Products & Services That Make Home Life Easier for Your Aging Parents

If your parents continue to live at home as they grow older, they will need more care and input from you. Luckily, there are a lot of great products and services that can make all of your lives easier and help keep your parents in good health. Here are a few ideas:

1. Pill Organizers

Older adults often take several medications to manage conditions like arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It can be hard to juggle different pill schedules. Plus, older adults sometimes forget whether they have taken a certain medication, leading to missed doses and double doses. Pill organizers can help minimize these challenges.

You can put all of your parents’ pills in a pill organizer at the beginning of the week. They will then know exactly what pills to take, and when. They won’t have to struggle with hard-to-open pill bottles, either.

Some local pharmacies take one step further and offer personalized medication packaging systems that organizes a patient’s daily non-liquid medications in sealed pill cups. The medications are color-coded and separated by the time of day for administration. Each cup is labeled with the patient’s name, the type and dose of the medication, and the precise date and time to take the medication. These personalized medication packaging systems help to ensure patient safety and medication adherence.

2. Grip Aids, Grabbers and Reachers

If your parents have arthritis in their hands or wrists, they may struggle to grip items in daily tasks as simple as grooming. Grip aids can help them hold on to small items like nail files, makeup brushes, and Q-tips.

Reacher tools can also help your parents reach items on taller shelves. By using a reacher tool, they can avoid having to stand on a stool, which may be unsafe if their balance isn’t the best anymore.

If your parents have limited arm or shoulder mobility, you can buy brushes and combs with long handles to help them style and brush their hair.

Some local pharmacies offer these items in their home health care supplies section, where they also sell things like walkers, raised toilet seats, shower seats, bath lifts, grab bars and walking canes that elderly people will also find helpful.

3. Home Care Services

Even if you are your parents’ primary caregiver, hiring a home care service to help out with a few basic tasks can be very freeing. A home caregiver can run errands, do some cleaning for your parents, prepare quick meals, and also serve as a companion for older adults who don’t get out as much as they used to.

4. Laundry Service

Older adults sometimes struggle to keep up with laundry. Loading it all into the washing machine, then into the dryer, and then folding it can be quite laborious. Hiring a laundry service to do your parent’s wash will simplify their lives and ensure they always have clean clothing and linens on-hand. Look for a local laundry service that offers pick-up and drop-off options.

If your aging parents still live at home, make sure they have the products and services they need to live comfortably and safely. Just a few simple products or services that assist them in their daily routine can help to improve their quality of life.

Sometimes You Really Should Use a Dry Cleaner

For the most part, you can generally do laundry at home if you have a washer and dryer. It’s convenient, and it’s not that difficult. However, there are times when using a dry cleaning service really is the better choice, even if you have access to laundry facilities. Take a look:

1. You Have Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are creepy, crawly, and incredibly tough to get rid of. If you find them in your home, you should have a professional pest control service come treat the space. However, the task of treating your clothing and bedding is usually your responsibility. Having your clothing, linens, sheets, throws, comforters, and even drapes dry cleaned is the best way to ensure you rid these items of bed bugs.

Dry cleaning machines reach high temperatures of up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs cannot survive these temperatures. When treating a home for bed bugs, you need to be thorough. You need to remove them from all your garments and household items. Professional dry cleaners are trained to remove bed bugs and they will do the job without damaging your clothing or bedding. Your clothes and linens will come back clean and fresh as always.

Don’t forget to send your bug-infested dry cleaning in a separate laundry bag and labeled them as such so that the dry cleaner, too, will take care to separate the infested garments from those of other customers.

2. When Someone Has Been Sick

When someone in your home has been sick, it’s a good idea to send your linens out to be cleaned by a professional dry cleaner that offers germ-free laundry service. Having bedding thoroughly cleaned after an illness can help prevent the illness from spreading to other family members.

Green dry cleaners will use environmentally-friendly soaps to remove germs from your sick linens and clothes. You should bag the linens up separately to reduce the risk for cross-contamination and label the bag for germ-free laundry.

3. You Find a Stain on a Precious Garment

There are various ways that you can try to treat clothing stains at home. But if you find a stain on a precious garment, such as an expensive suit coat, a fine lace dress or a memorable garment like a christening gown, don’t try to clean it yourself! Send that item to a reputable dry cleaner that provides fine dry cleaning services. Professional dry cleaners have stain-removing treatments for different kinds of stains and different kinds of material. They won’t damage your special garment in the process of stain removal. They will inspect your garment to ensure every stain is removed, hand finish it and restore the fabric to enhance the life of your garment.

Even people with their own washers and dryers can benefit from using dry cleaning services sometimes. If you find yourself in any of the situations above, don’t hesitate to visit a laundry service near you.

Be Prepared for Your Summer Camping Trip

Summer is a prime season for camping. The weather is warm, birds are singing, trees are green, and there is so much fun to be had outdoors. Of course, if you want to have a safe and enjoyable camping trip, you do need to be prepared. Here are some key tips to help you get ready for your upcoming adventure.

Campground
Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

1. Check campground amenities before you leave.

Every campground is different. So, before you leave, you want to check what amenities the campground offers so that you can pack and plan accordingly.

Are there picnic tables? If not, you may want to pack your own portable, collapsible table. Does the campground have electric hook-ups, or will you need to bring a propane generator? Also check to see what recreational options are available. If there are basketball courts, you may want to pack a ball to play with. If there’s a pool, bring your bathing suit. If you are bringing kids, find out if they have swings, slides, climbers or other playground equipment.

2. Bring propane and other cooking gear.

Yes, you can always cook over the camp fire. However, campfire cooking can be a bit challenging, so you may not want to rely on it every night. If you also pack a propane gas tank and a gas grill, then you can grill food some nights.

Make sure you also pack other cooking essentials like tongs, basic seasonings, and oil. If you have a high-quality cooler, it should be able to keep food cold for two or three days, as long as you pack it well with ice.

3. Pack a first aid and toiletries kit.

You’ll want to plan a visit to your local pharmacy before you leave for your camping trip. Make sure you have a full first aid kit, stocked with band aids, antibiotic cream, gauze, iodine, and other essentials. You’ll also need some bug spray and sunscreen to keep your skin safe and protected.

4. Make laundry plans for your return.

Camping creates a lot of laundry. So, you may want to schedule a laundry pick-up service to stop by the day after you return. Items like tents and fly covers may need to go to your nearest dry cleaner. Check their tags for cleaning instructions.

Camping is a perfect way to get outside and enjoy the summer with friends and family members. With a good first aid kit, cooking equipment, laundry plans, and other essentials, you can relax and stay safe.

Three Simple, Eco-Friendly Changes You Can Make at Home

 Humans depend on the earth for food, safety, and oxygen. It only makes sense that we would want to take better care of this planet. Eco-friendly living starts at home, and it does not have to be that difficult, either. Here are three simple, eco-friendly changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint and make a positive impact.

1. Change laundry products and habits.

Making a few changes to your laundry routine can reduce the amount of pollution your household releases. If you don’t already use a natural, eco-friendly laundry detergent, it’s time to make the switch. Also make sure your fabric softener is eco-friendly. You may even want to try reusable, laundry-softening balls rather than a liquid product.

If you have clothing that needs to be dry cleaned, go to an eco-friendly dry cleaner. Look for a business that recycles hangers and uses reusable laundry bags rather than plastic ones.

2. Grill with propane.

Sure, grilling over charcoal makes for a tasty meal, but burning charcoal also releases a lot of pollutants into the atmosphere. If you want to live in a more eco-friendly way, switch to propane. You can buy reusable propane tanks and propane delivery from your local gas supplier. Propane emits 50% less carbon dioxide than charcoal when burned, and carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Propane grills also make it easier to control your temperature. They heat up faster than charcoal grills, too!

3. Purchase eco-friendly personal care products.

It’s time to visit your nearby pharmacy and give your personal products an overhaul. Look for eco-friendly alternatives to your current toothpaste, shampoo, soap, makeup, and other cosmetic items.

Eco-friendly cosmetic and personal products are usually sold in recyclable packaging. They also tend to be free of polluting compounds like sodium laurel sulfate. If you can find products labeled as “vegan” and “cruelty-free,” that’s even better. These products are better for the animals, who are certainly part of this great planet. Eco-friendly and vegan products may be better for your own health, too.

If you want to preserve the planet and live a greener life, then it’s time to start making changes. You don’t have to overhaul your entire life. For now, focus on improving your laundry habits, purchasing more earth-friendly cosmetics and personal items, and grilling on propane rather than charcoal. The planet will thank you.

My Favorite Playgrounds in Natick, Massachusetts

If you are new to Natick or nearby areas, and wondering where the best playgrounds are to take your kids, there are a lot of obvious but also hidden gems when it comes to fun play areas or maybe even playgrounds that would be fantastic for holding birthday parties. Chances are you are also looking to meet new folks and striking up a conversation with a fellow parent can be a low-pressure interaction at a playground when you know everyone’s just there to hang out and have fun.

John J. Lane Playground, Natick, MA
John J. Lane Playground. Source: natickma.gov

My kids love the play structures at Loker Park situated at the corner of Walnut and Bacon Streets. The main play structure has a very prominent rainbow color tunnel slide coming off of it which is how Loker Park became known in our house as the Tunnel Playground! There are also climbing walls that go up to the main play structure that has a little bridge and another cute tunnel tube for younger kids to hide in. This playground also has a basketball court off to the side for older kids and a fabulous hill that gradually slopes down to a large field. In the summer when the grass is thick and soft, my kids will often roll down the slope. It’s great fun and if they happen to be wearing lighter color clothes and get grass stains on them, it’s nothing that a trip to the dry cleaner can’t fix! The summer months are so short, I’ll often indulge them a bit.

Another playground we love is the Hannah Williams Playground! We love this playground for its convenience to Starbucks, Einstein Bros Bagels and a few other eateries right near the intersection. You could easily pick up some lunch and then head to the gazebo within the park to eat in the shade. The kids can roam around the playground after lunch. One of the neat things about this playground is that you’ll often see old ridables and dump trucks that families have donated for reuse. It’s a great way to reduce plastic waste and the kids love them!

The John J. Lane playground is in our top 3 for a reason! It has a wide variety of spaces for all kinds of activities. What you’ll see when you first walk into the park is the huge boulder and spider web-like climbing structures. Then off to the right, you’ll see the slides and swing set. From here the paved circular walkway leads off and is great for little kids to ride their bikes or even roller skate. Instead of continuing on the circular walkway back to the play structures, go towards the woods and you’ll see a few outdoor fitness equipment situated at the entrance of the nature walk. The nature walk and play area in the back of the park is closer to the woods and lake and is quite shady so you’ll definitely want to be prepared with bug spray. However, what we love best are the sand volleyball courts! It’s so fun to practice setting and bumping and pretend we’re playing beach volleyball at the summer Olympics! The best part is that there’s even a covered pavilion with picnic tables that’s terrific for holding birthday parties. Simply order pizza for delivery there or bring your own food, cake, and fly some helium balloons to create a festive mood. Party stores usually provide helium for balloons. You can get your balloons filled there.

Hiking in the MetroWest

It depends on who you ask but I personally think hiking is best in New England during the summer and fall months. However, if you’re the adventurous type and have the right gear, winter can be perfect too, especially if you’re craving solitude. Having gone through the pandemic for a whole year with nothing much to do except hiking, we’ve explored some hikes that we think you’ll really enjoy too at any time of the year.

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, Natick, MA
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, Natick, MA. Image from Sdkb

For something close to home, we love going to Broadmoor in Natick and actually go hiking here year round. You can buy a membership and enter for free or pay a fee as a non-member. While it is currently operating under timed ticket entrances, it has worked well. Some days I’ve literally booked a few hours before going. The trails are clean and range from easy to rugged but I would say that one of the big perks of this hike is the universally accessible boardwalk. Seniors in wheelchairs or with walkers or walking canes can access the boardwalk without much fuss, although they are usually accompanied by friends or family or a professional caregiver. You can even download an audio interpretation to listen to the 12 stops along this .06 mile boardwalk trail and rest on a bench when you want to take in the view of the frogs croaking or the turtles coming up for air. There are a total of 9 trails with many intersecting each other and interesting sights to see along streams, marshland, open fields and ponds. You’ll want to bring bug spray and sunscreen if you plan to be there for more than an hour as some areas by the fields will be more open and sunny and areas by the marshland may be buggy and humid.

Although dog parks with hoops, hurdles, tunnels, planks and pods are great fun for your canine baby, one place that we’ve discovered that is popular with dog owners is Ashland State Park. The trail goes around the perimeter of the Ashland Reservoir and can be done in about 2–3 hours depending on how fast you go. Both dogs and humans get a great workout and on hot summer days, you’ll often see dogs taking a dip in the water. This is a huge park but it does tend to get crowded on weekends. A few points of interest include a beach with picnic areas, a boat launch and a few ropes swinging from trees that kids and teenagers take advantage of when they are feeling like Tarzan.

Lastly we go to the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury when we want to make a day out of it and really get off the grid. It’s great if you’re looking for more solitude. There are over 15 miles of trail on wetlands and forested areas. One neat thing you’ll see are the old abandoned World War II era ammunition bunkers. Over the years, moss and vegetation have covered the top of the bunker but yet they remain visible remnants of the past. For these longer hikes, I’ll carry a daypack stocked with snacks and drinks for the hike and usually also carry a little medical safety kit consisting of band aids and bandages, whistle, compass, and pocket knife. The wonderful thing about being out in nature is the opportunity to teach kids how to navigate their surroundings and be ready for small emergencies.

There’s usually quite a bit of clean up to do after hiking, soil in the car, shoes, and even clothing. Here are some tips to treat mud stains and grass stains. If those fail, just take the soiled clothes to a professional laundry service nearby.

Simple Ways to Show Dad You Care on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to honor your dad and thank him for everything he has done for you. While big Father’s Day celebrations can be nice, some dads prefer to keep thing simple. If your dad is more the subdued type, or if a big celebration is just not in the cards this year, here are some simple ways to show you care.

Father and daughter at a lake

1. Help Dad look his best.

When was the last time your dad had his suit cleaned? Consider taking it to the dry cleaner for a nice refresh. The dry cleaner near me does a fabulous job of removing any stains, repairing buttons and pressing the suit. Find the best dry cleaner in your neighborhood and ask them to pickup your dad’s shirt and suit for cleaning. When your dad wears the cleaned suit, he will feel like he’s on top of the world.

If you do have bigger plans for Father’s Day, such as going out to dinner at a nice restaurant, you can always have his suit dry cleaned in advance so he can wear it to the special event.

2. Make him a gift basket.

Buy his favorite personal grooming products, some cologne, and maybe some sunscreen to prepare him for the summer. Don’t forget to also grab a greeting card and write a personalized message inside. If you procrastinated in gift shopping for your dad, you can do this last-minute at the nearby pharmacy. There are often many really nice products that you can put together in a gift basket for your dad.

3. Arrange for companion care.

If your father is getting older and is struggling to care for himself, or perhaps feeling a bit lonely in the house, a nice Father’s Day gift may be to arrange for companion home care through a home care agency. A professional caregiver, such as a certified HHA, can visit, as needed, to help with basic tasks and also do fun activities like playing chess, viewing photos or taking a walk with your dad when you can’t be there.

4. Make him a mix tape.

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, people used to make mix tapes for their loved ones. Bring this tradition back for Father’s Day! Create a CD with some of your dad’s favorite songs on it. You can include songs you’ve listened to together over the years and toss in a few surprises, too.

As Father’s Day approaches, spend a little time to think about how you want to celebrate with your Dad. It’s perfectly okay not to go over-the-top. Often, it’s the small gestures, like those above, that mean the most to a dad. Be sure to also give your father a hug and remind him how much you care.

A Few Tips for a Great Memorial Day

Memorial Day is just around the corner! Thankfully, most people in Massachusetts have had the COVID-19 vaccine, and with the gradual reopening of the economy, we are heading in a positive direction. Celebrating Memorial Day in a wide, open, outdoor space is a relatively safe option for most people. If you want to make sure this year’s Memorial Day party is one to remember, here are some planning tips.

Memorial Day Flag and bouquets outside a home in South End, Boston

1. Get vaccinated, and remind others.

Gathering outdoors is safer than gathering indoors, but you’ll be even safer if you and your party attendees are vaccinated for COVID-19. Schedule your vaccine at the local pharmacy if you have not already, and remind your friends and family members to do the same. Remember, it takes several weeks to build immunity after a vaccine, so get vaccinated sooner rather than later.

2. Take table linens and flags to the dry cleaners.

After a great party, you don’t want to have to spend all week cleaning up! Make plans to take your table linens, flags, and any other cloth items to the nearest dry cleaners after the party. If any of your clothing get stained, perhaps with ketchup or mustard, you can take that clothing in, too. Professional wash and fold services are excellent at removing stains.

3. Stock up on essentials at the drug store.

With the weather starting to warm up, it’s important to make sure you have all of the essential meds on-hand. Prior to Memorial Day, visit a nearby drug store to buy some allergy medications, bug spray, sunscreen, and other essentials.

Also make sure you have a First Aid kit on-hand. Stock it with Band Aids, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, gauze, and other basics. Keep the First Aid kit outside during the party, along with a basket with sunscreen and bug spray, and make sure all of your party attendees know where it is.

4. Create an upbeat playlist.

Everyone deserves a mood lift right now! Put together an upbeat, uplifting playlist for your Memorial Day party. Consider reaching out to each person who is invited, and ask them what their favorite song is. Add all of these favorite songs to your playlist, and your guests will be delighted.

This year, Memorial Day is a welcome chance to reconnect with family and friends. Make sure you’re vaccinated, safe, and ready to have a great time. Whether you grill hot dogs or have the party catered, what’s important is that you’re together!

Planning a Wedding? Don’t Forget These Steps

Planning a wedding can seem like a really big task. But if you start early and stay organized, you can put together a truly memorable event. You’ll need to call florists, taste cake, and find a caterer. In all of your planning, though, make sure you don’t forget these small but important steps.

1. Make plans to clean and preserve your wedding dress.

When the wedding is over, you’ll want to preserve your wedding dress. Wedding dress preservation is not only a way to preserve the memories of a life time, you can also wear it again if you ever renew your vows, or you can pass it down to a daughter or friend one day.
Before being preserved, your dress will need to be cleaned by professional dry cleaners. They’ll remove any makeup stains, cake marks, and other spots before they get a chance to set in. Once clean, your dress can be preserved in a specialized box. Your shoes and gloves can be preserved, too, if you wish.

2. Opt for an outdoor wedding with helium balloons.

This year, especially, planning an indoor wedding can be challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related regulations. So, consider choosing an outdoor wedding instead.
You can make it a really unique experience with helium balloons! For a large number of balloons, you will need a helium tank or helium cylinder to fill them, and don’t be afraid to get creative. You can have some basic balloons in your wedding colors, but also some vinyl balloons printed with the bride and groom’s favorite cartoon characters or your favorite musical instruments.

3. Remind guests to get vaccinated.

With COVID-19 still around, you want to make sure your guests are as safe and protected as possible. About a month before your wedding, reach out to guests and remind them to get vaccinated. Consider sending them the information for a local pharmacy that is offering vaccines. And don’t forget to be vaccinated yourself!

4. Pack a kit for the limo ride.

Take a few minutes to put together a kit you can carry with you in the limousine. Bring with you essentials like Tylenol, Band Aids, chap stick, lotion, and facial tissue. Having these items on-hand will alleviate a lot of worry and inconvenience on your big day.Planning a wedding is a lot of work. Make sure you don’t skip the steps above, and don’t forget to pause, take a deep breath, and remember you’re about to marry the love of your life. Congratulations and best wishes!!

How are You Celebrating Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, May 9th. This is a wonderful opportunity to show your mom just how much you care and return some of the love she has shown for you over the years. If you’re still planning your Mother’s Day celebration, here are a few ideas to inspire you.

1. Help mom take a load off.

Sometimes, moms just want a break. Giving her a break for Mother’s Day could be something she really appreciates. Arrange for a laundry pickup service to pick up her laundry while you take her out to lunch or to the mall.

If your mother is caring for her mom or dad, then consider hiring a respite care service to take over her duties for a day. You could even arrange to have the service come once a week for the rest of the year, giving your mom more time to herself in the long term.

2. Cook a meal for her.

Your mother has prepared thousands of meals for you throughout your lifetime, so why not cook for her for a change? Go over to her house so she doesn’t have to drive. Bring all of the ingredients to prepare one of her favorite meals, and make sure you end the meal with her favorite dessert.

3. Watch a movie together.

When was the last time you just relaxed in front of the TV with your mom for a few hours? This can be a nice, relaxing way to spend Mother’s Day when you’re both worn out and busy. Rent her favorite movie, pop some popcorn, and kick back. Discuss the movie together when you’re finished.

4. Pick up a last-minute gift from the local pharmacy.

If you’re on a tight schedule and don’t have much time to shop, or you procrastinated, all is not lost. You can pick up a last-minute gift from your local pharmacy. You’ll find better gifts for mom than you may have imagined. Consider buying her some new skincare products, like a face mask or a nice night cream. You could also look for a foot scrub, some massage oil, or a new loofah. Pair your gift with some chocolate and a card, and your mother will love it.

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show your mom how much you care. With a thoughtful gift, a little planning, and an open heart, you can help your mom feel appreciated, embraced, and truly loved.