Archive for the ‘Senior Organizing’ Category

Make the Entry "Pop" With Color

You may have a valuable property, but do buyers want it upon the first look?  All it takes is chipped paint or an empty porch to give an impression that cannot be improved no matter what is inside.

Keep the outdoor “clutter” away just as you would inside.   Touch up areas needing painting and clean furniture.  Make use of plants for added “pop of color” and replace old, worn cushions.

If planting beds are overgrown, replace with mulch and easy to maintain ground cover.  Have gardens at their peak during beautiful summer months.  It does not take much to have your property the most desirable in the area.

This Knoxville – Tennessee River – property is available through Tom Pettitt, Realty Executives, 865-588-3232.


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The following has nothing to do with organizing, except to remind all to share funeral wishes before it’s too late.  My dad, Joe McKenry, is now gone and this past week I did his planning for him.  It was an honor.  For those who were not at our Celebration Service I would like to share my words from Friday…

“We are here to celebrate not morn. Speaking tonight seemed like a good idea while waiting for the “red eye” at 1:30 am at LAX last Sunday morning. Besides the obvious reasons this is difficult, I know mother has great anxiety I might say something inappropriate. After all I am my dad’s son and still mom’s baby even at 51.

I am so thankful for that “royal wedding” in September of 1940 as the princess of one of Knoxville’s prominate Baptist ministers married the soon to be King of Chickens of East Tennessee. I loved the story of how soon after they married they lived in New London Connecticut as dad was in the service. Like many newlyweds money was tight and work was hard. The dishes had been piling up and after a long day of work, mother came home to find dad trying to help. The week’s dishes were soaking in the bathtub. After that they decided she would manage the kitchen.

I remember those snow days, when I was a kid we would all ride our horses in the field beside our home. Or dad would pull all my friends on top of the frozen street in a small row boat behind his old Ford tractor. What fun we had at the football games when we would take the boat to Neyland Stadium. Then there were the holidays when we gathered around the table and enjoyed Mother’s delicious meals. He loved every minute and every bit of mom’s cooking.

When I graduated from college I joined the family business. It was the early 80’s and with Jody and Betsy living next door, all of us working together, I really thought we were the Ewing’s of Knoxville. The only difference was the chicken money was nothing like the oil money on Dallas! Like the Ewing’s we all worked, played, and argued together: and loved each other in our own way.

Dad was a people’s person people person. We would go out to eat, and mom and I would always wonder how long it would take to get to the car? If he did not know someone, that would not stop him. Almost every time he would walk up to a stranger and say “Don’t I know you” and soon he did!

I can remember lunches at Regas. Dad would get so upset if someone was a bit shy and not engage in conversation. There was one person I recall – whose name you would know – that just did not speak. It was dad’s missions to go out of his way each day to engage him and eventually not only did this person speak to us he joined us most days for lunch.

Then there were the 2 most influential men in dad’s life. 60 years ago he spent the day with Billy Graham. To hear that story it was just like dad spent a day in heaven. The other man was, of course, Colonel Sanders. As a kid I was so proud to know my dad knew someone on television. The colonel even came to dinner with I was in the 4th grade. Dad always enjoyed sharing those 2 experiences. Even while trying to recover from his strokes this year at Patricia Neal, those 2 men were often the topic of conversation.

I am going to miss him recounting so many funny experiences. The last I would like to share he told 2 years ago when Maxine, Newton, Jennifer and Stuart visited. At a deacon’s retreat a certain pastor was frustrated that some were suggesting the sermons be just a little shorter. Dad explained to his minister friend in his own home spun way, “Now I love cherry pie, but only a piece at a time. If I eat a whole pie I will get sick!”


Well tonight I think we are going to want more than one piece of pie as we remember the greatest dad, most loving husband, and best friend to so many. What a life we are celebrating. Mother, Betsy, Jody – who left us 2 years ago – and I would like to thank you all for being a special part of dad’s life.”

Thank you to Dick Anderson, Judge Cliff Shirley, Sam Venable, Dick Williams, Chaplin Brad Hood, Dr. William Shields, Tennessee National Guard, Mary Elanor Pickle, and Jennifer Asbury for being a part of this weekend.

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Imagine having a phone call with your best friend.  Then upon hanging up your wife tells you that the friend you just spoke with has been dead for 25 years.  How confusing and upsetting would that be?

This is how those living with Alzheimer’s feel when corrected.  I have experienced this in my family.  The impulse is your loved one needs to be corrected, but in truth the sense of reasoning is just not there.  They become confused, angry, and embarrassed.  When you experience an older adult with memory loss confused or just wrong in their statements gently find a way to just leave the topic. 

The spring NAPO Organizing Conference in San Diego last week had several workshops to better understand the needs of older adults and those with memory loss.  My colleague and friend Margit Novak had an informative program on this subject.

Novak shared when moving parents, it is helpful to have the new space arranged as similar as possible in their new surroundings.  Other tips include facing older adults when speaking with them and cut out any competition – televisions or other background noises.

The best example I heard to understand how Alzheimer’s affects a patient is to imagine a closed fist is actually a brain.  As Alzheimer’s progresses, the fingers on the fist are not damaged but actually completely disappear.  The short-term memory goes first, but with proper medicines this can be stayed for a long time. 

Understanding the fear and confusion being experienced by dementia and other related memory loss will be helpful in relating to your friends and loved ones.  It will not be easier, but patience and compassion will go a long way in sustaining their quality of life.

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Today’s elder population is made up of our parents, grandparents; even brothers, sisters and good friends.  People we love and care about.  It is so easy to see what needs to be done to help mom and dad out.  But do you like to be “told” what to do?  Imagine being told that items stacked in your living room are in the way, dangerous, and need to go.  These are things that have help memories of your children, when you were married, career awards, school pictures or other milestones.

According to statistics from the National Association of Professional Organizers, the AGS Foundation states that “among older adults living independently, about 75% of falls occur at home.  ‘Fall hazards’ in seniors’ homes cause as many as two-thirds of these falls.”  Eliminating hazards completely is the most affective for making seniors more safe while living at home. 

How does this happen?  Put yourself in your parents shoes.  What if you knew changes needed to be made around the house but you did not have the strength or the mental ability to make them happen? 

Condiment container works well for diabetes needs.

Aging in Place is the term used by today’s elder service providers to make assessments in homes and create more functional and convenient conditions for the resident.  This allows our loved ones to be more independent and keep them in their homes and not need a move to assisted living.

Be pro-active.  Ask your parents if they have thoughts of what changes might be best for them.  Place the decision to make a change with them.  And the best tip of all, don’t wait until health issues are severe or they are not themselves.  Begin with small steps to help them clear clutter around the home. 
Set up convenient stations for medicines, check to see if extension or phone cords are where a parent might trip. Help to set up lists to help remember when medicines are to be taken and doctor visits occur. 

Consider bring in a professional organizer that specializes in the elder population to help.  It is often easier to have a third-party involved than a son or daughter helping mom or dad.  Today’s organizers work with compassion and know when to comfort while working to meet a goal. 

When thinking about the legacy we are leaving, a cluttered home is usually not meant to be part of the inheritance left behind.  And most of our parents feel the same way, they are just unsure of how to proceed.

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Moving Into Assisted Living


 If you remember Shady Pines from the Golden Girls the thought of assisted living for a loved one might seem unthinkable.  But care for the growing elder population has changed over the years.  Now our seniors have the choice of Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Nursing Homes as the need for the extra care arrises.   

Visit different facilities in your area and see what services are offered as your search begins.  You will want to know how and when transportation and if the community serves the area where current doctors are located.  Moving from one’s home is traumatic enough without asking parents to also change doctors because the residence does not provide transportation to physicians.  

Added Shelves Creates Extra Storage in Closets


Have lunch in the dining room and meet other residents.  This is going to be home and it helps choosing the right location by meeting the neighbors and tasking the food.   

Decisions will have to be made before the move on what clothes will be needed as closet space is probably much less than at home.  On a recent project we added extra shelving from Home Depot in the walk-in closet.  Hooks are great to keep canes and reach grabbers off the floor and convenient.     


Flat Screen Television on Chest Allows More Space In Living Room


Bring furniture and family heirlooms to the new residence.  Adding curtains also provides warmth to interiors.  Flat screen televisions gives a larger picture when vision is poor and allows more room in tight spaces.  But remember new electronics will mean remotes may operate differently than what the senior is accustomed to working and could be confusing.  

Small Dining Table Also Serves as End Table in Small Spaces


Plan a outing with a friend or family member for your parent on the day of the move.  It is hard enough to leave home for the last time without seeing the movers carrying items out and being around for the chaos of unpacking and setting up the new digs.  

Furniture from Home


If at all possible, keep the bedroom as it was in their home.  This will go a long way to help from feeling disoriented.   Plan on being available for the next few days to show where everything is in the new place.  But no matter how much planning is involved, there is going to be an adjustment period.  New surrounding, new people, new location…rely on the facility staff to do their job during the first few weeks.

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