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Houses and Holidays

By | Age-friendly living, Well-being | No Comments

Blog living room photoWith the holidays approaching, do “visions of sugarplums dance in your head? ” No? Me either.  I have an always-held vision, however,  that involves making our home very festive for Christmas and into the New Year.  In the past that has started with getting out big plastic bins of ornaments from too-high closet shelves and placing the contents strategically throughout the house.

This year we have a more age-friendly view of the world and I find myself approaching holiday decorating in new ways.

The large noble fir that used to occupy at least one third of the living room area, and greatly reduced seating options for visiting friends, has been replaced by a tasteful, metal-tree kiosk filled with aromatic herbs and spices. It rests it on our coffee table in front of the fireplace; the nearby fire’s warmth assures a  cinnamon aroma permeates the house. We have a purchased a multitude of  big, bright-red poinsettias that can be enjoyed now and later routed to home-bound neighbors as gifts– just before we leave for faraway holiday visits with our children. These same children will assuredly have seven-foot trees strewn with popcorn and cranberries.  Our early gifting to them this year will include some of the best of our now-unused ornaments– in some instances accompanied by handwritten stories about a particular tree bauble.Our vow is to thoughtfully offer, but not over-sell,  long-time Christmas traditions –young families need to establish their own. And one of the joys of aging is  watching your children and their children evolve and celebrate…New Year to New Year.  Hallelujah!

This year I have a few age-friendly holiday goals. Culling the boxes of hold-over Christmas items from five bins to only one bin, that will be located in a more easy-access area for future retrieval, is my first goal. Plan progressing well. Locating and consolidating the best family Christmas recipes and putting them on a thumb drive for each of our three children is a second goal . Yet another meaningful Christmas gift to grown children with families who, at some point in the future  just might want to know how to make Grandma Dee’s rice pudding with the single lucky almond.

And a third goal–not sure yet. In the age-friendly vein, it might involve buying instead of making Christmas cookies this year or  just spending an afternoon sitting in a chair, Christmas carols playing on Pandora, with a cup of minty tea and my feet elevated–playing scrabble on my ipad with my always-festive husband.

Smart Adaptions

By | Age-friendly living, Mobility, Well-being | No Comments


Are you interested in making you home more age-friendly without a lot of cost? I have some very practical and relatively inexpensive suggestions gleaned from experience doing just that and an article in Consumer Reports Money Advisor (May 2012).

  • Remove obstacles to getting inside. Make sure there are no extraneous items around your entrances and exits. Think about the primary entrance/exit into your home. A raised surface at the bottom of a door is a tripping hazard and is hard to negotiate in wheelchair or walker. According to Consumer Reports an “automatic door bottom” will solve that problem. A relatedly inexpensive spring-loaded device is attached to the bottom of a door and it lifts the insulation and re-sets it every time you open and close the door.
  • Be obsessive about kitchen ease-of-use. Lever handle faucets (and levered “doorknobs” throughout the house) are relatively inexpensive and important additions. Ergonomic can openers and rubber-circle jar openers are invaluable. Look for “ease of use” when you replace appliances which means wall ovens with side hinges or stoves with controls in the front. A simple change that feels cosmetic but is very functional involves assuring finishes or edge treatments on counters are in contrasting colors. Sometimes that can even happen with a little well-applied, colorful tape.
  • Make the bathroom better. Hand held shower heads are great at any age. Having two adjustable shower heads (higher and lower) is even better. Grab bars are important in the shower and near the toilet but really need to be tailored to an individual’s range of motion, strength and size of the person. Be wary of suction grab bars.
  • Light your way.  It’s both a mood and safety feature. Walk through your house at night with a critical eye to what is easy to see and the best place to read a good novel or crochet a scarf. Make needed changes accordingly. Multiple bulbs assure if one burns out you are not totally in the dark. Motion detectors that assure lights turn on when you enter a room are less expensive them you might think.
  • Keep learning.  Check out the National Aging in Place Council website www.ageinplace.org/ and find out if you have an certified aging-in-place specialist in your area.  Many of them will come to your home and conduct a home safety audit—you get a personalized idea of the friendliness of making aging-in-place changes.     


The Healing Bedroom

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The Bedroom: A Healing Haven?

Do you believe this? An attractive, comfortable environment promotes well-being. And your bedroom is the room you spend the most time in…so let’s start there.

Although, if it’s living room recliner or your couch you fall asleep in most nights, we could, I suppose, start there. Be assured I do not cast judgment if that’s what’s happening for you. But I will encourage you to thoughtfully apply whatever fits in the information that follows —as well as gently suggesting you re-consider your sleeping location in order to get a more restorative rest. Research supports well-rested people are healthier overall–and actually live longer.

There’s an increasing array of amazing product lines to make your bedroom a healing haven. If I was ill or post-hospitalization, I would want that kind of atmosphere.  If I suffered from periodic insomnia, I would want that.

If I wanted to sell my house, and quickly—I would talk to the realtor about my bedroom using healing/relaxing words. A bedroom is one of those low cost/high impact modifications in your home that you can make to entice prospective buyers. No realtor ever told me that—but I would use that kind of rationale if I were buying a house.

But let’s stay focused. Here are some easy-to-do possibilities. Bedrooms with color-contrasting walls in pastels reflect light better. Experts say varied textures in floors and fabrics enhance depth perception for aging eyes. Check out the “AARP Guide to Re-Vitalizing Your Home: Beautiful Living for the Second Half of Life” by Rosemary Baker. (It is chockfull of ideas!)

A “lower profile” bed is easier to get into and out of—especially in the middle of the night. And we should all definitely have a motion sensor that automatically highlights a lighted pathway to the bathroom for those aforementioned middle of the night excursions—or at least  a light that comes on automatically when we raise out of bed.

If you do nothing else, try to do this. Have lots of natural light in that bedroom of yours. Aging adults need four times the light they did when they were younger. And maybe a remote control device of some kind that automatically raises and lowers the shades whenever you need sun protection?

There are a few life-saving ideas for your bedroom.  For example, consider a monitor that sends out an alert if you have not left your bed (or a recliner) all day. What daughter-at-a-distance with an 85 year old mom who lives independently would not consider that as an option if it were offered?