Warning for Home Repairs – IMPORTANT!! Don’t Sign Away Your Rights – Please Read!!

December 21st, 2018


Did you know that signing an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) signs away your rights?

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warns consumers of unscrupulous home repair vendors and trial attorneys that try to profit off disasters by asking you to sign an AOB. Remember, before you sign anything, call your agent, your agency or call– 1-877-MY-FL-CFO.


  1. Share this important CONSUMER ALERT with your friends and loved ones. Homeowners must be mindful of home repair vendors offering deals too good to be true.
  2. Join the Consumer Protection Coalition in saying enough is enough. Click here to send a letter to your lawmaker and let them know we can’t afford another year of this type of lawsuit abuse.
  3. Like us on Facebook @ConsumerProtectionCoalition

Family Fun and Holiday Events Around Orlando

December 1st, 2018

It’s that time of year again and Orlando is definitely in the Holiday spirit.  We here at Florida Haven want to share with you some of these great events so you too can enjoy the fun.

A National Scam Targets Elderly Homeowners

November 27th, 2018
The National Association of Realtors is warning people about a new scam that targets elderly homeowners.
Here’s the article (and warning) in full:

November 27, 2018

Seniors are being targeted in a new real estate scam that tries to get them to sign over their home for far below market value.

Mary Ann Welch, 70, shared with Capital Public Radio how she received a letter in her mailbox that offered to buy her Sunnyvale, Calif., home for $750,000. The letter included paperwork for her to sign and consent to sell. Welch had not put the house up for rent or for sale. The two-bedroom home is within walking distance of Apple, Google, and LinkedIn, and is valued at more than $1.5 million.

Elderly homeowners real estate scam

© MoMo Productions – DigitalVision/Getty Images

“I saw the contract for me to sign and I was furious,” Welch told Capital Public Radio. “If I had Alzheimer’s or if I was demented at all, I would have signed it thinking I would get all this money. … If they’re doing it to me, they’re going to be doing it to others.”

Cherie Bourlard, Santa Clara County’s deputy district attorney, says they’ve seen an uptick in cases that involve direct solicitations to elderly homeowners that contain offers well below market value for their home.

Housing markets where prices have risen quickly may be most prime for the scam. Homeowners may “have no idea of the value of the homes they’re sitting on,” Bourlard says. “They remember buying their home for $40,000 but in these crazy upswings of market value, they have no idea their property might be worth $800,000, $1 million, $2 million.”

The scams targeting the elderly may not be voidable either for those who sign. “They might not clearly understand what they’re doing,” Bourlard says. “But they have enough [mental] capacity to where the transaction is not voidable. Studies show as we age, we become less savvy in financial transactions.”

Duane Shewaga, Santa Clara County real estate fraud coordinator, says that scammers are trolling public property records looking for elderly homeowners who have very low assessed values.

Some scammers will even go door to door, warns San Diego County prosecutor Valerie Tanney. “I’ve had numerous cases where they approach and befriend people and use religion and the trusting nature of people at churches to victimize,” Tanney told Capital Public Radio.

Tanney urges seniors who receive such solicitations to report any real estate fraud to the police and district attorneys’ offices. Also, seniors should not sign any paperwork without first consulting a real estate agent, lawyer, or financial planner.

Questions and if you think you may have been a victim of this scam, please contact us below:

Let Us Know How We Can Help


Top 10 Benefits of Living in a Smaller Home

November 24th, 2018

You see millennials doing it all the time.  They pack up and live in a van, a bus, a motorhome or even one of the ‘tiny homes’ that seems to be all the rage.  Pictures of them are all over the place form the RV commercial about  “breaking free’ to the blog post about simple living.  Usually, these pics feature a couple, sitting in front of some kind of beautiful scenery (mountains, beaches or lakes) and their backs are to the photographer because they’re looking out at the scene, drinking a beverage and there’s often a faithful dog or two included, just to complete the vision.

These folks choose to live a simple life, free of the stress and worry their parents had a generation before them.  They’re in a sense ‘free’.

We all know the truth though.  Everywhere you go and whatever you do, you’ll always have to be responsible and there’s always a cost and nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

Time and wisdom have taught us those lessons and we are all the better for having learned them.

Yet, they do have a point.

Living simply does have its perks.  Learning to live this way doesn’t have to be so dramatic of a change or mean that you have to give up everything and go hit the road, forever.  It does require a plan and some strategy though.  The end result of it being done the right way could very well mean a refresh of your own life that’s been a long time coming.

Let’s take an example, somewhere in the middle. Let’s say you feel like your house too large for you now?  If so, living simply could be accomplished by moving from the large home you have now, to a smaller one.

That being said, let’s look at ten ways moving into a small home could benefit you:

One:  Vacuuming

Smaller homes are easier to vacuum.  How many times do you plug in and have to move the power plug when you’re vacuuming now?  Three times?  Four?  How long does it take you?

When vacuuming a home that’s a third or half the size of the home you have now, you’ll see the time you spend vacuuming and the electricity you use doing it will all decrease significantly.

Two: You’re forced to declutter constantly.

This means that you can’t keep everything “just in case” and you can’t stockpile items like you used to and though you won’t notice it at first, as the years go by you’ll see what a difference it makes in your level of stress when you can’t and don’t hold on to everything.

You could even start referring to yourself as a ‘minimalist’.  Oh, how trendy!

Three:  Oh, the money you’ll save!

Think about it.  A house that’s smaller costs less to purchase, maintain and heat or cool.  What you’ve given up in space and clutter you are rewarded for in the benjamins sitting in your bank because you’re not spending as much in mortgage, upkeep, and utilities.

Four:  Not as taxing

You’ll see the price drop on your property taxes as well.  When you add that to your saving mentioned up above, you’re giving yourself more money to save or spend as you see fit.  Vacation anyone?

Five:  Going green(er)

There is a legend that Native Americans used to have a rule that they never made a decision about what to with their land unless they first weighed out the pros and cons for seven generations. While we aren’t making daily decisions over land, it is nice to know that your home uses fewer resources on a daily basis and in that sense, you’re doing your part on helping the environment by using only the space you need.

Six: Closer to family

Literally! When friends and family come to visit, you’ll be close proximity to them at all times.

Between us, it’s also a great excuse for not having those folks over who drive you nuts because you ‘just down have the room’. You can say that with all honesty (and hopefully a straight face) because after all, you wouldn’t be lying!

That may be the best reason yet!


Feel free to browse my listings

November 6th, 2018

The Emotional Upside of Downsizing

October 25th, 2018

Have you ever thought about what needs to be done around your house and suddenly felt overwhelmed?  You know, that point when you’re thinking of all the things in the garage or the crawlspace, all the closets and maybe in even in extra bedrooms that just take up space.

Do they need to be dusted if they’re on display?  Are they seasonal and need to be changed out?  Are they items that you used once upon a time, but now just sit there abandoned and alone.  Could someone else put those things to good use?

Answering ‘Yes’ to any of these questions means that you may be emotionally ready to downsize.

As in, you are ready to have less “stuff” sitting around your house… filling up those cabinets, falling out of drawers and rendering garages and crawl spaces virtually useless.

You may be thinking of selling your home and you want to be ready to move without needing to rent a tractor-trailer (or two) to haul your belongings.

You want to narrow the things in your life down to what you love and need the most, no more and no less.

These are all great reasons to downsize and benefits that you will indeed very much enjoy on the other side of the “big purge.”

But did you know there’s a lot more to downsizing and minimizing than just extra space?

Are you aware that the amazing emotional and spiritual cleansing that happens when you get rid of clutter may just be even more rewarding than the cleared-out closet?

The Big Purge

Tackling the ‘big purge’ takes courage and commitment, there’s no doubt about it.  You’ll have to commit to sorting through every extraneous item you own and then have the courage to part with it, either by passing it down to a family member or good friend, selling it or donating it.  Then you have to double down the courage to keep the commitment to part with it.

Now here you may ask, “what the heck are you talking about, Micahel?”  But hear me out.

You’ll actually have to let those items go, physically, from your hands.  You have to commit to having the courage of not changing your mind as you go to hand it to whoever you gave, sold or donated it to.  Yes, I’m on to you and I’ve seen it before.  Your intention is there, a great intention, but when the moment comes to let go of your treasure, stick with it.  That’s where the courage comes in.

You’ll also be doing this numerous times, again and again till you’ve finished that big purge.

The Big Six

1. Do I really need this?
Plain and simple, do you need it?  As long as you understand the difference between want and need, asking this question makes it fairly easy to de-clutter.

If not, you should ask

2.  Does this item bring me happiness?
Does Blender No. 3 make me happy or is it just taking up space in my already cluttered kitchen cabinets?   If the answer is no, – let it go.

3. Am I keeping this for ‘one day’ or ‘someday’?
One day I will be the same weight I was in 11th grand I’ll be able to fit into it.  Someday I will these 7 cans of nearly empty 90’s pastel paint for a DIY project. Stop waiting for “one day/someday.” Today is that day.  Can you fit into it today (and would you wear it out in public today?) and are you going to finish that DIY project today if no – say bye bye..if yes, please send us a picture because we feel this is something we’d just love to see.

4. Do I already have a similar item?
Now, this is the part where every golfer will say, I’m keeping my set of woods and my irons so next subject please and, well, okay but only if you use both.  Do you use both?  There are many things, however, where that same argument won’t hold true.  How many cell phones are you holding onto?  None?  Okay.  How many landline phones are stored in the garage?  How many calculators?  Bathmats?  Curtains?  Coolers?  This list can go on forever, but the questions you must ask yourself are:  How often do I use this item, if at all?  How many of them do I need?

5. Am I keeping these for personal/sentimental reasons?
This is probably the hardest one of all.  When an item reminds you of a loved one from your past, the first thing you should do is to try to find a use for that item or repurpose in a craft project or home décor.  When you have exhausted every idea and cannot find a use for it, say your goodbye to the object.  It is, after all, an object with a memory attached to it (not the person).  You’ll always carry the person with you in your heart.  Albert Einstein used to say, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal. Not to people or things.”  We hear he was pretty smart.

Here are a few ideas for giving sentimental items a new purpose:

  • Ask a family member if they would enjoy the item
  • Display the item in a nice frame in your home (preferably on the walls or shelves)
  • Start using the item every day (who says you can’t use that fine china every day)
  • Donate to a church or cause of your choice
  • Sell on eBay, Craigslist or antique stores
  • Use items in a craft/DIY project
  • Scan old photos or notes and upload to a cloud account or thumb drive

6. Why do I own this?
Finally, if all else fails and you’ve exhausted all of the above questions, simply ask, “Why do I have this?” What is the real reason you are unable to let it go?  Once you can figure out the answer, it will be easier to let go.

What You’ll Gain

Let’s play pretend.  We’ll pretend you’ve downsized all your ‘extra’ items and the ‘clutter’ in your home.  What does that life look like?

Well, for starters, if you decided to give away some items to family and friends you’ll see those items being used again.  Maybe your nephew has improved his golf game with the set of woods you gave him.  Maybe your friend is making everyone cakes with all that cake decorating kit that you purchased years back but never used.  Maybe she’s supplementing her income and is able to visit her grandchildren during the holidays with the money she makes.  Maybe as a thank you, she makes your cakes at cost whenever you need them for an event, saving you time, hassle and making you look like a star to your family, because let’s face it, her cakes are gorgeous!

As we continue to play pretend, let’s look at our calendar and figure out what we’re going to do with all our imaginary time on our hands now that we’re not constantly trying to find things or find a place for things.  We’re also worrying less, so let’s pretend we’re enjoying life more because of that.

Here’s something fun to pretend, let’s pretend we made some money off of the items we sold!  Maybe we made enough to take a trip or treat ourselves to a spa day or a membership at that gym we’ve always wanted to join.

Whatever you decide to treat yourself to, it will be because of your hard work of decluttering your home and, in essence, decluttering your life allowing you the freedom and means to go out and have a little fun.


Kiplinger’s: Retirement Guide for Snowbirds

October 10th, 2018

NEW YORK – Oct. 9, 2018 – Pat and Pete Engel of Glendale, N.Y., are seasoned snowbirds, having spent every winter since 1995 in Florida.

“After two bad blizzards within two years, I realized I never wanted to see another snowflake after we retired,” says Pat, 79. The Engels rented a place near Cape Canaveral for the first few years, then bought a condo in nearby West Melbourne. Each January, they secure their home in New York and head to Florida until April. Pete, 81, plays golf, and the couple take advantage of outdoor festivals and other warm-weather activities with snowbird friends from all over the U.S. and Canada.

Many snowbirds follow family and friends south, while others experiment until they find the right location and community. Some rent the same place for years; others buy a second home that may become their primary residence in retirement. Whatever your migratory path, successful snowbirding takes preparation and smart planning. Here’s our advice.

Rent (early) before you buy

In most places, January through March or April is peak snowbird season. Migrators often book the same place for the coming year before they leave in the spring, and others begin booking their rental as early as August. Early birds get the biggest blocks of time and the most-desirable properties, with features such as an extra bedroom and bath, a good view, updated furnishings and plenty of amenities (such as a clubhouse, pool, gym, tennis courts and golf course).

At Vacasa.com, which lists and manages vacation rentals in 23 states and 16 countries, snowbirds often book properties in Alabama, Arizona, Florida and Texas. Shaun Greer, senior director of real estate, says snowbird rentals tend to be budget-friendlier along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Alabama and northwestern Florida, where winter is a bit chillier than in the central and southern regions of Arizona or Florida. Most property owners prefer a rental contract of at least a month (also the minimum required by many homeowners associations), adds Sindy Ready, a real estate agent in Scottsdale, Ariz.

To expand your search, contact a locally based vacation-rental property manager or a real estate agent, who can help you match communities with your budget and interests, and search sites such as Airbnb.com and HomeAway.com. Besides rent, you may pay fees – say, for booking or cleaning – as well as local and state taxes. Local vacation-rental property managers may be less likely to charge renters a booking fee.

Average rents in snowbird hot spots

Here is the range of average monthly rent (excluding fees and taxes) from January through March in four states popular among snowbirds for typical condos (2-bedroom, 2-bath) and single-family homes (3-bedroom, 2-bath), according to Vacasa.com.

  • Arizona: $2,500-$3,500 (condo); $3,000-$9,000 (single family).
  • Alabama: $800-$1,500 (condo); $1,000-$2,500 (single family).
  • Texas: $900-$2,000 (condo); $1,400-$2,500 (single family).
  • Florida (Central): $1,500-$6,000 (condo); $2,500-$10,000 (single family).
  • Florida (East Central Coast): $2,800-$6,000 (condo); $3,200-$9,000 (single family).
  • Florida (Panhandle): $800-$2,200 (condo); $1,100-$3,500 (single family).
  • Florida (South): $2,500-$8,000 (condo); $5,000-$12,000 (single family).

In most cases, homes are fully furnished. Before you sign a rental agreement, find out whether cable and internet service are provided. Do you get an allowance for utilities? What breeds and sizes of pets are allowed, if any? Is any cleaning included? What’s the parking situation?

Will you have free access to all amenities?

Don’t rush to buy a home

Some snowbirds decide to buy rather than rent but only after they’ve found the ideal spot to winter. That was the case for Carol and Phil White of Bend, Ore. The couple had tried wintering in Hawaii, southern California and Texas before settling on Phoenix. In 2014, after looking at more than 30 communities, they found a home in Sun City Grand, on the west side of Phoenix. It had everything they wanted: friendly people, good home values, a reasonable homeowners association fee, four golf courses, and lots of amenities and activities.

The Whites paid $184,000 for a 1,580-square-foot home with two bedrooms, two baths and a den, and they pay an annual HOA fee of $1,480. They split their time between Bend and Phoenix. Many of their friends from Bend winter nearby, too. “We have a whole ‘nother life down there that we totally love,” says Carol, 71.

Best time to buy a home? When you’re ready

The best time for snowbirds to buy is usually in the late spring, when much of the competition has gone home. In summer and fall, you’ll have fewer options to look at, but the remaining sellers may be more motivated and willing to negotiate. It’s helpful to have an agent on the ground who can search for what you want and may learn of prospects before they’re listed for sale, says Dawn Rae, an exclusive buyer’s agent in Tampa.

The farther from the beach, the less expensive the homes and the less likely you’ll be in a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood zone, which will reduce the cost of flood insurance from thousands of dollars a year to just a few hundred, says Rae. She advises her clients to buy the insurance even if the home isn’t in a flood zone – something to consider in any hurricane-prone location.

Across the South and Southwest, home prices have soared and supply is limited. Buyers must move quickly to make a winning offer, agents say. Sellers love full-price, cash offers that will close quickly. If you need a mortgage, get fully preapproved with a lender. In mid-September, the average 30-year fixed rate nationally was 4.5 percent, according to Freddie Mac. Plan to pay cash if you want to buy the furniture, too, because lenders won’t finance it.

Mothball your own home for winter

The Engels, who snowbird between New York and Florida, have preparation for their southern departure down to a science. It takes them about two days.

Prevent water damage. To keep your homeowners coverage for water damage in force while you’re away, most insurers require you either to maintain adequate heat (55 to 65 degrees) or to shut off the water and drain the pipes, says Ana Robic, chief operating officer for Chubb Personal Risk Services. (Call your insurer to see what it requires.)

To shut off the water, close the main shut-off valve, then open the faucets on the highest and lowest fixtures in the house until no more water runs from them. In lieu of turning off the water and draining pipes, you could have a plumber install an automatic water shut-off valve, which will detect an abnormal rate of flow and shut off the water before much damage can occur. The Water Hero Leak Detection and Automatic Water Shut-Off system, for example, costs $695 plus an hour or so of labor. You can monitor it from your smartphone. In most states, Chubb offers a premium discount when policyholders in single-family homes install an automatic water shut-off valve.

Unplug electronics and appliances. You’ll prevent “vampire” usage (electricity drained when a device is turned off but still plugged in), reduce fire risk and avoid damage from power surges. Empty your refrigerator’s automatic ice maker and turn it off. If you want to unplug the fridge, completely empty it, clean it and prop open the door to avoid mold. Turn down the water heater to low.

Suspend services for the season

Ask your newspaper for a vacation hold to suspend delivery. Cable and internet providers generally allow you to suspend service from one to nine months during the year for a small monthly fee – about $6 to $10. You needn’t turn in equipment, and your phone number and e-mail address will stay the same. On the date you set, service will be automatically restored without a service visit.

Also, forward mail and phone calls. Instead of asking the post office to forward their mail, the Engels have their son send them a package of mail every few weeks. If you have a landline, set it to forward your calls. With remote call forwarding, if it’s available, your home phone won’t even ring – which is good for security. The Engels use the Verizon Home Phone Unlimited Service ($30 for equipment plus $20 per month for service with a two-year contract). They’ve eliminated the expense of three landlines, kept their phone number and receive phone calls via a wireless adapter they take with them. If you’ll have access to high-speed internet service, you can use a voice over internet (VoIP) service such as Vonage (recently $15 per month for the first six months).

Ratchet up home security

Notify police that you’ll be away. If you aren’t going to have a family member, neighbor or friend regularly visit your home, you could hire a home-watch service, which will periodically inspect your house, give you updates and provide routine maintenance (from replacing lightbulbs to removing snow). The price varies with the location and size of your home but generally runs about $50 per visit. To find one, visit nationalhomewatchassociation.org (all members are bonded and insured), or search the web for “home watch service” in your location, and verify the contractor’s credentials.

For an extra layer of security, you can install a network of smart components (including door locks, thermostats, moisture and motion sensors, cameras, and alarms) that you can control from your smartphone. Or you can hire a monitored smart-home system, such as ADT’s Pulse (starting at $99 for installation plus $53 per month for monitoring), which may earn you a premium discount from your home insurer.

Prep your car for winter storage

If you’re leaving a car behind, it may need attention, too. If you have someone you trust to take it out for exercise (at least a 20-mile drive every couple weeks or so), then there’s not much you need to do. But if it will sit unused:

  • Add fuel stabilizer to the tank just like you would for a lawnmower or other gas-powered tool.
  • Park it inside if at all possible. If you don’t have a garage spot, see if you can find one for the duration.
  • Use a trickle charger to keep your battery in good shape. If you don’t have a way to plug one in, disconnect the battery.
  • Make sure to keep rodents and other toothy pests away from your engine. They can wreak havoc on your car’s wires.

Taking the car? Check your auto insurance

Depending on how long you stay, you may have to register your car in your temporary state and insure it to the state’s minimums of liability coverage. If you don’t, and you’re involved in a traffic stop or accident, you could face penalties or your insurer could refuse to pay your claim. In Florida, for example, you need to register if you stay 90 days or more per year, and those days needn’t be consecutive. In Arizona, you must register after seven months.

State requirements for liability coverage are modest, and your coverage should already exceed them. Kiplinger recommends injury coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, and property-damage coverage of $50,000, or a minimum of $300,000 on a single-limit policy. Ask your auto insurer what’s required where you’re going.

Notify your bank, credit card issuers

Mobile banking and online or automatic bill pay make it easy to stay on top of finances while away. Sign up to receive e-bills by email, log in to your bank account to pay bills online, and even if there’s no local bank branch you can make mobile deposits with your smartphone and banking app.

To make sure your bank or credit card issuer won’t decline use of your debit or credit card when you’re out of state, notify them of your travel plans in advance. You can do this by phone, or many banks allow you to file a travel notification online. Some credit card issuers, such as American Express and Capital One, no longer require travel notifications.

Plan for health care

United Healthcare offers these tips for snowbirds: Discuss your health plan with your doctors for any care you may need while you’re away. Make sure your prescriptions are current and, if possible, written for 90 days. Double-check with your insurer that you can refill your prescriptions at a pharmacy wherever you are or that you can mail-order them with delivery to your seasonal address. Take along contact information for your physicians and a copy of your medical records.

Traditional Medicare covers care from participating providers anywhere in the U.S. With a Medicare Advantage HMO plan, you’re limited to care from in-network providers within specific regions or even one county, except in emergencies. A Medicare Advantage PPO, however, usually allows you to go out of network, but you’ll bear more of the cost-sharing. (Or check whether your plan offers a travel benefit that can maintain your coverage for no extra cost for a limited time while you’re in another state.) If you decide to return to the same place annually, consider whether you want or need to change your health plan.

Mind your tax bill

With the new tax law limiting deductions on state and local taxes, more retirees are moving to lower-tax states, or if they already have a second home in one, they’re establishing residency there, says Terry LaBant, director of wealth strategy services for RMB Capital Management, in Chicago. For example, Oregon’s top income-tax rate is 9.9 percent, whereas Arizona’s is 4.5 percent. So earlier this year, the Whites decided to establish residency in Arizona.

To prove that the lower-tax state is your permanent home, you must show that you live there for at least half the year, or 183 days. The days needn’t be consecutive, but time spent traveling from one place to another or doing business out of state doesn’t count. The high-tax states that retirees are leaving – notably Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and the New England states – are losing a lot of revenue, so they’re aggressively auditing retirees with homes in two states, LaBant says.

As proof of residency, keep a diary or log. You’ll need to get a new driver’s license or other state ID and register to vote. You must take steps to show that your new home is “where your heart is,” says LaBant. Move family photos, financial records and anything else you would take out of a burning house or wish you had. Create a new network, including financial advisers, doctors, banks, house of worship and country club. Give up any lower-cost benefits of your former state, such as a homestead exemption or an in-state fishing or hunting license.

Estate: plan for the worst

Whenever you live somewhere for an extended time, it’s smart to get a durable power of attorney, a living will and a durable health care power of attorney written for the new state. Even with legal reciprocity between the states, the people receiving those documents at a medical or financial institution may not recognize the form used by the other state, which will slow things down, says LaBant.

Oh, and be sure you don’t lock up the only copies of these important estate planning documents far away in your bank’s vault where no one else can access them when they’re needed most. Read more about the worst things to keep in your safe deposit box for tips.

2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Pat Mertz Esswein

Rehabilitation & Motivation for Victims of Stroke

September 30th, 2018

We here at Your Florida Haven care deeply about the health and well-being of our clients.  One health-scare that can face many seniors is suffering a stroke.  Taking care of yourself after a stroke can be equally as important as getting to a hospital as soon as symptoms appear.  One will immediately help to save your life, the other will help you reclaim your life.

We feel this information is so important that we decided to look around for some good advice on the subject of stroke and what to do if, heaven forbid, to recover.

The good folks at stroke.org have defined what a stroke is:

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

Stroke By The Numbers

  • Each year nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.
  • A stroke happens every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Every 4 minutes someone dies from stroke.
  • Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.

Surviving a stroke is half the battle, recovering from it is the other half.

Here’s what the good folks at Aplaceformom.com offer in advice for recovering from a stroke.

Recovery from Stroke

For Pedro Antaran, an 83-year-old Seattle resident, the stroke came in the morning, with little warning. After waking up to make coffee, he noticed that his right leg felt different than usual. “I felt that my leg was heavy, and I could not lift it,” he recalls. “I thought in my mind that maybe this was a stroke.” He asked his wife to call 911-and soon afterward was at the hospital.

Antaran’s fast reaction helped ensure an early intervention to the stroke, which in turn has aided his remarkably short recovery from stroke. He still suffers from some minimal neurological effects (he sometimes has difficulty recalling the name of objects, for instance). But less than four months after his stroke, Antaran is already living at home, walking without a cane, and traveling throughout Seattle by bus.  

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Commonly caused by a blood clot, a stroke is a vascular accident to the brain, where the brain is deprived of adequate blood flow and oxygen. Without early intervention, the lack of blood flow and oxygen results in cell death within the brain. Depending on which area of brain tissue is affected, a stroke can have serious effects on speech, cognitive abilities, and basic motor skills.

According to Dr. David Clawson, medical director of rehabilitation at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center, where Antaran was taken following his stroke, prevention is the first step in mitigating the aftereffects of a stroke. By recognizing the symptoms of a stroke, an early intervention-and potentially being able to reverse the effects of the stroke-is far more likely. Each minute that the brain undergoes restricted blood flow increases the likelihood that the stroke will produce significant side effects. “Time is the equivalent of brain tissue [during a stroke],” Clawson says. “The longer it takes to get medical care the more likely [the patient] is to have loss of brain tissue.”

Clawson advises that seniors and their family members familiarize themselves with the acronym FAST, which outlines possible stroke symptoms and how to respond:

Facial weakness: Droopiness in facial muscles or partial paralysis, often on one side of the face, can indicate the beginnings of a stroke.
Arms: When a stroke is suspected, ask the afflicted individual to raise both arms and keep them up. Difficulty keeping both arms level is a potential symptom of stroke.
Speech: Slurred speech or the inability to pronounce words (a condition known as aphasia) can indicate the beginnings of a stroke.
Time: Family members, Clawson warns, need to recognize that symptoms of stroke are an emergency, and that a quick reaction can be the difference between a full recovery and a lifetime of disability.


The goal for rehabilitation following a stroke is to return the patient to the highest level of functionality possible. Due to the neurological effects of a stroke, in which the ability of patients to perform everyday actions is often severely limited, the rehabilitation process involves teaching a patient how to perform those actions-like speech, walking, eye-hand coordination, and using the restroom-that were lost during the stroke. In instances in which full recovery from stroke might not be possible, certain compensatory strategies will be taught. For example, the stroke may have severely limited a patient’s ability to use his or her right arm, so a therapist might help the patient learn to get in and out of bed without the use of that arm.

Following a stroke, the type of rehabilitation for which a patient is ready depends on the type and the extent of the stroke. The most intensive approach to rehabilitation is found in an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

According to Clawson, inpatient rehabilitation engages patients in a variety of therapies aimed at restoring neurological function. Patients live at the facility, where they participate in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, with two sessions per day for each. In addition to this regimen, patients work with nurses and physicians who are familiar with the complications of a stroke, along with social workers who help with a discharge plan for the patients’ return to their homes.

But, as Clawson warns, not all patients are ready or able to take part in inpatient rehabilitation. “If you look at the number of hours in a day that you’re actually doing therapeutic activities, it’s quite a few,” he says. For those patients who aren’t able to participate, a skilled nursing facility can provide a range of therapeutic programs in a different setting. Some patients are best served by home health therapy, where a physical therapist and an occupational therapist come to the home and provide additional rehabilitation in that setting. Other options include an assisted living apartment, which enables a certain degree of independence while providing services like cooking, laundry, and bathing. When a patient has not sufficiently recovered following rehabilitation, especially when issues like mobility, bowel control, and the ability to provide self-care persist, the patient’s best option might be the long-term care provided by a nursing home. The end goal, however, is returning the patient to the greatest level of independence that is possible, regardless of which path to recovery best serves the patients needs.

For most patients, recovery from a stroke takes six months to one year of focused, intensive rehabilitative therapy. Clawson points out that the earlier a patient can begin to engage in rehabilitation, the higher the odds of a full recovery. “Our idea of the brain has changed in the last decade,” Clawson explains. “We used to think that after childhood, anything you lose in the brain is a done deal. We’re beginning to understand now that the brain has the ability to develop new nerve cells.” In other words, following the neurological damage caused by a stroke, the brain has the ability to rewire itself. As a result, the medical community has developed new therapies designed to fully engage the part of the brain that’s been affected by the stroke. For instance, a physical therapist might restrain the use of an arm unaffected by the stroke in order to make the patient practice more activities with the affected arm. Clawson believes that this new insight will transform our understanding of how much a patient can recover from a stroke.


Rehabilitation, as Pedro Antaran says, is not an easy process. While rehabilitating from his stroke at Seattle Keiro Skilled Nursing, a program of elder care service provider Nikkei Concerns, Antaran remembers continuously checking the time for his sessions to be over. But I learned to endure the exercise. Later on I found out that it’s a very important thing. You overcome these little bits of hardships,” he says.

Susan Lopez, an occupational therapist and rehabilitation manager at Seattle Keiro who helped Antaran with his recovery, says that the emotional process of recovery from stroke, which for many patients includes depression, cannot be understated. In particular, patients must be motivated in order to make the most of their rehabilitation. “We make sure that we’re working on goals that the patient has established, and not our own goals,” Lopez says. “You have to establish that rapport and really know the patient and what they want. If it’s our [own] goal, it’s not going to help.” Lopez explains that setting short-term goals can help patients see their progress and further motivate them. And because it is often difficult to communicate with patients with cognitive or speech deficits, the support of family members can be critical to an effective rehabilitation.  

Depression can also affect recovery from stroke. According to Clawson, depression is very common and can be related to the brain injury itself and its neurological aftereffects. He insists that depression should be treated aggressively so that it does not interfere with the recovery process. Antidepressants will enable some patients to remain on track for recovery, while counseling can also be effective, if the patient’s speech or cognitive capacity has not been greatly affected by the stroke. Encouraging a patient’s independence, however, is paramount-an essential component to motivation and emotional health during recovery from stroke. “You do everything you can to enhance [the patient’s] level of independence and their sense of control. That’s the big key,” Clawson explains. “Anywhere they can have control, let them have it.”


Approximately 25% of stroke victims will have another stroke within five years. That’s why the final step in recovery from stroke includes taking the right steps to decrease the likelihood of experiencing a second stroke. The risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, abnormal blood clots (often brought on by high cholesterol), stress, smoking, and poor nutrition. For many individuals, obesity can be an issue, as well as genetics and diabetes. If an individual has already experienced a stroke, a physician can provide guidance that will take into account each individual’s unique risk factors. The best defense against stroke reoccurrence for any recovering patient, however, is a healthy lifestyle combined with regular social interaction. “Human beings are social, and we’re very interconnected,” explains Clawson. “Our brains don’t work as well when we’re disconnected socially.”

In the end, recovery from stroke is, to use an old phrase, about putting mind over matter. “It’s not the strength of your body that’s hurt with your stroke. It’s your mind,” Antaran says. Though strokes have physical consequences, most patients will explain that the most difficult dimension of recovery is the need to relearn skills that were once part of everyday life. But with the right mix of motivation and skilled therapeutic care, a determined patient can experience recovery of both the body and the mind.

Living Your Healthiest Life While Aging

September 30th, 2018

Benefits of Being an Active Senior Citizen

We hear about it all the time over the news, on the internet, and in magazines that working out is a large part of what helps keeps us healthy.  The benefits of exercise have been proven time and time again, however, as we age so does our bodies.  We can suffer from pain, arthritis, slower reflexes and just feeling tired, and hearing that we need to exercise can sometimes seem like a slap in the face.  You may ask yourself, “How am I supposed to exercise when I’m so tired and in such pain?”

It seems like a catch-22, the symptoms are supposed to go away when you exercise but they are the same symptoms that prevent you from exercising in the first place.

It seems like a cruel, ironic joke, yet there can be light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s start with some of the myths:

Avoiding Activity: Key to Longevity?
As much as many would love this to be true – there’s nothing more misinformed! Physical activity is an absolute must for all of us – young or old! Senior citizens are often advised to ‘take it easy’, rest a lot and avoid straining themselves. But is that really beneficial to your health?

Add to that there is a general image of seniors being frail or sickly which backs the stereotype that senior citizens are not as active as they used to be in their young years. Those who were not physically active in their youth are often worried to start exercising in case they may hurt themselves. We regularly hear from older people who are afraid that exercise will cause too much strain and cause more harm than good.

Is Lack of Exercise Killing You?
Scientists found that staying physically active and engaging in regular exercise can help prevent or slow many diseases and disabilities, including those associated with aging. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Physical activity is also beneficial to those with high blood pressure, balance problems, and walking issues.

Here’s some sage advice on how to workout or begin working out in ways that are best for you.  You’re different than everyone else so don’t try to keep up with anyone.  Start slowly, build up your own pace and always, always keep your doctor aware of your exercise.

Keep The Body and Mind Sharp by Working Out
The emotional and intellectual benefits of exercise are also extremely important for senior citizens.  Physical activity (leisurely movement such as gardening or walking the dog) and exercise (more structured activities such as yoga or aerobics) improve certain aspects of cognitive function, such as the ability to multitask, plan and ignore irrelevant information/stimuli.

Having reviewed 40 studies from the 2000s, researchers found that senior citizens who exercise significantly reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia, and depression. Working out regularly slows down the rate of aging and guarantees vitality, energy, and longevity.

Keep The Body and Mind Sharp by Working Out


No Better Time to Start than NOW!
As a senior citizen, you may think it’s too late to start working out now. But what if we told you this is the perfect time to take control of your health? According to research, women between the ages of 75 and 85, all of whom had reduced bone mass or advanced osteoporosis, were able to lower their risk of falling with strength training and resistance workouts. They will also help you avoid age-related muscle loss that affects 1 in 10 senior citizens. Improving mental and physical health will help you remain independent and happy.

Variety is Good
Don’t just stick to walking or cycling. Resistance training is actually a great way to strengthen your muscles and bones while improving your balance. You can train at home with a Gwee Gym or join a senior yoga, Pilates or aerobics class. Don’t be afraid! As a senior citizen, you can work out safely and effectively. Train carefully and diligently to reap the full benefit of exercise in your golden years.

Reference info:https://gweegym.com/

How do I help my senior loved one downsize possessions?

September 14th, 2018

Do you have a loved one who is a senior that needs to downsize their possessions in order to move to either a smaller home, in with relatives or to an assisted living facility?  We here at Your Florida Haven want you to know that we sympathize with your situation and we know that helping a senior downsize with dignity, respect and compassion is a top priority for loved ones.  The folks at ‘A Place for Mom’ have some great advice to share about how to handle downsizing with a senior loved one.

Their advice is simple and empathetic.  Here’s the article below:

The prospect of downsizing can be a difficult one for seniors facing the move to assisted living. A lifetime of memories associated with possessions can be daunting to wade through for families and caregivers.How to Help a Senior Loved One Downsize Possessions

But, there are ways to help ease the transition for your senior loved one. Learn more about downsizing.

Helping Senior Loved Ones with Downsizing

Downsizing is an inevitable part of moving to a new residence: taking old clothes to Goodwill, throwing away that leaf blower that hasn’t worked in five years, and getting rid of all the things you’ve accumulated that your family no longer needs.

But, downsizing can be particularly wrenching for the elderly, who may find it overwhelming to think about letting go of the items they’ve gathered over a lifetime. If a senior loved one is faced with a move to assisted living where they may have less storage space, that clutter in the closet may turn into a stubborn roadblock — or even a justification to resist moving.

This can mean a tough conversation for family caregivers, who are usually the ones faced with confronting their parents about downsizing. Fortunately, there are strategies you can follow to make the process easier, even if a senior loved one has a more serious hoarding issue.

Does Your Senior Loved One Need to Downsize?

Getting rid of longtime possessions we’ve grown attached to isn’t easy for anyone, but for our elderly loved ones, it can feel like giving up cherished memories, especially if they are faced with leaving a long-term home on top of it all. Catherine Arendt, an At Your Service Manager at Era Living, says:

“After living for decades in their homes, some people have more than a little discomfort about the idea of downsizing.”

“You may have many years and a wealth of memories that are built around your family and your home,” she continues.

This isn’t just a matter of the occasional senior citizen not wanting to give up their mementos. In fact, it’s quite common. A recent study by the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, looked at survey data from 22,000 participants and found that about 30% of people over age 70 had done nothing to give away belongings over the past 12 months. “Yet more than half of the respondents in all age categories believed they had too many belongings,” notes a report in Reuters. “For example, 56% of those aged 50 to 59 and 62% of those 70 to 79 reported having more things than they needed.”

For these folks the problem isn’t denial, but rather, the extraordinary difficulty associated with giving up items that are so closely linked to their identities, their past and their memories.

When Clutter Gets Out of Control

For other people, though, it isn’t so easy to convince them that they have too much stuff. If their collection of stuff is actually impairing their everyday functioning and threatening their health or that of others, they may be suffering from an elderly hoarding disorder.

This bears repeating: if you know someone who is having trouble letting go of personal possessions and is distressed at the thought of discarding them, that alone may not constitute elderly hoarding behavior.

However, if a person’s clutter is so extreme that their living space is unusable, unsanitary, or hazardous, or if they are exhibiting symptoms like self-neglect and social withdrawal, it may be time to consider whether they have Diogenes Syndrome (elderly hoarding disorder) and whether they should move into assisted living. It’s more common than you might think: a 2008 study by Johns Hopkins revealed that 6.2% of people over 55 show hoarding behavior.

Tips for Talking to Your Parents about Downsizing

Whether you suspect your loved one has senior hoarding issues, or they simply have too much stuff for a small assisted living apartment, broaching the topic of downsizing can be a scary thought. You might be wondering, how can I ask Mom and Dad to give up so many mementos they obviously cherish, and risk upsetting them? Indeed, the conversation — and the culling process itself — can be quite distressing.

One of our APFM readers, Lisa McDermott Byce, reported that a friend of hers found the process very difficult at first.

“She asked a group of us to help her get rid of things but she became increasingly upset as we worked together on it. Later she discovered something that helped her — she began to give away her stash to needy people and to the local thrift store. She came to understand that she hadn’t been using the things she’d been hoarding and that others could really use them,” says Lisa. “Now instead of feeling ashamed, she is blessing others.”

Enlisting trusted friends and family to help your loved one clear their clutter can be an enormous help. Having others around to share memories with can make the process less painful, for one thing. It can also make it less overwhelming and time-consuming — sometimes seniors are daunted by the size of the task, or feel physically incapable. Sometimes, though, the situation is so dire that professional help is warranted. Senior move managers help the elderly downsize their possessions and are experts at helping with the transition into senior living.

“Sometimes when an adult child steps in to help mom or dad move, they bring emotional baggage. A lot of people are afraid they will lose the memory if they lose the item,” said Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers, in the Reuters article. A trusted advisor on senior living issues can go a long way to helping seniors and their families figure out what to throw away and what to bring with them into assisted living. They can also help you talk to your loved one, addressing their fears and anxieties about assisted living, as well as the advantages of moving.

The result can be a hassle-free transition — and a much lighter load.