“Help, I’m Lost!”

You have come to the inevitable crossroads of making difficult decisions about assisted living or long-term care for your loved one, and the emotional pressure and exhaustion are enormous.  The pressure rests on you to find the best resources to help and carry out a smooth transition.  You are also tending to a myriad of daily needs, like phone calls, medicine, doctor’s appointments, dealing with family members, and much more.  No wonder you have a tendency to lose yourself, or at least, feel lost.  You may even feel at the brink of snapping emotionally.

Even if your loved one refuses to go along with the best possible choices you make, you have to make the best choice for them and then live with that choice.  Often, guilt accompanies your decisions, no matter how much effort and love you put in to the process.  Then, family members will have differing opinions, which further adds to the stress, confusion, and frustration.

If your loved one has died, leaving you to handle their estate, you enter what many of my clients call “Prozac time.”  Though they say that with a bit of humor, their body language confirms the truth they feel.  They walk into the family home for the first time and their brain betrays them with a whirlwind of thoughts.

  • Where do I begin?  There’s so much stuff!
  • What was she thinking by keeping all this stuff?
  • What do we do with it all?
  • Is there anything of real value here?
  • Will we argue over it all?
  • Should we sell, donate, keep?
  • What if I just move it to storage and deal with it later?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are answers to all these questions and solutions for you by hiring the right professionals in the estate industry.  Make sure all the professionals you think about hiring have appropriate experience, credentials, and training to give the best possible assistance to your family.  These professionals are valuable resources who can relieve so much concern and solve so many problems.

Exercise caution if you find someone who “dabbles” in estate sales or any other occupation.  They may appear “more cost-effective” but in the end, you will pay a heavy price.

Dabbling is dangerous!  You need a PRO!

Get the best professionals and the process will flow smoothly.  You may be tempted to “do it yourself” but these experts can solve more issues effectively because they have the resources and experience that you don’t have.  Be sure to ask questions, and seek out the few professionals that you trust.  The really good ones are worth their weight in gold!

Take comfort in the fact that this is a season of your life which will get better.  Keep your sights on the positive end result.  Be sure to ask for help from close friends, trusted siblings, and counselors to keep you emotionally on track and healthy.  Don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

To locate an estate sales professional in your area, go to www.ASELonline.com and click on the top tab “For Consumers.”  You’ll find a searchable database of professionals, and many other resources to help you.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Advertisements

5 Promises to Yourself This Summer

These days, it appears increasingly difficult to stay on the level emotionally.  So much comes at us that it’s depressing to turn on the TV.  To combat this heaviness that many feel, I have 5 suggestions to make us feel more buoyant this summer.  Please share them with your family and friends, since we all need to support one another.

Promise finger

  1. Let It Go!  Let go of anything that weighs you down.  Surplus material possessions and stuff that no longer has meaning, people and relationships that are toxic, clean out that closet and give to those in need, etc.  Just let go!  You will immediately feel lighter, and more open space will provide an uplift in your spirit.
  2. If something you tried last year didn’t work out, keep trying different ways until it does work.  As the old saying goes, “there is more than one way to skin a cat.”  Try again in different ways; ask close friends or colleagues what they would do.  Valued opinions and objective third parties may very well be the sounding board you need or provide you with the brilliant idea that works.
  3. Broaden your horizons.  No more excuses!  Take that pottery class, dance class, go to that place you’ve always wanted to see, train for a marathon, volunteer, lose weight, etc.  Just do it!  Spend some time on YOU.
  4. Practice appreciation.  Open your eyes and look for the simple pleasures in your life.  Put forth a little effort to see the good in the world.  Sometimes you need to go for a walk and admire the birds, look at the sky, and take some deep breaths.  A survey of centenarians (over 100 years old) shows they attribute their longevity to simple pleasures like walking barefoot, watering their garden, swimming, etc.
  5. Train your brain to think positively.  Yes, there is a lot wrong with the world today, but there is still much good in it.  Go forth, do good things, be a good person, and try to make a difference for others.  The rewards are far greater than you know!  It comes back to you, and it will give you a strong sense of purpose.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on June 30, 2015 at 11:11 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Who will Care for the Caregiver?

I find it hard to believe there is actually a word in the English language that could possibly describe what caregivers go through.  There can’t be.  What is experienced during the caregiving process is often a deep, emotional shift accompanied by confusion, frustration, even resentment for many.  Somewhere along the line, one loses oneself and their individuality blurs with the needs of the loved one.

Most are caregivers out of love and affection, and others caregive because it is not financially feasible to pay for professional care.  Perhaps a child has a strong desire to care for mom and dad, or possibly a sense of obligation.  They will caregive for as long as they can, only to surrender when they reach a point when they can no longer offer the quality of care the loved one really needs.  It make no difference what the scenario is — all have experienced the same emotional labor.

Who then will care for you, the caregiver?  Ultimately the answer is you.  We’ve all heard the saying: “You have to remain strong for those you care for, so please take care of yourself.”  But are caregivers really taking the time to replenish their bodies, minds, and souls?  If I were a betting lady, I would say no.

As a dutiful daughter myself, I would, without thought, put my parents first at every turn, and would eventually become weak in body, mind and soul.  Lost somewhere between raising children and tending to fragile parents, there is a place called limbo, and we must prevent ourselves from going there by anchoring to a solid, stable place.

What I have learned along the way from my clients is that it is 100% necessary to tend to yourself.  This brings with it the image of being on an airplane; the flight attendant talks about placing the oxygen over your mouth before assisting others.  You do this because without you, others might perish.  The strong one must get stronger (have oxygen) before helping those who aren’t strong.  Place the mask over your face and “breathe.”  The same is true when your feet are on the ground and you are a caregiver.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on June 24, 2015 at 11:45 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Stretched to the Limit

KNOW THE FEELING?

It’s not difficult to look around and see that many of us are surviving by the skin of our teeth.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Life is much more challenging in many aspects than it used to be, yet somehow we all seem to think it’s easier with our electronic gadgets close in-hand.

With the onset of technology, such as smart homes, smart electronics, iPhones, latest and greatest cars, etc., shouldn’t our lives be easier?  The cars are getting to the point of not even needing a driver (sooner than you think), our appliances do all the work for us, and our social media makes the world a much smaller place.  So why aren’t we more rested?

These things enable us to do more in a given day, but our days are just getting busier, not easier.  Because gadgets break and malfunction, dishes still need to be put in cabinets when clean, and human interaction and input is required at every turn, it’s no wonder we are exhausted, distracted, and as a result, sometimes unproductive.  But, we still beat ourselves up because we aren’t accomplishing enough!  That’s a tiring cycle too!

I have my theories that many of us have become “attached” in some way to the craziness.  My own teenage daughter nearly floored me the other day by simply announcing,

“I wish I grew up in your day, mom, when things were simpler.  Technology has made life much harder.  We don’t even have books anymore; most of my “books” are online.  I don’t like that.”

Imagine that coming from a young adult!  I explained that every generation meets with it’s own challenges and difficulties.  We had trouble back in the day, as well, but not like today where we are all traveling at warp speed, breaking our necks to get things done in a tizzy, and often the quality lacks because we aren’t taking our time to perfect anything.  What a shame!

Maybe I am slowing down a little because I am aging a bit.

Maybe I am slowing down to recharge my batteries.

It has become painfully clear to me, and even in watching some of my family, friends, and clients, that we are all carrying heavy bags, uphill, every day.  It seems most of the actions and decisions we make are often driven by money, because money is important in this life; we have to make money to pay bills, our debts, etc.

But at the end of the day, or when we are in the car driving, do we really have to check our texts, as though the world would stop if we didn’t respond?  Can we just enjoy some music or our own thoughts for a little while?  Unplugging for a little time each day may be a very good thing.

We deserve a rest.

It took me awhile, but I have made a decision that was not easy to come by; I’m not checking the phone past 5:00 pm. unless it is urgent.  I will continue to help as many as I can during the day, while in the office, from the office phone and email, out in the field, etc., which I am always happy to do.  But my spirit ( and I am betting, yours) is in need of a bit of renewal and restoration.

No one will give me a break, but me

I guess I better start with the lady in the mirror.

How about you?

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 10:25 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , ,

The Haunting and the Healing

Humans can be haunted in many ways: their own fears, an unforgettable bad memory, or a visit from a ghost of the past.  Sometimes a wound is so deep, it has trouble healing because we keep things buried.  The hard part of being haunted is we may not know how to heal it.

I am haunted by a particular memory of my beloved father; I was very close to him.  Dad had dementia, and even through this experience, we remained close.  For all people and caregivers who deal with this beast called dementia, there is no instruction manual, no safe harbor that will provide concise answers and direction to make skilled, knowledgeable decisions.  All you can do is your best.

Dad got along just fine for a long time, until one day, he didn’t.  It all happened so fast.  The day before, we laughed, we ate, we talked and walked and shopped.  It was a good day.  By that midnight, the nurses started calling me.  Dad had declined rapidly — within hours.  A new drug the doctor kept recommending was given to him.  The doctor said it was time for him to take it, now that this decline was happening.  I was worried about all the drugs he was already taking.  Little did I know, this drug would claim his life a few short days later.  I did not know he had a sensitivity to it and feel responsible for what happened.  This is the haunting that I had been carrying.

Last night, I had the most vivid dream.  So vivid, I could see every detail as if I was wide awake and it was really happening.  I was standing inside a fishing boat on a very large, beautiful lake.  Fishing pole in hand, I cast my line and suddenly found myself tangled up in the line.  It looped around my shoulders, arms, neck, hands, and face.  The more I struggled to get free, the more entangled I became.  The line consumed me to the point I could barely move and panic set in.  It was as if I had been wrapped like a mummy with fish line.

Suddenly, my dad appeared right next to me in the boat.  He was wearing his favorite, old, beige windbreaker, blue and white plaid shirt (complete with mechanical pencils and sunglasses case in his pocket), navy ball cap, glasses, and baggy jeans.  He was holding a pair of wire clippers and he gently and slowly raised his hands, as if to tell me to calm down as he started clipping the fish line.

With a few snips, I was free.

Dad gathered the tangled fish line in his hands and threw it behind him, then turned and looked at me.  He said, “Jul, you don’t need that anymore.  Let it go.”  Just like that, he disappeared.

Wow, what a powerful message!  Dad was telling me to let my “haunting” go about the medication and what led to his demise.  He was telling me not to carry it anymore.

Was this apparition really dad who came to comfort me, God himself healing me, or a figment of my imagination?  I prefer to consider one of the first two.  Whomever it was, the experience left me with a great weight lifted.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on October 29, 2014 at 9:55 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , ,

The Reflection

Everyone needs to renew and restore their spirit every now and again, especially in such a hurried society.  Some people go away to the country or the beach where they find solitude and solace as a remedy for feeling overwhelmed and worn out.  It is a good thing to do so.  But do we really journey inside ourselves and heal what’s in there?  I’m willing to stick my neck out and say I don’t necessarily think so.

Today I exited my home and approached my car in the driveway.  On top of the driver’s side mirror was a kooky little bird behaving in the strangest manner.  It was completely enamored with its reflection in the mirror.  Its little feet danced and it bobbed its head like crazy, joyous that it found an amiable friend … one that looks just like it!  It was so preoccupied with its reflection that it was not deterred by my presence only 3 feet away.  The next thing you know, the little bird side-stepped along the rim of the driver’s side mirror until he was completely upside down, flapping its wings and having a wonderful time looking at its new friend.

Don’t you wish we could greet ourselves each day in the mirror just like this?

bird-looking-in-rear-view-mirror

Everything is relative.  The little bird does not have the advanced intellect to realize it was him in the reflection, yet he was a free spirit having the time of its life.  When we, the highest created intellect on earth, look in the mirror, we don’t see who we really are or even like the reflection we see.  We are too self-critical.  So many of us really don’t want to go there, but we need to, in order to restore ourselves and make peace with the person inside.

I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately.  The fat fairy keeps visiting me (the wench!), and middle age has settled in, not to mention all that comes with that fact.  When I saw that little bird who was so happy to see itself, I thought, “Why can’t we all be more like that?”

Nature has always been amazing to observe.  It teaches us lessons if we pay attention.  Because of that looney little bird, I will look at myself with more enthusiasm from now on.  How could you not smile when you witness something like that … a tiny creature with a Herculean spirit.  An important lesson for us all.

©2013 The Estate Lady®

Published in: on April 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,

What I Learned From An Old Cat

It seems we are all in relentless pursuit of happiness.  Maybe we have trouble finding it because we are so busy in the actual pursuit of it.  If you’ve ever watched a kitten chase its tail or a hamster on a wheel, that’s pretty much how I view society in general.  We are always racing to get somewhere, but if we are smart, we will learn to step off the track and breathe for a while before getting back on.  We need respite and renewal first.  Our old cat, Tommy, was the teacher for this one.

This past weekend, my family gathered around to watch a movie together.  Halfway through the movie, I looked over at my elderly father who was fast asleep, and most surprisingly, the cat crashed next to him.  Then the cat got up, stretched, and moved over to my daughter.

A true lap cat, Tommy is getting old, arthritic in his hips, getting thinner, and certainly not the fierce mouse hunter he once was.  He used to stalk his territory and control the mole population.  He used to leap in the air at falling leaves in autumn, and attack your leg as you were walking by.  Incredibly vocal, he will tell you exactly what he needs when he needs it.  But now, you could see youth was leaving him, yet he looked more contented than ever.

Here’s what went through my mind as I witnessed his contentment:

  1. Life is too short not to take cat naps.
  2. Happiness is found in simple things, like getting your back scratched.
  3. No worries if the work doesn’t get done this second.  It will get done eventually.
  4. Kick back and dream about catching a big mouse.
  5. He’s earned his rest.
  6. He loves and trusts unconditionally.

I know our furry friends do not have the worries that we humans have, but if we go through life aware of what’s around us, we can learn a lot from nature’s intelligence!

© 2012 Julie Hall

Published in: on June 11, 2012 at 10:50 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

We Have a Choice When We Come to a Crossroads

There’s nothing easy about letting go.  Or feeling like we have no control.  Or even having to face the truth about ourselves or a particular situation.  So many questions unanswered … and so many more that come flooding in.  It leaves our heads spinning.

It seems these days, we all have a burden of some sort to carry.  I have witnessed this through the families I work with, and even in my own personal life with an elderly parent who is ill.  I often feel a bit stuck when I arrive at that “crossroad” and I am sure many of you feel the same way.  Whatever the situation, we have choices we have to make and not always under optimal conditions.  But we CAN do it, and do it well, even under the most stressful of times.  We have to do it, because failure is NOT an option.  We’ve come too far to let that happen.

It took me almost 50 years to realize there are many things we have no control over.  What other people do to themselves or impose on us, illnesses that defy explanation, why bad things happen to good people, etc.  And sometimes the answers just don’t come when we want them to arrive.

Mom used to call me “superwoman” and that was an appropriate title at the time.  But somewhere along the line, I ran out of gas.  Sound familiar?  Much as I hate to admit it, I simply got tired, and I allowed life to wear me out … for awhile.  Now I see too many people count on us, from our spouses to our kids, even our pets look to us!

The bottom line is that WE should be counting on our “selves.”  We possess the inner strength to confidently choose a direction.

Standing at the edge of a precipice, someone from behind pushed me and I fell.  I had two choices.  Continue to fall or learn to fly.  I flew well.

Won’t you join me?

© 2012 Julie Hall

Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 11:01 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , ,

Bring “Oxygen” to Your Own Life

There never seems to be enough hours in the day.  If you are a caregiver, you know this better than anyone, for your schedule is not your own.  Yet, I have heard many of my elderly clients say, “You must make the time because it is important to your well-being.”  Here are some suggestions I have learned along the way that might bring some “oxygen” to your life, so you can breathe again.

  • You’re all you’ve got!  Make dates with your spouse and children to keep your sanity in check, and the bonds of relationships fresh.  This is imperative, so make yourself a promise to do this.
  • Rest and replenish, even if you have to steal private moments in the backyard, in prayer or meditation, or just sitting.
  • If you are experiencing guilt, anger, jealousy, resentment, etc., seek the assistance of close friends, a counselor, your minister or rabbi.  Realize that most of what you are feeling is perfectly normal.  Know when to seek professional help, if you become depressed, anxious, or experience feelings that are not normal.
  • Combat depression by finding time to engage in an activity that brings you pleasure — a walk with your children or grandchildren, writing in your journal, getting out to shop for 2 or 3 hours.  Respite care is available in many communities, just so you can rest from caregiving.
  • Pay attention to these things: sleeping, nutrition, exercise.  Eat as well as you can; snack on fruits (natural pick-me-up) and granola bars, plus plenty of water.  The brain is less tired when hydrated and your organs love it too.  Sleep is one of the first things we miss in stressful situations.  Instead of relying on sleep aids, try listening to soothing music, curling up with a good book, and cutting down on caffeine.
  • If your loved one is napping, pop a yoga DVD into the TV and do some stretching; very invigorating.  Better yet, if you can get away for an hour, go get a massage.
  • Listen to music during the day, preferably easy listening, classical, or other calming music.
  • Spiritual self-care: make time for reflection and spend time with nature.  Stay connected to your faith-based organization, or consider joining one.  Be open to inspiration that will come from others.  Surround yourself with kind and loving people.

© 2012 Julie Hall

Published in: on March 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Caregivers, Care for Yourself First

I find it hard to believe there is actually a word in the English language that could possibly describe what caregivers go through.  There can’t be.  What is experienced during the caregiving process is often a deep, emotional shift accompanied by confusion, frustration, even resentment for many.  Somewhere along the line, one loses oneself and their individuality blurs with the needs of the loved one.

Most are caregivers out of love and affection, and others caregive because it is not financially feasible to pay for professional care.  Perhaps a child has a strong desire to care for mom and dad, or possibly a sense of obligation.  They will caregive for as long as they can, only to surrender when they reach a point when they can no longer offer the quality of care the loved one really needs.  It make no difference what the scenario is — all have experienced the same emotional labor.

Who then will care for you, the caregiver?  Ultimately the answer is you.  We’ve all heard the saying: “You have to remain strong for those you care for, so please take care of yourself.”  But are caregivers really taking the time to replenish their bodies, minds, and souls?  If I were a betting lady, I would say no.

As a dutiful daughter myself, I would put my dad first at every turn, and would eventually become weak in body, mind and soul.  Lost somewhere between raising children and tending to fragile parents, there is a place called limbo, and we must prevent ourselves from going there by anchoring to a solid, stable place.

What I have learned along the way from my clients is that it is 100% necessary to tend to yourself.  This brings with it the image of being on an airplane; the flight attendant talks about placing the oxygen over your moutn before assisting others.  You do this because without you, others might perish.  The strong one must get stronger (have oxygen) before helping those who aren’t strong.  Place the mask over your face and “breathe.”  The same is true when your feet are on the ground, and you are a caregiver.

Next week, I have some specific suggestions to offer for the caregiver to administer “oxygen” to themselves first.

© 2012 Julie Hall

Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,