Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Livingston County Real Estate News

Aug. 20, 2018

Will Your Current House Fit Your Needs in Retirement?

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.1

1. Affordability

“It may be easy enough to afford your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.”

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association (HOA) fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

“If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.”

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $16,300 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

“As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.”

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind in knowing that you do not have to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

“Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.”

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security and an extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

“Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.”

Evaluate all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or moving in to a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

“No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.”

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Having to install handrails and make sure that your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

“Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!

 
Posted in News, Senior News
Aug. 20, 2018

5 Personal Finance Tips Everyone Should Follow

Many people overestimate their financial stability. Even if you have enough money in the bank and take home a consistent paycheck, you still need to make a conscious and consistent effort to manage your money effectively. 

If you want more financial freedom and to take complete control of your finances, follow these 5 guidelines. 

Create a Budget

A true budget is much more than a dollar amount you don't exceed each month. Have you listed and added up your expenses lately? If you haven't, there's a good chance you're spending more than you think. Keep close track of where your money is going so you can adjust accordingly. You should never be unsure of what you can and can't afford.

Pay Down Debt

The interest you pay on debt is money you're literally giving away. If you have a large balance on a credit card, limit your spending on that card until you pay it down. If you're paying off student loans, try to pay more than the minimum so you actually see your total go down and you're not just paying the interest each month.

Build Your Savings

It can be downright painful to take even a small chunk out of your paycheck for savings, but if you can force yourself to do it the first few times, you'll be happy with the results when you start to see your savings account grow. Pick a realistic percentage of each paycheck to deposit into your savings account and hold yourself to the task. If you want your savings to grow faster, look into a savings account with higher interest. The bank may require that you keep a large balance in it at all time, but it's worth it for the interest your money will accrue. 

Resist Impulse Purchases on Payday

Payday is a wonderful thing, and there's nothing wrong with treating yourself in order to unwind after a long week. However, if you are thinking of purchasing an item you don't necessarily need, it's best to walk away from it and see if it's still on your mind a day or two later. If it is and you can afford it, then go for it. But you might find that you'd rather save the money.

Make the Most of Employee Benefits 

Employee benefits are the company's way of thanking you for your hard work and supporting your overall well-being. Take them up on free gym memberships or parking passes instead of wasting your own money on these things. If your company has a 401k matching program, definitely enroll. Pick a dollar amount to take out of your paycheck that will go into the account each pay period. Choose a number that you're comfortable with but try to challenge yourself to put in more than you think you can. Your company will now match that number and you can watch your 401k blossom! 

Acquiring financial freedom and being debt-free is one of the best feelings in the world. 

Posted in News
Aug. 18, 2018

Housing Will Not Fall Victim to Next Economic Storm

Here are the opinions of several experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman in her latest “Z Report”:

 

Some experts are calling for a slowdown in the economy later this year and most economists have predicted that the next recession could only be eighteen months away. The question is, what impact will a recession have on the housing market?

While economic activity appears to have accelerated so far in 2018, some prominent economic forecasters have become more cautious about growth prospects for 2019 and 2020…

All told, while solid long-term demographic underpinnings support our positive fundamental outlook for housing, in the event micro-economic headwinds surface, we would expect housing transaction volumes and home prices to weather the storm.”

Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s Senior Economist:

“While much remains unknown about the precise path of the U.S. economy in the years ahead, another housing market crisis is unlikely to be a central protagonist in the next nationwide downturn.”

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist:

“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”

Mark J. Hulbert, Financial Analyst and Journalist:

“Real estate may be one of your best investments during the next bear market for stocks. And by real estate, I mean your home or other residential properties.”

U.S. News and World Report:

“Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”

Aug. 18, 2018

Hospice Care for Advanced Dementia: When Is It Time?

Hospice has long been known for the ability to provide comfort and dignity throughout the dying process. Sadly, too few people are aware that a person does not have to be dying from cancer or experiencing excruciating pain in order to take advantage of end-of-life care. Hospice care is effective for patients suffering from a wide variety of chronic conditions, including heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, renal failure, liver failure and even dementia.

Unlike other serious illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias are extremely difficult to categorize into the neat stages of progression that are typically used to determine whether hospice care is appropriate. Life expectancy is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint for patients affected by AD or other forms of cognitive impairment, such as vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. Furthermore, patients in the later stages of these conditions are usually unable to communicate pain, discomfort, wants and needs. This means that family caregivers and even their loved ones’ physicians can have a tough time deciding when to call in hospice.

How Dementia Complicates Hospice Eligibility

Estimating how long a person has to live is nearly impossible. It simply cannot be done with absolute accuracy in most cases, but a general idea is required in order to establish a person’s eligibility for receiving hospice care. To qualify for most programs, an individual must have a terminal health condition and a life expectancy of six months or less. However, not all life-threatening diseases progress predictably. Any dementia caregiver can attest to the fact that a loved one’s condition can improve or worsen on a daily basis. Fortunately, physicians and hospice staff who are knowledgeable about dementia, especially in the later stages, can help families determine when it is time to seek out comfort care.

“Dementia can complicate the ‘eligibility’ process for hospice but taking a person’s personality prior to their diagnosis into consideration can help,” explains Meredith Fields Lawler, LCSW, Director of Outreach Programs at the Crossroads Hospice Charitable Foundation based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Fields Lawler recalls a patient many years ago who had Lewy Body dementia (LBD) and whose daughter was experiencing an immense amount of stress over the worsening of his symptoms. “He would often lose track of time, and it had become hard to hold his attention. The daughter and I sat together and through tears she told me about what her dad was like while she was growing up.”

Fields Lawler and this woman were able to compare some of her father’s current symptoms to his earlier self to get a better idea of his disease progression. “Doing this seemed to take some of the fear away for her,” she recalls. “We still did not know exactly what the future held for her dad, but we were able to look at him as himself—rather than a group of scary symptoms—and determine that he was a candidate for hospice care.”

Familiarity with Medicare’s Hospice Guidelines for Dementia Patients Is Invaluable

“For a patient to be admitted to a program using a diagnosis of dementia, Medicare requires that we are more specific than typical hospice requirements involving a six-month life expectancy,” says Fields Lawler. Most programs use the following two criteria to assess if a dementia patient is a candidate for hospice services:

  • The patient has a stage 7 ranking on the FAST scale.
    The Reisberg Functional Assessment STaging (FAST) scale consists of 16 items that rank the progression of dementia symptoms in seven different stages. Stage 7 indicates severe dementia and means a patient suffers from incontinence and is unable to dress, bathe, walk, or use the restroom without help. They may also be unable to speak meaningfully or express their own thoughts.
  • Other illnesses exist alongside the patient’s dementia. 
    Also known as “comorbidities,” these additional health issues are an important part of hospice eligibility. Dementia comorbidities can include sepsis, severe weight loss, pneumonia, pressure ulcers and fever. A present comorbidity is often an enrollment requirement, and the patient is required to have received treatment for that comorbidity within the last year.

“Determining eligibility can be a very difficult task for clinicians and physicians, and there is absolutely room for improvement in the current means of measurement and classification,” Fields Lawler acknowledges. “However, when patients, families, hospice teams, physicians, Medicare and other health insurance providers continue to work together, we open the doors for many more dementia patients to receive the comfort care they deserve but may not be able to request.”

When to Seek Out Hospice Care for a Senior with Dementia

A great deal of uncertainty and misinformation surrounds hospice care and many families hesitate to discuss the option with physicians and their loved ones. Fields Lawler urges families to learn and talk about this valuable resource even if it isn’t needed at the moment.

“I am a big advocate for early hospice/palliative care intervention,” she explains. “I believe that if a family caregiver is thinking their loved one needs help, has questions, and needs guidance, then that is the time to seek out assistance. It is never too early to begin gathering information and forming a plan as a family. Hospice exists to support patients as well as their family members throughout this trying time.”

Because those with dementia decline so gradually, family members may not seek help until their loved ones are very close to the end. Many do not realize that assistance and specialized care may have been available much earlier. While a physician must make the official determination of life expectancy, Fields Lawler recommends requesting a hospice evaluation if an individual with dementia exhibits the following signs:

  • Constant, elevated levels of anxiety and stress;
  • Complete dependence on others for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, grooming and toileting;
  • Extreme difficulty or complete inability to walk without assistance; and
  • The ability to only speak a few intelligible words and phrases.

Some Hospice Providers Specialize in Dementia Care

While all hospices have the ability to provide care for someone with dementia, there are providers that actively specialize in this field. These hospices typically have tailored programs that are designed to support everyone involved in the life of a patient affected by this disease and help them cope with the unique challenges it brings.

Regardless of a program’s specialty, Fields Lawler suggests that family caregivers ask the following questions of potential providers to help ensure their loved ones will receive the highest level of care:

  1. Is your program certified by Medicare?
  2. Is your staff experienced in providing care to patients with dementia-related illnesses?
  3. Do you offer specialized services to improve a dementia patient’s comfort?
  4. What services do you offer to the families, caregivers and friends of patients with dementia?

Fields Lawler also emphasizes the importance of finding a provider that is staffed with well-trained and loving hospice nurses and aides—the unsung heroes of these end-of-life programs. These people will spend the most time with your loved one and help them complete the most intimate tasks like bathing, dressing and toileting. Many individuals with dementia have a fear of water, so having patient aides with a keen understanding of this disease is a must.

“When I was choosing a hospice provider for my own father, I asked the most questions about their staff members!” she admits. “We see them three times a week, and if you ask my dad what he likes most about hospice, he will say Bridgette and Carol (his aides).”

Read: A Checklist for Finding the Right Hospice Program

Weighing Hospitalization Against Hospice at the End of Life

As a loved one’s condition declines due to dementia, the likelihood of developing complications, such as aspiration pneumonia, pressure ulcers and urinary tract infections (UTIs), increases greatly. Family members must decide whether to seek curative treatment at the hospital for conditions like these, which can be mentally and physically taxing on a person who is cognitively impaired. Sadly, even if secondary health issues resolve, it is probable that they will recur. The difficult question is, should families forgo treatment in the hospital and opt for comfort care? If so, when?

The answer lies in your loved one’s personal end-of-life preferences. Hopefully this was a conversation that took place early on while they were still mentally competent and resulted in appropriate planning measures such as a living will, a do not resuscitate (DNR) order, a voluntarily stopped eating and drinking (VSED), POLST form, or advance directive. If our loved ones’ wishes have been documented, then it is up to us as their caregivers to follow them.

Fields Lawler points out that one of the benefits of hospice care is that it can be provided wherever the patient is living—private homes, nursing homes, hospice houses, homeless shelters, and anywhere else a person is comfortable and wishes to remain. “This is something that providers and employees take very seriously. I have visited patients in all of these settings,” she recalls. Each person’s preferences for end-of-life care are different, but hospice providers prioritize flexibility.

Because late-stage dementia prevents patients from effectively clearing bacteria from the body and notifying others of their symptoms or pain, infections can easily take root and are often the cause of death. Urinary and fecal incontinence, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and overall reduced immune system function all contribute to illness.

“The situations that break my heart are when patients are not being cared for by a hospice team and an infection occurs,” Fields Lawler laments. “When these infections persist in the absence of hospice, patients are often moved to an acute care hospital for treatment. Hospitals typically go to great lengths to treat the infection, including tests, treatments and medications that may not be efficient in the long term and result in discomfort, such as feeding tubes. These patients can be hospitalized multiple times for recurring issues, and the stress and discomfort that accompanies constant illness and changes in environment can quickly take a toll on them.”

Hospice ensures that the family is kept informed and involved, Fields Lawler explains, and all treatment methods are focused on the patient’s comfort and dignity. “Unlike hospitalization, this care is dedicated to comforting and nurturing a patient’s whole person physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally,” she says.

While it may be a difficult option to consider for a loved one, hospice can provide dignified care and invaluable support to the whole family during a difficult time. Services can be stopped at any point, and there is no limit to the length of time a person can continue receiving them as long as they remain eligible.

Posted in News, Senior News
Aug. 4, 2018

The Cost of Selling Without a Real Estate Agent

 

You’ve heard of buyer’s remorse; but without your market expertise and sales skills to back them up, sellers who choose to sell their home on their own just may experience “seller’s regret” when they see how much less they get for their properties. FSBOs earn an average of $60,000 to $90,000 less on the sale of their home than sellers who work with a real estate agent, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Here’s the breakdown:

  • All agent-assisted homes: $250,000 (median selling price)
  • All FSBO homes: $190,000
  • FSBO homes when buyer knew seller: $160,300

With this kind of discrepancy, why would any seller choose to go it alone? Some may want to avoid paying an agent's commission—but even factoring that in, FSBOs still stand to make less on their home sale. “Talk to an agent and find out what they suggest for the commission, and then do the math yourself,” researchers write on NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog. “The closing price for the agent-assisted seller is likely going to be way above a FSBO. [But] in reality, homes sold by the owner make less money overall.”

Homeowners seem to be hearing the message: Only 8 percent of sellers last year—an all-time low—chose to sell their home themselves, according to NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. That figure has been falling since 2004, when 14 percent of homeowners sold their own homes.

Of the share of FSBOs last year, 38 percent of the homes were sold to a buyer that the seller knew, such as a friend, neighbor, or family member. The majority of FSBO transactions, however, were sold to buyers the owner did not know.

 
Posted in News, Seller News
Aug. 4, 2018

The Ideal Age for First-Timers to Buy

Apparently the magic number for first-time home buyers is 28. That’s the average age that most Americans think a person should be when they buy their own home, according to a new Bankrate.com report conducted last month among a sample of 1,001 respondents.

This may be a bit optimistic in practice, at least for buyers in today’s market. The National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found the median age of first-time buyers was 32 years old for the second year in a row.

The Bankrate study did find some differences in opinion between genders and regions of the country. While a quarter of men think people should strive to buy their first home by age 25, just 12 percent of women say the same. Those who live in the Northeast appeared to have lower expectations for buying a first home than other survey participants. Nearly one in five living in this region responded that the right age to buy a home for the first time is 35 or older, twice as many as any other region.

Posted in Buyer News, News
Aug. 4, 2018

Ikea Isn't the Only Place for Affordable Furniture — Check Out These Alternatives

We all want to save money on home furnishings, but there are limited options out there to choose from. That's why Ikea has been a staple for most people; however, it's not the only source anymore. Click through for 4 great alternatives for affordable furniture.

If you've recently moved into a new home or apartment, you know how daunting the task of furnishing it can be. All of a sudden you have empty rooms that need filling — but your wallet is only so big! You could go the Ikea route, but everyone you know has at least one item from Ikea. Instead, check out these other great options for affordable furniture.

HomeGoods

HomeGoods is a part of the same corporation as TJMaxx and Marshalls. It offers a huge selection of home essentials, such as furniture, décor, dinnerware, cleaning supplies and more. HomeGoods stores can be found throughout the country and offer household items at steep discounts. You can find a selection of goods from various designers such as Nicole Miller Home, Le Creuset, Ralph Lauren Home and more. Their stock can be somewhat unpredictable, but you are always guaranteed a bargain. Larger pieces of furniture, such as sofas, aren't as easy to find as accent chairs, stools and side tables, but they do make an appearance every so often. You'll also be impressed by the store's wide variety of area rugs. For truly great savings on all home-related items, check out HomeGoods. 

Target 

Target is known for a lot of things, including an extensive health and beauty department, great clothes at a great price, and even a grocery department. However, not many people tap into its furniture department, which has awesome designs at affordable prices. Lots of people are aware of Target's housewares, but since its furniture stock is on the smaller side, it often gets overlooked. Although the variety isn't anything compared to Ikea or Bloomingdale's furniture department, Target has some modern pieces that fit nicely in just about any home. You can find desks, floor lamps, accent chairs, ottomans, benches and more. It's recommended to check out their stock online because they don't always have the full range of products in the store. You can order what you want online and have it delivered to your local Target for pickup or right to your door.

Urban Outfitters Apartment

Furniture isn't the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Urban Outfitters. It's usually associated with teens and tweens and on-trend fashion. However, Urban Outfitters has had an extensive homeware and furniture line for many years now. Prices aren't quite as low as they are at Ikea, but they're much cheaper than Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel. You can purchase a full-size sofa for less than $1,000. Also, Urban Outfitters has a great range of unique textiles found on their upholstered furniture as well as in their bed linens, rugs and curtains. If you're a fan of the bohemian trend, you are guaranteed to find just what you're looking for at Urban Outfitters. 

World Market 

Word Market is a great place to find one-of-a-kind furniture and homeware. They carry amazing textiles inspired by different cultures and parts of the world. You can easily shop for items that will look great in your home by browsing collections like "Artisan Furniture," "Mid-Century Furniture," "Industrial Collection" and more. Furniture such as sofas are reasonably priced in the $500 to $800 range, but World Market has lots of sales so that you can save even more. Don't forget to check out the line of wall art for under $100! 

Check out these great stores if you're looking to furnish your home on a budget and not make it look like an Ikea showroom!

Aug. 4, 2018

Buyers Say Garages, Updated Kitchens Aren’t as Important as This

The home’s garage, large backyard, and updated kitchen may not be as important to home shoppers as the school district, according to a new survey released by realtor.com® of more than 1,000 people who closed on a home in 2018. Seventy-eight percent of buyers surveyed say they’re willing to give up home features to get their school district of choice, and home shoppers are willing to give up their most desired home features to get that.

“Most buyers understand that they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com®. “But our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers aren’t willing to compromise. For many buyers, ‘location, location, location,’ means ‘schools, schools, schools.’”

The extent of compromises that buyers are willing to make to get their top-choice schools may be surprising too. For example, 78 percent of buyers who said schools were important in their house hunt said they had to compromise on certain home features. The features they most commonly reported giving up in exchange for their preferred school district were a garage (19 percent); a large backyard (18 percent); an updated kitchen (17 percent); desired number of bedrooms (17 percent); and an outdoor living area (16 percent). A spring home buyer survey conducted by realtor.com® had showed a garage was the number one feature that home buyers were looking for this year, followed by an updated kitchen and an open floor plan.

Not surprising, the desire for particular schools did vary by a buyer’s life stage and age. Ninety-one percent of buyers with children said school boundaries are important or very important compared to 34 percent of those without children.

Buyers surveyed said they determined the school district they wanted to live in by looking at schools’ test scores, followed by the availability of accelerated programs, arts and music, diversity, and before- and after-school programs. Realtor.com® offers a tool through its site’s search to specify a district or school boundary so buyers can search for homes within that preferred area.

 

Posted in Buyer News, News
Aug. 4, 2018

How to Identify and Minimize Caregiver Burden

Most of us have heard of caregiver burnout or are familiar with the trials and tribulations involved with providing care for a loved one. While we may be aware of these unique “occupational hazards,” many family caregivers feel that they are powerless to change their situation and therefore turn a blind eye to their emotional, physical and even financial difficulties. However, this denial only provides a cozy little space for burnout to take root and grow.

According to AARP’s 2015 Caregiving in the U.S. Report, 38 percent of caregivers consider their situation to be highly stressful. Furthermore, nearly half of this high-stress group provides more than 20 hours of care each week. Even if you believe you are on top of your loved one’s needs and meeting your own, it is crucial for you to periodically take an objective look at your circumstances to prevent pushing your limits too far. You may be meeting many of these needs, but are you providing the best possible care? At what costs?

“Some people do not realize the extent of their stress and burnout, so they do not realize that they need to take action or look into things that can help them,” says Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania and author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent. “This puts those caregivers at greater risk for fatigue and depression and, ultimately, for being unable to continue their caregiving duties.”

Below, Dr. Jacobs provides insights that may help family caregivers better gauge the amount of strain they’re experiencing and become more proactive in helping themselves find a healthy middle ground between sacrifice and selfishness.

Ignoring Signs of Burnout Can Have Serious Consequences

While it may be a well-worn cliché at this point, Dr. Jacobs finds that the marathon metaphor is still the most powerful way of helping caregivers realize they need to prepare themselves for the long haul.

“Caregivers, like marathon runners, must learn the lay of the land, find a sustainable pace and accept replenishment along their journey if they have any hope of gamely persevering from start to finish line,” he explains. “With this metaphor in mind, we can say that the family member who accepts this role blindly is akin to the misguided runner in crocs and jeans with no clue about how far they have to travel. They simply are not equipped to successfully complete the race and are likely to stumble and fall within the first mile.”Much the same can be said for caregivers who wantonly ignore signs of burden and burnout. “Even as they eye the next uphill stretch ahead of them, marathoners have to constantly scan their bodies for muscle cramps and strained ligaments that could be their undoing. This awareness of their limits is crucial. When pain becomes too sharp, they know they must throttle back on their pace. Caregivers, too, need to be on alert for physical symptoms, such as headaches and neck and back pain, and emotional symptoms, such as persistent irritability and hopelessness, either of which could undermine their capacity to give care,” urges Dr. Jacobs. “When they don’t watch for these signs and try to push through, they make themselves more, not less, likely to badly falter over the long, grinding course.”

Dr. Jacobs considers a demoralizing sense of dread to be a telltale sign

How Caregivers Can Gauge Their Stress Levels

of intensifying stress and resentment. “It is a serious issue if you are going to bed each night in anguish over the next day’s chores and waking up each morning with a feeling of heaviness and a reluctance to get going. Caregivers who are full of dread have come to hate their daily caregiving routines, even if they still love the person for whom they’re caring. Ironically, many of them rigidly resist all suggestions for altering those routines as if any change would be tantamount to giving up altogether,” Dr. Jacobs points out. “These caregivers will struggle unhappily month after month until the day that they simply can’t physically or emotionally force themselves out of bed anymore.”

Another sign he cautions caregivers to pay attention to is constant yelling. “I’m not talking about the caregiver who becomes frustrated on occasion and sharply rebukes their care recipient,” elaborates Dr. Jacobs. “As I point out to many of the guilt-ridden individuals who come to me for counseling, people occasionally yell in families in which no caregiving is taking place. That is simply called normal family life. What I’m concerned about here is the caregiver who frequently loses control of their emotions and winds up saying and doing hurtful things much too often.”

Dr. Jacobs believes that both of these examples are indicative of caregivers who need to immediately change their care plans to reduce their burden or even cease caregiving altogether. “They must find alternative means for ensuring that their loved one is well cared for,” he encourages. Resuming their duties may be a possibility, but depression and acting out, while not uncommon, point to an unsustainable care plan and an environment that is toxic to both the caregiver and care recipient.

An Objective Assessment of Caregiver Burden

Because it can be so difficult for caregivers to get a clear read on their mental and physical wellbeing without feeling guilty or a sense of failure, Dr. Jacobs recommends a quick and easy self-assessment to help readers get started. “The two that I most often recommend are the Zarit Burden Interview, which is available in both short and long forms, and the Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire, which was devised by the American Medical Association,” he notes.

With both of these, caregivers are asked a series of questions about their experiences and the state of their health. Each response is scored and then the total scores for each test can be interpreted to indicate the degree of a caregiver’s burden or distress.

“The results they yield are generally reliable and valid indicators, which provide caregivers with insight into their own coping. On the basis of these tests, I’ve seen caregivers decide that they need more help than they were previously willing to accept,” Dr. Jacobs recalls. “This can be helpful for steadfastly independent caregivers or those who cannot afford or do not wish to see a therapist for insights into their situation.”

Whether caregivers use these quantitative tests or just rely on gut-feel, they need to frequently reflect on how they are doing. “The savvy marathoner heeds their bodily warnings and adjusts their stride and pace accordingly,” reiterates Dr. Jacobs. “Similarly, the savvy caregiver heeds physical and emotional signs and seeks greater support when needed in order to sustain their vital work.”

A Free Self-Assessment Packet for Caregiver Burnout

Burnout can sneak up on the healthiest, most devoted and best prepared caregivers. Make sure you do your part to sustain yourself and preserve the integrity of your care plan. This is especially true for sole caregivers who may not have an adequate support team to offer help or draw attention to their mounting responsibilities.

Countless caregivers join support groups for encouragement and assistance and many others opt for formal therapy or counseling to help make sense of the complex emotions this role elicits. Unfortunately, the latter option costs money and, of course, takes precious time. This is where proven self-assessment tools can help caregivers come to terms with what they are truly feeling and realize the importance of seeking out assistance.

Caregivers can download this Zarit Burden Interview Packet to assess their stress levels and learn about their implications. The results page of this packet also features tips for minimizing stress and finding sources of respite.

 

EXPERTCarol Bradley BursackMinding Our Elders

About Carol Bradley Bursack

Over the span of two decades, author, columnist, consultant and speaker Carol Bradley Bursack cared for a neighbor and six elderly family members. Her experiences inspired her to pen, "Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories," a portable support group book for caregivers.

Posted in News, Senior News
Aug. 4, 2018

How to Keep Your Kitchen Organized No Matter What

 

Everyone wants a clutter-free kitchen, but it’s a difficult feat since the kitchen is often the most used room in the house. Click through for creative ways to keep your kitchen organized no matter what.

Keeping your kitchen organized can be frustrating. It’s the room that gets the most foot traffic. It’s where meals are made and served and where so many of your daily items are stored. However, hope isn’t completely lost yet. There are some simple tips that you can implement that will help you keep your kitchen organized around the clock. Keep reading to find out more.

Use cabinet pull-outs and risers

Cabinets can get messy quickly if you don’t have a way to organize their contents. Cabinet pull-outs allow you to organize pans, platters and other items neatly, and they give you easy access to cabinets. Instead of rustling through your cabinets looking for the item you need, you can save time with a pull-out system.

Another good (and cheap) investment is a cabinet riser. By placing one in your cabinet, it allows you to elevate certain items like bowls or mugs (almost like a loft bed) so that you have room underneath to store even more things. 

Keep everyday items within arm’s reach

A great way to keep your kitchen more organized is to store the items that you use often within arm’s reach. That way, you don’t have to search through different drawers and cupboards to find the things you need. Hang cooking utensils such as a spatula and ladle by the stove. Hang your favorite mugs on a rack by the coffeemaker. 

You can make use of Command hooks and even a towel holder to hang frequently used items in their necessary spots. 

Use drawer dividers for items besides cutlery

We’ve all got one or two “junk drawers” in the kitchen; but really, all that means is that there are a bunch of items thrown in haphazardly. A simple way to fix that is to use the same drawer dividers in your junk drawer that you use for cutlery. You can organize items by category, making it easy to find what you need. 

Store similar items together

Most kitchens suffer from organization methods that don’t have any rhyme or reason. Storing items randomly makes it difficult to locate the things you need, causing you to take everything out of your cabinets just to find a jar of peanut butter. If you store similar items together, you can avoid this entirely. Keep everyday dishes like plates, bowls and glasses in one cupboard. Keep all of your cutting boards in the same place. Stack baking dishes on the same shelves. Make sure all of your spices are stored together. 

Make use of door storage

Don’t forget that you can hang things on the back of cabinet and pantry doors. You can attach racks for cleaning accessories on the back of the cabinet door under your sink. You can hang a spice rack on the back of your pantry door. The possibilities are endless. You can even make use of space on your refrigerator door with magnetic hooks. 

Keep items on the counter in baskets

There are some kitchen essentials that we use so frequently that it doesn’t make sense to store them away. Things such as sponges, towels, disinfectant wipes or food items you use daily like coffee can all be stored neatly even if they’re out on the counter. Make use of metal baskets, tiered stands or hanging baskets to store these items so that, although they’re in plain sight, they don’t make your kitchen look messy. 

 
Posted in Home Design Ideals