Your Medicine Cabinet and Drug Safety

Expiration Date vs. Shelf Life

Shelf life usually refers to the time between a medication’s manufacture date and its expiration date. But a drug’s shelf life can be altered by storage conditions—temperature, humidity, light, and even whether or not the medication is stored in its original container.

While the expiration date indicates how long a manufacturer guarantees safety and full potency of a medication, some drugs are more stable than others. Ask your pharmacist before using any medicine past its listed expiration date. Some medications lose potency, while others can become dangerous or even toxic past the expiration date.

Good Safety Habits

Keep a list of all of your medications, along with potential side effects and drug interactions. (Let your doctor know if you are experiencing any side effects.) This should include any over-the-counter (OTC) medications as well as vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements.

Take this list with you on doctor visits and to your pharmacist so it can be reviewed any time you are prescribed any additional medications or supplements. Also be sure to ask about any potential food interactions with any new or existing medications.

Always check to be sure the medication the doctor ordered is the Rx you received. Use the alarm on your phone to remind you to take your medications on schedule, or use a pill box that organizes your medicines along with a time schedule taped to the back of the organizer.

Disposing Old Medications

It’s important to carefully and properly discard any old medications, both prescribed and OTC varieties. Never “flush” medications (unless specifically directed to do so) to prevent them from entering the general water supply.

Many communities offer a “take back” program, where you can safely drop off any unused medications. This is the best option. Call your local law enforcement agency and ask if they sponsor or can direct you to such a program. Your local waste management organization may also have this information.

If your only option is to dispose of medicines in regular household trash, you should add pills (left whole) to unseemly waste, such as kitchen slop, used cat litter, used coffee grounds, etc.

When disposing of empty medicine bottles, be sure to eliminate your personal information, as well as the type of medication, to prevent bottles from being used to obtain medication illegally.

Universal Design Principles Pay Off

Figuring out how to spend your limited home renovation dollars is always a challenge. Should I make just cosmetic changes? Should I try to make the house appeal to a certain generation? What will provide the best return on investment?

Look to the 2017 Remodeling Cost vs. Value report ( for answers.

Remodeling magazine’s annual report estimates the cost of 29 home improvement projects and how much homeowners could anticipate recouping on a renovation when they sell.

This year, realizing that more homeowners are focused on aging and multi-generational households, the report added a new category and looked at the value of incorporating universal design features in a renovated bathroom.

The $15,730 project included:

  • Widening the doorway for wheelchair accessibility
  • Reinforcing walls to support grab bars
  • Installing a zero-threshold shower with a fold-down seat
  • Putting in a comfort-height toilet
  • Installing a sink with space to allow someone to sit at it

It’s a project that could help you both age more comfortably and stay longer in your house. You also can anticipate recouping $10,766–68.4 percent of the project cost–when you sell.

Walkability Drives Seniors’ Housing Decisions

Though a desire for walkable neighborhoods is most associated with the millennial generation, walkability and good public transit also are high on boomers’ and seniors’ wish-lists.

A recent survey ( by A Place for Mom, illustrates just how important those neighborhood characteristics are to those looking at senior housing.

Though things like quality of care services, affordability, and a facility’s cleanliness topped people’s must-have lists, walkability and access to transit also were tremendously important to survey respondents.

Among consumers considering their housing options, walkability was described as mandatory or very important to those seeking senior apartments (53%), independent living (38%), and assisted living (26%). Public transit options were also crucial to these groups.

As you look at your retirement housing options, especially if you’re a boomer with no physical limitations today, consider the longer term—a time when you may have difficulty getting around and you may no longer have access to a car.

Roam around a prospective neighborhood to assess your options for getting around.

Some questions to consider:

  • What places are within a 10-minute walk of your prospective home? Could you reach all the necessities of daily life–the grocery store, parks, hair salons, banks, and so forth—on foot or by public transit?
  • Are sidewalks and paths accessible, safe, and well-lighted?
  • Could you maneuver those sidewalks with a walker or a wheelchair?
  • Are crosswalks well marked and do you have enough time to get across the street?
  • Are there places to sit and rest? Are there water fountains and public restrooms?

For more details on measuring a community’s walkability, see:

Fido Influences Home Purchases

If your house or condo is pet-friendly, be certain to play up such features when selling your property, especially if your buyers are millennials.

According to a recent Harris Poll survey done on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage, a home’s dog-friendliness can be an asset in attracting millennial buyers.

A third of millennial Americans (aged 18 to 36) who bought a first home said the desire to have a better space or a yard for a dog influenced their decision to buy a home. And among millennials who have never purchased a home, 42 percent said that their dog or the desire to have a dog would be a key factor in their decision to buy a home in the future.

So fenced yards, nearby dog-friendly beaches and parks, and walkability are all worth promoting.

And if your condo building is among those that have made dog-friendliness a priority by adding things like on-site dog parks, doggy daycare, pet spas, and bathing stations, be sure the real estate practitioner marketing your place is aware of them.

Get Your Retirement House in Order

Start by addressing the money issue, especially if you’re a pre-retiree with angst about your financial future.

If you need some motivation to start saving – and to know that you’re not alone in possibly getting a late start – see a study, “Retirement Readiness: Canadians 50+” (, released earlier this year.

Admittedly, the stats are a bit discouraging.

For example, compared to their standard of living today, 40% of pre-retirees over the age of 50 believe they will be worse off in retirement.

It’s not surprising, given that 22% of pre-retirees in that age group haven’t started to save for retirement and (38%) have no idea of how much money they’ll need to save to help fund their retirement. Some – 18% — are relying on rising real estate values to save the day and will have to postpone retirement if real estate takes a dive.

Running out of money in retirement is a common fear (42% worry about it) and it’s felt more acutely by women (47%) than by men (37%).

If you’re looking for advice and education, Get Smarter About Money ( is a good place to start. The site, founded by the Ontario Securities Commission, provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help you better understand finances and make smart decisions.

 Hacks for Seniors

When you’re scanning the house with an eye to aging in place, you look at the big things like lighting, mobility, bathroom safety, and fall hazards.

But many small things – not being able to function day-to-day – also can send people to assisted living or nursing care.

That’s where hacks come in – those simple, low-tech solutions using common household items — to deal with seemingly minor daily inconveniences and troubles that seniors face.

Here are 6 creative hacks to try:

  1. Sugru ( Slippery doorknobs can be difficult to operate if you have hand and wrist problems. Wrap Sugru (the product feels like Play-Doh and sticks to glass, wood, metal, and plastic and becomes a durable silicone rubber after 24 hours) around a door knob to create more grip.
  2. Rope lights: Place rope lights under cabinets in bathrooms and kitchens to light the way and make it safer to get around at night.
  3. Sponge hair rollers: If you have arthritis, slide sponge hair rollers or cylindrical foam around hard-to-grip items like utensils and toothbrushes.
  4. Frozen sponge: Put a soaked kitchen sponge into a Ziploc bag and then into the freezer. It turns into an icepack that won’t leak as it thaws. It’s also reusable.
  5. Pizza cutter: Use a pizza roller to cut up lettuce for a salad.
  6. String: Use pieces of string or a key ring to create zipper pulls that are easier to reach and operate. ( Sugru works well too.


 Kittens Helping Seniors

And here’s a sweet story ( that involves seniors getting a sense of purpose by caring for needy kittens.

What’s not to love?

Adopting the “Hotel Philosophy” to Stage Your Home

A house isn’t staged to sell the same way it is staged to live:

Staging to live makes the house comfortable, visually appealing and functional for your particular needs, interests, tastes, and lifestyle.

Staging to sell creates an environment that encourages buyers to see the potential of your home to meet their needs and fulfill their desires.

These two types of staging are often in direct opposition to one another, which is why many professional real estate stagers tell their clients that their house will lose 50% of the visible items when staged… especially furniture.

Why? Because space is luxurious. Staging for space will showcase the house – rather than the contents of the dwelling or the personality of its inhabitants. Open space makes a house more attractive to buyers. It tickles their imagination and permits buyers to envision living their lives in this space.

What Does “Space” Mean?

It doesn’t mean a huge house will sell faster than a modest one. It does mean that a house crammed full of someone else’s stuff gets in the way of a potential buyers vision of that space becoming their own.

It also doesn’t mean your house should be empty. This can leave buyers uninspired and frustrated because they can’t “see” how their possessions will look in an empty space and the house can appear to be too much work.

Make Your Home Look Like A Luxury Hotel

If you think of your home as an extended-stay luxury hotel, you will create the perfect “stage” for your home to sell. In a hotel, you carry in a small bag of personal belongings. Everything else you need is there and no unnecessary items are cluttering up the space.

As you stage your home, ask yourself, “Does this room pass the “Hotel Test?” Can a buyer imagine bringing in a few of their personal items and living here comfortably?” If the answer is yes, you have properly staged your home – and improved the odds that it will sell faster and command a better price.

couplebanner_horizontalRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Cleaning Your House For Show and Sell

Even though you may do “deep cleaning” once or twice a year, few people ever clean every area of their home to the extent required to prepare it for sale. Cleaning for show and sell is like spring cleaning on steroids…and then some.

Bedrooms – Clear out bedside stands. Keep a covered basket under the corner of the bed with essentials (glasses, reading materials, etc.) and keep the surfaces clear. Keep fresh linens on the bed. Sweep and mop or vacuum the floors taking special care to clean under the bed, scrub the baseboards and woodwork.

Closets – Remove any unnecessary or out-of-season clothes. The closets should be no more than half full. Leave nothing on the floor. Shelves should be organized and sparsely populated. Group all clothes by color. These steps will make closets look larger.

Kitchen Cabinets – Remove and discard, gift, or pack away all unnecessary appliances, pots, pans, and dishes. Eliminate “Junk Drawers”. Clean cabinets inside and out. Keep the cabinet surfaces completely clear.

Appliances – Make sure all appliances are spotless inside and out, even if they aren’t included in the sale. Clean all coils and change filters. Clean the floor under appliances. The condition of the appliances contributes to the overall impression of maintenance in a home and and those appliances may come in handy later as a bargaining chip.

Work Spaces – If there is a workshop, sewing area, or home-office area, be sure the contents are neat. If you don’t need the area while the home is up for sale, pack it up and stage the space for more flexible uses. If you require a home computer, consider using a laptop that can be tucked away when not in use.

Bathroom Cabinets – Remove and safely discard any unnecessary chemicals and expired medications. Relocate any prescription drugs to a safe or a locked box during showings.

Storage Areas – Keep out only what you will use every day. Donate, sell, or pack away the rest. Make sure the floor is clear and the remaining items are organized.

Windows – Cleaning windows inside and out is particularly important since that will let in more light and help the house to show better. Ditto for window treatments.

Walls and Ceilings – Throughout the home, remove cobwebs, clean light fixtures, wash walls and wipe down doors, ventilation grates, baseboards and any other woodwork or trim.

Pantry – Discard old food items. Organize like-shaped items together (cans with cans/boxes with boxes). Keep the floor clean and clear.

couplebanner_horizontalRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Why (and How) Should I Clear the Clutter?

There are many considerations when you are planning to sell your home and move. The longer you have lived in a house, the more difficult your job will be. Staging will not only help you sell your home faster and for more money, it will also help you to claim your own personal freedom.

Eliminating Clutter is the hardest part of the moving and staging process.But it’s better to do it before than after you move. Many people are held captive by their belongings. They stay in too-big houses, carry too much insurance, clean, tend, and store these items, heat and cool all these “things” they feel compelled to keep. They are prisoners of their stuff.

You can break free! Every single item in your house will need to be evaluated, especially if you are planning to move into a smaller dwelling. Start in a single room. Trying to do all the rooms at once will be overwhelming and may leave you feeling defeated. Start with a little used room, a closet, even a junk drawer and begin!

The trick is never to handle an item more than once during this process. Once you pick it up, evaluate it for one of the following categories, and act accordingly:

  • Trash – it needs to be thrown away. No question. put it in the garbage.
  • Donate/Sell – Designate a spot for these items
  • Rehome – These items would be important to someone else in the family. Relocate them.
  • Essential – These are items that are essential to you on a daily basis. Pack them for the move.

Don’t skip anything merely because it doesn’t take up too much room. Evaluate it all. If you decide to deal with it later you will have to pack it, haul it, store it, and have it hanging over your head until you unpack it and evaluate it. Chances are, you won’t want to keep most of that stuff anyway.

Handling it once and now means you’re free of an obligation to do so later, or to live in a smaller house with walls of boxes awaiting your attention, or pay for storage space to keep these items. Why go through all that when there’s a better way?

couplebanner_horizontalRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For You?

If you are a senior homeowner who is having problems keeping up with medical, household, and day-to-day living expenses, perhaps a reverse mortgage can help by converting your home equity into cash you can use today.

How Can A Reverse Mortgage Help?

  • If you owe little or nothing on your home, you may be able to borrow against a large part of its equity without making monthly payments
  • The older you are, the more equity you can tap. Available funds are determined by the owner’s age, current interest rates, and the homes market value
  • No repayment is due until the owners death, sale of the home, or permanent departure from the property
  • You can draw upon funds as a monthly supplement to income, as a lump sum, or both
  • If your home loses value, you can never owe more than what the home is worth when sold

A Reverse Mortgage Is Not For Everyone

  • Over shorter periods, the upfront expenses of a reverse mortgage are considerably higher than those for most home equity loans. Because of this, reverse mortgages tend to be a better fit for seniors who plan on staying in their homes for the foreseeable future.
  • younger seniors will be able to borrow less. Currently, an 80 year old can borrow up to 72% of their homes value, while a 62 year old can tap just 62%.
  • A reverse mortgage is not a good option for seniors wishing to leave their homes to their children. Terms require sale of the home shortly after the owners death.
  • Surviving spouses whose names are not on the mortgage may be required to pay off the loan upon the owning spouses death. Issues are now being decided in court.

If you want to age in place but feel you can’t afford to, your SRES® can help you learn more about reverse mortgages. An SRES® works with reverse mortgage counselors and lenders to provide clients with financial alternatives to selling their home. Counselors will determine your eligibility and assess the amount available based on the home value, age of the homeowner, and area of the country in which the owner resides.

couplebanner_horizontalRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Multi-Generational Living

Tips For Keeping The Peace and Preserving Privacy

Ground Rules

Set ground rules for financial, cleaning, and maintenance responsibilities. determine who pays for what, who is responsible for maintenance, routine household shopping, and who does which cleaning chores on a regular schedule. (Or, if preferred, hire outside help and split the cost equitably.)

Respectful Communication

Let others know when you are coming and going – not because you need to “report in” but because you don’t have the right to make other members of the household worry. It’s just the mature thing to do.

Employ The “Golden Rule” and treat Others Accordingly

Don’t ask someone else to do something you aren’t willing to do. Don’t judge the eat another person lives. Don’t try to micromanage or tell someone else how to do their job (of parenting, working, or living).

Set Limits

no one should be a “built in” babysitter for children or pets that belong to other housemates.No one should be expected to perform maid duties for everyone else or to cover all the financial expenses. Any “in kind” services offered should be outlined in advance and not taken for granted.

Privacy And Respect

Determine which areas are shared and which are private. Treat private living space similar to another tenant’s apartment. Knock before entering. Keep an “off limits” policy when the private areas are not occupied. Always ask before borrowing anything. Realize that different people have different schedules. Just because you are up at the crack of dawn doesn’t mean everyone should be.

Beyond Physical Space

Don’t subject your housemates to your tastes in music, scents, and friends. If you like to listen to loud music, invest in a good set of headphones. If you like to entertain, be sure your guests respect others’ personal space. If someone likes to burn uber-floral scented candles that others find distasteful, work together to find a scent that won’t permeate other living spaces.


Keep the lines of communication open. Be honest and respectful of each other’s feelings while finding the best solution for any points of contention. Monthly “family council” meetings may be used to discuss how things are going, what is working, and what is not. Express your concerns with love and respect in a timely manner; keeping quiet until you are upset only complicates issues and builds resentment. Seek to solve problems, rather than assigning blame. Remember multi-family housing options work best when every aspect is approached with love, respect, and understanding.

couplebanner_horizontalRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Non-Traditional Retirement Options

Your house is quiet again, but you’re not ready for a quiet retirement? Consider these possibilities for the next stage of life:

Cruising Lifestyle

Some retirees opt for luxury cruise ship living on a semi full-time basis, with unlimited food prepared for them, maid service, entertainment venues, exercise options, access to health care and the ability to see the world. Between sailing stints, they often stay with family or friends, rent a short-term apartment, or a long-term hotel room.

RV Living

Many empty-nesters hit the road in their own little home on wheels. Some sell the “family home” and invest in adventure, spending their golden years exploring and discovering new places one road at a time.

Working Retirement

Many people decide to continue working to supplement their retirement income, make up for a lack of retirement funds, or to keep themselves mentally challenged and physically active. When deciding to engage in a “working” retirement, whether part-time, seasonal, or full-time, evaluate your location for friendliness to older workers and retirees.

Going Global

Many retirees decide to settle down in a foreign land, an especially attractive option if a lower cost of living and medical care is desired. Mexico is the most popular of these less expensive locations, but other Central American countries like Panama and Costa Rica are also attracting interest.

Co-Habitats and Multi-Generational Living

Tiny houses perched in backyards and apartments crafted out of easy-access walk-out basements afford retirees privacy, with the comfort of having family nearby when needed. It’s also increasingly common for co-habitation to happen in groups of older adults who share common areas with food preparation, maid service, and healthcare all on site.

College Towns

Some mature adults prefer to return to their alma mater or another institution of higher learning. In addition to a college town environment, these areas often offer access to great libraries, the arts, swimming and athletic facilities, and sporting events. As an added benefit, many offer free college classes to seniors.

Interest-Based Communities

Today there are as many “interest group” retirement communities as you can imagine. Chances are, if you have a particular interest (from country music to flying planes to skiing the slopes to hanging out with aging free spirits) there’s a specialty retirement community eager to welcome you!

couplebanner_horizontalRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Low-Cost Options for Aging in Place

Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Of course your ability to do this hinges on many factors, including the nature of the challenges you face in your current home. Major home renovations may be required, but there are also numerous inexpensive steps you can take to improve your living situation.

Safety Improvements

  • Flooring: carpeting is preferable to area rugs because it reduces tripping hazards and can cushion falls. But if area rugs are used, make sure they’re secured to the floor.
  • Handrails: on stairways, add a second handrail along the opposite wall for improved stability.
  • Footwear: to prevent falls, non-slip shoes are preferable to slippers of socks.
  • Non-skid safety strips:adhered to the floor of a tub/shower, non-skid strips are preferable to removable in-shower bath mats.
  • Bathroom grab bars: ideally these should be anchored into the wall, but if that’s not possible opt for a safety rail clamped onto the side of the tub.
  • Quality step ladder: purchase a broad-based heavy-duty step ladder with a hand-hold bar across the top to safely reach items stored out of reach.
  • Lighting: whether it’s making a bathtub brighter or installing motion-activated night lights in the hallway, better lighting can help prevent falls and make hobbies, reading, etc. more enjoyable. Lighting improvements might be as simple as changing the bulbs (to higher wattages or to bulbs that mimic daylight instead of “yellow” soft lighting) or adding battery-operated units.

Convenience Factors

  • Hand shower: convert a standard fixed shower head into a hand-held system with flexible hose.
  • Raised toilet seats: no need to buy a new toilet when a removable seat can be added to most standard toilets.
  • Mail catcher: mail delivered via a slot in the door may be easier to retrieve from a mail box, especially if a narrow basket is mounted below the door opening so the recipient doesn’t have to pick up mail off the floor.
  • Knobs: replace round door and/or faucet knobs with lever styles, which are easier to turn. likewise, loop pulls can make drawers easier to open.
  • Eating: specially-designed cups and eating utensils can minimize food spills, including weighted options that help counterbalance shake-prone hands.
  • Cooking utensils: lightweight and ergonomically-designed options are readily available now, many offering non-slip handles and bright, attractive colors.
  • Keep things handy: move often-used items to easy-to-access locations.
  • Eliminate excess “stuff”: having fewer items to store, sort, juggle, and handle can make aging in place an easier and more enjoyable proposition.

Senior Real Estate Specialist Fraser Valley BannerRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®

Why Turn to an SRES®

You’re thinking about selling your home. Maybe you’re retiring, downsizing or a major life event has made you consider a move. A Senior Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) has unique training and experience in helping home buyers and sellers in your situation.

Why ask a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® to assist you?

An SRES® understands that the decision to sell can be difficult.

Selling a home can be an emotional time, potentially involving other life decisions. An SRES® understands the issues facing older adults. By taking a no-pressure approach, they can help you navigate your choices and may be able to suggest alternatives that help you stay in your home.

An SRES® can patiently support you through each step.

Your SRES® will take the time needed to make you feel comfortable with the complex selling process. You specialist understands the demands a sale can make on you, and works hard to minimize them. They will tailor the marketing process to your specific needs, and be there when you need them.

An SRES® will stick with you throughout the entire process.

Your SRES® is interested in looking out for your best interests through all aspects of your transition, not just the sale of your home. They’ve invested time in becoming an SRES® because they enjoy working with clients in your situation and helping others.

An SRES® can draw upon a network of other professionals focused on 50+ clients.

They’ve already identified other helpful experts, including tax counselors, financial advisers, and estate planners who can help you understand the financial consequences of selling your home; interior staging specialists and trade contractors to get your home prepared for showings; estate sale organizers, senior moving specialists and transitional coaches to deal with post-sale issues.

An SRES® also has ties throughout the 50+ community.

They’re familiar with active adult and community service organizations in your area. Your SRES® can provide referrals to as variety of resources at the local, state, and national level, and on the internet. They’re knowledgeable about local senior housing options, and can refer you to another SRES® if you’re planning to move outside the area.

couplebanner_horizontalRosemary Papp is a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist®