Safe Home, Happy Home in 2019

The beginning of the year is a good time to take inventory of your home and just how safe it is. There are many home security devices and systems on the market, ranging from a simple lock to a full-blown “safe room.” Choices exist for every particular need and budget. New door camera devices like Ring, Remo DoorCam, and Z Modo can alert you to who is at your door whether or not you are home. You can also integrate your home security apps with Alexa, Nest and even your Apple watch. There are also many security services that can monitor your home for a monthly fee.

The recent fires in California have made us more aware of how important having a fire safety plan can be. Does your family know what to do and where to meet in the event a fire drives you from your home? If not, the National Fire Protection Association has free escape plans online. Your home should have a smoke alarm on every floor, at the top of every staircase and outside of bedrooms. Make sure your alarms are tested monthly and have their batteries changed at the same time each year. Do you have emergency egress from upstairs bedrooms? If not, check into emergency fire escape ladders.

If you have gas burning appliances (hot water heater, stove, dryer or fireplace) having a carbon monoxide detector could save your life. You may also want to consider a radon detector or test if you live in a high-risk area. Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and is impossible to detect without the use of sensitive testing equipment. It can rise through the soil and seep through cracks and holes in your foundation or basement. Exposure to radon can cause lung cancer. The average level of radon in Oregon homes is above hazardous levels in 26 zip codes. Check with the Environmental Protection Agency for more specific information.

For general safety in your home you should have items that would be useful in case of a power outage or, worse yet, an earthquake – a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, tools, food, water, gloves, cash, extra clothing and blankets. Have your medications and your pets’ foods available, too. Record emergency medical information about each member of your household – doctor’s names, medications they are taking, blood type, allergies, immunizations, etc.

Home safety also includes reducing your risk of falling within your home. Accidental falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury in almost all age groups according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Remove clutter, cords, and excess furniture (see accompanying article about clutter). The bathroom is the most dangerous room in your home for falls. Install balance bars in your tub/shower and toilet areas to assist people of all ages. Only use bath mats that are non-slip with rubberized backing. Another area of concern is tall, top-heavy furniture. Children climbing tall pieces of furniture can cause them to tip over and crush them. There are inexpensive anchor straps sold for hot water heaters, bookcases, dressers, and entertainment cabinets that hold these items upright. These are also useful in case of an earthquake.

Last, but not least are all the hazardous chemicals in your home, garage and garden shed. Make sure these are stored properly and locked away from children or people with dementia. Something as seemingly innocuous as laundry detergent pods sent 5,800 children to the emergency room last year. Take a look around your home and consider possible hazards and remedy them. Let’s keep our homes and families safe in 2019.

Unclutter to Boost Your Mood

Welcome to 2019! If you’re like most Americans you have made resolutions to exercise more, lose weight and get organized. Why is getting organized so high on the list of things to accomplish? It could be because it has been nagging at you for so long. You know you could do more if only you didn’t have to contend with so much clutter and disorder. Studies support this. Neuroscientists at Princeton have shown that clutter has a negative impact on your ability to be productive and focus. It bombards the brain with unimportant information. Psychologists at UCLA confirmed this with a study of families and their clutter. They determined that physical clutter overloads your senses and causes stress. This, in turn, decreases creativity.

Clutter can elicit many negative feelings: embarrassment, loss of self-esteem and guilt from having purchased so much stuff in the first place. We want to reduce our amount of stuff, but other feelings interfere with us doing this. Our items may have sentimental value and the more you have touched them over the years, the harder time you will have in letting them go. Ohio State University researchers have shown a correlation with the duration of physical contact with objects and how much value you place on them. The more you touch, the higher the value. This is why the Apple corporation has large showrooms where you can touch their high tech items for sale.

The Institute for Challenging Disorganization has a tool for measuring the magnitude of your clutter. It’s called the Clutter-Hoarding Scale©. It is a tool used by professional organizers when doing a residential assessment. There are five levels with five categories within each level. It starts with Level I Green – Low and ends with Level V Red – Severe. At Level III, the clutter obstructs functions in key living areas. By Level V, key living spaces are unusable. Hoarding is an extreme in household clutter. People with hoarding disorder have difficulty discarding items because of strong perceived need to save the items and/or the distress associated with discarding them. Special intervention is required for this disorder.

It can actually physically hurt to part with your stuff, too. At least that’s what research at Yale University pointed out. They identified two areas in the brain associated with pain that light up in response to letting go of items. People make a financial and emotional commitment to their possessions. Letting go can be traumatic. So? What’s a person to do? A sensitive professional organizer like the ones on staff at The Move Makers can come up with creative ways to keep the memory of the items alive while parting with the physical objects. They can provide strategies for reducing the pain of letting go. They know that once you have made the decision to part with stuff, it will boost your mood and counteract those negative feelings. Make an appointment today with one of our organizers so you can get started in an area of your home. You will feel better for it.

Avoid a Post-Holiday Headache

The Guiness World Record for the “Most Holiday Lights” belongs to David Richards in Canberra, Australia. His display has almost 1.2 million LED lights strung on 75 miles of cable. The most lights on a residential property is 601,736 lights held by Tim and Grace Gay in LaGrangeville, New York. Their display spans two acres and takes two months for their entire family to rebuild each year. Most of us don’t come close to having this amount of lights, but many of us do amass our own large holiday collections. It can be a lot of work to drag out all the boxes and hang the lights and decorations. Then, when the festivities are over, taking them down and putting them away can cause your own post-holiday headache.

Famously, the same strings of lights you carefully put away one year become a tangled mess when you take them out the next year. You spend hours trying to unsnarl them and replace burned out bulbs. Along with the lights are the other decorations and ornaments. You discover that some of them have broken and some are tattered and worn, so you buy new ones, but you can’t part with the old ones because of their sentimental value. Later, you decide you want a certain color or theme for your decorations and you buy even more. The collection grows and so does the space needed to store it.

Families with children know all about this accumulation of adornment for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. It starts small with a special ornament to commemorate the birth of the first child. It balloons from there – holiday art projects from school, Homemade Cards, Wreaths, Candles, Menorahs, Kinaras, Stockings, Nutcrackers, Nativity Scenes, Trains that wind around the tree and Miniature Villages in fake snow. There may be an artificial tree or two or three. And, let’s not forget the outdoor lighted reindeers, the inflatable ten-foot snowman, and the oversized candy canes that line the driveway. Their boxes are tucked away in attics, garages, closets and storage units. They start spilling into other things. Soon it spirals out of control.

If you have boxes of decorations and old lights that stack to the ceiling and take up a whole room or most of your garage, you probably have too many. Are there boxes that you haven’t opened in years? You can start with examining whether or not you need to keep those. Are there broken or damaged lights or frayed wires or cords? Do you want to replace your old lights with more efficient LEDs? Don’t throw them away. Recycle them. Did you know you can send your old lights for recycling to: https://www.holidayleds.com/christmas-light-recycling-program.aspx? They will gladly take your old lights and send you a 15% off coupon for LED lights from their website.

If the thought of it all is just too much to cope with and you don’t know where to start in taming the mess, you can always call The Move Makers for help. Our team of professional organizers will gladly assist you in getting things under control. Take some of the stress out of your holiday and avoid the post-holiday clean-up headache by calling The Move Makers.

Brighten Those Dark Winter Months

We are headed into those dreaded dark winter months. Our mood grows gloomy and we feel tired and lack energy. Lighting is often overlooked in the realm of accessibility even though it is critically important. Without light, there is no perception, no color, no style to guide you. A lack of lighting can lead to falls and it also adversely impacts our mood. People most profoundly affected may develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or other health problems associated with insufficient natural light.

The older you get, the more important light becomes. The lens of the eye yellows over time and eye muscles weaken. It takes older eyes longer to focus. Research has shown that many older adults require two to three times the amount of light as do adults age 20 (SeniorDriving.AAA.com). AARP studies show that the average person age 60 or older spends 80% to 90% of their day indoors. People spending the majority of their time inside under artificial lighting may suffer from fatigue, susceptibility to disease and other physical problems (Hughes and Neer).

Natural light from windows and skylights is preferred in homes, but in the winter, this isn’t enough. Homes need additional lighting from fluorescent, incandescent or LED lights. The frequency range of lighting is very important. Incandescent or full-spectrum bulbs are preferred because of their wider, more natural spectrum of colors. Older fluorescent bulbs produce more of their colors in the frequency range for blues and greens which tend to make colors seem washed out or dull. More recently, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have delivered full-spectrum light and replaced incandescents. Even more modern LEDs (light emitting-diodes) emit fuller-spectrum light for a fraction of the cost of incandescent, fluorescent or CFL lighting.

To prevent falls, make sure there is non-glaring light in rooms that people occupy during darker hours. Too often, lighting is chosen for style and not function. Instead, select light fixtures whose bulbs can be changed easily and turned on and off with a rocker switch, not an old-style toggle. Lights can be programmed to come on at a specific time or turned on by a smartphone. Ceiling mounted overhead fixtures are best for directing more light downward over large parts of a room. Task lighting or accent lighting can help in darker zones. Tasks lights are useful in kitchens, hobby rooms and offices where close work is done. Nightlights that are motion-sensitive can create a lighted path to the bathroom at night.

During the holidays, many people have special lights on trees and elsewhere. Make sure they are safe. Don’t overload outlets, use power strips instead of extension cords and replace damaged or frayed strings of lights. Also, be careful to place power cords where people can’t trip over them.

One relatively easy way to improve your mood and avoid trips and falls is to improve the lighting in your home. You can increase the wattage of your bulbs or add more lights. Simply hanging a mirror can add depth, light and visual spaciousness. If you need help in determining the proper lighting for your home, contact The Move Makers. Their Certified Aging in Place Specialist can measure the light in your home and give recommendations for improvement to brighten your gloomy winter months.

The Move Makers Awarded Highest Distinction in Senior Move Management

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lake Oswego, Oregon — The National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) has announced that The Move Makers has been awarded the NASMM A+ Accreditation for its excellence in the senior move management industry. Only 50 out of 950 member companies nationwide have achieved this distinction. The Move Makers is the only senior move management company in the northwest to earn A+ Accreditation.

“This accreditation decision represents the highest level of professional achievement that can be awarded to a senior move management company,” according to Mary Kay Buysee, NASMM’s Executive Director. “An organization receiving a three-year NASMM A+ Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process.” The Move Makers has demonstrated its commitment in assisting people with relocating their homes. Their team of experts reduce the stress of moving by providing services from the beginning of the move process to the finishing touches in setting up the new home.

The Move Makers assists clients with any or all of the tasks associated with moving; organizing, downsizing, planning, sorting, packing, unpacking and setting up a home. They can also provide space planning, interior design services, and arranging for the sale, donation and disposal of items no longer needed. Smaller services such as closet organizing are offered in addition to home accessibility evaluations to keep you safe after moving in. The Move Makers has been in operation for over five years and serves the greater Portland Metropolitan area. Their company values of excellence, consistency, integrity, versatility and vitality are evident in everything they do. For more information, see www.themovemakers.com.

Founded in 2002, NASMM is the leading membership organization for Senior Move Managers in the United States, Canada and abroad. NASMM is internationally-recognized for its innovative programs and expertise related to Senior Move Management, transition and relocation issues affecting older adults. Its Accreditation Commission is the independent, nonprofit accrediting body of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. For more information about the NASMM A+ Accreditation process, please visit the NASMM website at www.nasmm.org.

Are You Squirrelling Away China and Crystal?

Modern couples typically do not order china and crystal for their wedding registries, or at least not like the old days. In fact, couples are marrying at older ages now and prefer online registries at places like Amazon, Home Depot or Honeyfund (for honeymoon trips). Many Millennials are choosing experiences, not seldom-used items that merely take up valuable space. We remember visiting older relatives and seeing the china and crystal in museum-like china cabinets. Then, it was passed down. Ask anyone. They will tell you about that box of china they have in the attic or garage or some inaccessible place in the kitchen. So? What should we do with it? There are many different opinions on the matter.

Overall, the trend appears to be to either use it or ditch it. People tend to use everyday dishes instead of expensive tableware. After all, it’s not often we throw fancy dinner parties. But, it turns out that china ( especially bone china) is very durable. Depending on whether it has metallic trim or not, it can go into the dishwasher and microwave. Gone are the days when you carefully washed your china by hand. You can use them for your everyday dishes. Break a dish? No problem. There are online registries where you can find replacement pieces. Some couples like to have eclectic collections of all kinds of colors, patterns and materials of dinnerware. It makes their table fun and colorful. If something breaks, they go to a resale store and buy some other appealing piece and add it to the mix. They don’t worry about it.

Many people have kitchens that are lacking in cabinet space. They do not like clutter and will jettison anything that doesn’t serve a function. Boxes of old china and crystal have no meaning for them. They view possessing it as a burden and not something of great value. They sell it or give it away with no regrets. But, there are also those that fondly remember their grandmother’s china cabinet and sitting around the Thanksgiving table with the best dinnerware and crystal taking center stage. It is a family tradition that must be passed on. They have to do their part as the current caretaker of the family heirlooms. It is their obligation. Otherwise, it could cause hurt feelings.

The times are changing and so are attitudes about what is valuable and what should occupy space within your home. Young people care more about experiences and less about “things.” They want to revere their elders, but are less likely to place value on items passed down unless it is of personal, historic or monetary value. They would rather keep a special piece of jewelry, a watch, a shirt, or old pictures that hold more personal meaning. Advice from experts says that you can consult with other family members who want to preserve the family china and crystal and give it to them if you don’t have the space to store it. If no other family members care about what happens to the keepsakes, then feel free to sell them, donate them or use them. Having them sit in boxes in your home does no one any good.

Taming the Tide of Toys

Does your playroom look like a tornado has hit? Do you find toys everywhere in your home? Are you constantly stepping on Legos or picking up puzzle pieces? I can relate. Having had three children in a ten year span, I know what having too many toys looks like. When my youngest was a toddler and the oldest was in junior high school, there were tons of toys for all age groups all over the floor of my house. I also had a girl and two boys which meant having additional toys to please each gender. I fell prey to the marketing of the era. To please your child meant buying them more stuff and I was not alone.

The toy industry worldwide sells $80 billion in toys each year. One-fourth of these are bought by people in North America. The United States ranks second only to the U.K. in toy purchases per child. They buy $438 in toys per child per year and the U.S. spends $371 (https://www.statista.com/) . Children in the U.S. own 40% of the toys consumed, yet only account for 3% of the world’s children. They have twice as many toys now as children did 50 years ago. (https://www.worldatlas.com/)

How do you know when you have too many toys? Often, with more toys comes confusion and boredom. The choices are so overwhelming that the children can’t decide what to do and often do nothing. We have all seen the child who unwraps a gift and ends up playing with the box and not the toy. Children can also become passively entertained with toys that do everything for them. Simpler can indeed be better. If children need to figure something out or create their own scenarios, they tend to learn and develop.

Kids with too many toys can be easily distracted and do not enjoy their play time as much. Toy overload can even cause negative effects on their developing psyches. Montessori school experts say that children have a natural sense of order that starts at birth and lasts until age 5 or 6. Without this order, children can seem lost and lacking in focus. To restore this order and produce independence and happiness, you need to remove some of the toys.

What can you do and how should you start? The holidays are coming, so now is a great time to take stock of what you already have and what you could part with. You will notice that kids seem to gravitate to certain favorite toys while others sit idly by just taking up space. There are many great ideas about what to do. The professional organizers at The Move Makers are specially-trained to give you insights and ideas. They have many resources at their disposal for advising and setting up systems. By simplifying and organizing the play area, the toys that you do keep will become more visible and used more often.

With toys, as with many things in life, less is more. By enlisting the aid of our experts, you will find that your children will have more fun and better quality playtime and you will have less clutter, hassles and headaches with toy storage and clean-up.

Kitchens: The Heart of Your Home

Make the Heart of Your Home Easier to Use

 
The kitchen is the heart of your home. It is increasingly being used for multiple purposes. It’s where family and visitors gather to prepare meals, have conversations, and build memories. As our lives become more casual, the kitchen becomes more important. It is the central meeting area for the family. By following some simple rules of accessibility you can make your kitchen one that is more comfortable and easy to use for everyone. Universal Design principles will reduce fatigue and allow for safer and more efficient use of your kitchen.

To start, the layout should be one that allows for flow through the three major areas of use: the refrigerator, the sink and the cooking area (stove, oven or microwave). To reduce steps, these stations should be located in close proximity, ideally in a triangle. If you have a galley kitchen or an L-shaped or U-shaped kitchen, keep the stations in logical order and close together if possible. Allow for a counter space between the sink and stove for preparing items for cooking. Standard counter height is 36” but counters can be lower if users are seated or in a wheelchair. Choose glare-free countertop materials and avoid sharp counter edges and corners.

The sink is the most often used item in the kitchen. Make sure that it is large enough or has dual basins. The faucet should be a single-lever type. It’s handy to have a pull-out sprayer built into the faucet. Stainless steel sinks are easier to maintain than porcelain ones. Appliance choice is next in importance. Refrigerators are designed in many different ways now and frequently have cold water and ice accessible in the door. Locating the freezer compartment below makes using the refrigerator section easier with less bending. If the user is in a wheelchair, a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer is best. Stoves now have easy to use push button controls. These are preferred to knobs or dials. Microwave ovens should be located at counter height. Removing hot items from upper cabinet height microwaves can be dangerous.

Cabinetry is very important. To reduce the stress of bending and trying to reach inside lower cabinets, install pull-out drawers and shelving. For upper cabinets, pull-down shelving is available. Otherwise, do not place items on upper shelves that are higher than you can comfortably reach. Many falls in the home involve step stools so avoid using them if you can. There are many new cabinet designs for pantries, wine racks, spices, plates, platters, and trays that are clever use of space. Remember to have locking cabinets for chemicals, sharp items and other things that you want to keep out of reach from children, pets, or those with dementia.

Natural lighting from kitchen windows is preferred. Overhead lighting can also be good, but make sure it is full-spectrum and LED for cost savings. Task lighting is very important for many cooking and baking chores and can be installed under your upper cabinets. Make sure your receptacles have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) for avoiding shocks and burns. There are many other tips for making your kitchen accessible. The Move Makers employs a Certified Aging in Place Specialist who can review your kitchen and the entire house and offer recommendations for improvements. Contact us today at (503) 744-0826.

Camping Gear Chaos

I have many pleasant memories of camping with my family – the beach, hiking, fishing and eating around the campfire. Everyone would dutifully unload the car upon our return, but then everyone would disappear. Somehow, it always fell upon mom to clean the camping supplies and put them away. I remember trying to put everything back where it came from, but somehow, it wouldn’t fit on the same garage shelves. How was this possible? Wasn’t it there before? Well, yes and no. We always seemed to buy new camp gear during each trip although we kept all the old gear for back-up. We would end up with multiples of everything. Too many sleeping bags and pads, coolers, stoves, lanterns and oodles of gadgets. You name it, we had it.

The gear began to creep into the floor of the garage in front of the camping shelves. Eventually, it started getting dirty and tattered-looking. Something had to be done? But, what? That’s when I found out about Gear Forward. This is a nonprofit that recycles camping gear to the Boy Scouts or other youth in need (see gearforward.org). You can also donate it to a local hiking or climbing club or the Sierra Club. They will put it to good use. REI and Goodwill have a program called the Give Back Box. You can go to REI.com/givebackbox and print out a shipping label. Put your donations in a box, attach the label and then drop it off at any U.S. post office or UPS store. Making donations to nonprofits will keep huge amounts of gear and clothing out of landfills. Of course, people can also sell excess gear on eBay, Craigslist or Geartrade.com.

How do you arrange your camp gear on shelves in your garage? Please check out our related article in this newsletter on garage accessibility. Garages can be divided into regions for different items: automotive, tools, lawn and garden, recycling, sports and recreation, etc. Use open storage as much as possible. There are all ranges of shelving from very inexpensive plastic shelves to very expensive customized metal and wooden shelves. Pegboard with sturdy hooks can hang some items. Be careful not store things too high and out of reach. Accessing items overhead can be risky when you have to climb a step stool or ladder to get to them. Remember to leave at least 3-4 feet in front of shelves for easy access and put heavier items closest to the floor.

Now, my kids are all grown and gone. The camp gear went to their homes since I no longer have a garage. Although I am welcome to join them on camping trips, my idea of roughing it is to rent a hotel without room service.

Is Your Home Visitable?

We all want our homes to be warm and welcoming. We want our friends and relatives to be able to visit and have access to everything they need but what if your friend is in a wheelchair or uses a walker? Would the person be able to visit your home? Would he or she be able to enter the home, have access to the main floor and visit the bathroom? These are all important questions and sometimes we honestly have to respond, “No.” In the field of home accessibility, this is called visitability. Although it usually refers to indoor features, it can also refer to outside qualities of your home, too. Ideally, there should be total property access, not just the entrance or the first few feet inside.

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