Category Archives: Lifestyle

Home Safety Tips

Due to the growing popularity of in-home care for seniors, it’s important to make sure you and your loved one are aware of the potential dangers present in the home and prepare accordingly.

General Home Safety

Please use the following home safety tips for seniors to help your loved one stay safe.

  • Consider a medical alert or a buddy system.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and smoke detector on every floor.
  • Use extreme caution when smoking. Never smoke when alone or in bed.
  • Always get up slowly after sitting or lying down. Take your time, and make sure you have your balance.
  • Wear proper fitting shoes with low heels.
  • Use a correctly measured walking aid.
  • Remove or tack down all scatter rugs.
  • Remove electrical or telephone cords from traffic areas.
  • Avoid using slippery wax on floors.
  • Wipe up spills promptly.
  • Avoid standing on ladders or chairs.
  • Have sturdy rails for all stairs inside and outside the house, or, if necessary, purchase a stairlift.
  • Use only non-glare 100 watt or greater incandescent bulbs (or the fluorescent equivalents).
  • Make sure that all stair cases have good lighting with switches at top and bottom.
  • Staircase steps should have a non-slip surface.

Bathroom Safety

  • Leave a light on in your bathroom at night.
  • Use recommended bath aids, securely installed on the walls of the bath/shower stall and on the sides of the toilet.
  • Skid-proof the tub and make sure the bath mat has a non-slip bottom.
  • To avoid scalds, turn water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Mark cold and hot faucets clearly.
  • Use door locks that can be opened from both sides.
  • If possible, bathe only when help is available.

Kitchen Safety

  • Keep floors clean and uncluttered.
  • Illuminate work areas.
  • Mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances clearly and with bright colors.
  • Store sharp knives in a rack.
  • Use a kettle with an automatic shut off.
  • Store heavier objects at waist level.
  • Store hazardous items separate from food.
  • Avoid wearing long, loose clothing when cooking over the stove.
  • Make sure food is rotated regularly. Check expiration dates.

Drug Safety

  • Review your medicines frequently with your doctor or pharmacist and when you take new medication.

Estate Planning

When you reach your sunset years, your estate plan becomes more important than ever. Your estate plan will detail your wishes regarding a number of crucial financial and medical decisions. For example, who would you like to receive your assets and property after you pass away? If you become incapacitated, whom would you like to make pivotal medical decisions for you? How will you eliminate stress and complications for your loved ones after your death? Although these topics are not often pleasant to think about, you cannot deny their importance. For help, check out the tips below regarding estate planning for seniors.

Estate Planning for Seniors

It’s never too late to get started! It is best to create an estate plan in your younger years, so that you are always prepared for the future. However, if you haven’t already created one, it is certainly not too late! Consult with a lawyer experienced in estate planning for seniors, and begin creating these all-important legal documents.

Review and update your plan regularly. You never know when a life-changing event might happen. To prepare for the unexpected, meet with your lawyer regularly to review your estate plan and make any needed changes. This is especially important following important life events, such as a death or a birth.

Consider your options. Every estate plan is different, customized to suit the wants and needs of a specific person. Exploring these complicated documents can be overwhelming, so ask your lawyer for help. A basic will, for example, can accommodate a simple estate with cooperative heirs. Trusts, on the other hand, can effectively coordinate more complex estates, and they can also help you avoid probate (an expensive, stressful, and time-consuming process).

Discuss your plans with your family and friends. This may be tricky, but it is usually best to discuss your estate plan with your family and friends before it goes into effect. State your goals and ask your loved ones if they have any suggestions. In doing so, you can prevent future shock, anger, confusion, and even rivalries between beneficiaries. Plus, your loved ones might have some helpful advice regarding organization, legal details, and lawyers.

Don’t forget about powers of attorney. Sometimes people assume that estate plans are only used to dispose of an estate, but this is not the truth—you should never forget to include powers of attorney. A power of attorney authorizes someone to act on behalf of someone else. Typically this legal document is used to grant someone rights in a specific area, such as finances or healthcare. Be sure to set up a financial power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney in case you become incapacitated.

Consider pre-planning your funeral. Not everyone is comfortable with this idea, but if you’re up for it, pre-planning your funeral can eliminate a lot of stress for your family. Put aside some funds to cover the expenses and decide what you would like to happen. In addition to practical details, you can make personal requests. For example, would you like a favorite song played? Or is there a certain prayer or poem that you would like recited?

If you’ve been putting off estate planning, don’t wait any longer! Your tardiness could have considerable consequences. Make a list of assets, goals, and beneficiaries, and contact your lawyer today.

Water Conservation at Home

Water conservation has become an essential practice in all regions, even in areas where water seems abundant.  In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local watersheds. Conserving water can also extend the life of your septic system by reducing soil saturation, and reducing any pollution due to leaks. Overloading municipal sewer systems can also cause untreated sewage to flow to lakes and rivers. The smaller the amount of water flowing through these systems, the lower the likelihood of pollution. In some communities, costly sewage system expansion has been avoided by communitywide household water conservation.

Water conservation in the home…

  1. Check faucets and pipes for leaks
    A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.2. Don’t use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket
    Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.3. Check your toilets for leaks
    Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.4. Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks
    Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.5. Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators
    Inexpensive water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off. “Low-flow” means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.
    You can easily install a ShowerStart showerhead, or add a ShowerStart converter to existing showerheads, which automatically pauses a running shower once it gets warm.
    Also, all household faucets should be fit with aerators. This single best home water conservation method is also the cheapest!6. Put plastic bottles or float booster in your toilet tank
    To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. Or, buy an inexpensive tank bank or float booster. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day.Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush, users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2.0 gallon flush. A better suggestion would be to buy an adjustable toilet flapper that allow for adjustment of their per flush use.  Then the user can adjust the flush rate to the minimum per flush setting that achieves a single good flush each time.

    For new installations, consider buying “low flush” toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.

    Replacing an 18 liter per flush toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6 liter flush model represents a 70% savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30%.

    7. Insulate your water pipes.
    It’s easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

    8. Take shorter showers.
    One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.

    9. Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush
    There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

    10. Rinse your razor in the sink
    Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.

    11. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads
    Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of dishwashing soap recommend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings.
    With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 – 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.

    12. Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units
    In-sink ‘garburators’ require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.

    13. When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing
    If your have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water. Dual-swivel aerators are available to make this easier. If using a dishwasher, there is usually no need to pre-rinse the dishes.

    14. Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables
    Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water. Use a dual-setting aerator.

    15. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge.
    Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a safe drinking bottle. If you are filling water bottles to bring along on outdoor hikes, consider buying a LifeStraw personal water filter which enables users to drink water safely from rivers or lakes or any available body of water.

    Water conservation in the yard and garden…

    16. Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants
    If you are planting a new lawn, or overseeding an existing lawn, use drought-resistant grasses such as the new “Eco-Lawn”.
    Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants. Native plants will use less water and be more resistant to local plant diseases. Consider applying the principles of xeriscape for a low-maintenance, drought resistant yard.
    Plant slopes with plants that will retain water and help reduce runoff.
    Group plants according to their watering needs.

    17. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants
    Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth. Adding 2 – 4 inches of organic material such as compost or bark mulch will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Press the mulch down around the dripline of each plant to form a slight depression which will prevent or minimize water runoff.

  2. Don’t water the gutter
    Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas. Also, avoid watering on windy days.19. Water your lawn only when it needs it
    A good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Letting the grass grow taller (to 3″) will also promote water retention in the soil.
    Most lawns only need about 1″ of water each week. During dry spells, you can stop watering altogether and the lawn will go brown and dormant. Once cooler weather arrives, the morning dew and rainfall will bring the lawn back to its usual vigor. This may result in a brown summer lawn, but it saves a lot of water.20. Deep-soak your lawn
    When watering the lawn, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn – when it’s full, you’ve watered about the right amount. Visit our natural lawn care page for more information.21. Water during the early parts of the day; avoid watering when it’s windy
    Early morning is generally better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Early watering, and late watering, also reduce water loss to evaporation. Watering early in the day is also the best defence against slugs and other garden pests. Try not to water when it’s windy – wind can blow sprinklers off target and speed evaporation.22. Add organic matter and use efficient watering systems for shrubs, flower beds and lawns
    Adding organic material to your soil will help increase its absorption and water retention. Areas which are already planted can be ‘top dressed’ with compost or organic matter.
    You can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns by:
    – the strategic placement of soaker hoses
    – installing a rain barrel water catchment system
    – installing a simple drip-irrigation system
    Avoid over-watering plants and shrubs, as this can actually diminish plant health and cause yellowing of the leaves.
    When hand watering, use a variable spray nozzle for targeted watering.23. Don’t run the hose while washing your car
    Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing – this simple practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car. Use a spray nozzle when rinsing for more efficient use of water. Better yet, use a waterless car washing system; there are several brands, such as EcoTouch, which are now on the market.24. Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks

    25. Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings
    Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they’re not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose connections to eliminate leaks.

    Water conservation comes naturally when everyone in the family is aware of its importance, and parents take the time to teach children some of the simple water-saving methods around the home which can make a big difference.