Seniors Find Increased Health and Wellness When They Volunteer

Staying involved in the community helps people as they age. They are less likely to feel alone or develop depression. According to Help Guide International, volunteering has been proven to help seniors make new friends, lessen the symptoms of chronic diseases and gives seniors a sense of purpose.

Not only does volunteering have great personal benefits, but it’s also a great way to stay involved and help others in the community. Depending on your likes and dislikes, there are a wide variety of volunteering opportunities right here in Appleton.

Volunteering in your assisted living facility or nursing home

As assisted living facilities and nursing homes increase their focus on the quality of life, new volunteer opportunities open up to residents. Consider leading seniors in a friendly game of bingo, exercise, or a craft project. Are you musically inclined? Ask if you could play the piano during the day to help entertain residents and staff. 

Don’t limit yourself to art, music, or games. Check with the facility director to see if you can start a gardening club or book club. 

Outdoor volunteering opportunities

Local animal shelters are always willing to let volunteers walk and play with the animals. The Fox Valley Humane Association has hands on and behind the scenes opportunites to care for the animals or serve at events to raise awareness. You can find a list of openings here. https://www.foxvalleypets.org/volunteer/#adult-opportunities

If you want a hands-on experience, check with the local parks and nature preserves like High Cliff or Heckrodt Wetland Preserve. 

The Friends of High Cliff offer many ways to get involved from splitting firewood and food concessions at fundraising events; you can also help answer questions on their social media channels or join a committee. Check out the website at http://www.friendsofhighcliff.org

Heckrodt has a wide variety of activities for volunteers. They are always looking for teachers or naturalists, people to set up exhibits, spring and fall clean up crews, individuals who like to weed, mowing, raking, painting and other grounds maintenance, support at special events, photography and much more. Visit their website for more information. https://www.heckrodtnaturecenter.org/volunteer

Habitat for Humanity has active builds going on in our community. If you can swing a hammer, paint or help transport supplies, you can bet involved.  They have more information on their website at www.habitat.org/where-we-build

Volunteering for children’s events

The local libraries in the fox cities are always looking for volunteers to shelve books, greet patrons, drop off and pick up checked out books from homebound patrons, do landscaping and gardening projects and have opportunities to read to children. 

Visit any of the local libraries online and search for volunteer opportunities. They will all have a list of items they’d like help with and requirements for volunteering. https://www.infosoup.info/libraries

Many hospitals and care facilities in the fox valley offer volunteer opportunities to read to children in the hospital. To find a local reading program, you can visit and enter your address to find the closest opportunity. http://www.reachoutandread.org/resource-center/find-a-program/

Volunteer for the county

Through Outagamie County, you can become an adult or youth mentor. Helping children in the system, become successful and independent adults.

There are also other opportunities to prepare or provide meals to homebound individuals.

You can check out these options at:

https://www.outagamie.org/government/f-through-m/health-human-services/volunteer-opportunities

Volunteer Fox Cities is a local non-profit who partners with local agencies and organizations to help with volunteering needs in our area. They work currently have over 450 volunteers opportunities for all ages. Whether you want to work with children, older adults, outside or at events, there are opportunities to get involved. https://www.volunteerfoxcities.org

Volunteering from home

If you would like to get involved but don’t have the mobility you once used to, there are many other ways you can help others. Through the United Nations, you can volunteer online. You can teach or lead online courses in art, design, write, and edit for UN programs. They have 12,000 online volunteers a year and work in 187 countries around the world. Check out their programs at http://www.onlinevolunteering.org

Volunteering allows seniors of all ages and abilities to share their time and talents with others. Helping others brings a sense of wellbeing and accomplishment to both those volunteering and those served by the program. 

You can feel good about helping others and making positive changes in someone’s life.

Consider volunteering with local or national groups today. 


Nine Easy Ways to Practice Senior Self-Care and Get the Most Out of Life!

Aging can be a kick in the pants. It happens so gradually most of us don’t realize we’ve become “old,” until someone younger starts calling us “Sir” or “Mam” and it’s not out of respect.

It’s true, even if you are healthy, fit and in shape, a 55-year-old is going to have a tough time keeping up with a 20 something. 

But that doesn’t mean life is over, or we need to accept aging as a determent to living a full life…heck no!  It means we need to practice better self-care to stay healthy, fit, and in shape for a 55+-year-old. 

Let’s take a look at nine easy ways to practice self-care and get the most out of life! 

Find a Hobby

senior-living-series-hobby-golf

Hobbies are a great way to keep your mind and body moving. If you had a hobby but quit, examine why. 

Was it due to lack of time or effort? 

Could you learn a skill to help you improve what you were doing? 

Hobbies are enjoyable. They can help you de-stress, and you can often share the process or results with other people. Sharing the gift of time or an actual item will make you happy and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your friend’s face. 

Sleep

Yes, as we get older sleep may be allusive. However, the cause may be something different than what you think it is. Try to turn down the lights and turn off the TV an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Maybe that coffee at lunch was not the best idea? Food choices can also affect your sleep.  

You may be taking medication or dealing with aches and pains that are causing night time disruptions. You could find a supplement like melatonin to add to your nightly routine to help you sleep. You could also research over-the-counter sleep aids. 

Sleep is necessary for healing, memory, and overall wellness. If you’re not getting enough, take the time to find out why and how to fix it. 

Good Food

Even as a fully mature adult, it may not be the best thing to have dessert for dinner.  Just saying…rules of proper nutrition not only apply to you when you are over 55, but it’s also more critical than before.

High-quality protein, fats, and vegetables with fruit as a dessert are the most manageable changes you can make to improve your diet. 

Exercise

Now that you’re fully rested and nourished try adding a little more activity to your day. Exercise does not need to be overwhelming. A stroll through a local park or walking the trails through High Cliff cannot only bring the benefits of exercise but being in nature.

You may enjoy long bike rides, dancing, or lifting weights to keep up your strength and that’s great! However, know there is extensive proof that a brisk 30 minute walk every day can add to your well being. 

Natural Remedies

Quite a few people in the 55+ category are on more than one medication. While Doctors are doing the best they can to treat illness and disease to improve your health, not everything needs a prescription.

Even a necessary dose of antibiotics can turn your digestive system on its head and cause a few issues. 

Unless specified, you may want to start looking into alternative treatments for common illnesses and ailments. A good massage can help stiff and sore muscles feel better instead of taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Essential oils can help alleviate symptoms from headaches, allergies, and other minor illnesses. 

Pamper Yourself

You’ve done a great job so far, now relax. Seriously, find a masseuse, take a long shower or bath, try acupressure or acupuncture, talk a long walk in the woods.

Spend time with family or friends. Do something you enjoy to pamper yourself. 

De-Stress

According to  Michael Ashworth, Ph.D., Stress is linked to six different leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

Along with pampering yourself, you may want to take breaks for you and do something you enjoy. If you don’t know what to do here is a shortlist from Good Therapy.

  • Take warm, relaxing baths.
  • Go for a walk in the park.
  • Water and admire your plants.
  • Fill the room with a lovely scent.
  • Take a yoga class, or give yourself one.
  • Meditate.
  • Read.
  • Listen to music.
  • Have a pleasant visit with someone.
  • Watch television.
  • Go swimming.
  • Breathe.
  • Give yourself enough time to do things, so you’re not always rushing.
  • Laugh. This is very important. Among other things, laughter opens up the airways and pumps fresh air into your lungs. Also, it’s fun.
  • Dance.
  • Jog.
  • Pet the cat, dog, or other pets.

Join a Church

If you are a religious person, staying connected or reconnecting with your faith is essential. You are connecting with God and other people.

At church, you can find help and support for problems you might have.

You can give up worldly worries at church and be yourself. There are many more benefits to being a church-goer. You can check out a few on Health Fitness Revolution.

Find Some Good Friends

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” When you laugh, you produce endorphins, which naturally make you feel better.

Being with your friends and enjoying their support and laugher will improve your mood and health. If you’ve lost touch with close friends, invite them back into your life. Find a common activity you can participate in together and watch how your life will improve. 

For more articles in my senior series visit http://annettehetrick.com/category/seniorseries/

5 Ways Seniors Can Make Money in Appleton

Ahhh…Retirement. We all want to get there. The point in our life when we don’t have to punch a clock, we can roll out of bed when we feel like it…if we feel like it. We can do what we want when we’d like to do it. At least that’s the dream. 

The reality is usually much harsher unless you plan. And sadly it has been found over and over not to be the case. A 2018 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis, found that only 27 percent of households have a defined benefit plan (a pension), while only 33 percent have a defined contribution plan (usually a 401(k)). 

So where does that leave the rest of us?

The good thing is, there are options.

5 Ways to Earn an income during retirement and stay “retired.”

Once retired, we want to stay retired, right? If we fell into the didn’t plan camp or life threw us some curve balls camp, we want to be able to work on our terms and stay retired. 

Here are five ways you can earn what you need and more to stay retired.

Take a gig job. 

In the online world of freelancing, you can be and do anything you’d like to be. Do you have a marketable skill and a few hours a day to put toward that skill? Consider signing up at one of the online talent platforms such as Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, or look on job boards such as FlexJobs.com to find part-time positions you can work from home. 

Like to socialize?

You may want to consider a part-time job out of the house. 

Many companies are moving to at home delivery as part of their services. For example, Uber, the call a cab company, is adding on Uber Eats. This food delivery service is much like their call a cab service, where restaurants call drivers to deliver their food to at home customers.  It doesn’t stop there. You could consider being an Uber or Lyft driver or Speedee delivery or another local delivery service.  

Are you handy? 

You could spend a few hours a day putting your hands to work helping others. Taskrabbit.com connects people with handy people who can help put together furniture or need help installing a washer and dryer. The sky is the limit as to what you could help someone do. 

Want to be outside? 

There are never-ending possibilities. Think of yourself as a roving landscaper. You could mow lawns, help plant gardens and flowers, maintain the current landscaping. 

Love animals? 

How about being a pet sitter and spending some time with lonely animals while their owners are at work or on vacation? Or a dog walker. You get some exercise, and the pet owner is happy because their pet isn’t cooped up all day, and the burden of taking them for a walk is now off their shoulders. 

Are you looking to work on you while you work? 

HealthyWage.com is a company that pays you to get healthy. You read that correctly. They pay you to follow a plan and reach a weight-loss goal.  Now if that isn’t the most honest work from home and stay retired job, I don’t know what is.  Well, unless you like cake, then you may want to consider the dog walking route. 

A quick search on Indeed, a job posting site, for part-time positions in Appleton, WI on June 11, 2019, returned 855 jobs available. You can easily find a position you like for a few hours a day and still stay retired. 

Retirement is supposed to be fun, and about enjoying all the money, you earned in full-time employment. Take these five tips on making more in retirement and put them to good use. You may find you’ll enjoy your retirement even more by staying active and connected to your community and others. 

For more tips about senior living and making the best of it, visit my blog Senior Series on my website.


5 Ways Seniors Can Save Money in Appleton

Retirement should be a time to enjoy the fruits of your full-time labor. So how can you ensure that next egg goes a little farther year after year? Here are some money saving tips to pinch those pennies but enjoy your retirement at the same time. 

Make your meals

While you were working full-time, you may not have had time to plan and prep and cook a meal for yourself or your family. Now is the perfect time to start. There are some online resources you can access to help you plan your weekly meals. Cooking Light gives you a full 31-days of meal ideas.

MyFridgeFood.com is one of them. They give you a list of ingredients you need to make the meals and recipe options.  

senior-restaurant-appleton

When a meal out costs at least $12.75 a day, according to thesimpledollar.com. Why not save that by buying groceries and brushing off or practicing your cooking skills. After all, unless you have a family of 5 living with you, you’ll be spending less than the $395.25 you would be spending eating out daily. 

Think differently about gift giving

Yes, we all love a good celebration. Whether it’s a Birthday, Anniversary, or family or business milestone, giving and receiving gifts is a cultural norm. Why not save the money on another “thing” someone may or may not use and plan an activity instead? 

Fox Cities PAC

Say you know your friend loves old airplanes and airplane history, consider touring the EAA Museum in Oshkosh or buying tickets to an event during the AirVenture air show each July. With all the local activities like the Trout Museum of Art and the PAC bringing in theatrical performances, you are sure to find entertainment everyone will love as a present. 

You don’t have to AirBnB, but you could rent a room

If you find yourself rambling around in a big empty house in retirement, consider renting out a room or two. You’ll want to vet your possible roommates carefully, but utilizing a service such as Silvernest.com or spareroom.com. The AARP has a great article about the dos and don’ts of home sharing, be sure to research all the pros and cons.

Nix the impulse buying

When you were bringing in a steady paycheck, you may have been able to buy that new item without a care, knowing you have the money to pay for it. When you’re trying to save, impulse buying can be a budget killer. So how can you avoid overspending? The first thing you’ll want to do is NOTHING. That’s right; do not buy the item. 

little-house-on-the-lake-winnebago

Instead, think about it for a couple of days. I’ve written about this in my Little House article when we purchased our lake house. Make sure you need the item. Consider whether it will bring you happiness, and it is useful. Then think about actually spending the money. If all signs point to “yes,” go ahead and make the purchase. If you’re fine without the item, consider passing for now. 

Think about quality over quantity 

When you’re trying to meet the needs of a family, there are probably items you purchased in bulk to save on costs. Now it might be time to consider the longevity of a purchase. Say you need a new refrigerator. This is not a low ticket item. The average refrigerator costs between $350 and $1200 depending on the model, according to improvenet.com.  

You may be leaning towards the $350 version to save money, as you’ve always done. Be sure to check the reviews, common repair issues, and if there are any recalls on that model of appliance. It might surprise you after doing some homework, that even though you may spend more up front, the $600 model will last longer and have fewer repair issues, saving you money in the long term. 


Along with retirement comes the wisdom to know how to research areas in your life where you can save a little more and where you should spend a little more. For more tips about senior living and making the best of it, visit my blog Senior Series on my website. 

Senior Series- How to Play and Share Nicely With Family

Supporting aging parents and making decisions regarding their changing housing and independence needs can challenge the closest of families.  Here are some tips that can help make your families stronger and avoid stress.

It’s their Life

If your parent is still considered legally competent it is still their life and their decision.  Your role is to assist them in achieving their goals while keeping them safe.

Your family members are not your enemies

You may have a strained relationship with certain family members.  Remember, just like you, they are trying to do what they feel is right for the parent/s.  Even if you don’t agree with their position you must learn to come to an understanding that is best for your parent.

Love and Respect

Speak to and treat each other respectfully.  It is easy to fall into old family roles, behaviors and communicating styles.  Remember to be attentive, listen for understanding, don’t interrupt and tone of voice does matter.   Opening a productive dialog is the goal…not being right.

They are not Crazy Because They React Differently

Stress causes people to react differently.  Some people withdraw, some become angry, other become sad while others will try to take charge and “fix” it.  Acknowledge the stress and agree to work together.

Save the Drama for the Stage

Gossiping or complaining about family that is not present will usually end up causing more stress and family drama.   Go back to number 3- speak respectfully about that person and to that person.  If you have an issue address it with that person in person.  NO TEXTS PLEASE

Who’s in Charge?

Someone should be in charge if mom and dad aren’t capable of making their own decisions.  The best-case scenario is the senior chooses that person before they become incapable.  If not as a group you may need to choose a leader.  Once designated that person has the final say.  You can express your opinion, but realize this is an incredibly difficult role and respect their willingness to accept it.  

Late To The Party?

If you come after the process has started due to personal or geographical reasons don’t come ready to “save the world”.  Those who have already put in the work, have seen the situation unfold and made difficult decisions need your support not the list of what they have done wrong according to you.   If you feel guilty for your lack of participation, own it and work out those issues on your own time, privately.  

Pick Your Battles

Ask yourself is it really a hill to die on?  99% is most likely not. Determine what’s really important to you and support your family member’s decisions on those things that aren’t extremely important to you.

Who are the players?

Numerous people may have ideas, but who are the players in this situation?  If you are a family member by marriage, realize your primary role (usually) is to support and comfort your spouse and other family members, not to participate in decisions.  

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

This is not an easy process.  Keep your focus on the end goal, what is best for your mom and/or dad.

If you do need to sell you parents home please give me a call. A Market analysis of a home is a free service.

Senior Series- Warning Signs That Independent Living is no Longer Safe

Watching your mom & dad age can be difficult. The realization that living independently may no longer be a choice for them can be heartbreaking for all involved.  What are some warning signs that they may need assistance?

 

  1. Bruising

       Your parent may not be telling they are experiencing more falls, but their  skin may show signs of it.  Older skin bruises more easily and may show signs that they are bumping into things, becoming increasingly unsteady or falling.

  1. Food Crisis

Is there outdated food in the fridge or on the pantry shelf?  Or is there not enough food on the shelves to sustain life? The elder person may not be able to shop or cook or clean like they once did.

  1. Unpaid bills

Are you noticing stacks of mail where there was once complete organization? Your parents may not be able to tend to paperwork and bills due to a multitude of reasons- poor vision, declining memory or depression.

  1. Odor

Is your parent having difficulty with hygiene or a health issue that is causing an odor?  Remember that decrease in the ability to smell is part of the aging process.  Or is it that they are unable to keep up with cleaning of their home?

  1. Overall Messiness in Home

Are you noticing more piles?  Piles of magazines, clothes, undone laundry?  Maybe your parent is having more difficulty moving around and therefore regular household chores become difficult.  

 

What should you do if you are noticing these signs?  

  1. Have someone other than you assess the situation.  A medical check up may be necessary.  A physician can do both a physical and mental examination.  Don’t forget to have eyes and ears checked as well.  
  2. In Wisconsin every county has an Aging and Disability Resource Center-ADRC.  They are a wealth of information.  They can do a general assessment of the senior and their needs and then make recommendations for services.  Keep in mind not all services come with a cost.
  3. Let your parent know that you don’t want to intrude but you are genuinely concerned for their health and safety and want to help them fInd solutions that help them stay in their home longer and remain safe.  
  4. Start the discussion EARLY of what the future may look like. Discuss what their wishes are when it is necessary for them to move into a different living situation.  

Let’s Trade Backpacks

 

Recently I was on a trip with my adult son.  We had just started our walking adventure in an unknown city both carrying backpacks.  Almost immediately he realized my backpack was heavier than his, so he offered to switch packs with me.  He offered to carry my load because he knew he was better equipped physically to make the journey.  

Selling a home can feel a lot like carrying around a backpack that is too heavy; traversing a path you are not familiar with.  Assisting your parent sell their home can feel like you are carrying 2 oversized backpacks.  

I can as a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES), in a number of ways, carry your pack through the process.  It might be tempting to sell the home on your own, to save the commission.  I understand, I like to save money where I can as well.  But keep in mind all the “stuff” that is in the “backpack” when you are selling a home.  

Emotions

If you are selling the family home you will find not only is the home filled with more possessions than you remembered, but there is way more emotion tied to it than you ever realized.  Everyone has different memories of the home and they can be expressed in all sorts of ways. Emotions are often the reason it takes longer for the senior to get the home on the market.  I can provide a sounding board for the emotions while still pointing everyone in the right direction.  

Marketing

Marketing homes for sale has changed significantly over the past 40 years.  If your parent has owned their home for more than 10 years they may not have a full grasp on what it looks like now.  When they purchased their home HGTV was not around, print advertising was an effective way of marketing a home and open houses were the first chance buyers had to see the inside.  Now staging and good photos on-line are probably the most effective marketing tools.

Repairs or Remodel

Seniors often are resistant to making changes in their home to make it marketable.  They don’t want to de-clutter, tear down wallpaper and stage the home for sale.  This is a great time to let me carry your backpack.   I can look at the situation with objectivity and come up with a reasonable time frame for having the home ready to put on the market.  Let me be the “bad cop” in this situation.  I can explain what needs to done and why making the changes can add money to the bottom line.  

Showings

Showings for a senior can be difficult.  If the senior is not able to drive anymore leaving the house for a showing can be impossible.  As a SRES I understand this and have multiple suggestions for working through this.  

Legal

Selling a home is no longer a handshake deal.  A standard offer to purchase in the State of Wisconsin is typically around 20-26 pages of legal ease.  There are home inspections, radon tests, appraisals, financing contingencies, contingent of home sale buyers and seller concessions.

Walking through the aging process with your parent is difficult.  If you remember my son and I switched backpacks.  I still had to carry one, so will you.  There are numerous situations you will need to deal with throughout the process of selling, but hopefully I can lighten the load during this stressful time.