Great Transitions Seminar Series Blog
Welcome to the Great Transitions Seminar Series blog! Here we will be posting blogs that cover topics important to seniors, from transitioning to a new home to points of interest in our communities and everything in between. We hope you enjoy and are able to glean some informative nuggets while reading our blog posts.
Bringing the Inside Out
Making the most of your outside living space
August 28, 2023
Living in Central Florida has many perks; one being that we are able to enjoy our outside spaces year-round. While this a very nice perk, some may look in their backyards and think, “what is there to enjoy?” If you fall into this category, the good news is that there are endless options to remodel, update and/or improve your outside space, further extending your living area. The National Association of Home Builders conducted a recent survey which showed 80% of home buyers say that patios and front porches are desirable when looking for a home.
You may want to consider blurring the line between inside and outside; making the spaces flow together with ease. A simple way to achieve this is to replace s standard door with a French door or hideaway sliding doors. This easy change can allow foot traffic to easily transition from inside to out.
Most likely, your main objective is to achieve a comfortable space for you and your guests to relax and have fun. Examine your space and determine what type of furniture can reasonably fit while being able to maintain an open traffic flow throughout the space. When shopping for cushions make sure they are outdoor quality and can withstand the elements; including a Florida downpour.
A must have in any Florida outdoor space is shade! There are a plethora of options to achieve a nice shady spot to hang out in and relax. You could opt for a simple market umbrella and select a fun color to add a bright spot to your space, or you could go for a more permanent structure and build a pergola. Another option is to buy and hang sail shades in your space; they can be purchased in a variety of sizes and colors and add a unique look to any outdoor space.
Adding or enhancing exterior lights can really liven up your space. Illuminating walkways, rails and steps is a great idea and helps to make the backyard safer in the evening hours. Additionally, lighting up the trees can add a wonderful effect to your existing landscaping, and, as always, well-placed candles can really help to set the mood.
Help to brighten the space by adding pops of color; making the space unique to you. You can use small tables, pillows, and rugs to add in some bright spots of color. In today’s world, it is important to have your outdoor space be device friendly. A Wi-Fi antenna will boost the range of your signal; something all your guests will enjoy. Some wireless outdoor speakers would also make a nice addition to your space and allow for easier access to play your favorite tunes.
Firepits, fireplaces and outdoor kitchens are very popular additions to outdoor spaces and can really make the space feel like an extension of the home. Be sure to consider the location before installing; making sure any smoke doesn’t flow right into the sitting areas. Of course, you don’t want to forget to add in some fun. Designate a spot for cornhole, horseshoes or croquet. Paint a portion of the fence with chalkboard paint, creating an instant canvas for the young ones and even those young at heart.
The great thing about deciding to update or remodel your outdoor space is that you have an abundance of choices, and whether you decide to add a splash of color here and there or install an outdoor kitchen, it will certainly be beneficial; not only for your enjoyment but it may improve the desirability of your home for future owners.
Always Better To Be Safe Than Sorry
August 29, 2023
It is always a good time to take a look at your home and see where security improvements can be made. While this is not a light-hearted topic, it is certainly one that is in the forefront of our community today and is worth discussing. You may be surprised to learn that recent research has criminals reporting that in 34% of home break-ins they gained access, very simply, through an unlocked door or window. Please make sure you are locking up; here are some additional ways that will help to improve the security of your home:
Lighting – Exterior motion sensor lights are a wise investment and a wonderful impediment to would-be criminals. It is easy to find exterior lighting that also has cameras attached to them, allowing you to record any activity around the exterior of your home. Another good idea to put a couple of timers on interior lights; even using the timers when you are home can aid in safety. This helps as the lights are always on at a certain time and helps to not raise any suspicion, opposed to when the timers are only utilized when you are away
Visibility – It is important for you to be able to see who is at your front door without having to open it. Today, doorbell cameras are readily available and reasonably priced. It is an added plus that they install with relative ease. According to recent research, over 60% of burglars weigh the presence of home security cameras. It is advisable to make sure that your valuables are not visible from the street; no need to give potential criminals an easy inventory of your personal items.
Police – Call your local police station and invite them to your home to inspect it and to provide suggestions for improving the security of your home. They are an invaluable resource and are happy to help.
Managing Landscaping – Inspect your landscaping and see if there are prime spaces where criminals could hide or open a window undetected. If so, enlist the help of a tree or landscaping service to assist you with trimming trees and bushes. This also is a good time to look over your landscape lighting and see where lighting needs to be added.
Alarm System – It goes without saying that installing an alarm system is a huge deterrent to would-be criminals; there are several alarm companies out there and it may be best to get quotes from a couple of companies. If you already have an alarm system you may want to consider setting an appointment for them to come to your home to offer suggestions on ways to improve and enhance your system. Research shows that 90% of convicted burglars would avoid a home with an installed alarm system.
New Set of Keys – If you have recently purchased a new home, it is smart to have of all of the locks changed. You never know who may hold a copy of your key. There are many locksmiths that offer fair deals when completely re-keying a home. You can always ask your trusted real estate advisor for their recommendations.
Exploring Our City Beautiful
Our beautiful Florida weather provides us with year-round opportunities to get out and explore this wonderful and unique city that we call home. There is so much more to Orlando than theme parks, chain restaurants and souvenir shops; this city is made up of many interesting and diverse neighborhoods. While there are several areas to explore, we have highlighted some of our favorites below:
Audubon Park: Audubon Park was recently declared by Atlanta Magazine as Orlando’s most talked about community. Originally developed in the 1950’s and 60’s, Audubon Park at one time catered to Orlando’s Air Force base but has since developed into a vibrant, hip and unique community. This thriving area of Orlando is known for its eclectic shops and restaurants. When visiting this neighborhood be sure and make a stop for yummy goodies at East End Market. Audubon Park also boasts one of a kind homes, lakes, and parks; including Leu Gardens.
Rose Isle: Rose Isle is a charming neighborhood that was established in the 1950’s, and offers lakefront views from Lake Sue, Lake Rowena and Lake Estelle. While meandering this beautiful area, take time and discover the Orlando Museum of Art, which hosts many wonderful exhibits throughout the year; or take the kids and explore the Orlando Science Center.
Downtown Orlando: Downtown Orlando is the largest urban center in Central Florida, and the downtown area itself is home to several neighborhoods; including Thornton Park. This thriving and upbeat area of Orlando offers lots to do and see from swan boats and leisurely walks around famed Lake Eola to catching a Broadway production at the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts. Downtown Orlando has a wonderful Farmer’s Market on Sundays and is home to many festivals during the year.
College Park: Just outside of downtown Orlando is the vibrant community of College Park. This neighborhood derives its name from the many streets named after institutions of higher learning; such as Yale, Princeton, Harvard just to name a few. College Park is home to several popular restaurants, eclectic shops and family friendly parks. Sunday brunch at Dubsdread is a treat and offers great views of the golf course.
Winter Park: While many of us are familiar with this beautiful neighborhood, we would be remiss not to mention this wonderful place where we work and play. Winter Park is home to the famed Park Avenue and Rollins College, and is known for its charming brick streets and abundance of green spaces. Winter Park offers plenty of unique choices when it comes to dining and shopping as well. Perhaps take some time and explore the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Natural Art or take an afternoon and enjoy a scenic boat tour around Winter Park’s Chain of Lakes.
Have fun exploring what this fabulous city we live in has to offer, who knows you may discover a new favorite spot!
Deciding to downsize can be a difficult decision met with mixed emotions. How do you know when it is time to downsize? Once the decision is made, the task of preparing to do so can be overwhelming and seem unconquerable, but by breaking it down, taking little steps and enlisting help from family and certified professionals, you will be surprised how manageable the process can be.
The first step is to decide if the time is right for you to downsize. There are several things to consider which can help you reach the decision. Here are some basic questions that you could ask yourself. Does your home have a lot of unused space? Perhaps, your children are grown and have moved out of the house, and you no longer need and/or utilize all your bedrooms and bonus living spaces. Even though you are not using these spaces, you are still paying for them, even if your mortgage has been paid off, in the form of property taxes and electrical bills. Have you retired or will be retiring soon? If the answer is yes, what are you planning to do in your retirement and how will your monthly income change? Maybe you are wanting to travel more and spend less on home expenses as you transition into this next stage of life; if so then downsizing is likely the right decision. Take a look at your home and the property it sits on; is the maintenance becoming too much? Perhaps, you would rather spend your time participating in fun-filled activities, rather than tackling home maintenance projects. If this applies to you, then downsizing is the smart next step.
Once you have made the decision to downsize, now you have to prepare yourself, your home and your belongings. A great first step is to make a checklist; this helps to visualize the tasks that need to be done. Once you have drafted your task list, you might want to bring in a certified professional to help reduce the overwhelm that you may be experiencing. Downsizing is certainly not something you need to take on by yourself. How do you envision your lifestyle after you downsize? If minimal maintenance is at the top of your list; then you may want to tour senior living communities in your area, or maybe you are thinking of downsizing to a smaller home, condo or townhome. A big task is to declutter and downsize your life and home. You must be realistic in deciding what can fit into your new smaller home. If you are a collector of things, (books, art, etc.), you will want to really look at your collection and decide what must come and what you can sell or donate. For example, if you are a book lover, peruse your collection and think, “what are my top 20 choices?”, or maybe you are an art lover but your wall space is considerably less in your new place, pick your top three favorite pieces.
Equally important is to take great care of important papers, photographs, electronics and family heirlooms. Starting with important papers, do not throw or discard these. Gather them all (birth and death records, marriage license, investment portfolios, social security cards, passports, military service records, wills, and insurance policies; to name just a few), and place them in a safe location. Family photographs are priceless and special to each family, but perhaps there are duplicates that can be discarded. A great option is to have everything transferred to a digital source, there are many companies who can assist you with this task. It is also very important to not get rid of any electronics unless you are absolutely sure that they have been wiped clean and no longer contain any of your personal information. Finally, take a close look at your family heirlooms; which ones hold special value and memories for you and your family. Maybe you have more heirlooms than your new home can hold; consider gifting a few to your children or grandchildren.
Downsizing is a big step in one’s life, but if you take the time to break it all down into smaller steps and ask for assistance, you will achieved it all with relative ease. Of course, you may be a bit saddened to leave a home that holds so many special memories but think how many wonderful times and new memories are waiting for you in your new, more manageable home.
Tips on How to Avoid Being a Victim of Scams & Fraud
In today’s world there are numerous scams and they are ever evolving. Typically, all scams fall into 2 categories, they are either perpetrated by someone you don’t know or by someone you do know. It is important to trust your gut. If you get a phone call and things don’t feel right, you should absolutely hang up the phone. If you receive a phone call and there is a pause after you say hello, hang up the phone. Additionally, if someone comes to your door, do not let them across the threshold. If you feel uncomfortable, shut and lock the door and call the police.
Electronic & online scams have become very advanced. It is so important to remember to NOT click on any links in the emails. Here are some quick tips when dealing with emails that seem a bit off:
▪ Hover the cursor over the email address, you can see the email address that it was sent from, be sure to look for very small mistakes in the spelling of the email address.
▪ Don’t update your information via any links.
∙ Banks will never send an email asking you to update your information.
∙ Call and go to your bank to ask if they sent you the email. Never click the link.
If you are ever approached to do anything, ask yourself, “Who initiated this request?” If it was not you, then it is likely a scam.
Some red flags to look out for:
▪ It doesn’t feel right
▪ It makes you uncomfortable
▪ The other person is pressuring you
Even with every precaution in place, things happen and it is important to remember to not be embarrassed about what happened. You will want to let someone in your trusted circle and let them assist you in getting things fixed. You may want to initiate a family meeting where you can sit down with your trusted circle and go over everything. The biggest mistake is that people wait too long to have this meeting.
If you become a victim of scams or fraud:
▪ You need to report it
▪ Don’t take it personally
▪ Contact your bank
▪ Report the fraud. There are several resources where you can report the crime:
∙ Department of Justice – Elder Fraud Hotline 1-833-372-8311
∙ FBI – Elder Fraud Complaint Center (202) 324-3000
∙ National Center on Elder Abuse (855) 500-3537
Important Document Organization
You have your estate planning done and you have completed your important documents – that’s awesome – job well done! Now the question is, where to store them. Having life’s important documents in one place eliminates panic in an emergency, you don’t want to have to go on a hunt nor send your loved ones on one.
Of course, your documents are personal and private, however you may want to enlist the help of a trusted loved one to help you with these delicate documents. If you decide to have a professional help you with organizing these documents, make sure they have experience in this specific arena.
Your ultimate goal in organizing your lifetime important documents is to leave a legacy to those that will be needing to use these documents once you are gone. Having them all in one place, whether it is a special Go Binder, a safety deposit box, waterproof, fireproof safe or on a hard drive, make sure that a trusted loved one is aware of their location and will have access to them when the time comes. Make sure you are having the conversations with your trusted circle, while these can be hard, once you get started your stress level will likely begin to drop. Be transparent so that your trusted loved ones are clear on your choices and where they can the locate these important documents when the time comes.
If you are reading this and thinking I need to get my documents in order and what documents do I need to have, you are not alone. An attorney who is certified in Elder Law can certainly assist you with your estate planning documents, such as a Will or Trust, Power of Attorneys, Health Care Surrogate and DNR’s.
Don’t put off what can be accomplished today!