January 17, 2010

A Senior’s New Year’s Resolution List

I jokingly asked a client the other day what New Year’s Resolutions he had made.  He looked aghast and said “Deary I’m far too old for resolutions!”   I don’t think you are ever too old to make a to-do list of important things you want to make happen.  Calling them resolutions just adds a level of commitment to the list.  So here is my suggested list of resolutions you can discuss with your senior family members and friends and make sure they are already done or high on their list for 2010.

  1. Make a will.  If you have a will, review your bequests to be sure it still reflects what you want.  Take a look at who you have appointed to be your Executor and check that they are still able and willing to take on the responsibility.
  2. Review your Power of Attorney (POA) documents, both for finances and for health.
  3. Communicate your wishes.  Have a conversation with those close to you to remind them of what is in your will and POA, and to be sure they are aware of any special requests you have that may not be in a will or POA (i.e. music at the funeral).
  4. Put your documents or copies in a safe place (or two), and be sure that the right person(s) knows where they are.  
  5. Highlight one really cool thing on your Bucket List and commit to doing it in 2010.

This list doesn’t have to be for a Senior! They really apply to everyone!


January 5, 2010

When someone dies – how do you cope?

Bob and Francis moved to my street almost 8 years ago. She was Irish. He was Portuguese, and 10 years younger. His first marriage; her second. They were obviously in love. Bob just beamed when he told me that he had to buy the house for Francis because he KNEW she loved its most amazing kitchen!

Two years ago they moved to a house in little Portugal in Toronto where it wouldn’t be as hard for Bob to maintain the home. You see, a few years after moving onto our street, Bob got colon cancer. Throughout his treatments, his high spirits made us forget he was sick. He was, in fact, very sick.

Sadly, days before this Christmas, Bob died at just 49. I and many other past neighbours were at the visitation. I think that says a lot about who they are. Speaking with Francis that week was hard. Though she was devastated and in grief,  she acknowledged friends and their questions at the visitation by telling them she was “OK “ or “ I’m fine”. I wondered – “Really?”  I know when my Mom died I said the same thing. But I wasn’t. Not truthfully.

Her reaction also reminded me of something I had read in a booklet Elaine had given me.  “When Someone You Care About Dies” by Dr. Bill Webster. Dr. Bill Webster speaks from personal experience. His wife Carolyn died at a young age from a heart attack.

In his introduction, he says “You quickly learn that you get rewarded for hiding your grief. If you can keep from crying in public, even after the worst experience of your life, someone is going to praise you for “doing so well”. People seemed pleased that I was “so strong” and apparently “handling the situation”. A few months later, when people thought I should be getting myself together, I felt like I was falling apart. I wanted to be able to handle it and be strong for my friends and family, and when in spite of my best efforts, I didn’t seem to be able to do that, I felt even worse.”

Francis has gone out of town for a few days so I put the booklet in the mail to her today.  I am sending it to her in hopes that it helps her through this time. It is written softly though with strong messages that I am hoping will lend calm and clarity to her grief journey.



December 16, 2009

Is downsizing a dirty word?

It certainly is in the business world.  And in the last few years many more people have experienced the pain of having their job eliminated, leaving them with a bad feeling whenever they hear that word.

But downsizing now also applies to the process of reducing things we have accumulated in our personal lives.  It may need to happen to cope with a job loss, or to adjust to current economic conditions.  But for most the personal downsizing urge kicks in sometime after retirement.  The kids are gone, and we are living a simpler life.  We look around at the big house that served the family well in the past, and ask “Do I really need all this anymore?”

Now downsizing is change and change can be difficult for many.  But there is a way to approach it positively and end up feeling good about what you have done.  Here are a few tips if you are thinking about downsizing.

  1. Start small by going through a drawer, a closet or a room at a time. 
  2. As you sort ask yourself if you are likely to use an item again, and if not, out it goes.  We all have things like sports equipment long after we are keen to do it again (out with those Roller Blades!).
  3. If you find items that have deep sentimental value bring them out so you can see them and be reminded more often.  Keep only a few pictures of special holidays.  Give those old report cards to the kids.
  4. When you go through your closet you will inevitably find items that no longer fit, or you no longer need to wear  (how many business suits does a retiree really need?).  Think about how great some needy people in the community would feel if they had a new outfit to wear to job interviews.
  5. Think about selling hidden gems.  Gold is at an all time high so both coins and old jewellery can bring you some extra dollars for a special evening out.

Downsizing doesn’t have to be a dirty word.  It can be a trip down memory lane and a chance to showcase those really special items.  It can allow you to gift things to family, friends and strangers and know that you have made others happy.  And it will give you a feeling of lightness.  It is much more pleasant to open drawers that aren’t stuffed to overflowing. 

Try it….one step at a time.


December 9, 2009

“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol.

Not too long ago my Dad admired my new flatware. He said “This may sound crazy, but it feels nicer to eat with new flatware.”  It is now his.  

We recently “de-doilied” his table tops. He was afraid to change them since my Mom died 4 years ago. His bedroom still had her “lady colours”. He didn’t want to change anything as it was all “still good and who sees it anyway?”  He’d just make do. When he comes home from Vancouver shortly, I am hoping he will be pleasantly pleased with his birthday present of a redecorated masculine bedroom.

A recent garbage day in my neighbourhood lead to a blue toilet being left at a neighbour’s curb side.  I thought, “About time! That toilet had to be in use for over 30-40 years.” Then I thought “Where’s the sink?” Besides the colour and hidden germs, water wastage had to be an issue.

Further along was a 70’s style sofa bed – to make it into a fold out bed you had to bend the backrest to the front of the sofa, and then push the back rest all the way flat. The saving grace that this “sofa bed” had was it did not weigh a ton. They were not known for their comfort and I would not relish being the guest. And dust mites? That is possibly another story.

Yet on another curb side was a beautiful gold coloured fridge and stove. It is amazing how long these items have lasted. The fridge could not have been very efficient. The stove is not really an issue as the technology has not changed that much for basic models. But the colour!

Were these 3 households stuck in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s?  Do you realize that is 40 – 50 years ago?  How did time stand still?

All these cast offs are exciting to me.  No more “making do”.  Move away from the old and make some changes.

Even if you aren’t thinking of moving just yet, renew yourself and let the freshness of new colours, styles, and ideas take effect.  Get excited about what is new around you!  You still have a lot of living to do!


November 30, 2009

We help take the worry out of moving day!

A recent Toronto Star article by Ellen Roseman entitled “Don’t let movers take you for a ride.” was the inspiration for this blog. It reminded me of a move I had organized for myself about 15 years ago. At 9 a.m. we went to pick up the truck only to find out that the franchise was out of business. 2 hours later we did find a truck. Another time the mover took my antique dining room table apart and put the screws in his pocket. I never could get them back.

The article mentions the tactics of some unscrupulous movers out there who take advantage of folks at a time when they are very vulnerable. If you are doing the move yourself, moving day can be a day of chaos. What you don’t need is trouble with the truck or the moving company when you need to get out of the house.

The article mentions that fact that people had signed a contract at a new price when they thought they were signing that the move was complete. Some moving companies have been known to charge a $1 per stair, unloading fees and extra costs for items over a certain weight.

The article goes on the mention the rights we have under the Consumer Protection Act:

  • Fair estimates – The final price charged for a contract can’t exceed the estimate in the contract by more than 10%.
  • Full disclosure of all costs, fees and charges. You can’t be forced to pay undisclosed amounts, such as unloading fees.
  • Freedom from ransom. It’s illegal for a mover to use the custody or control of your goods to pressure you into renegotiating the price of a contract.

Always make sure the mover – or anyone providing you a service – comes to your home to see what they are dealing with versus giving a quote over the phone.

At Trusted Transitions, you can be assured that we will always come and see you in person to understand what it is that you require. Before any work is done, we will review the low and high estimates and obtain your agreement. The cost of the movers will be in our estimate, taking any worry and interface with the movers out of your mind.


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