Downsizing at any time for simpler living

Downsizing is a popular topic in the world of senior living—a move to a retirement community often involves sorting through decades of belongings and preparing to transition to a smaller space. There are countless consultants and organizations available to help older adults prepare for this overwhelming task.

But lately the downsizing trend is not limited only to those who are preparing for a major life change like a move to a retirement community. Simplified living has become a way of life for people of all ages. Removing unnecessary belongings can help relieve stress, cut down on cleaning, and allow for more time to focus on life experiences rather than tending to belongings.

In 2014, Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo released The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which quickly became a bestseller in a society that has become obsessed with “stuff.” In her book, Marie shares how to joyfully declutter your home and surround yourself with things that make you happy. Her purposeful approach to simple living promotes happiness and creating an intentional home space.

This trend shows us that we don’t have to wait for a major life transition to start the downsizing process. Eliminating clutter and being mindful of what we bring into our home can provide benefits for anyone.

The tips below can help you get started whether you’re looking to simplify certain areas or prepare for a big move.

  • Limit the amount of space you’re willing to give certain items. Only allowing yourself to keep enough books to fit on a bookshelf can make it easier to determine which ones are most important to you.
  • Keep additional clutter from entering your space. Opt out of catalogs, subscribe to paperless billing, and consider the usefulness of freebies and giveaway items before accepting them.
  • Follow the one-year rule. If you haven’t used something in the last year (or two), especially clothing, it’s unlikely that you will use it again at all.
  • Save digitally. If something holds sentimental value to you, take a photo of it to keep forever. Similarly, take time to digitize old photos and videos to free up physical storage space and keep your memories intact online.

Simplifying over time can help make a move all the more easier when the time comes. Create intention in your home!

Guest post: Reducing clutter

Our lives are filled with extraneous stuff that clogs our minds and space. To take back your life, begin by examining which kinds of clutter need to be cleared from your life:

Physical clutter—Symptoms: piles, stacks, and layered surfaces. Remedy: Purpose your space. Dig out and create a baseline you can maintain, and then assign a home to each category of items.

Time clutter—Symptoms: Out-of-control schedules, over-commitment, and lack of prioritization. Remedy: Discover your life’s purpose and priorities, and then align daily activities around that bigger picture.

Financial clutter—Symptoms: Overwhelm, fear, and resistance to tackle a project. Remedies: Invest in organizing your permanent filing system, establish a better flow of incoming paper, and create customized systems for recurrent tasks.

Relational clutter—Symptoms: Endless drama, neediness, anger at others, or unhealthy relationships. Remedy: Forgive yourself and others, and surround yourself with those who bring out the best you!

Emotional clutter—Symptoms: mental torment, circular thinking, stress, confusion, depression, and the like. Remedy: Pursue emotional healing. Trade in the lies and hurts of the past and present for truth.

Spiritual clutter—Symptoms: racing on the hamster wheel of life, harried days disconnected from our spiritual nature. Remedy: Align your spirit, soul, and body.

Pick one or several areas of life clutter and begin “clearing clogs” today!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Exercise for adapting needs

As we get older, certain conditions, injuries, or simply the effects of time may keep us from moving the way we once did.

Aging bodies have different needs. The activities you may have once enjoyed as exercise may no longer be feasible. But learning to adapt to these changes can help keep exercise an important and effective part of your life.

Staying active is essential for maintaining or improving your well-being. In addition to reducing the risk of falls and cardiovascular conditions, physical activity helps release endorphins to relieve stress, boost self-esteem, and improve moods.

In September we celebrate Active Aging Week, and this year’s theme is “Explore the Possibilities”—a great reminder to think outside the box when it comes to your physical activities and find the options that work for you.

  • Focus on balance. Be sure to incorporate balance exercises like tai chi or Pilates into your routine for a low-impact workout with significant results.
  • Take a seat. Chair yoga and other seated exercises can still provide tremendous benefits and are ideal for those who are unable to stand for prolonged periods of time, or get down onto the floor.
  • Dive in! Aquatic exercise is easy on joints while helping to strengthen your core, legs, and back. Water-aerobics classes can also help enhance cardiovascular health.
  • Think outside the gym. It’s easy to incorporate walking and stretching into everyday life. A stroll through a mall or museum, a dance class, or spending time in the park with grandchildren are all ways to get moving without even feeling like you’re exercising.

No matter your abilities or strengths, the most effective type of exercise is one that you enjoy. To successfully incorporate workouts into your daily routine, consider which activities make you happy and which you’ll look forward to doing each day.

Catch them if you can

What’s the next adventure when you’ve already traveled to all seven continents, all 50 states, and have been to all Canadian provinces? Ask Fran and Ralph Brown!

The active couple moved to Bend, Oregon six years ago from the San Francisco area after visiting longtime friends and walking the River Trail. Ralph explains, “As we saw Touchmark, we asked, ‘What is that?’” After a tour on Saturday, they returned Sunday with friends and found their home.

Next month marks their 50th wedding anniversary. Ralph was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Fran was there on vacation. Ralph struck up a conversation with Fran (or vice versa!) at a swimming pool, and they went out for two-and-a-half weeks. Fran returned to Toronto, Canada; they reconnected in the San Francisco area at Christmas, got engaged, then Ralph departed for a nine-month deployment to the Far East.

On his return, they were married at Treasure Island in San Francisco and honeymooned on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Career in the service
Ralph grew up in San Francisco, served in the Navy for 30 years, and spent 12 years as a financial planner assisting military clients. He held a part-time job in Tiburon, California, at a small company managing a warehouse and driving a forklift. “I enjoyed that,” says Ralph. “Here at Touchmark, I have enjoyed being on the Resident Council and focusing on the buildings and grounds and providing input to management on behalf of the residents.”

Born in Toronto, Canada, Fran was a physical education and swim instructor. She went back to school to get a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. “I taught Jazz Aerobic Calisthenics classes in Key West, New York, and other areas for Navy wives even before Jazzercise® became popular.” In addition to her fitness activities, Fran now enjoys attending Bible study groups, hiking, scrapbooking, and participating
in community projects.

World travelers
As osprey and eagles soar outside their window, they share favorite places they’ve traveled. “I’ve been to Africa three times, and I love the animals and wildlife habitat,” says Fran. Ralph says he prefers Chile and Antarctica. “They’re beautiful, quiet places with lots of good adventures.”

Ralph adds they really enjoy sharing their travel experiences with the Touchmark community. “For our most recent presentation on Namibia, over 100 people showed up.”

So, what’s next for Ralph and Fran? Off to Iceland and Greenland next summer, which will be their 13th trip overseas, and they always love visiting their grandkids in Spokane and San Diego.

“We love Touchmark! With all of our travel, we really appreciate how we can up-and-go and not worry about security,” says Fran. “The staff are lively, fun, and interactive, from the front desk to housekeeping to maintenance.” Ralph adds, “They are responsive, engaging, friendly, and they always know your name. Last year Fran was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Throughout the entire experience, I was so thankful for the incredible support when coming home to Touchmark.”

Both enjoy meeting new people at social hours in the lodges and sharing meals with friends in the dining room. “The food is very good,” says Fran. “They give a balanced portion, their salad bar is very fresh, and you should really try the tasty salmon.”

Ralph likes attending Current Events on Thursdays, when a group gathers to discuss the past week of events and what’s going on in the world. “There’s so much to do at Touchmark whether it’s concerts, Scottish dancers, playing Jeopardy every Friday to challenge our brain, playing bocce ball outside, or walking on the beautiful River Trail right outside our front door.”

“We also enjoy the various health lectures, like the one recently on how music has such an impact on memory,” says Fran.

Whether traveling or engaging in Touchmark’s many Life Enrichment/Wellness offerings, the Browns savor their very full, active life!

Establishing orderly financial systems

This article is the second in a three-part series from professional organizer Vicki Norris on getting organized to help save money. Look for more posts from Vicki coming soon!

The number one request our professional organizing company receives is to help people deal with an overwhelming amount of paper. We all receive an onslaught of paper daily, and not managing it can adversely affect our finances. At best, financial disorder causes mistakes, late fees, overpaying, raised interest rates, and debt. At worst, chaos in our finances can destroy our credit simply due to inaction on paperwork stagnating on our desks.

To ensure your money stays in your pocket, put your finances in order. When you take the time to organize your finances and paperwork systems, you take back a long-lost sense of control.

Here are some planning and organizational steps I recommend:

  • Establish a budget (A cash system is a simple solution.)
  • Create a plan to pay off any debt
  • Set up a receipt-management system to track and categorize expenses
  • Establish a bill-paying system to eliminate late fees

As you organize your finances, you will begin recapturing money you have been losing. You’ll stop living wastefully and find yourself becoming more resourceful. And with all the money you’ll reclaim, you will have more funds for doing the things you love to do!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Keep tabs on your health with today’s technology

Today’s technology has made many parts of our lives more convenient. In our phones and tablets, we can carry books, movies, games, notes, maps, and so much more. Some of these new innovations can even help us stay more in tune with our bodies and minds by monitoring our health and stimulating different aspects of our wellness.
The following apps and devices can help promote personal wellness for all ages:

  • Fitbit or other wearable technology: These small bands can track your steps, heart rate, calories, sleep quality, and overall activity level. They are a great motivational reminder to help you meet your fitness goals each day.
    Activity tracking apps: Monitoring your steps and exercise doesn’t necessarily require another piece of technology. Apps like Map My Run, Strava, and MyFitnessPal can also log workouts, calories, and overall health.
  • Luminosity and other brain games: Many of these games are free to download and are fun and stimulating ways to keep your brain active. They can also track your progress and potentially show any areas of decline.
  • Skype or Facetime: Social interaction is important for everyone, but especially for seniors, who are often prone to feelings of isolation. These video chatting tools can substitute face-to-face interactions with grandchildren and other loved ones when an in-person visit isn’t always practical.
  • Medication tracking apps: A daily pill box can still get the job done, but apps like Medisafe or Pill Monitor can provide visual reminders of which pills are needed as well as alarms to help you remember to take them at the same time each day.

While using apps and other technology can sometimes seem daunting for older adults, most are built to be intuitive and user-friendly. Determine which ones would be most helpful in your life and start embracing the power of technology!

Embracing the great outdoors

Summer is in full swing! With sunshine and warmer weather, it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.

Spending time outside provides a number of physical and mental benefits to people of all ages. Just a half hour each day can enhance wellness and state of mind. Benefits include:

  • Increased vitamin D levels—especially important for seniors
  • Enhanced attention levels by taking a break from everyday overstimulation
  • More restful sleep as a result of less time spent in artificial light
  • Strengthened immunity in the form of increased white blood cells

To take advantage of the beautiful weather and cultivate your physical wellness, consider taking some of your exercise routines outside. While strenuous exercise in high temperatures is not recommended for older adults, there are plenty of options to get you moving.

  • Take a walk through your neighborhood or on a trail.
  • Hit the pool. Cool off while getting exercise!
  • Bring your normal workout outside. Take your weights or yoga mat to your backyard and let the sounds of nature serve as a soundtrack to your routine.
  • Work in the garden. Beautify your yard, harvest a bounty, and get a workout while doing so!
  • Play around with grandchildren. A simple game of baseball or tag is a great way to connect with loved ones and get some physical activity.
  • If physical mobility is limited, even enjoying a meal or a conversation outside can provide great health and wellness benefits.

Choose an activity that interests you and take advantage of the power of nature!

Staying safe in the summer sun

The summer months are a time for fun and relaxation—getting outside, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the natural beauty all around us. As we spend time outdoors this season, it’s important to take precautions to protect ourselves against the heat and sun.

Prolonged exposure to heat and sun can lead to sunburns, skin cancer, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. For older adults, these conditions can be even more dangerous. Consider the tips listed below before heading out for a day in the sun.

  • Stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you especially if you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time. Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day is recommended for adults.
  • Apply sunscreen regularly. Use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and reapply every two hours. Wearing a thin long-sleeve shirt and a hat can further help keep the skin protected.
  • Don’t forget to protect your eyes and lips. These two areas can easily be overlooked after applying sunscreen and dressing properly. Look for a lip balm with SPF and sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Be smart when exercising. It’s important to maintain your exercise routine when the weather warms up, but avoid strenuous activity outside, especially in the hottest time of the day. Take frequent breaks, drink plenty of water, and stay in the shade as much as you can.
  • Know the warning signs of heat-related conditions. Heat stroke can cause flushed skin, nausea and vomiting, headache, and fainting. Tell someone as soon as you notice any of these symptoms and quickly get out of the heat.

Following these simple precautions can keep you happy and healthy all summer long.

Streamlining household order

This article is the second in a three-part series from professional organizer Vicki Norris on getting organized to help save money. Look for part three next month, and more posts from Vicki coming soon!

This month, I show you how to sew that hole in your pocket by restoring order at home.

1. Eliminate clutter. When you ditch the stuff clogging your space, you can recapture money. Sell the items you don’t use or want, or just donate the items and deduct them on your taxes, but remember to keep the records.

2. Organize the belongings you do want. Start with the spaces you use the most. Identify a purpose for each space and gather materials related to each activity (i.e., put the entertainment items like music and videos in your family room since the room’s purpose is family entertainment). When you can easily find everything, you can enjoy what you own; you will end the constant search for belongings and won’t have to buy replacements; and you’ll be less tempted to overspend with a little retail therapy.

3. Resolve to end your wasteful ways at home. Use up the things you have before you buy more. Make a weekly meal plan doubling those you can for easy freezer-dinner nights. Call your cable company, cell service provider, and insurance providers to ensure you are getting the best plan or to negotiate a lower rate.

Here’s to thoughtful household streamlining!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Still working—and living at Touchmark

Eric Ericson, 80, still gets up and leaves for work at 6 am every weekday morning and commutes to St. Anthony Hospital, where he has worked for two decades and serves as Director of Accounting.

“I love what I do, and they love what I do for them. I will continue working as long as I am in good health. I don’t have a hobby, so if I were to retire, I really wouldn’t have anything to do. I’m not an idle type of person. I need to be busy.”
Eric and his wife Sharon recently moved into their single-family Parkview home. Sharon, 73, retired about five years ago from Francis Tuttle Technology Center, where she taught Medical Office Technology.

She laughs and says they were ready to move “because Eric was tired of making sure the yard was taken care of, the pool, that sort of thing.” Actually, both say they were ready to downsize from their Oklahoma City home of more than 4,000 square feet to their new home, which is just under 2,000.
Once they made the decision to move, the couple went comparison-shopping throughout the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, sizing up different retirement communities.

“Parkview came out on top for a lot of reasons.”
Eric says there were three reasons they chose Touchmark. “One is the staff was just absolutely supportive, informative, and friendly. The way they treated us was just exceptional.”
Economically, the move was a sound financial decision, he adds. Another appealing aspect was how the Parkview neighborhood looks. “It really feels like it’s part of the larger Coffee Creek housing addition,” says Eric. “The appearance makes it look like you are just in a normal neighborhood.” They both enjoy the close proximity to the larger Touchmark community where they can dine and participate in social activities.

Neighbors welcomed Sharon and Eric to Parkview long before they moved into their home. “The neighbors just across the street came over and introduced themselves,” smiles Sharon. “Then we met several while we were eating at Touchmark as guests, so we knew the names of several neighbors. The whole concept is incredible.” Eric agrees. “We love the neighbors we’ve already met. They’re very friendly.”

They are active members of the River of Life Church where Sharon plays the piano and keyboard, and Eric sings on the worship team.

In remaining on the job long past age 65, Eric says he’s following the lead of his late father, who also moved into a retirement community before he retired. “My goal is to easily live to 100. I may not work until then, but who knows. If things are going well, and I’m in good health, why not work until 90!”