Category Archives: Relationships

Achieving Holiday Happiness

family enjoying the Christmas Holiday

How to keep the merry in Christmas.

While the holiday season is a time of celebration, many seniors are not immune to sadness, especially as they face their first holiday without a spouse. It’s important to understand that happiness is a choice that needs to be cultivated; it is not something that just “happens.”

By engaging in the Christian aspect of Christmas, remaining active, volunteering and being around children, we can capture that elusive feeling of joy. And remember, thoughtfulness and love need not come with a hefty price tag.

Joy to the World

According to a Pew Research Center study, faith is an important harbinger to holiday health. More than 75 percent of 55-plus adults believe in the virgin birth of Jesus and are more likely to attend a Christmas Eve church service than those under 55. The Pew study of a representative sample of 2,001 adults explores Americans’ plans for the holiday season and finds that religious connection and gathering with family and friends is what most Americans look forward to about the holidays.

Despite holiday commercialism that seems overwhelming, the real meaning of Christmas offers timeless value, according to Denise DeMarco, a Pittsburgh-based GriefShare facilitator.  She stresses, “Jesus has brought joy to the world and because of this, the void, possibly downsizing, and broken traditions can be faced one by one. The Hope has been born, and heaven is real.” Continue reading


Bridging the Gap Between Millennials and Boomers

Communication between generations

Top Communication Tips for the Generations.

The idiom “it’s like Greek to me” is commonly used to express when someone is having difficulty understanding someone or something. The ability to have communication with one another is the cornerstone of personal relationships. Human beings were meant to be in relationship with one another, and when communicating with one another becomes difficult, it threatens who we are at our very core.

Communication issues, in particular, are quite common among the generations. There are five living generations, each with their own set of values and communication styles.

Traditionalists are those who were born between 1922 and 1945. They tend to respect authority, will place work before having fun and are rule-followers. Baby boomers are those who were born between 1946 and 1964, and are known to be workaholics. They value quality over quantity and are definitely not afraid to question those in authority. Generation X are those born between 1965 and 1980. Gen Xers value direction and structure in their lives and believe in addressing issues immediately. Millennials were born between 1981 and 2000. They are go-getters, love multitasking and are huge fans of collaboration with others. And then there are the Generation Zs – also known as iGens and Centennials – were born after 2001. As their very name suggests, they prefer communicating through technology in a way that previous generations have not. Continue reading


Leaving a Legacy, Instead of Excuses

What is your legacy

How will you be Remembered?

“It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away.”

So begins the pithy obituary Emily Phillips self-penned, which appeared in the Jacksonville Times Union following her death on March 25, 2015. The obituary goes on to capture the life – and humorous personality – of Mrs. Phillips in a way that let even perfect strangers know that she had lived a well and full life.

Phillips isn’t the only one who was interested in making her obituary read like an adventure novel instead of a death knell. Readers of Mary “Pat” Stocks’ obituary may have found themselves giggling more than crying. “She left behind a hell of a lot of stuff to her daughter and sons who have no idea what to do with it,” it reads just two lines in. The obituary also decries the cause of death as the 94-year-old carrying her oxygen tank up a flight of stairs to get to her bedroom the night before.

James Groth made what can only be described as his final sarcastic comments via his self-penned obituary following his death on July 28, 2015. Among the other things he shares about his life, Groth notes that he died knowing that “Monty Python and the Holy Grail was the best movie ever” and that his regrets were few, “but include eating a rotisserie hot dog from a convenience store in the summer of 2002.” Continue reading


Tired of the Same Old, Same Old?

Shake things up to find enjoyment

Ways to Make Life More Exciting Again.

Retirement is something for which many of us spend years dreaming about and longing. We plot and plan what we are going to do with all our free time once we leave the hustle and bustle of the 9-to-5-life behind.

Then it arrives – and we find ourselves mired in the same old routine all over again. Retirement becomes boring and predictable. Sure, there may be moments of extreme exhilaration. Maybe you have finally planned that trip to Europe; or maybe you signed up for that painting class you’ve always wanted to take.

But what happens during the moments when you’re not taking a big trip, or engaging in a new hobby? Most of us cannot afford to live in the lap of luxury for the entire length of our retirement, regardless of how well we plan. Instead of thinking about the big events, take time to think outside the box, and plan for ways to make every day new and different to maximize your retirement enjoyment. Continue reading


Don’t Ruin Relationships With Great Expectations

Mother frustrated with expectations of children

Learning to Manage Your Own Needs in the Senior Years.

We’ve all heard some variation of the idea that you can never be truly disappointed if you don’t expect more than you deserve.

As we get older, that saying can take on an entirely new meaning.

Nearly 90 percent of seniors and boomers who participated in an AARP survey indicated they wanted to “age in place,” remaining in their own homes versus downsizing and moving to a retirement community or other housing designed specifically for seniors. When seniors insist on this particular scenario, it can become easy to expect others to help us manage our day-to-day lives in order to make it happen.

Even seniors who have made the decision to downsize and are enjoying their retirement to the fullest still can have some unhealthy expectations where their friends and family members are concerned that can put a damper on those relationships.

Let’s talk about some of the most common expectations and how to not fall into the trap of becoming one of those seniors who demands more than they deserve. Continue reading


Don’t Let Adult Children Derail Your Retirement

Adult children asking for money

5 Steps to Stop Enabling Financial Dependence.

The statistics are alarming: according to a Pew Research Center report, nearly 60 percent of seniors have provided financial assistance to their adult children in the last year. The same report indicates that 27 percent of seniors are the sole financial support system for an adult child.

While occasionally helping out an adult child financially who has fallen on hard times is normal and even acceptable, there is a fine line between that kind of true emergency situation and one where an adult child has become entirely dependent on their parents.

When it gets to the point that adult children have become a financial burden, it’s time for seniors to realize that if they continue to try to fix the financial problems of their adult children, they will eventually go broke themselves, possibly threatening their ability to retire.

If you are among the 27 percent of seniors who are continually supporting an adult child or children, read on for five steps to follow to help break the cycle of financial dependence. Continue reading


Want to Unleash Ultimate Happiness and Fulfillment?

Three seniors showing their happiness

Concentrate on These Six Areas.

British Clergyman Charles Spurgeon once said that “it is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

Some people spend a lot of time and effort seeking out happiness – a habit that sticks with them well into their senior years. Others follow the philosophy expounded by Rev. Spurgeon and find enjoyment in everything they do.

Regardless of which kind of person you are, it’s a good idea to take stock of six key areas of your life to help unleash ultimate happiness and fulfillment as you head into your senior years.

Area #1 – Social Status

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Aging, research suggests a positive correlation between social interaction and overall health of seniors. Numerous studies have found that seniors with lower levels of interleukin-6 – an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis – can be found in seniors who are socially active. Continue reading


One Wedding and A Funeral

Different emotions - downsizing revelation

An Eye-Opening Revelation on Downsizing.

Since 2011, Upside of Downsizing has been helping boomers and seniors gain freedom by downsizing. We have provided helpful ideas and insight about how to make the transition to a healthier and more manageable living environment both smooth and successful.

We impress upon the guests at our conferences the importance of taking the right steps from start to finish and receiving the necessary assistance from reputable professionals to successfully walk them through the process.  Those who have attended our conferences know that Jerry and I also have been through the downsizing process since we started the Upside of Downsizing.

Although we’ve been through the process ourselves, it wasn’t until a recent cross-country trip – perpetuated by the desire to attend a family wedding and ending with a change in plans and return route to attend a family funeral in Colorado – that we experienced an extreme version of the downsizing process. The experience was a real eye-opener for both of us in more ways than one. Continue reading


The Challenges and Joys of Raising Grandchildren

Grandparents with grandchildren

Parenting Your Way Through the Golden Years.

As we near retirement age, there are many things to which we look forward – leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the 9-to-5 working world, having more time to engage in our favorite hobbies or traveling to all of the places we’ve longed to see during our lifetime.

Many seniors and boomers also look forward to spending more time with their families, including grandchildren. However, more than 2.5 million grandparents are finding themselves in an entirely new role when it comes to their grandchildren. When our adult children are unable or unwilling to raise their own children, the obligation often falls on the grandparents to step into the caregiver role.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, adult relatives of children who are no longer in the care of their birth parents are given preference when determining the placement of the children. Child welfare agencies are required to investigate whether an adult relative meets all relevant state child protection standards before recommending a child instead be placed with a foster family. Generally, preference is given to grandparents first, followed by aunts, uncles, adult siblings, and cousins. Continue reading


Building Bridges Between the Generations

Grandparents enjoying relationships with grandchildren

How to Enjoy Relationships in Multi-Generational Families.

Seniors and boomers have many goals for how to spend their retirement, especially once they’ve shed the immense responsibility that comes with owning a home through the downsizing process.

Spending time alone with personal interests, volunteering and giving back to the community and pursuing a new (or old) hobby are among the top ways retirees said they hoped to spend their new leisure time.

According to the TIAA Voices of Experience 2016 survey, 80 percent of women and 67 percent of men listed connecting with and spending time with family as a top priority for their retirement years. It’s hardly a surprise that, in retirement, seniors and boomers would like to reconnect with their loved ones in this way. During our professional careers, we often are preoccupied with our jobs. It can be easy to neglect family and other important relationships when we make our jobs the top priority in our lives. Continue reading


Wear Out Your Smiles, Not Your Welcome

senior man chatting with houseguest

How to be a Good Houseguest, not a Nuisance.

One of the biggest benefits to downsizing in your senior years is that you will have more time for the fun things in life. This includes finding more time to travel to places you’ve always wanted to see, or visiting friends and family members you haven’t seen for years.

While some people prefer to stay in hotels or other public accommodations while traveling, there are times when it is appropriate to stay with friends or relatives. Some friends and family members may even be offended if they extend an invitation to stay with them and you do not accept. Sure, it can be awkward to stay in someone else’s home – even someone you know well – but there are things you can do to be a good houseguest and not a nuisance. Follow these simple rules and guidelines, and the only thing you will wear out during your visit is your smile, not your welcome! Continue reading


Adult Children Play Key Role in Downsizing Process

woman talking with aging parent

How to Help An Aging Parent Make the Decision to Downsize

Chances are, we all know an aging friend or relative who currently is living in their own home who probably would benefit from making the decision to move to a senior living community or other assisted living environment.

Identifying someone in this situation, and convincing them that they need to make a change, are two very different things. Oftentimes, adult children of aging boomers and seniors are placed in this situation and have a difficult time figuring out how to have this conversation with their parents. Continue reading


Take Time to Preserve the Holidays

preserving family memory

Holidays are among the most celebrated family moments of the year, providing an opportunity for loved ones who may not see each other frequently to spend time together.

As we age, every day – especially the holidays – become even more precious to us. We want to hold onto the good memories and moments as long as possible. The holidays are the perfect time to preserve precious moments with loved ones in a variety of ways. Continue reading