Challenges in working with aging parents

How to Work with Your Aging Parents – 5 Insights

Dealing with challenges involved with our aging parents.

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Helping Seniors Move in PA NJOf all the fine lines we have to walk in our lifetime, one of the most challenging, yet most important, is how we deal with the challenges that inevitably crop up when working with our aging parents.

Everyone’s circumstances and family dynamics are different, of course, but there are certain commonalities. Chief among them is how to provide help, support and comfort while respecting our parents’ intellect and abilities. Even as the roles shift, they’re still our parents, and no matter how wise or experienced we are, to them, we’ll always be “the kids.”

We specialize in working with families and adult children who are managing the transition of thier elderly parents. We have learned a thing or two over the years and wanted to share these insights with you. We have put together list of the top 5 tips you may want to consider when working with your agents parents. These helpful tips are part of a continuing series of articles by Nick and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Personal Property Managers specializes in real estate sales, real estate transition services, property management and content clean-out services in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

As our parents age and need more and more help, it’s natural to want to lend a hand, but when you get involved, you need to make sure that you don’t become domineering.

Seniors who feel like their children are trying to take over their lives get resentful and angry – and as a result often disregard their help just to spite them or assert their independence.

This is why it’s important that as our parents age and do start to lose some of their abilities, we stay aware of how we’re communicating with them. Nothing presses our buttons more than family.

While this kind of behavior feels most inappropriate with our parents, being respectful and mindful of boundaries are actually the cornerstones of all healthy relationships.

Stepping Up vs. Overstepping Boundaries

So where exactly is the line between being “helpful” and turning into a bully? Sometimes when you do what you feel is needed – arrange a doctor appointment, suggest grab bars – your parents will resent your good advice. People have a fierce desire to remain independent, often even though they really do need assistance.

Add to that the difficulty of accepting the shifting reality of who is now caring for whom. This can be more difficult for our parents to accept because they often view it as “losing power” to their children.

A big part of striking the right balance has to do with how we speak and act. It’s imperative that we show respect, not attempt to force our will, and to make everything a negotiation (or at least offer options).

5 Things Adult Children and Parents Fight About

It boils down to this, if you think your parents can do something by themselves, let them. But if they – or someone else – could be harmed, don’t feel guilty about getting involved. Most seniors who are slipping a bit are lucid enough to recognize their new limitations. they’re looking for someone they trust to make things easier for them.

Here are five of the big issues that are likely to come up, plus suggestions for avoiding conflict.

1. Driving

Nothing gives people a greater sense of independence than driving. A car gets them where they want to go when they want to go. Yet in the hands of someone with physical or cognitive limitations, an automobile can become a lethal weapon.

One must be extremely sensitive when you come to the point where you insist that your parent hand over the keys. Consider trying initially to negotiate ways they can drive their car less frequently – perhaps only locally and in the daylight. Elderly people who have become nervous drivers and don’t feel they have to put up a fight often discover they actually prefer not being in the driver’s seat.

2. Finances

This is a very sensitive subject and is often met with great resistance. Unfortunatley there are many stories of financial abuse of our elderly loved ones.

The best way to approach this is to suggest that our elderly loved ones open their checkbooks and show us their credit card statements and all their bills. But if they’re unwilling and you try to force the issue, they might accuse you of meddling. When there’s no evidence of a problem, it’s better to just offer help – like balancing a checkbook. Keep your antennae up for hints of trouble.

If you suspect they are mismanaging their resources and they resist your involvement, tell them you need to call in a social worker. It might be easier for your parents to listen to a neutral third party, and a trained professional might have communication or coping strategies that you don’t.

3. Home Safety

People can be slow to accept their physical limitations. If they’ve always gotten in and out of the shower OK, why worry now? The answer is that we all have a problem projecting in the future, yet for people over 65, falls are the leading cause of injury and death. When a parent is having problems with gait or limb strength or has recently started using a walker or cane, it’s time to start the conversation.

So how should you handle this? Often scare tactics go a long way. The image of lying alone, in grave pain, injured (or possibly dying) alone in the living room might be enough to “put the fear of God” into a parent who perfers not to discuss such issues. Often times elderly loved ones wouldn’t wear their life-alert pendant until they hear about someone who fell and waited several hours for the ambulance to arrive.

Most people will accept minor fixes, like rug tape or bathtub no-slip strips, so if you start with the little things (and build up to the larger ones), you won’t come off as oppressive.

4. Doctors, Treatments and Medication

Seniors are not always forthcoming about their medical reports. Sometimes they haven’t completely understood what a doctor has said, or they could be deliberately withholding information they think will make them seem enfeebled or cause you to worry.

If your parent seems healthy you may want to consider backing off (but keep a watchful eye). If, however, you observe any symptoms or notice your parent is missing doctor appointments, getting confused with his medications and won’t let you help, call in a social worker or nurse. Tell your parent you are doing so. In a life-or-death matter, there’s no such thing as a bossy pants.

5. End-of-Life Planning

No one likes to think about this heaviest of all topics – and yet if people want their wishes heeded, important documents need to be in place: a power of attorney, a last will and testament, a living will, organ donation papers, funeral preferences and more.

How to handle You cannot force your parents to do any of these things or tell you where they keep the safety deposit box key.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

How to begin Downsizing your Home

How to Begin Downsizing Your Home

4 Quick Tips

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Home Staging Tips PA NJThe vast majority of the clients who contact us are simply overwhelmed trying to tackle downsizing their home or the home of a loved one. It is physically and mentally draining. Often it entails going through possessions that have been in the house for 40 plus years. Where do you begin?

This is part of a continuing series of articles and helpful tips and insights into helping you move forward and sell your home and clean out your contents by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Personal Property Managers specializes in real estate sales and marketing, home downsizing, content clean out and removal and estate sales, and services Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Moving from your home of 20, 30 or 40 years is a daunting task. Often our client tell us it’s an “oh my gosh moment” – where do I begin? This is where we can help you.

Did you know that downsizing and moving ranks as one of lifes most difficult events, along with loss of a spouse, divorce and job change. People feel overwhelmed, and wonder; where do they even start?

At Personal Property Managers, we understand the emotional toll downsizing and moving can take on our clients and their families. If you are moving from your home of many years into a senior care community or just relocating, our goal is to help you transition seamlessly to this exciting new chapter in life.

Nick Santoro says that of the many challenges of moving, downsizing is the most difficult. Nick says the reason for this is that you have to make decisions about every personal possession in your home. Personal Property Managers is at your side helping you every step of the way.

Santoro suggests viewing downsizing as a process. We suggest that you start with small goals, and plan on sorting for just a few hours at a time.

  1. Sorting through the easiest and obvious first. Choose a room where what needs to go or stay is the most obvious – like your bedroom or a room that’s rarely used.
  2. Using colored stickers, labels or Post-It notes to identify where items will go. More efficient than writing out a list, movers and family members can use the stickers as guidance on moving day.
  3. Assessing practicality and sentimentality. Items that are both practical and sentimental should move with you. Items that are neither should be left for family, sale or charity.
  4. Eliminating duplicate items or items that are the wrong size. Chances are, you only need three sets of towels, not six. If clothing does not fit, do not bring it with you.

Before the move, Santoro recommends creating a floor plan and determining the practicality of existing furniture. Nick says, do not go out and buy new furniture. Instead, be open to using furniture in new ways.”

Taking measurements of available space is also important. Virginia, a recent client said, “We had large paintings that we really loved, but did not think we could bring with us. Nick had our floor plan and measurements and said, “Oh, yes we can. I know just where those paintings can go!’”

“It’s the sentimental items that make a house a home,” Nick reminds our clients. “Those are just as important as packing up your sensible shoes and kitchenware.”

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

Top 5 tips – how to flip houses

Top 5 tips – how to flip houses

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Property Manager PA NJAre you considering investing in real estate? Are you interested in buying an investment property, fixing it up and selling it, often called flipping a property? House flipping in the real estate sector refers to where you invest in a property with the objective of making a nice profit on it, often in a relatively short period of time.
The golden rule with making money on property is always to buy low and sell high, but there are risk factors that must be considered. Especially if you are a novice investor or renovator, you need to really do your homework and then some. Your ‘flip’ can quite easily turn into a ‘flop’ and a significant financial loss says Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers.

This is part of an on-going series of real estate articles by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers who service Pennsylvania and New Jersey and specialize in real estate, home content downsizing, property management and estate sales.

We suggest that home buyers, should buy with the view to creating security for themselves and their families. Real Estate does present the opportunity to not just grow your personal wealth, but make some nice profits, if you approach it in a careful way.

Some of the popular types of property that house-flippers tend to look for are fixer-uppers and quick sale or distressed properties.

Older, up and coming neighborhoods also tend to be good areas to consider if you want to profit from the property flipping trend. This means that buyers are able to invest in older properties, upgrade these and sell them for a profit.

If you are thinking about getting into the house-flipping trend and want to make it a profitable venture, then consider these 5 top tips:
1. Buy smart
Always do your homework and ensure you buy smart. Investing in property is a costly exercise, especially if your finances are tight. Even if you are flush with cash, you would still want to exercise caution and ensure you understand the area and market that you are investing in. Be sure that there is a demand for the type of upgrades or renovations that you are planning as it does not pay to overcapitalize.

2. Understand the market
It is important to have a good understanding of whether there is a demand for the type of remodeling or upgrading that you are planning. While a smart investor will create the need for his/her property, you are often unfortunately guided by what buyers want and what they are prepared to pay. This means that you need to research the area and market thoroughly and ensure that your plans, asking price and profit expectation match the current market.

3. Start with the end price in mind
Always start with the end price that you may be able to sell your property for in mind. That is, the price right now that you could get in the market given the economic and market cycle. Also be sure to price in line with what the market will pay. Often, investors will overspend on the upgrade of their investment property and then price it at the top end of the market. Top end buyers tend to be few and far between and can be quite discerning and will not pay an inflated price regardless of how fabulous the upgrades are.

4. Renovation costs
Most renovators will tell you that it is almost inevitable that your planned renovations or upgrades will turn out to cost more than initially anticipated. Nonetheless, there are many examples of well-budgeted and planned renovations that have turned older homes and complexes into trendy spaces that have not only attracted buyers, but contributed to upgrading the area.

5. Economic climate and property cycle
Generally, house flipping relies on a strong property market because you would want to get a good price and for this, you need willing buyers and some competition. The economy and property market are cyclical in nature and heavily sentiment driven. This is something that we see right now.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

Selling your home? Understand the importance of various Home Inspections

Home Inspections – Understand their Importance

If you are selling your home it is very important that you understand how important various home inspections are.

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Home Selling Tips PA NJIf you are planning on selling your home, you can count on a qualified buyer spending money out of their own pocket to have an independent third party conduct a home inspection. This is a virtual certainty in today’s market. For a seller, this can be an extremely stressful time. Let’s face it, as sellers we all think our home is just fine. We’ve live there a long time and often overlook small seemingly insignificant things as we go about our lives. However, you can count on a home inspector to find just about everything wrong with your home. They will generate a report often 40 pages in length with pictures to document their discoveries. Often times this is where a seller can become insulted and frustrated and a buyer can begin to have second thoughts. Having a strategy in place and remaining calm is very important.

That’s not all…in addition to a home inspection, your local municipality may also require very specific inspections on things like chimney, fire places, septic systems, smoke detectors, carbon detectors, building permits for work that was done on your home, sidewalks and more. So, getting an understanding of what the process is and how to prepare for it is very important.

This is part of a continuing series of articles by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers, who service Pennsylvania and New Jersey and specialize in real estate, property management, home content downsizing and estate sale services.

Selling a home can be a stressful experience for most homeowners. When it comes to home inspections, most homeowners are not used to having a stranger peer into their attic, open every cupboard and closet or test every appliance. For some, this stress can turn into a major nightmare.

While most sellers look at inspectors as the bearers of only bad news, there are some positive factors. Often times, in today’s market, sellers contract with a home inspector to conduct an audit prior to putting their house on the market. Home Inspectors can give sellers the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition. Home inspections can ensure a smooth transaction and assist sellers in receiving the asking price. Maintaining your cool, as a seller is a must. Here are three tips for navigating the home inspection process:

1. Be prepared for the inevitable.
When the home inspector comes through and begins pointing out flaws, many homeowners take the comments personally. This is why it’s important to make sure that your house ready for inspection. Before the inspection process, it can be helpful to do a walk-through of the home yourself and note potential issues. By taking a really hard look at your home prior to putting it on the market will reduce the shock when the inspector points them out, and it will give them the opportunity to fix it preemptively.

2. Be proactive.
Before the inspector arrives, as a seller, you will want to decide if you want to be in the house during the inspection. You can count on the buyers being present during the inspection, which can take several hours. It can be very helpful for a seller to be prepared to answer questions that the inspector may have such as repairs, stains, leaks and other commonly asked buyer and inspector questions. This can help alleviate any tense or awkward moments.

3. Remain calm and focus on your goal.
When the time comes for the actual inspection process, sellers should be reminded that the home inspector is simply doing his or her job. It is important for all parties to remember this especially when the inspector comments on the improper installation of their favorite fixture. If the buyers are present during the inspection it is very important for the sellers to understand that often times the home inspection, with all the emotions that may be associated with it can terminate a deal. Every seller thinks their house is a castle and every seller wants price concessions or repairs for often even the smallest home inspection identified issues. It is important for sellers to take the emotion out of the situation. Sellers should be reminded to keep their eye on the bigger picture, which is their goal of selling their home in the first place and getting the best return on their investment and finding a new home.

Lastly, sellers should be made aware that a home inspection is just the first step. Often times local townships also require a certificate of occupancy inspection. C of O inspections often focus on safety issues ranging from sidewalks, steps, railings, smoke detectors, carbon detectors, septic tanks, chimneys, heating ventilation systems and will also check to see if proper permits were taken out for work done on this house. If a buyer is financing the purchase with an FHA or VA mortgage there will be additional inspections, so having a sellers house in order is critical to any deal to move forward towards settlement. Additionally, FHA and VA backed mortgages require the seller make the necessary repairs to a home prior to mortgage approval and settlement.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

Thinking of Downsizing?

Home Downsizing Tips – Room by Room

Don’t be overwhelmed with moving or cleaning out a home.

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Helping Seniors Move in PA NJMany people do not realize how to handle all of the various categories of things found in the common household and are overwhelmed with even beginning the process of moving or cleaning out a home after a loss of a loved one. Here are some examples of how many of the usual items often found in each room. This is part of a continuing series of helpful articles from Joe Santoro and Nick Santoro of Personal Property Managers to assist you in downsizing or moving from your home. Personal Property Managers services New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Kitchen

  • Keep: Cooking related items you truly need or could use to upgrade what you have in your own kitchen.
  • Donate: Functional items in good condition or better – pots and pans, flatware, glassware, etc. – canned goods and other food may be donated to the local food pantry
  • Discard: Anything chipped, cracked, broken or worn beyond use including china, glass, dishes, old food in the refrigerator and canned goods and packaged food with expired dates
  • Recycle: Dirty, discolored, rusty cooking pots/pans, worn utensils, out-of-date and non-functioning small appliances
  • Sell: Vintage cookware, Le Creuset pots and pans, Fiestaware, Stangl plates and bowls, etc.

Bedrooms

  • Keep: Put family photos, heirloom jewelry and important personal paperwork in a safe place to take home to review closer and distribute to the appropriate family members
  • Donate: Clothing, shoes, accessories, linens, books to local libraries and retirement communities, paperbacks to our soldiers, hotel toiletries to homeless shelters
  • Discard: Undergarments, old toiletries, old medicine, used/old makeup, no value items from the “junk drawer”
  • Recycle: Eyeglasses, old electronics, wire coat hangers to your local dry cleaner, towels and blankets to your favorite animal shelter
  • Sell: Vintage jewelry, zippo cigarette lighters, coin collections, designer clothing to consignment shops

Living Room/Family Room/Den

  • Keep: Heirloom quality china, silver sets and artwork if desired
  • Donate: Lower value furniture, incomplete china sets, extra glassware, CD’s and DVD’s
  • Discard: Used candles, coasters, incomplete board games and puzzles
  • Recycle: Non confidential paperwork, magazines, newspapers, old greeting cards, soiled tablecloths and placemats
  • Sell: Crystal bowls, Hummel figurines, Lladro figurines and related collectibles

Office

  • Keep: Recent tax returns, home improvement records, current files
  • Donate: Old phones to our soldiers, outdated but working electronics to schools or charities
  • Discard: Office supplies that are no longer functional – Pens that don’t work, dried up erasers, etc.
  • Recycle: Obsolete fax machines, printers, power cords, old trade publications, ink cartridges
  • Sell: Furniture and higher-end electronics when updating/upgrading
  • Shred: Credit card statements, tax returns over 7 yrs old, bank statements, old confidential business/related records

Attic

  • Keep: Family memorabilia, personal items and other heirlooms
  • Donate: Clothing, picture frames, low-value knick knacks, books in better condition to your local library
  • Discard: Worn out suitcases, baby cribs and car seats, anything low value damaged by the heat and cold from sitting for years that can’t be recycled
  • Recycle: Rusty bed frame rails, corroded metal fans, non-confidential paperwork
  • Sell: Antiques, old dolls, vintage toys and trains, sports, movie and political memorabilia

Basement

  • Keep: Better quality hand and power tools and related machines and equipment if truly needed
  • Donate: Children’s toys, exercise equipment, games in good condition or better
  • Discard: Damp, musty, moldy books and record albums, broken modern toys
  • Recycle: Outdated electronics, rusty tools, old wiring, non-functioning dehumidifiers
  • Sell: Duplicate or unneeded tools, musical instruments that are no longer used, vintage stereos

Garage/Shed

  • Keep: Better quality hand and power tools, shelving and storage bins if needed
  • Donate: Vases to your local florist, extra garden tools to your neighbors
  • Discard: Sports equipment in poor condition, toys missing parts or broken
  • Recycle: Junk metals, hazardous waste, paint, old bicycles
  • Sell: Lawn mowers and snow blowers on Craigslist, sort and sell boxes of unwanted things from parents, grandparents and relatives sitting for years

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

How to modify your home for an elderly loved one moving in

Home Modifications When Moving In an Elderly Loved One

Home modifications tips for elderly parents moving in with caregivers

Bucks County Home Downsizing

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With Americans living longer and longer, and with the baby boomer retirement population exploding, and expecting to almost double in the next few years, one option that many families are taking is having elderly parents move in with their adult caregiver children.

We have found that it’s very important to consider certain home modifications so you can accommodate elderly loved ones moving in with you.

This is part of a continuing series of articles and helpful tips and insights into senior care and senior transition services by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Personal Property Managers specializes in senior transition services such as downsizing, content clean out and removal, estate sales, full service real estate and property sale and moving and services PA and NJ.

  • Some general safety and room-by-room details to consider include:
  • Make sure to have study handrails on all indoor and outdoor steps
  • Install nonskid strips on or near steps and near the edges.
  • For those with visual impairments, the strips should be a color that contrasts with the color of the steps.
  • Light switches should be located near all entrances to each room, at each end of hallways, and at the top and bottom of stairwells.
  • Lighting should be sufficiently throughout the home.
  • Consider replacing traditional door knobs with lever handles which are easier to operate than doorknobs.
  • Interior doors should have locks that can be opened from either side.
  • Hallways and doorways should be wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair.
  • The water heater should be set at 120 degrees to reduce the risk of scalding.
  • Solid color carpeting with dense pile will lower fall risks. Deep pile carpeting can be more difficult to walk on, and patterned carpeting may cause optical illusions for those who have difficulty with depth perception.
  • To lower fall risks with hardwood floors, avoid wax or high gloss polishes or throw rugs.
  • Avoid room entrances with raised door thresholds.
  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be present near all sleeping areas.
  • Check that kitchen cabinets and countertops are a comfortable height, and that there is space to roll a wheelchair under a counter, if needed.
  • A side-by-side refrigerator/freezer will be easier to use than a top-bottom model.
  • Electric or gas stoves should not be positioned under a window because the presence of curtains will increase the risk of fire.
  • Sinks should have a single-lever mixing faucet.
  • The touch pad of a microwave should be large and easy to read, and the device should be in a convenient location.
  • There should be one bathroom located on the main floor of the home, as well as near the bedroom (if the home is multi-level).
  • Grab bars should be present or can be installed near the toilet and tub/shower.
  • Check that the toilet is a comfortable height.
  • It is recommended that the tub/shower has a hand-held spray unit, and a built-in seat or space to utilize a shower chair (chairs are available which extend over the side of a tub if a stall shower is not present, however you will need a curtain instead of shower doors to minimize water escaping from the shower.)
  • A pedestal sink may be needed if a wheelchair or regular chair will be used in front of the sink.
  • The size of the bathroom should be adequate for wheelchair maneuverability
  • Avoid throw rugs and bathmats. The floor should be carpeted (low pile), or matte-finished, textured tile instead of a smooth, potentially slippery surface.
  • Towel racks and built-in soap dishes should be secure and not located where they might be used as a grab bar.
  • One Bedroom should be available on the main floor of the home.

We have learned over the years that these modifications can make a world of difference for your elderly loved one.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

Top 7 tips to help you sell your home

Top seven tips and insights to help you successfully sell your home by Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Click here to view.

Joean NickNov2011