Friday, July 29, 2011

Hoarding and Seniors

I have mentioned that when it was time for my 99 year old aunt Ruth to face moving to Portland, well, just let me say the hoarding personality came out loud and strong! I admit that it was a challenging process to let go of things that had been in my life for many years. And so when I got so much resistance from my auntie, I tried to be sensitive about it and let her stay in charge as much as possible.

Of course if you are one of those people who get to live to this ripe old age of 99, you can imagine the the amount of "collectibles" you would accumulate. One of my aunts hobbies is photography and creating albums and scrapbooks. A very honorable hobby, and one that all of her family has benefited from. But, she will tell you that she started taking photos when she was thirteen years old and had a little Brownie box camera. Well, she has saved every single photo, and negative from that day on! Plus, she has created many albums of her travels and the family, enough for a room of their own.

She is also a very sentimental person and if you gave her a plant from the florist in 1963, you can be sure she has saved the vase it came in.............because "you" gave it to her. so, when it was time to pack, we talked about priorities and our goal in moving and the great benefit of getting to live closer to all the people we love. So, I will say she got very brave and gave away her couch (a huge thing) and she felt very proud of that. She realized that going to an assisted living facility, she wouldn't be needing many kitchen things so she gave those to my cousin who could use them. But, really that is where it stopped and all I could say to her is "we will get what we can in the POD (more about PODS later) and when it is full, then that will be that. We cant afford another POD." Well fortunately, our movers were brilliant and able to get everything in the POD. If you are moving to or from Ashland, Oregon , Siskiyou Movers are fantastic!

I have read about the hoarding personality and I do know that it is more prevalent with seniors, but there is help available. Two organizations that can assist you are; National Association of Professional Organizers and Nation Association of Senior Move Managers One thing I believe has helped my family keep my aunt's hoarding in control is that we hired a very competent house keeper to come in weekly to clean and clear her house.

I have many more tales of moving in retirement years, so tune in later.


Monday, July 25, 2011

The Art of Letting Go

When my 99 year old aunt and I decided to move from Ashland, Oregon to Portland, Oregon, I had no idea I would learn so much about myself. I learned the value of letting go. Letting go of material stuff is what I mean. I have always loved garage sales, and old things that I knew I could do something with at some time. I have subscribed to sentimental reasons for hanging on to something pretty useless, like a rock or a thread bare skirt. But faced with packing and moving (not to mention the cost involved) all these prize possessions, I started to ask myself why? I learned that it is truly a process, not something that one can come to overnight. When i put my house on the market, I went through my house and "de-cluttered", as requested by my real estate broker. I rented a storage unit, and thought I was doing a great job by stashing things that I really liked and/or needed, while giving away loads and loads of other things.

I started to put a "free" pile in front of my house, and made my way to Goodwill many times. I really was proud of myself. Well, as I have whined about several times in this blog, it took 14 long months for my house to sell. When it did, the buyer wanted a 30 day closing and so I had to hustle to get myself packed up. So, I went to the storage unit to retrieve those "necessities" I had stored all those months. When I started to unpack it all, I was amazed that most of the things I had felt unwilling to let go of, suddenly didn't mean anything to me. Something had definitely shifted and I will tell you that about 85% of the contents in the storage unit found new homes.

I had been paying $45 a month for 14 months rent, that is $630! And I really did not have to do that. But, during those long months, I had been searching my soul for more understanding of myself and what my priorities in life are, and I think that had more to do with the letting go than anything. the material items were simply a symbol of my unresolved "life questions". So, in retrospect, I guess you could say that the $630 was spent on my own therapy.

I believe that Seniors, and retired people are more vulnerable to hanging on to things,and there is research to back that up. I will share more with you on this issue later. And wait till you hear about the "Queen of Keeping Everything" Aunt Ruth!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Perfect Senior Residence

As I have mentioned, upon moving to Portland, Oregon, our family had the task of finding the right assisted living situation for our 99 year old auntie. With the amazing women of Golden Placements we found the perfect place. The Heights At Columbia Knoll was our choice. Many factors went into deciding upon this particular place. First was the level of professionalism and care that Aunt Ruth would get. Services, cost, cleanliness, and location were all important as well. The location was perfect as it is less than 10 minutes from my home and about the same for my daughter. So this insured that Auntie would have visits from us frequently. It is also a beautiful facility. It is situated on 9 acres, with soaring Doug Fir trees and a view of Mt. St. Helens, and the Cascade Range. My aunts apartment has a view of the "dog play" area, so she can enjoy the antics of the resident pooches. The food is incredibly good, in fact Auntie says that the clam chowder is the best she has ever had! A big plus for us that she can get her meals "to go" or even order them delivered to her room. There are so many amenities that have made it the perfect place for us as a family and also our dear aunt. The website is There are many things to consider when choosing a facility such as this, and especially for a member of the family that is frail, or quite elderly, as moving is a huge stress, so avoid the need to do that and make sure you do your homework before making the final choice. I just want to say one more thing about The Heights, and that is the professionalism and kindness of the staff. they truly go out of their way to accommodate the resident.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finding the Right Assisted Living Facility

After finding out that we could afford an assisted living facility for my aunt (thanks to the veterans widow benefits) I faced the problem of how to find and select one. Since we were moving from Ashland, Oregon to Portland, Oregon, I was not familiar with our new destination. The wonderful women at Care Options Resources (who did the paper work for our veterans application) suggested I call Golden Placements. They explained that they are two women who have a business that specializes in helping families find an appropriate placement for their loved one. They offer their services free of charge to the family and receive a payment from the facility that the family chooses. A real win, win for everyone. Well, these two delightful people are really angels dressed up like ordinary women. Cherie became our go to person and she started the process by interviewing me thoroughly about my aunt. Asking what things she like, disliked, her body size, her personality traits, her interests, and on and on. It was so impressive to me that they were really interested in a good match. So, I traveled to Portland when they had lined up 4 facilities for me and my daughter to look at. As Cherie accompanied us through the apartments, dining rooms, beauty shops and all the various services that were offered, she asked very good questions of the staff, and pointed out things to us that we may have overlooked. After a long day, we finally chose a place for Aunt Ruth, and made the deposit. You will have to wait until tomorrow to find out where Auntie is living now, but I want to emphasize the fantastic service we received from Golden Placements. Go to to learn more about this respectful, helpful, nearly life saving business.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Financial Assistance for Widows of Veterans

Yesterday I told you that my 99 year old aunt agreed to move to Portland with me. So, during the months to sell my house I kept exploring possible housing ideas for her. We had thought I would make enough from the sale of my home to buy something in Portland that would have a mother-in-law unit or some kind of separate living quarters for her at my new place. Well, the real estate market did not cooperate with me, and my home sold for much less than we had expected. My auntie lives on social security, so there were really no funds for us to pay for an assisted living facility. I applied to many HUD funded senior apartments, but the waiting list was one to five years! That could be a deal breaker for a 99 year old! So, through a very kind person who works for a high end Senior Retirement facility, I found an amazing, life saving organization. It is called Care Option Resources in Portland, OR. When I called them to ask for any ideas about adequate housing for my dear elder, they asked me the question "Was she married to a Veteran?" And I told them yes, she was, and he had passed about 10 years ago. They asked some more questions about her income, health needs, etc. And, the good, actually GREAT news, is that it looked like she was eligible for financial assistance for housing. And the amount would be around $1000 a month! I could hardly hold back the tears of joy when I heard this. With her social security, and this assistance, she could live in an assisted living facility and be very well taken care of.

Care Options does the paper work, and of course with the government, there are stacks of it. They charge a very reasonable fee for this, and I would have paid twice the amount for the service. I want to share this information with as many people as I can, as this is not well known and I think of all the men and women who could have lived in a much more secure and healthy place had they been aware. I am sure that there are other non-profit organizations like Care Options in other states. You might contact them to get some referrals.

OK................more of the moving adventures tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moving During Retirement Years

One year ago, I wrote that I had my house for sale and I was planning to move out of town. that was sometime ago, so I will refresh your memory. I am retired, and realized that I really wanted to spend this last third of my life closer to my daughter and my family. I have lived in beautiful Ashland Oregon for nearly 40 years now, so it was a big decision. Well, now I am living in Portland, Oregon and am so happy that I decided to go ahead with it.

In the 14 months that my home was on the market, (yep, 14 long months) I learned so many things about moving as an older person, (not ancient, older.............) and in the next few weeks I would like to share those things with you. The emotional, physical, and spiritual sides of us will be effected by this huge change. Oh, in case you forgot, I also moved my 99 year old aunt. I asked her of course if she was interested and she, like me, wanted to be closer to loved ones for whatever time she has left. So, along with all my personal growth, pain, joy and new understandings, I got to look into the world of Senior Assisted Living, and all that goes along with that.

So, stay tuned my friends, more on the move of Karen and Ruth to the Rose City!