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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Moving your elderly parents...

Every week I receive at least one call from a son or daughter who is at their wits end over how to help their elderly parents move.

The decision to move should have been made several years earlier, but the parents resisted any discussion of the subject, so the children stopped bringing it up.  Then something happened, a fall, surgery, a diagnosis of a serious illness, sometimes even the on set of dementia, and now it is imperative that they move to a safer environment.

Finally, the parents agree to move, but the move slows to snails pace when it comes to sorting through a house that has been lived in for 40 years.  Every single item needs to be examined and the parents are insistent that everything they own is a valuable antique and can't just be donated, it must be sold for an amount of money that they deem acceptable.  However, when the appraisers come in, there is very little that is actually worth selling.  Sometimes the process stops outright as parents battle children over what to do with their stuff.

When the decision has been made as to where the parents are going, it is often to a much, much smaller place.  Most seniors go from their 3 bedroom, 2 car garage homes to an apartment of about 600 square feet.  Convincing them that they need very little of the items they
have lived all their lives with turns into a tug of war.

I just finished working on such a move and the son asked me "why were you able to get them to
agree to everything when we couldn't?" And my answer was, "because I am not family".  I
don't have your history, I don't look for a "win" with a client, I listen and look for ways
to come to an agreement.  I don't argue, I don't get upset or annoyed, I simply move on until I can find something that we can call "done" and then return to those hot button items until a decision can be made.

Sometimes it's nearly impossible to get a parent to agree with you or to give up their power to their children.  Knowing when to call for professional help will save you, and them, a lot of grief.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Specialty collections...

I work with many people who have, over the course of their lives, collected various types of specialty items.  One person collects tiny spoons, another a certain type of pottery, a collection of model cars and airplanes, medical and dental equipment, old cooking tools and appliances... my current client has amassed a huge number of old woodworking tools.

In his 80's, he's about to move out of his large home and into a 2 room unit in a nearby senior living complex.  There is no room for the hundreds of tools he has stashed everywhere in his house, as well as manuals, catalogues and thousands of magazines dedicated to woodworking.  His children are at their wits end over what to do with this stuff.  They have no interest in keeping any of his precious collection and his home must be sold.  He insists that his collection is worth a fortune - but to whom?


Even with the internet, finding someone, somewhere in the world who would take this entire collection is looking for the needle in the haystack. Many of the local men who shared his passion for tools are also older and facing similar issues with their own collections. The children will rent a storage space while they try and figure this out.  At least it buys them some time.

If you are a "collector", you can do everyone a huge favor by knowing in advance who, or what institution, would buy or take your collection if, and when, it has to be disposed of.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Being prepared...

September is the designated National Preparedness Month.  Here's a list of things you might wish to attend to:

First Aid Kits - one in the car, one on every floor of your home
Water - enough for everyone and the pets for several days
Medications - extras in the car and a months worth of additional at home
Eyeglasses - keep your last older pair in your earthquake kit and a pair in your car
Pet Food - an extra supply
Food - something in the car and some things that don't need to be heated or refrigerator
Crates and leashes - for transporting pets (I carry leashes in my car and I've used them several  times to corral stray dogs.)  Don't forget tags and microchips on all pets.
Fire Extinguishers - one in the car and one on every floor of the house
Flashlights and batteries - everywhere
Hand crank radio - in the car and house
Extra blankets - in the car
Extra cell phone chargers

Safe document storage - a fireproof box for home, a safety deposit box at the bank
Back up system for the computer - some form of off site back up would be great
Printable photos of everyone (including pets) - just in case flyers have to be made

A family plan:  where you will all meet up and how you contact each other
A fire escape route and fire drills:  how to use a rope ladder and a fire extinguisher

A list of helpful sites is posted below on the right side under Disaster Prep Sites for further info.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another spin...

"What should I do with all my albums?" And we're not talking about photos, we're talking about those vinyl record collections that many of us, of a certain age, still have in the back of the closet.  Usually kept in milk crates, they weigh a ton, require shelf space larger than most bookcases and they don't fit in small moving boxes, even though they look like they should.  They've been carted around for decades and now they have to go...

It's possible that some of your collection has a value to a collector - either for the music, or the cover art and/or liner notes.  But what condition is your collection in?  You won't get much if the covers are worn, torn and moldy or if the vinyl is unplayable.

Check with Record Collectors Guild International or Gold Mind Magazine.  Check with Amazon and EBAY to see what others are selling their copies for.

Try local record stores in large cities.  In the bay area, Amoeba and Aquarius Records still buy some LP's.

Put it on Craig's List or have a garage sale.  Giving albums away is not as easy as you think... many charities don't even take them.

Unfortunately, in most areas, there is no recycling of the vinyl itself.  The trash is the only alternative, while the covers could go into cardboard recycling.

Now, about those old turntables...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to school...

Here's a great post from Aby Garvey, at Simplify 101 on creating an area in the house just for homework.

She took a lovely old cabinet, put it in the kitchen and converted it into "homework central".  Some of her great tips are below:

Equip your homework station with essential supplies. Use your storage space to keep basic supplies on hand. If you aren’t sure what supplies your kids might need for their homework, ask their teacher, or use the list below for starters. Then, add to your supplies as the year progresses. Our current homework supplies include:
- pencils and erasers
- pencil sharpener
- paper – lined, colored, plain white, and over-sized
- crayons
- glue and glue stick
- markers
- pens
- ruler
- dictionary and thesaurus
- calculator
- protractor
- highlighters
- a dry erase board and markers (for working out math problems)
- colored pencils

Declutter to make space for your homework station.Our homework cabinet previously contained just craft supplies. So to make room for new homework related items we started by decluttering and whittling down the craft supplies to just the essentials. The Play-Doh collection, for example, was scaled back to just two small containers. And Kailea decided it was time to part with some stencils and other never used craft supplies. We also moved rarely used craft items into a storage area in the basement.
Use containers to corral like items together and create a space that's fun.Most of the tools and supplies in the homework cabinet are stored in containers that make the supplies easy to see, access and put away. Plastic drawer units hold pencils, glue, crayons, markers and other small items. Small ceramic pots from IKEA hold chalk, pens and sharpened pencils. A plastic shoe box holds beading supplies, while an ITSO bin corrals a small stash of Kailea’s scrapbooking supplies.

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