Greet the Grandparents

By Hawaii Renovation Posted in: Go Ask AliceImprove

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: My grandmother will be moving in with my family soon as she is unable to live on her own anymore. She is getting physically weaker, and we think she may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Do you have any advice for us?

Today is Grandparents Day, the perfect day to answer your question and a reminder to appreciate the seniors in our lives. Your question is especially timely as more and more families face caring for aging parents or grandparents in their homes. Diminished strength, impaired hearing or vision and memory lapses are all natural symptoms of aging that you can accommodate in your home to make life easier for everyone. Taking in aging parents should be an act of love, not a sacrifice, so first look at the situation as an opportunity to give back, then make some sensible changes.

Clutter and things …

First of all, I know everyone is probably tired of hearing about clutter, but I have to address this, at least briefly. When parents move in, they often bring a lot of their belongings with them. Prepare yourself and your parents by getting rid of anything you no longer need or use. If not, the increased clutter will bring challenges.

While I understand it seems wasteful to get rid of things or “perfectly good furniture,” it may be necessary. Whenever you open your home to seniors, you create the opportunity to experience irritation, frustration and more because personal and physical space diminishes. Turn this into an opportunity to do something positive for people you love by purging the clutter from your home.

Why is it important to clear out?

Clutter ties you to the past physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, reminding everyone of how things “were,” not how to accept things as they are. Remember, everyone’s lifestyle is about to change, so take action now to get ahead of the game. Clutter around the home can contribute to confusion, respiratory problems because of dust accumulation, accidents and a negative mental attitude. Energywise, having too much clutter can be compared to living in the middle of a hurricane or being buried in a landfill.

Increase lighting and reduce glare

You may not have thought much about lighting and glare before, but when people age, their vision diminishes, and adequate lighting for you is likely not enough for them. What can you do? • Create consistent and brighter lighting throughout the home. Inconsistent lighting levels can produce scary shadows and confusion. Increase wattage in lamps, and add nightlights in hallways, corners and near stairs. • Diminish glare. Glare can create feelings of discomfort for seniors, so put place mats on glass tables, and area rugs on shiny floors (make sure they are secured to avoid a tripping hazard.) • Bring in as much natural daylight as possible. Daylight stimulates the circadian and neuroendocrine systems that regulate the body’s entire homeostasis, so clean the windows and open the shades or blinds.

Look at furniture through new eyes

Choose to keep only furniture that is most supportive for this new multi-generational life-style. Take these tips into consideration: • Keep some chairs with arms to facilitate standing from a seated position. • Get rid of or secure furniture that swivels or rocks to prevent unnecessary accidents. • Remove, replace or alter furniture with sharp edges and corners. Choose round over square and smooth over sharp. • Upholstered furniture is better for comfort and energetic security.

Once you choose the layout for the furniture you keep, do not change it. Keeping everything the same creates stability and helps to avoid confusion.

Use color to create contrast

By adding color and contrast in your home, you can help ease the effect of decreasing vision. The simpler you can make it to distinguish between surfaces and areas of the home, the safer it will be, and you will naturally reduce stress levels. Here are some guidelines: • Use contrasting colors whenever you can — for example, between floors and walls, dishes and tablecloths, the risers and flat surfaces of stairs, the fixtures in the bathroom, the furniture and flooring, etc. • Define the dining room table. Use a tablecloth color that contrasts with the rest of the room. • Avoid busy patterns. Complex patterns, especially on the floors, contribute to delusions and insecurity. • Paint your parents’ bedroom a completely different color from the rest of the house to help them energetically distinguish their area from other areas of the home.

Some simple preparation will help to ensure that everyone can maximize this special time with your loved ones, while minimizing the challenges that living together can bring. Happy Grandparents Day!

Alice Inoue is a life guide at Alice Inoue Life Guidance LLC, a company committed to assisting people in living empowered lives. Alice shares her wisdom as a professional speaker and personal consultant, and offers a series of instructional DVDs and award-winning books on feng shui. Visit www.aliceinspired.com to read her blog, sign up for her newsletters and download useful feng shui tips.

Alice’s Nice Advice: Grouping For Power

This week, group similar items together to shift your energy from “scattered” to “focused.” A collection of themed figurines, for example, makes a greater impact when placed together, not dispersed throughout the home. Use groupings to your advantage.

“Feng Shui – The Easy Way!”

Join Alice Sept. 23, from 3 to 5:30 p.m., at Macy’s Ala Moana Center location for a fun and insightful presentation, then go home with a feng shui instructional DVD of your choice! To register, go to www.aliceinspired.com or call 436-8234.