lifetime. We regularly remind our clients (and their families), that what is typically the most meaningful is a story to be shared for generations.

Are You An Elder Hacker?

Are you a hacker? In this case, hacker doesn’t refer to computer programmers. Elder hacking is a phrase coined by Glen Hougan who teaches industrial design. He views an elder hacker as a creative and resourceful repurposer. An elder hacker is able to use common and typically low cost items from office supply or hardware stores to solve everyday problems. A pants hanger holding a cookbook open at eye level or placing a lazy susan in the refrigerator to enable easy reach of everything on the shelf are elder hacker solutions.

Shopping for items that make aging in place simpler are often expensive or employ high-end technology. A fixed income will limit what is purchased. Discomfort with technology may limit an elder adopting a solution. My grandparents lived during the Great Depression. To them, the idea of being resourceful was instilled during childhood and part of their day-to-day lives.

A recent Pew research study found many elders lack digital literacy and comfort with high-end technology. They often see off the shelf solutions as difficult to use, not trustworthy, or they simply don’t address their specific issue. For example, a visit to the Apple App Store finds a number of apps that manage medications. When given to an elder, it may be too difficult to continually enter medications and set up the reminder calendar. A paper option (i.e. calendar on the refrigerator or in the cabinet) is an easier, less expensive, and user-friendly solution.

We all grew up hearing all about generation gaps. The gap between an elder and millennial may feel insurmountable. Elder hacking is an opportunity for the generations to collaborate, be resourceful, and look for solutions to make living longer easier, fun, and a consistent leaning experience.


Advocacy: Lose The Throw Rug!

Cold weather, icy walkways, slippery parking lots – stimuli for elder fears of falling and breaking or fracturing a hip increases substantially during the winter months. A recent medical study finds the potential of falling indoors by tripping over an obstacle – power cord, throw rugs, clutter, is far greater than falling in the driveway.

Fear the throw rug!

Author of the study, Dr. Jason Guerico, says, “Given the results of this study, it appears that efforts to decrease fall risk among the elderly living in cold climates should not be preferentially aimed at preventing outdoor fractures in winter…Preventive efforts should focus on conditions present year-round, and especially on indoor risk.” The research was conducted by the North American Partners in Anesthesiology at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain, Conn.

Analysis of 544 patients with hip fractures concluded greater than 55 percent of the hip fractures occurred during warm months, with the highest rates in May, September and October (around 10 percent each). More than three-quarters of the hip fractures occurred indoors. 60 percent of outdoor fractures occurred from May through October, not in the depths of winter.

The most common cause of both indoor and outdoor hip fracture is tripping over an obstacle. Indoors, throw rugs were the most common obstacle cited; and, falling out of bed was #2.


Safety Is Key When Working With Elders

Financial and emotional abuse are the most common forms of elder abuse facing this population today.  In a 2011 report of New York State elder abuse, only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse were reported to authorities. When working with elders, caregivers, or families during a transition — aging in place, right-sizing, downsizing, or moving & transitioning, our T3 team members often are frontline in identifying cases of elder abuse.  For some elders, a visit to the emergency room is frontline primarily because it may be the only time they leave their home.

The following story recently was published by Kaiser Health News* about an innovative program for protecting elders through intervention in there ER.  We are very proud to say that our team members are trained to identify elder abuse when present.

Abuse often leads to depression and medical problems in older patients — even death within a year of an abusive incident.

Yet, those subjected to emotional, physical or financial abuse too often remain silent. Identifying victims and intervening poses challenges for doctors and nurses.

Because visits to the emergency room may be the only time an older adult leaves the house, staff in the ER can be a first line of defense, said Tony Rosen, founder and lead investigator of the Vulnerable Elder Protection Team (VEPT), a program launched in April at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center ER.

The most common kinds of elder abuse are emotional and financial, Rosen said, and usually when one form of abuse exists, so do others. According to a New York study, as few as 1 in 24 cases of abuse against residents age 60 and older were reported to authorities.

The VEPT program — initially funded by a small grant from The John A. Hartford Foundation (a Kaiser Health News funder) and now fully funded by the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation — includes Presbyterian Hospital emergency physicians Tony Rosen, Mary Mulcare and Michael Stern. These three doctors and two social workers take turns being on call to respond to signs of elder abuse. Also available when needed are psychiatrists, legal and ethical advisers, radiologists, geriatricians and security and patient-services personnel.

“We work at making awareness of elder abuse part of the culture in our emergency room by training the entire staff in how to recognize it,” said Rosen. It’s easy for the ER staff to alert the VEPT team and begin an investigation, he said.

A doctor interviews the patient and conducts a head-to-toe physical exam looking for bruises, lacerations, abrasions, areas of pain and tenderness. Additional testing is ordered if the doctor suspects abuse.

“Unlike with child abuse victims, where there is a standard protocol in place for screening, there is no equivalent for the elderly, but we have designed and are evaluating one,” said Rosen.

The team looks for specific injuries. For example, radiographic images show old and new fractures, which suggest a pattern of multiple traumatic events. Specific types of fractures may indicate abuse, such as midshaft fractures in the ulna, a forearm bone that can break when an older adult holds his arm in front of his face to protect himself.

When signs of abuse are found but the elder is not interested in cooperating with finding a safe place or getting help, a psychiatrist is asked to determine if that elder has decision-making capacity. The team offers resources but can do little more if the patient isn’t interested. They would have to allow the patient to return to the potentially unsafe situation.

Patients who are in immediate danger and want help or are found not to have capacity may be admitted to the hospital and placed in the care of a geriatrician until a solution can be found. Unlike with children and Child Protective Services, Adult Protective Services won’t become involved until a patient has been discharged, so hospitalization can play an important role in keeping older adults safe.

During the first three months of the program, more than 35 elders showed signs of abuse, and a large percentage of them were later confirmed to be victims. Changes in housing or living situations were made for several of them.

“It’s difficult to identify and measure appropriate outcomes for elder abuse victims, because each patient may have different care goals,” said Rosen, “but we are working on making a case that detection of elder abuse and intervention in the ER will improve the patients’ lives. We also hope to show that it will save money, because when an elder is in a safe place, expensive, frequent trips to the ER may no longer be needed.

The team’s ultimate goal is to optimize acute care for these vulnerable victims and ensure their safety. They plan to work at continually tweaking VEPT to improve the program and to connect to emergency medical, law enforcement and criminal justice services. Eventually, they hope to help other emergency departments set up similar programs.

* Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.




Big Changes to Medicare Plan Finder by CMS

Understanding Medicare can be a full time job.  Medicare Advantage and part D plans can be hard to understand – or compare during open enrollment.  As a reminder, Medicare Part D is the Medicare prescription drug benefit that subsidizes the cost of prescription drugs and prescription drug insurance premiums.  Medicare Advantage plans typically offer additional coverage — vision, hearing, dental, health & wellness.

The following is an excerpt from Medicare Advantage News discussing changes to the medicare Plan Finder.  Changes will enhance the benefit data display that increase transparency and go live 1 October 2017.

CMS unveiled the planned changes in a May 22 memorandum sent to all Medicare Advantage and Part D plan sponsors, saying the enhanced “benefit package data display” will go live on Oct. 1, 2017.

While CMS did not respond to a request from AIS Health for additional commentary on why it is making these specific changes, a top agency official speaking at last month’s Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Spring Conference identified enhancing the beneficiary plan selection process as a chief goal of CMS this year. “Our focus is to improve the visibility of the beneficiaries in the Medicare program to identify the best options for them,” stated Demetrios Kouzoukas, principal deputy administrator and director with the Center for Medicare.

According to the memo, the planned MPF enhancements include, but are not limited to:

  • More benefit categories, including preventive care, diagnostic procedures/lab services/imaging, hearing services, preventive and comprehensive dental services, vision services, rehabilitation services, transportation, foot care (podiatry services), wellness programs and Medicare Part B drugs;
  • In-network vs. out-of-network cost share information;
  • Authorization and referral information;
  • Optional supplemental benefits with monthly premium and deductible; and
  • An expanded display for drug costs and coverage.

“If CMS chooses to list of all of these benefits in a co-equal way, it is a big change,” says Michael Adelberg, principal with FaegreBD Consulting and a former top CMS MA official. “Historically, CMS has sought to focus decision-making on a smaller number of core benefits.”

CMS has also historically favored minor adjustments over broad-scale changes, most recently making a series of tweaks highlighting which plans are under an enrollment sanction and adding more information about the sanction itself (MAN 9/15/16, p. 1).

But adding so much new information could be problematic, consumer advocates advise. “The Medicare Plan Finder has always been an extremely important resource for Medicare beneficiaries seeking unbiased information about Medicare health plans,” remarks Jane Sung, senior strategic policy advisory with the AARP Public Policy Institute. “While AARP is pleased to hear that CMS is continuing to improve the Medicare Plan Finder, we remain concerned by the growing breadth and complexity of the information that is being presented. AARP has long argued that the Medicare Plan Finder should be more user-friendly so that it can better assist Medicare beneficiaries as they analyze their plan options.

She continues, “While the new information is certainly relevant given constantly evolving Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans, CMS should ensure that it is presented in a manner that is useful and easily understandable for beneficiaries and their families.”

Consumer Advocates Question Usability

The Medicare Rights Center, which offers a national help line to assist Medicare beneficiaries in navigating the MPF during the Annual Election Period, is cautiously optimistic about the planned changes. “Those are all really good goals and we’re excited to see what CMS does, but I think we’ll have to wait and see a little bit in terms of how usable that information is in the Plan Finder tool. But those are things we think are important to include,” Casey Schwarz, senior counsel for education and federal policy, remarks of the planned enhancements.

Medicare Rights last year issued a series of recommendations to CMS on enhancing the MPF, including providing more “individually tailored information on the summary/comparison results page,” and requested that the tool make it easier for beneficiaries to see if their providers are in selected plans’ networks rather than being redirected to a plan’s website and having to start from scratch. A “searchable provider directory” for each MA plan on the plan finder would streamline the selection process, suggested the nonprofit organization.

Neither a searchable provider directory nor an option for individually tailored information were included in the list of planned changes issued by CMS. “We’re going to continue to push CMS for providing more information that is relevant to a particular person based on any of their claims data or information that they enter into the Plan Finder tool, such as information about the doctors that they use and whether the network includes their doctors,” says Schwarz. But based on CMS’s response to the September 2016 letter from Medicare Rights and other conversations, there are technological and other limitations facing CMS that may keep it from establishing, for example, a searchable provider directory.

Nevertheless, Medicare Rights has observed that CMS is “willing to make improvements” to the tool and that prior changes, such as increased accuracy and more frequent updating to address problems experienced during open enrollment, have made it more usable over time, adds Schwarz.Meanwhile, whether the expansion of core benefits on display will drive plans to incorporate more low cost “extras” (e.g., dental and vision benefits, wellness programs) into their bids remains to be seen. Shelly Brandel and Pat Dunks, both principals and consulting actuaries with Milliman, say there was no immediate reaction from plans to change up their 2018 bids (see story, p. 1). But the revisions may have more of an impact next year, if there appears to be a trend of seniors gravitating toward plans that include more of those benefits in their plan benefit packages, they suggest.



Elder Friendly Smartphones: Essential for Safety, Security, & Support

Comedians – professional and others trying to get a laugh, love to share stories of introducing technology to parents and grandparents. Chief among them is the smartphone. The reality of the situation is that smartphones are essential not a luxury. For an elder, the smartphone is a source of safety, support, and security.

I still don’t understand why my cellphone should have amazing photography capability!

Urgent-care aps to visual communication with adult children and grandchildren (i.e. FaceTime) is why a smartphone is an essential component of creating a safe elder environment. Selecting a smartphone easily accessed and comfortable for an elder to use is the key. and recently published their recommendations for top smartphones for elders – and why. We provide a quick overview of each device and a couple key specifications important in making the product elder-friendly.

Jitterbug Smart The Jitterbug Smart features an interface that is easy to see and navigate with a simple list interface. The phone boasts a large 5.5-inch display, which may present a problem for some elders. However, with a larger screen, everything on the screen is much easier to see. The device has a number of urgent care apps pre-installed. The Jitterbug Smart is also hearing aid compatible and comes with 4G LTE connectivity.

Specifications: 5-inch display with HD resolution; 4G LTE; Hearing aid compatible – M4/T4 rating

PowerTel M9500 This 5″ smartphone is made by Amplicomms whose motto is “Loud and Clear.” The PowerTel M9500 is super loud. The phone’s ringtone can go as high as 90 dB, which is similar to a train whistle or an oncoming subway train.  The phone features a volume boost key that enhances the speaker volume by an additional 40 dB. You won’t have to ask “do you hear me now?” with this device. PowerTel M9500 has a retooled user interface with clearly labeled large buttons.

   Specifications: 5-inch display; Android 5.1; 4G LTE;  Hearing-aid compatible – M4/T4 rating

Emporia Smart The Emporia Smart features a unique blend of old and new. The Android smartphone has a touchscreen that can be overlaid with a keypad cover. The user will have a more tactile experience dialing; and, text with a physical keypad. If at a later date the user warms up to the touchscreen, the keypad cover can be completely removed.  The Emporia Smart’s user interface has large buttons and a simple menu for easy navigation. The device comes with a stylus for those uncomfortable with touch-based navigation. Despite some interesting features not normally associated with other smartphones on the market, the Emporia Smart doesn’t have the best specs.

Specifications: 5-inch display with a 960 x 540 resolution; Android 4.4.2 Kitkat;  Hearing aid    compatible – M4/T4 rating.

Doro Liberto 825 The Doro Liberto 825is easy to use. It has large icons and clear text. The device offers a tutorial for first-time users. There are interactive tips guiding users through the process of sending text messages, emails, etc. A great feature is an online help center featuring videos that walk him through step by step.  Users can nominate trusted contacts that can remotely control the Liberto 825. This remote access is a great help for elders who need a little bit more. THE LIBERTO 825 IS NOT AVAILABLE IN THE US; DOUBLE CHECK BRANDS YOUR PROVIDER SUPPORTS BEFORE PURCHASING.

Specifications:  5-inch display with a HD resolution; Android 5.1.1 Lollipop; Hearing-aid compatible

Samsung Smartphones – Various Models All modern Samsung phones from budget to top of the line offer an “Easy Mode.” This enlarges the icons and puts all the important stuff within easy reach. If you already own a Samsung or simply want to have a more popular phone, Easy Mode is ideal. Easy Mode isn’t enabled out of the box for obvious reasons, but turning it on is a snap.

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus  The most significant aspect of this device is that it easily can be linked with other Apple products; thereby expanding its universe and accessibility. The 6s Plus has a 5” screen for easier reading and, overall, fewer options and controls to avoid overwhelming the use. What is also nice is the fingerprint reader. The iPhone 6s has many of the same features of the 6s Plus on a smaller 4.7” screen and at a lower cost.

Safety Security Savings: Investing in Aging In Place

Banana seat bicycle, Swanson TV dinner, Silly Putty to copy the Sunday comics, Pet Rock and/or Mood Ring, View Master

Q: Do you, like me, remember all of the above fondly as parts of our youth? 

Q: Do you or a parent(s) still have all of the above, and they are in their original packaging, you need to consider liquidation.

Q: Do you or a parent(s) have all of the above in a box stashed somewhere in the basement, attic, or closet, then we need to talk.

If you answered yes to any of the above, you are definitely a baby boomer. This means you may be serving as a caregiver for aging parents, are in the midst of retirement, or planning the next chapter of your life.

Some things, like my Apollo commemorative glasses, hold amazing memories; the pet rock still makes little to no sense to me. Boxes of old pictures and cassette tapes have sentimental value – nothing to my adult children. The angel of death is not looming at our doorpost yet and the thought of downsizing isn’t top of mind. We
have reached a moment in time where decluttering makes sense, planning for the next (and yes, last) chapter of life is important, and maintaining family wealth for our end of life and something to leave children.

We speak with individuals between 58 and 66 all the time in a similar situation. The initial call may be to help transition, liquidate, or move a parent or elder in their life. When the project has been completed, the next words spoken are, “I really need to do this at my house.”

The primary reasons for investing time and dollars now is:

  1. Maintain the safety of your home.
  2. Maintain family wealth – the value of your home.
  3. Avoid leaving a mess for your children to clean up.

Unfortunately, the task is more difficult to complete on your own then one would think. A typical project includes:

  • Documentation: Retaining the last seven years and key documents; shredding the remainder.
  • Clothing: Clearing out what doesn’t fit, will never fit, or that isn’t worn any more; box and transport for donation.
  • Children’s Bedrooms and Artifacts: Return what the family wants to keep; Retain items with great memories; Repurpose the remainder and given someone else the opportunity to create new memories.
  • Kitchen: Discard, Declutter, Keep items you use and are in good condition.
  • Closets, Basement, Attic, Garage: Liquidate, discard; declutter to create a safe environment.

Investing time and dollars before an emergency occurs creates significant gain – emotional, physical, and financial.

Our T3 Transition team will lift the weight of aging off your shoulders by developing a project plan and working that plan efficiently and effectively. Our team has been trained by legal and accounting professionals to understand what should be retained, shredded, and protected. Our transition team is adept at working with you to honor and maintain memories while creating a safe, secure environment for the next chapter in your life.

An Aging In Place Checklist

We recently had a consultation with an elder in their early 70’s. Widowed, the family was encouraging the elder to move out of her home and into a senior community – independent living or an over 55-yrs. community. The reason for moving shared by the elder and family was the size of the residence, the need to update the residence, and the fear of something occurring (physically or structurally) that would be more than she could handle.

Like so many of these consultations, there had been nothing done to support aging in place within the residence. Basement, bedrooms, kitchen – the residence was staged to support a family of four. There had been minor updates to the home; nothing significant. Fear was the key driver for the decision to move.

The difficulty in making a decision was compounded by the fact the elder was in good physical health, strong mental health, independent, and would be younger than most of the others in a community. There were no 55+ communities nearby. The family was focused on moving out of a one-story ranch into something smaller.

A move at this moment in time, for this elder, was possible; but there would be another move for her within the next four to five years for health reasons. There was no need for an independent or assisted living community today. There would be in a few years.

Every situation is unique. Elders need to be empowered to make this decision on their own. To do this, it is important to:

  • Plan for the next five years and not for today. Anticipate physical, health, and financial needs in five years and move toward that. When buying a home early in life, most elders considered a residence in which they could raise a family. That thought process is needed at this time: move toward the future rather than for immediate need.
  • Have all the information. Speak with peers, visit communities, have a frank discussion with your healthcare providers, and engage in a purposeful conversation with family.

Understanding what could be done to enhance your current residence and increase its safety is part of this process. Our T3 transition team uses the following checklist as part of a survey of the residence to determine readiness for aging in place.

  • Open up the space in your rooms by clearing pathways, increasing walking space, and removing unnecessary furniture.
  • Remove anything that’s a trip hazard, especially anything close to the ground (cords, plugs, throw rugs). Move items you use often within easy reach. Don’t keep these items in places that require you to stretch, climb, or use a ladder.
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater to avoid injury from hot water.
  • Add extra lighting to increase visibility. By using light tape, stick-on lights, and other items, you can often avoid replacing or adding new fixtures.
  • Add traction slips to the bathroom floor.
  • Install an elevated toilet seat.
  • Add levered handles to doors and faucets.
  • Install a doorbell, light switches (interior) and smoke detector with lights.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom, hallway, and/or next to the bed.
  • Install wheelchair ramps.
  • Install interior motion detectors.
  • Work with your alarm company for senior monitoring devices.
  • Install cameras for family or caregivers to easily check-in.
  • Widen your doorways.
  • Add a stair lift.
  • Install a walk-in tub.

Some of these actions are inexpensive; others are more. Planning for the future and moving toward the future allows elder, caregiver, and family to maximize opportunities in a residence and right size that residence to current needs.


Talk To Your Parents About Aging Now. What Are You Waiting For?

My mother was ill for several weeks and hospitalized. The pulmonologist said she would require rehab before coming home. This meant a rehab facility. AKA nusing home.

We told mom. She looked directly at me and said “I wouldn’t do this to you.” There were no words to be said at that moment. All these years, my eyes still well up and a sinking feeling grows in the put of my stomach thinking about that moment.

The days and nights she spent in rehab were some of the worse either of us spent up to that moment in time. I had lived for years with the belief she would never leave home and the disbelief life would never change. In reality, aging is like any other stage of life; it is a series of changes concluding with death in the same way life begins with birth and then a series of changes occur.

I advocate with all clients to prepare and plan. Once a plan is in place, have not one, but two or three alternatives. Underlying the plans is simplicity and transparency.

This includes rightsizingpossessions, finances, passwords, clothing, and more. It also includes rightsizing plans.

January is the time it is customary to make New Year’s resolutions. This December when the family comes together, you have an opportunity to create your family resolution early. This year’s resolution is to plan and have a conversation about aging.

It applies to everyone in the family – not just grandpa or grandma. The college family members soon have to think about life after college. Single family members need to make decisions – remain single or consider a family so that everyone will stop asking! Family members who will retire in the next year are planning what to do with their time.

Elders need to plan as well. If not, others will make decisions when elders are unable to speak for themselves. Some plans and decisions are easier than others. For instance, at 90, is an inheritance as important as it was at 60? Do 70-year old children have the same needs as 30-year olds? Do elders need access to greater of healthcare providers? Is it important for adult children to know an elders wishes concerning hospice?

Other issues are emotionally difficult at this moment in time because they require the elder to make decisions requiring giving up independence, a sense of who they are, and perhaps accepting the realization of their own mortality. Is it time to downsize? Am I ready to move into a senior community? Is it not safe to live alone any longer? Is my health failing?

Thinking through these questions independently or with family members, developing a plan of action, and carrying out the plan is the best way to start the New Year. It is an act of empowerment for the elder and family.

Engaging a third party to help with this conversation can often encourage honest dialogue. Our transition team often will mediate conversations, assist with planning, or carry-out plans for rightsizing, moving, or transitioning to senior living.







3 T’s of Fall Cleaning

There is a cycle in nature. This time of year leaves fall, days shorten, and animals migrate south or hibernate. We are  not immune from this cyclical change. For elders, November begins several months of cold and possibly being housebound. Instead of allowing this time of year to make you sleepy, make it productive.

Use this time to declutter and organize. Think of it as ‘fall cleaning’.  Follow our 3 T’s of fall friendly decluttering and organizing:

  1. Trade – Trade out summer for fall and winter
  2. Time – It’s decision time to use it or loose it
  3. Tripping – Avoid tripping and other household hazards

imagesTrade out summer for fall in closets and cabinets. Store summer clothing; replace it with fall and winter items.

  • Bring out winter gear and store raincoats.
  • Look through the linen closet and towel drawers – trade out the yellow and orange flowers with seasonal, warmer, and holiday items.
  • Kitchen cabinets don’t require grill and outdoor eating items. You will need the holiday items, baking, and other cookware. Always check expiration dates.

Decision time – after taking out the summer things, make a decision to keep and pack it away for next year, repurpose and donate it, or discard it.  


  • If something doesn’t fit, is in poor condition, hasn’t been worn in a year, or you just don’t like it — its time to repurpose and donate.
  • Plan your work. Prioritize the areas that need the most work, gauge if you need help lifting or carrying, and ensure you have the correct work supplies before getting started.
  • Piles! Make a pile for repurpose and donate, discard, and keep. This requires a decision, a pile, and a trip.

Avoid Tripping and Other Hazards in your home.  Household falls account for the #1 reason elders fall, are hospitalized, and require transitions to rehab or assisted living.

  • images-2Home safety is important. Clutter, cords, and piles of stacked mail, furniture – all of this leads to potential falls. Work the rooms that elder(s) spend the most time in and look for anything that could be a fall hazard.
  • Swap out any sharp-edged furniture for softer, safer items.
  • Remove throw rugs, area rugs, or floor mats.
  • Tape down or remove any exposed electrical cords; or move them higher off the floor.
  • Repurpose, donate, or discard furniture you don’t use, need, or like.
  • Declutter the space! Seriously, do you really need that?