Seniors and More

A Place for Mom

Every family has a unique story. Understanding that story is the key to helping you find the right living arrangement for your loved one.
If you are considering your options or the options for a loved one’s senior living we are here to help. Visit our Austin Senior Living Resources today.

Getting Older Is Not For Sissies!

2CaptureEvery transition is an opportunity, regardless of your stage in life.

With the right preparation, a new home can provide the fresh start
and continual enjoyment you’ve been working toward.

5 Reasons that can make selling a senior’s home different.

  1. Is moving the best alternative? If so, where? Are there other
    options? If so, what are they and have they been explored?
  2. Are close family members on board with the decision to sell?
  3. How do you downsize a lifetime’s worth of possessions and
    family heirlooms?
  4. What are the tax related implications of a sale?
  5. What effects might a sale have on future income?

Partnering with an SRES® (Senior Real Estate Specialist) can make the
transaction less stressful and more successful.

Contact me for a free copy of the real estate guide “Moving On”

Consumer Newsletter –April 2015  By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

Seasonal Jobs: Encore Careers with a Twist

Mike Fitzpatrick spends summers leading raft tours for Mad River Tours on Wyoming’s Snake River in Jackson Hole. It’s a seasonal gig that he’s been doing since 2011.

The work can be intense. Days sometimes last 10 to 12 hours, he’s lifting boats in and out of the water, and he’s responsible for the safety of passengers. During the winter he switches gears and works a ski instructor.

The 66-year-old has been living this life for about five years after a career as a civil engineer.

Plentiful work, sweet perks

Though college students once had a lock on the ski-bumming lifestyle, more plum jobs at national parks, golf courses, and resorts are being filled by retirees.

Seasonal work is plentiful, there’s a wide variety of job types, and employees enjoy unique perks. The work ranges from physically demanding gigs, like Fitzpatrick’s, to tamer assignments as greeters, front desk employees, Segway guides, and shuttle drivers.

Depending on the venue, perks can include Tibetan yoga classes, ski passes, and access to award-winning golf courses. And those working in national parks spend their off hours in spectacular nature. Think Denali, Yellowstone, and Acadia.

“I love being on the river. The feeling of floating down the river and the scenery and the wildlife are soothing,” says Fitzpatrick. “Plus, I like to turn people on to the love of the river and the importance of keeping rivers pristine.”

Summer camp for grown-ups

Seasonal workers’ motivations and financial situations vary too. Some are well-to-do corporate retirees, some are supplementing Social Security income, and for others such jobs are a break on their RV route.

No one gets rich doing seasonal work, warns Kari Quaas, HR recruiting specialist and pied piper’ess of Cool Works, a niche job board for seasonal work that features an “Older and Bolder” page geared to those seeking encore careers. But many jobs include housing and food at a cost of about $15 per day and there’s a unique satisfaction that comes with the work.

“It’ a lot of fun, keeps life interesting, and it’s an adventure. Plus, it’s a unique bonding experience and you never know who you’ll meet,” she says. “People support one another and they share a bit of that dream mentality and the idea that tomorrow isn’t promised.”

For some, it’s a little like getting to go back to summer camp.

Employers’ expectations

That said, employers do expect employees to bring skills and a commitment to the job.

If you want to be a ski instructor, emphasize that you’ve been a lifelong skier, for example. Or if you’re applying at a ranch, employers will want to know that you’ve had experience working with horses.

“It’s key to communicate that you’re looking for new experiences and that you’re willing to try anything – something new,” says Quaas. “Those willing to jump in and give it a try will be well rewarded. There’s a large community of people who do this kind of work and everyone can find something interesting.”

And employers appreciate older workers. “There’s a maturity level that’s not there when you’re 19 years old. Having all kinds of people and people of different ages working together creates a good team and it brings a new dimension to our company,” observes Mary Bess, general manager of Mad River Tours ( “Young guides look up to Fitz (Mike Fitzgerald) as a mentor and he brings a sense of professionalism.”

Good for the soul

Such jobs also return a sense of adventure and excitement to people’s lives.

Bess points out that there are riches to be had beyond financial rewards. “As you age, your experiences become more valuable to you.”

She ticks off some side benefits she’s seen among mature workers, including the camaraderie of belonging to a team, finding a new peer group, and learning new skills.

“It keeps you young. Being retired doesn’t mean sitting at home stagnating. There can be a next phase and it can be anything that you want it to be. What do you want to do with your day? It’s an open door,” she says.

Fitzpatrick probably would agree.

“I used to get stressed out when I was working as an engineer. The river isn’t that way,” he says. “I’m satisfied with life and more at peace.”


If you’re game for an adventure, here some jobs sites where you can jumpstart your research. Also search favorite resorts and vacation venues and check the employment section of the sites.

Seasonal Employment (


Consumer Newsletter –March 2015  By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

Better end-of –life decisions


It’s a most unpleasant topic.

Everyone hopes for an easy exit.

Few really want to ponder the end.

But author and physician Atul Gawande does just that in his book Being Mortal. He takes on end-of-life challenges and our obsession with chasing cures, and offers insight about making the last days better.

PBS’s “Frontline” also did a documentary based on Gawande’s book. If you’re up for such reading and viewing, see: and

 Guard your keys

You’re probably already careful about handing over just your car key – not the full ring with your house keys—when you’re having your car serviced or when you turn it over to a valet.

Now you have to be even more careful about keeping an eye on your keys.

New technology makes it possible for someone to scan a key with a smartphone app and either go to a self-service key-making kiosk to get an extra key made or upload the image and get a duplicate mailed.

Though the service — provided by companies like by KeyMe (, MinuteKey ( and KeysDuplicated ( — is a huge convenience when you get locked out or you want spare keys for a house guest or a dog walker, it’s also a boon to thieves.

So that means the days of leaving keys unattended or lying around on a table in a public place are over. You really need to guard a ring of keys the same way you protect a credit card or a bank password.

Learn more at:

 Lower Your Utility Spending

When you’re living on a fixed or low income, you look at all of your spending to see where you can save. Every dime counts.

One way to reduce expenses is by slashing spending on utility costs.

Maybe you’ve looked into ways to save energy and found that the upfront costs for some projects are too much to afford.

It might be worth a second look, especially when you consider some of the free services available through utility companies and through other affordable weatherization programs specifically designed for seniors and low income households.

Utility company freebies

Each utility company’s services differ, but most have some type of home energy assessment program and many offer free products.

For example, Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida offers assistance to low-income homeowners to lower their energy bills.

That help could include simple strategies, such as installing energy efficient light bulbs and low-flow showerheads or more significant projects like installing attic insulation or replacing inefficient air conditioners and appliances. Senior citizens and families with young children are given priority. For more, see

In Chicago, ComEd, the electricity provider, offers free energy audits to help all its customers reduce energy consumption.

It also provides certain free products, including programmable thermostats, low-flow showerheads, and CFL bulbs. See program terms and conditions:

Another example is the Weatherization Assistance Program ( aimed at helping low-income Massachusetts homeowners and renters lower their energy costs by making energy efficiency changes.

Seniors get priority for services, which could include insulating attics and walls, sealing cracks, wrapping water heater and pipes, or installing storm windows.

Small changes, big impact

If you’re skeptical about the value of small changes, consider what you could save by changing habits.

Lighting – Replace your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with models that have the ENERGY STAR label. Savings: $40 per year. Turn off lights. It costs almost $20 per year to leave one light on for 8 hours per day.

Water –According to the EPA’s WaterSense, just one leaky toilet could waste 200 gallons of water per day. And by replacing just one showerhead with a WaterSense-labeled model, you could save $70 per year on water.

Find water rebate programs in your state at:

Also see: Shower Better

For more simple ways to save on energy costs, see

And if you’ve tucked away some money for a more significant home upgrade project, consider getting an energy audit to see where that money would be best spent. Keep in mind, bigger projects, such as upgraded insulation, new windows, a high-performance furnace, or energy-efficient appliances, yield bigger energy savings.

Start your search for weatherization assistance by contacting your utility provider. Also search for rebates and incentives and contact information for state and local utility providers at


Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the  Mature Market Janie Miller, Broker Associate, REALTOR,SRES, AHS Sky Realty
4501 Spicewood Springs Rd. #1029
Austin, Texas 78759 

Myths and Realities of Aging

Older People Don’t Use Technology

For many, technology is the path to a new career.

“There are few other spaces – online or offline- where tweens, teens, sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends, and neighbors regularly interact and communicate across the same network.”

The generations aged 50+ are internet connected. Using e-mail and reading news updates rank first and second as the most frequent online activities, but social media participation is quickly catching up. Although some may prefer face-to-face or telephone communications, for many checking e-mail is part of the daily routine.

According to the online market research firm, comScore, an estimated 27.4 million users of social media sites are aged 55 or older. Pew Research Center findings show that half of online adults aged 50-64 and one in four aged 65 and older participate in Facebook, Linked-In, YouTube, and other social media sites.

The number of users age 50+ doubled from 2009 to 2010. How does this age group use social media?

  • Reconnect with people from the past.
  • Reach out for support online, especially those dealing with chronic health conditions.
  • Maintain contact with far flung family members.

For “snowbirds” and those who are constantly on the go, email or social media may be the most reliable way to keep in touch.

Source: (Mary Madden, “Older Adults and Social Media,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, August 27, 2010, Pew Research Center, Washington, DC, Asults-and-Social-Media.) (lbid)

Old Equals Ill and Disabled


Research by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging finds consistently that more than half beliefs about of respondents at all age levels rated their health as good to excellent. “Individual’s beliefs a pit their own health status, also have been found to influence their expectations of retirement and the retirement process itself.

Boomers, however, are less likely to assess their own health as very good or excellent than previous generations at the same time of life stage. In a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, boomers reported more pain, chronic conditions, alcohol and substance abuse, and psychiatric problems. Boomers also report higher stress levels than earlier generations-from jobs, finances, commuting, and caring for parents and children. The study findings raise the question of whether the baby boomers are entering senior and retirement years in worse shape than previous generations. While disability rates among the 65= population have declined in the last 20 years, the trend may reverse if the baby boomers retire with more chronic and disabling health conditions.

On the other hand, boomers—the “forever young” generation- are more health-conscious and have higher expectations than earlier generations; for their grandparents and parents aches and pains were a natural part of aging.

(Source: “Older Americans Update 2010:Key Indicators of Well Being”, Federal Interagency Forum on Aging,


Myth:  Old People Are All The Same



The diversity of interest and experiences of youth and middle age is no less present in mature years. In fact, older people are more diverse in important ways than younger individuals. Just about everyone knows someone who is a “youthful” 80 or an ‘old” 50. Health is a major factor in aging and genetics plays a role in both how quickly we age and what ailments we develop. But other factors are also determinants such as education, socioeconomic group, climate societal expectations, activity level, nutrition, and social connections. Although we cannot control the environment into which we are born or our experiences of childhood, our actions and decisions as adults shape the course of life. And each individual’s accumulation of life experiences is distinctly unique.

(“Growing Older in America” The Health and Retirement Study, National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Check out the newsletter below for helpful numbers and web links.

I don’t know about you but the phrase “senior citizen” gives me goose bumps. It conjures up memories of my grandparents sitting on their front porch wrapped in a shawl. That may be okay for some but most of the people I know are just now discovering a whole new way of life. They are taking a journey into a new realm of possibilities. We are discovering new ways to better our health through food and fitness, new ways to travel and have adventures. We have educational choices for pure enjoyment or maybe to finish a degree, and there is an abundance of art, music and other entertainment choices. While living expenses and other financial considerations are a huge factor, we continue to try and live our lives to the fullest. Our options are varied and we need to take advantage of every opportunity. A lifetime of experiences has produced a generation of unique individuals who share a past. A generation that values hard work and loyalty, that is cautious and industrious, while at the same time optimistic and ambitious with a zest for life. Like many of you I am at a new stage in my life and hope to be able to provide you with useful information from what I have already learned or learn in the future. I believe it will be information that will guide all of us through the many changes that are bound to come our way. Together, we can make this next stage of our lives the best yet.

Consumer Newsletter –January 2015  By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

Best Cities for Aging If 2015 is the year you’ve decided to get serious about researching retirement venues, you may want to take a look at the Milken Institute’s “Best Cities for Successful Aging.” In it (, the institute studies and ranks 352 U.S. metropolitan areas. The Milken Institute doesn’t rely on opinion polls, but looks at data and statistics to assess how well a place provides for successful aging. The research looked at data on everything from health care, transit, and employment, to education opportunities, living options, and overall livability. According to the report, “Millions of aging adults are upending convention, seeking to remain active and contributing members of their communities. A revolution in the ‘culture of aging’ is underway. Cities are on the frontlines of the challenges and opportunities that accompany this revolution.” If you’re trying to narrow down future retirement venues, the report lets you quickly hunt for data on the issues that are most important to you. On the housing front, for example, you can find things like a city’s median house price, median rental price, the cost of assisted living, and the percent of households with aged 65-plus residents. In addition, the report includes interactive maps, videos, and infographics. One interesting aspect of the study is that many of the traditional retirement states, such as Florida and Arizona, aren’t on the top ten lists.

Top 10 large metro areas:
1.     Madison, Wis.
  1. Omaha, Neb.-Council Bluffs, Iowa
  2. Provo-Orem, Utah
  3. Boston-Cambridge, Mass.; Newton, N.H.
  4. Salt Lake City, Utah
  5. Jackson, Miss.
  6. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
  7. Toledo, Ohio
  8. Austin-Round Rock, Tex.
  9. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
Top 10 small metro areas:
  1. Iowa City, Iowa
  2. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  3. Columbia, Mo.
  4. Bismarck, N.D.
  5. Rapid City, S.D.
  6. Ames, Iowa
  7. Rochester, Minn.
  8. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  9. Cheyenne, Wyo.
  10. Fargo, N.D.-Minn.

Declutter, prepare your house for spring selling season January is the month when talk turns to resolutions, and magazines and newspapers give readers tips and resources. So here it is. Decluttering the home often ranks right up there with diets and health on New Year’s resolutions lists. This online resource ( can help you in your quest for that Zen living environment. The site offers that classic approach of setting a timer and suggesting that you deal with stuff in a given space for a set amount of time. Somehow its methods do the trick for some chronically disorganized folks. For one, the site provides a calendar of daily to-dos and how-tos for the year. So, for instance, during January there’s a mission each week—kitchen counters, kitchen cabinets and drawers, pantry, and refrigerator and freezer. Each day of the week is devoted to an activity associated with that mission, whether that entails purging the junk drawer or making an inventory of the freezer and pantry. If your kitchen spaces are in good shape, you can skip ahead to other months and find help with dealing with dining rooms, bedrooms and paper clutter. Especially if you’re preparing your house for sale this spring or later in the year, this daily decluttering strategy will get your spaces in shape slowly and steadily and without panic. You can sign up to get weekly reminders or join the Declutter 365 Facebook Group for daily reminders; you can find tips on specific problem areas –the dresser, the nightstand or the bathroom counter; and  you can print out monthly calendars, as well as checklists, inventory sheets, and password organizer forms. Retirement as stress source Here’s an odd bit of news. Despite the fact that people look forward to it, plan for it for their whole lives, and have fantasies about how great it’s going to be, retirement actually is a pretty stressful event. Check out the Holmes- Rahe Stress Inventory at the American Institute of Stress ( and the mean value placed on retirement from work. Retirement is one of life’s top ten stressors. Some of the others include the death of a spouse, divorce, being fired and a major personal injury or illness.

Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for the Mature Market

Sky Realty 4501 Spicewood Springs Rd. #1029 Austin, Texas 78759 Janie Miller, Broker Associate, REALTOR,SRES, AHS