Thursday, August 30, 2012

Documents Every Senior Should Have in a Safe

Senior Thursday

We know the importance of having a will—especially when children or blended families are involved.  But as we age, this document, along with others, are a must for the elderly.  In addition to a will, every senior should have a trust, a power of attorney for property and a power of attorney for health care.  An attorney can help draw up these documents.  These documents should be kept in a safe place—either a safe-deposit box at the bank or an in-home fire-proof safe.

In addition to these legal documents, seniors should have copies of their life, auto and home insurance policies, including contact information.  Regarding their health, seniors should have health insurance information in their safe, and a list of their physicians, allergies and medications. 

All financial information should be handy, too, including a list of investment accounts, IRAs, bank accounts, savings accounts, etc., as well as debts such as mortgages or loans.  Account numbers and contact information should be on this list.

Other legal documents to keep safe are birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates, as well as powers of attorney you hold for others. 

Finally, include your burial wishes, especially if there are specific instructions you want followed such as cremation or choice of cemetery.  If you already have a burial plot, the paperwork should be in the safe.

Let someone in the family know where your documents are kept, and how to access these documents in case of an emergency.  This can be a child, a close friend, or an attorney.

Losing a loved one, or leaving loved ones is never easy.  Being prepared make the journey smoother.


If you need help organizing your papers, contact Prima By Design (847-955-1822) for an estimate.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Different Uses for Hangers

Tips for Tuesday

We've been using hangers all our lives, watching the evolution from wood and wire to plastic and velvet.  There are special use hangers for pants, skirts, belts and ties.  Some hangers hold one item, some are designed to hold several items at once to save space in your closet.

But while we know what we usually use hangers for, here are some unusual uses for hangers.

Wire Hangers

·         Grabber/reacher—pull it at the bottom to lengthen it, then use the hook to grab wires or things you've dropped behind furniture, or to grab items from upper shelves.

·         Slip shower curtain rings over a hanger, then hang scarves from the rings.

·         Sunglasses—fold and slip them over the hanger.

Multi-Pant Hangers

·         Bracelets/necklaces

·         Ribbon

·         Scarves

·         Men's ties—sort by color on each rod.

·         Sweaters—fold as you would for the shelf, then slip over a rod.

Clamp or Clip Pants/Skirt Hangers

·         Hang photos/photo strips

·         Clip recipes onto the hanger, then hang it on your cabinet while cooking

Belt Hanger (with hooks)

·         Hang one in the kitchen for towels and oven mitts

What have you used hangers for?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home for Sale: Staging the Air in a Home – Yes, the Air!

Moving on Monday

When a house has all the features that an approved buyer is looking for, but the home’s air quality has everything left to be desired…

Home sellers, realtors, advisors all know the drill.  If a person wants to sell their home it has to be cleaned up, any excess furniture and other loved items put away or stored away from the house in order to make it look more presentable to possible buyers.  Few sellers or professionals consider de-cluttering the air.    

Habits that we have come to love, whether it is a cigar or cigarette or the love of spicy cooking, the odors fill a house as much as any large unsightly couch.   The evidence, however, is in the air.   Our pets, including furry felines, large or multiple dogs or birds, other pets can leave distinct and unwanted odors and dander in the air that may turn away a potential buyer before getting even a few feet into the door.  The home may have been a perfect fit, but not with an indoor air quality problem.

Sometimes perfumed air fresheners are used to cover up the offending odor and make the home more desirable.  These may hide the immediate problem, but just as putting a rug over a soft floor board doesn’t fix the floor, the perfume doesn’t make the house safe for future occupants, especially children or otherwise sensitive individuals.

Basements often have musty, moldy odors, even long after the water leak or flooding damage has been remediated.  That too must be changed before a house is put on the market.  

The solution is relatively easy, there are air purification units for rent or purchase that clean any of those problems in a short time.   No need to purchase multiple units;  the best ones are small, portable and will do the entire home in a relatively short time.   Best of all, they do the job.   Begin decluttering the air in your home – moving or not.  

If you have stale air in your home, selling or not, contact Brigitte Cornelius of TGI Clean Air & Water. She san help you come up with a solution that is best for your individual situation. 

TGi Clean Air & Water
Brigitte & Steve Cornelius
P.O. Box 113
Mount Prospect, IL 60056

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ten Minutes Early

Frugal Friday

Last week I talked about being frugal with your time—scheduling yourself accordingly so you don't overstress yourself.  This week, I'd like to look at the benefits of getting up ten minutes early. 

We all know that getting up an hour earlier would give us lots of time to get things done.  But who wants to sacrifice an entire hour of sleep?  Especially if you can't get to bed any earlier.  I know I can't survive on only six hours of sleep. So I tried something different—I set my alarm for ten minutes earlier.  That's it—ten minutes.

And I was pleasantly surprised! 

I couldn't believe as the mornings went on what that ten minutes meant to me.  I used to get up and get dressed to walk my daughter to the train station, then go for a walk through the neighborhood.  I would take a different route depending on the time I had to get out the door for clients.  There were days I'd be rushing around trying to get the dogs fed, read and respond to emails, post on Facebook, and tidy up the kitchen before I left. 

Getting up ten minutes earlier made my life so much easier.  You wouldn't think ten minutes can do much.  But now I can put away a load of laundry, select my clothes for the day, put away dishes from the sink, write out a check to pay a bill, or any number of little things that I'd try to do when I got home from my walk.

Doing this freed up my time later.  If I get my breakfast ready before my walk, I have time to do some upper body work with hand weights while I'm waiting for the dogs to finish eating.  If I set my clothes out before my walk, I can use that time later to scan in a document my accountant needs.  I've used the time to call utilities, to file papers that are laying on the kitchen counter, and to send a quick email to a client.  My mornings are much less stressful—and because of a measly ten minutes.  Who knew?

What would you do with ten extra minutes a day?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Clean Up Your Music Collection

Tips for Tuesday

This may be aging myself, but how many of you have vinyl albums, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes or CDs full of music in your home?  You've purchased some and you've made your own mixes.  Some are duplicates on different media, but others are unique.  How do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of? 

The first question to ask is whether or not you have the right player for the music.  Do you still have a turntable for your albums?  Do you have a working cassette player?  If not, then donate the music, or take them to a used book store like Half Price Books where you may get some money for them. 

Next, look at what you have left.  Do you have the same albums on different media?  Keep only one copy.  Then look at the artists and titles.  Are there any duplicates in the same medium?  Do you have all of the albums by one artist, and also their "Greatest Hits" album?  Why do you need both, since they have the same songs?  This goes for "Live" recordings, too.  You probably have all those songs on other albums.

Once you have sorted everything you are going to keep, convert them into MP3 files.  Even if you don't have an MP3 player, chances are your phone or computer can hold these files and act as a player.  You can then sort your music into playlists—holiday, genre, tempo, etc.  You may like certain songs to play while walking or exercising.    Keep these in a separate playlists. 

Make backup copies of all your files.  You can then donate or sell the original media, freeing up space in your home.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Moving Yourself with Portable Containers

Moving on Monday

One way to save money when moving is to use portable containers, or pods.  These are units that are delivered to your home and you fill yourself.  They come in a variety of sizes and styles.  Some are made of corrugated steel, some are soft-sided, and others are wood. If you are moving a long distance, wood or steel containers would work best.

Some containers are small and only hold about 1 ½ rooms.  Others are 10-12 ft long and hold several rooms.  Companies can help you estimate the number of units you will need for your move.  You should make a detailed list of the furniture and contents of your rooms, including basement, garage and attic for an accurate count.  They will also need to know how many boxes you will be packing with the contents of your cabinets. 

Once you know how many units you need, you can set up delivery of the units.  Check with your local government agency to see if they have restrictions on the number of days a unit can be in front of your house.  You will also have to let the company know of any possible hazards, such as low-hanging wires, narrow streets or steep driveways.  This may limit the size of containers you can have delivered.

When the containers are dropped off, start filling them, using every inch of space so things don't move around.  Use bungee cords to hold your furniture against the sides of the unit.  Be sure to cover breakables and furniture with moving pads so they don't break or get scratched.  Place heavy items on the bottom, and lighter items on top.  Never put flammables or hazardous materials in the containers.

Once they are loaded, the company will pick them up and take them to the new location.  They can also hold them in storage for you if you won't be going directly to your new home.  After unloading them at the new house, the company will pick up the empty containers. 

While this is a money-saving option for you, it requires strength, patience and skill.  You will have to move all heavy furniture yourself—no experienced movers to help.  So be sure this is something you can handle before signing the papers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Being Frugal With Your Time

Frugal Friday

If it's anything I've learned over the years, it's that there is no such thing as 'normal.'  We wish for a normal life or a normal day.  For me, that means a day when everything goes as planned, and nothing goes wrong.  And I have to say, there are a few of those.  Unfortunately, there are more that don't.

How many times have you looked at your schedule and thought—this looks like an easy day.  Then, the dog throws up on your carpet as you're leaving for work, there's an accident on the highway with traffic backed up for over a mile, and you realize you forgot your lunch, so you have to run out and get something instead of making up for lost time by eating at your desk.

The next morning might go more smoothly.  But then you get a call from your mother that she ran out of her prescription medication, your husband calls and asks you to send flowers to his boss's wife who had emergency surgery, and your son 'reminds' you there is an Open House at his school that evening.  

You had your days all planned out to the minute, from errands to cleaning to cooking to laundry.  Then these emergencies happen.  Your life is anything BUT normal.

So how do you cope?  I call it being frugal with your time.  Just like you put away money for a rainy day, or are very attentive as to how you spend it, you should also do this with the minutes and hours in your day. 

Never plan out every minute of every day with something that needs to be done.  Odds are, these emergencies will creep up, eat up your time, and before you know it, nothing is checked off that list. In fact, the list keeps getting longer, not shorter.  So leave cushions in your week for these emergencies.

Allow more time for appointments and tasks than you know they will take.  For example, you have a dentist appointment with a 15 minute drive each way.  You know the appointment is only for a cleaning—30 minutes tops.  So you allow yourself an hour.  But then traffic and lights slow you down, the dentist is running late, and they discover a cavity that needs filling.  Suddenly, that hour appointment turns into two hours and the bathroom doesn't get cleaned as a result.  

Finally, don't take on any more tasks than you are sure you can handle.  It's much easier to say no at the beginning than handing it back mid-project.  

Be frugal with your time, and you will find you have more of it than you think.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Staying Active Through Your Senior Center

Senior Thursday

As we age, our lives change.  Our children move out of the house, perhaps even out of state.  We retire from our jobs.  Suddenly, the people who used to be in our daily lives are gone.  And the less fortunate also lose their spouse.  The house is quiet and empty.  There is no one to talk to, no one to share celebrations or create memories.

The more we are alone, the more lonely we get.  This can turn into depression.  It also causes dementia to progress more rapidly. This is why it is important to stay active and spend time with others. 

One way is often right in the senior's back yard.  Many park districts and villages have Senior Centers or Senior programs.  These programs have a variety of events to appeal to everyone.  There may be weekly card games or monthly trips to the theater.  There are groups for crafting and exercise. 

This is a great way to keep in touch with friends or find new ones.  The interaction will keep a mind sharp as well as occupied.  This may spark memories and begin conversations about the past. 

If transportation is a concern, many park districts offer free or discounted rides for seniors to the events. 

So the next time you encounter a senior who lives alone, suggest they join their local park district.  Keep their minds healthy, which will keep their bodies healthy, too!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preparing Your Home for Another School Yea

Tips for Tuesday

You’ve done the back-to-school shopping.  You’ve bought all the supplies your children need.  You have new outfits for school photos.  And you labeled everything with your child’s name.  But what about your home? Is it ready for another school year?  Just as teacher’s need to prepare the classroom, you should prepare your home for another year of homework and extra-curricular activities.

First, create an environment at home that is conducive to studying.  Your child(ren) should have their own quiet space for doing homework.  It should be well-lit and away from distractions.  Make sure they have the supplies they need to complete their homework.  In addition to pens, paper and calculators, have extras like poster board and CDs on hand for school projects that pop up.

Get your children into a routine.  Have a place for their backpack(s) when they get home.  Set a time for their snack, homework, dinner and fun time.  Have them make their lunch and set out clothes for the next day before they go to bed.  And establish a launching pad for everything going out the door in the morning.

Keep your children healthy with sufficient sleep, meals high in protein, and plenty of exercise.  Enroll them in extra-curricular activities that will keep them active.  Stay on top of their moods, and note any changes.  This may indicate an underlying physical or mental problem.

School can be a stressful enough time for some children.  You can help ease that stress by providing a healthy, organized environment for them.  Make this their best school year ever.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Safety Tips When Your Home Is On the Market

Moving on Monday

When your home is on the market, you will have strangers walking through your rooms.  Some will be real estate brokers, and some will be potential buyers.  While most visitors are safe, you should take precautions to protect you and your family during this time.

·         Never leave valuables, like jewelry or money, on the counter or in plain sight.

·         Don't leave any papers out that contain personal information like Social Security numbers and birthdates.

·         Don't leave credit cards, statements or bills on the counter. 

·         Lock up your prescription medications.

·         Lock up pets.  As friendly as they are, strangers can spook them and they may bite.

·         Don't let anyone into your home without an appointment.  Refer them to your agent.

If you are selling your home without a realtor, in addition to the above:

·         Ask for identification from the potential buyers.  Write down their name, phone number and license plate number. 

·         When buyers call to make an appointment, take their phone number and call them back to verify.

·         Never leave visitors in a room alone.

·         Never show your home when you are alone.

Make a list of everything you need to put away before a showing so you don't forget anything.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bathtub and Shower Safety for Seniors

Senior Thursday

Bathrooms can be dangerous places because of slippery, wet surfaces.  But they are more so for seniors.  Seniors have less stability on their feet, and their bones are more brittle.  A fall can mean a bruise for someone in their 40s, but could be deadly for a senior.  Therefore, precautions should be taken for them at home.

·         All bathtub and shower areas should have grab bars.  They need to be installed professionally to hold up to the weight when pulled on. 

·         Showers and tubs should have rubber mats or some other non-slip surface.

·         Vertical grab bars from floor to ceiling are helpful in larger areas.

·         Areas should be kept clean because mildew and soap scum make surfaces even more slippery. 

·         Floors should be kept dry.  Make sure the shower curtain is kept securely inside the tub so no water splashes out. 

·         Use a transfer chair for the tub or shower if you are unstable on your feet.

·         Allow plenty of time to bathe.  Rushing can cause falls.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unusual Uses for Household Items

Tips for Tuesday

While we buy specific products for specific purposes, like a colander to strain pasta, we never think about other uses for that item.  Who goes into the kitchen section to purchase a colander with the intent of using it to drip-dry your delicates after hand-washing.  Yet there are many items that can be used for something other than their intended purpose. 

·         Use old fabric softener sheets to quickly dust your dresser or wipe the front of a tube TV.

·         Use baby wipes for a quick clean-up of light switch plates or telephones.

·         Clean empty cans to hold small items in your garage or basement.  Be careful of sharp edges around children.

·         Place coffee filters between fine china when storing.

·         Use ice cube trays as drawer organizers.

·         Use shower caps to protect your shoes when traveling.

·         Use toothpaste to clean chrome fixtures.

·         Use wine glasses as candle holders (tealights only).

·         Use plastic bowls as organizers in your kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

·         Use paperclips for electronic reset buttons

This can help you save money and space in your home, by multi-tasking what you buy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Creating a Master List for Packing

Moving on Monday

One of the most frustrating things about packing is being able to find something when you need it.  Perhaps you started packing early so your house would show less cluttered.  But four weeks after packing up your formal dresses and shoes, you're invited to a wedding and you need the shoes and dress.  So you go looking for it. 

You come across several boxes marked 'shoes' because you've packed up the entire family.  There are also several wardrobes all taped up.   But which box holds the shoes you need, and where is the dress?  You could open all the boxes until you find the right one.  Or you could go out and buy another dress and pair of shoes.  Or, if you had created a list while you were packing, you'd be able to go directly to the box you need and find the shoes.

In order to avoid this sort of issue, create a list while you are packing.  There are different ways to do this.  The easiest way is to write a detailed description of the contents of each box on the outside.  Instead of merely writing "SHOES", write Mom's dress shoes, athletic shoes, Susie's flipflops, etc.  on the box.  This will help the movers in taking the boxes to the right location in the new home, and will help you.  When you start unpacking, you can collect all boxes with your shoes, for example, and empty them all at the same time.  This will make it easier to put them away, as you will see how much space you have for what you own.  It will also give you a good idea of any similar items, like five pairs of black flats.  As you put them away, you can ask yourself if you really need them all.

Another way to create a list is to number your boxes.  Then create a spread sheet or use a spiral notebook.  Write down the number of the box on your list, then write down a detailed contents of the box.  For example, if box number '3' contains bakeware, write "2 cookie sheets, 2  pizza pans, and 3 rectangular glass baking dishes" on your list.  This will help you find something if you need it, and help you set out boxes when unpacking.  You'll be able to look at your list and see that you need boxes 10 through 12 for the cabinets near the oven. 

A combination of these methods is best, as you will be able to locate an item by either box number or contents.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Handling the Heat Without Breaking the Bank

Frugal Friday

This has been a summer of record-breaking heat and drought.  It has been a struggle keeping flowers and trees alive, and keeping cool, especially if you lose power during a storm or don't have air conditioning.  Here are some tips for keeping cool, while still keeping money in your pockets.

·         If the air outside is dry, hang a wet sheet in your window to cool the breeze as it comes in.

·         Close blinds and drapes.  Line drapes with white fabric to reflect heat.

·         Place a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan to cool the breeze.

·         Keep your furnace and a/c unit cleaned and well-maintained.

·         Close your fireplace damper so the hot air isn't pulled in.

·         Keep windows and doors shut if the air outside is over 77 degrees.

·         Run a window fan when the temperature is cooler so you can trap the air inside.

·         Spritz yourself with cold water.

·         Run ceiling fans with your a/c.  The a/c removes the humidity and the fans make you feel cooler.

·         Shut off appliances or electronics that generate heat, like computers, when you aren't using them.

·         Skip the drying cycle on the dishwasher.

·         Remove your shoes.  The sweat evaporating on your feet will cool them.

·         Eat spicy meals. Perspiring will cool you down.

·         Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which causes your body temperature to rise.

·         Use the microwave or barbecue grill to cook.

·         Shut off the lights-they generate heat.

·         Dry your clothes outside or hanging in your laundry room.

·         Place rice in an old sock, tie the ends and freeze it.  Then place it in your bed to cool the sheets.

·         Read stories about cold places.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fire Safety for Seniors

Senior Thursday

Fires are dangerous under any circumstances, but even more so for seniors.  One reason they are more prone to injury is because of their decreased mobility.  They don't move as quickly, and can't always get out of a room or down the hall fast enough.  If they live alone, there is nobody to assist them in their escape.  Also, their medications often have side effects, which slows their reaction time.

There are fire hazards that seniors are particularly susceptible to, so it is important to check on elderly relatives and friends.  One of these is kitchen fires.  They often start because seniors forget they have food cooking on the stove, and it starts to burn.  Or they may fall asleep from medication while dinner is cooking. 

Another common cause of fires is smoking-related.  Whether it's the cigarette or the matches, carelessness and sleep often contribute to the danger. 

Portable heating units are another preventable cause.  Placing them too near curtains, bedding or clothing can cause fabrics to start on fire. 

Finally, faulty wiring from old appliances or old homes is common.  Being frugal can have its drawbacks.  Seniors often don't want to part with a "perfectly good lamp" without realizing that the cord is so frayed that live wires are exposed.

Protect your family and friends by checking for these hazards.  Share these tips with them. 

·         If you leave the kitchen when cooking, take a spoon or towel with you to remind you there is food on the stove.

·         Never cook with loose, dangling sleeves.

·         Never use water to put out grease fires.  Use a pot lid instead.

·         Never use your stove to heat your home.

·         Use only Underwriter Laboratories approved units to heat your rooms.

·         Don't leave smoking materials unattended.

·         Install smoke detectors on every level of your home.