Monday, July 16, 2012

What's Relevant in This Year of Change

How's your year going?  Remember, this is 2012, that very controversial year that was all over the media in 2011.  Funny how I haven't heard anything lately regarding the differing speculations about this year now that we're in it.  Or maybe I haven't heard anything because I've been so busy experiencing the phenomenal volatility of our 2012!  [Not to mention too busy to blog!]

Never in my life have I had a year like this, and it's only half over.  1982 might be considered--with a new house, a hurricane, and a new job--but no, not even close.  This year it's about losing more loved ones than ever before, plus major life changes, both good and bad.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if an asteroid was heading our way.

These sudden changes are not just occurring within our family and relatives, but are being experienced among our friends, too.  Much of it is because we're at that age where our parents are getting too old to care for themselves.  Almost every friend in our age group is dealing with these issues, and the most difficult is when you live away from your parents.

There are hundreds of articles on caregiving for the elderly, such as this one from the Mayo Clinic.  I just want to add a few suggestions that I've used this year.  What's relevant for me this year?  Simplifying and minimizing:

I wrote about this earlier and I'm still using my Eureka "The Boss" Bagless vacuum cleaner.  This is perfect for the elderly because it's lightweight and they don't have to mess with filters.  As I said before, this little $20 vac gets my house cleaner than my Kirby (which cost $1200 twenty years ago) did.  For lazy people like me, the thought lugging out a 20-pound vacuum cleaner is off-putting, so I wouldn't vacuum as often.  This cutie is actually fun to use.  I feel like I'm a kid again playing house.

My father-in-law mentioned that he's overwhelmed with junk mail.  It's taking up his time because he's smart enough not to just toss them out, but has to use a marker to black out any sensitive info.  Ah ha!  First I went to to order him a rolling stamper that blacks out identity info.  A shredder, of course, is an obvious solution, but sometimes we prefer to use our roller.  I also ordered him a pair of shredder scissors. 

Next,  I found this website:, registered, and was able to opt him out of magazine offers, catalogs, special offers, and credit offers.  By the way, for especially annoying mailers who send you mail seemingly once a week, do this:  Take a page from their mailing that has your address on it.  If it involves ordering something, be sure to black out that section to avoid any funny business on their end.  Near your address, write "Please remove me from your mailing list".  Insert the page into their postage paid return envelope and mail it back to them.  THIS WORKED FOR ME on multiple occasions.  These companies do not want to pay postage that does not include an order.  For a couple of companies, I did this 2-3 times, but it did work in the end.  You might even stuff the envelope with all the sheets they sent you to push your point across, but would I do such a thing?  Noooooo.

I don't like filling our landfills unnecessarily, and we do compost and recycle everything allowable.  Our weekly gray trash bin is barely a third full from our family of 3.  HOWEVER, if your independent elderly loved one is having difficulty dusting, using Swifter Sweeper cloths is justified.  The dry disposable cloths used on the floor sweeper are also good to use like a rag for wiping dust off shelves and furniture, and in fact are more effective than those fluffy Swifter dusters, which are still handy for high and low spots with the extendable handles.  When it comes to those with aging issues, making life easier for them with un-green disposable products is forgivable IMHO! 

Keep a big plastic basket or container for your elder to put things that they have "issues" with in, such as bills they don't understand, gadgets they can't figure out, etc.  Of course this is for elders who have someone who visits them fairly often.  Having something to put their "frustrations" in is helpful on so many levels!  First of all, having all their "problems" in one bin makes it easier for both themselves and you to find and solve.  Secondly, it gives them psychological relief to "dump" their problems in one specific place.

I'd like to share this little graph that someone emailed me that made me feel better to know that I'm not the only one.  Of course I'm not even 60 yet, but my excuse is that I'm a normal multitasking female.   With this in mind, however, put yourself in the place of your independent elder and think of ways to make life easier for them.  For example, buying multiples of the same item such as scissors, flashlights, pens, etc. and putting them in convenient containers in multiple locations will save them both trying to remember where they put things and/or walking to get them.

This is something we've used for years and great for seniors:  SuperSwitch Wireless Remote that you can use to turn on small appliances.  We found ours at a hardware store, but Amazon has them also.  For anyone who has mobility issues, it's great to be able to switch on different lamps by remote.  Ok so we don't have mobility issues, but someone in our house loves gadgets.

Lastly, if you haven't already, gift your elder with a digital picture frame, preferably one that has an on/off switch that's simple and that also turns off automatically to save power. And yes, it's nice to have current family photos in it, but also consider their old photos that bring back happy memories. It's not necessarily all about you and the grandkids, you know! 


  1. Very well written ... I loved it!!! I don't have an elderly to care for so I will use these excellent tips for myself and pass them on as well.

  2. Thanks for the compliments!

    Let me know if anyone in Honolulu needs help cleaning/packing for a senior. I know someone for hire who's excellent for this and great with the elderly.


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