Oh Say Can You See….

Older Couple Walking on Beach

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. As we age most of us notice a definite change in our ability to see clearly. I know I certainly have. I wear contact lenses and I keep telling my Doctor I think I need a new prescription. I just can’t see as well as I use to and oh, what’s with the lights at night? Why are they a little blurry? It seems I have the beginning of a cataract in one eye, according to my Doctor, nothing worth doing anything about – yet. Aren’t I too young for that? No, I’m not, statistically most cataracts develop in people over the age of 55, I passed that milestone a while ago, but maybe I’ll be like Mom…

My wonderful Mother passed away a little over a year ago. She was almost 94 and in wonderful health. She swam in the lake that summer, hiked, made pies, entertained her bridge club and began each day with a cup of coffee and the New York Times Crossword puzzle. I remember not that many years ago, Mom was already well into her 80’s, I looked at her doing the puzzle and said “Mom, you don’t have your glasses on, how can you see?” She looked up at me and said, “I haven’t worn my glasses in several years now.” “And you can read without them?” I asked. She went on to say that she saw perfectly ever since she had her cataracts removed. Now in my defense, I did not see my Mom every day since she lived in New York State and I’ve been in Florida for going on twelve years now. She came to visit me in the winter and of course I visited her several times a year. However, I had not noticed she no longer wore glasses.

How fortunate my Mom was, aside from the cataracts which were for her very successfully surgically removed, she never had any other vision problems. Some folks are not that fortunate, especially those who are diagnosed with glaucoma. With cataracts, which are a more common condition, you do have symptoms – usually your vision becomes blurry or cloudy. If you need surgery, the surgeon actually removes your lens and replaces it with a man-made one! It’s an outpatient surgery and from what I’ve read, there is little or no down time afterward. For my Mom, it gave her almost perfect vision and she never wore her glasses again. Unfortunately glaucoma is not that easily treated. Glaucoma, according to Wikipedia, is a group of eye diseases which result in damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. The definition goes on to say there are several types of glaucoma, the most common type being open-angle glaucoma which begins slowly over time and has no pain associated with it. High blood pressure, obesity, history of migraines and genetics can all play a role in who gets the disease. The good news, according to the National Eye Institute, is that even if you have no symptoms, your eye Doctor can detect the disease early on and, while there is no known cure, there are treatments that delay the progression of the disease and save your vision.

I know as I get older I am more aware of my eyesight and seeing well is extremely important to me.  I am sure it is to you as well which is why we have to add something very important to our New Years’ Resolutions -schedule a complete eye exam, even if you have no symptoms. Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses – every time you’re outside. If you wear eyeglasses, a pair that that darkens automatically when exposed to sunlight, called transition lenses, is a great solution.

Here’s to seeing clearly in 2017 – and if you see a new home in your future, please give me a call. I’ll see you through the process from start to finish taking care of every detail.  I wish you and your family a very happy, healthy new year!

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Dinner with Family

I love Thanksgiving, even more than Christmas. The reason being, my grandchildren are still young enough that traveling at Christmas is not an option, they have to be home for Santa. I have three adult children and they live in three different states so deciding where to spend the Christmas holiday is difficult. Thanksgiving on the other hand is easy, we pick a place and we all get together. This year it was my oldest daughter Marta’s home in Severna Park, MD. My daughter Lisa, her husband and their three children drove from Chicago, my son and his son flew from the east coast of Florida as did my children’s Father, and I flew from the West Coast. It was a wonderful time! Christmas will of course be wonderful, but I won’t get to see everybody like I do at Thanksgiving.

Traveling a lot, which I do, takes its toll. I find going from a warm climate to a cold one is especially difficult. I take extra precautions to try and make sure I don’t get sick. In addition to my regular vitamins I add Airborne before I depart and again when I’m ready to come home. I believe it helps. I also try to eat as carefully when traveling as when I am home. I cut up an organic apple and sprinkle it with lemon juice, throw in a few carrot sticks and some walnuts and keep that bag in my purse (OK, I also often throw in a few chunks of dark chocolate). That makes it easy to say no thank you to the little bags of peanuts and pretzels offered on the airline as well as the snacks offered in airport shops.

I think it is pretty normal to give more thought to ones health as we approach the holidays and of course, the end of one year and the beginning of another. We vow not to overeat over the holidays and then if we do, we vow to stick to our healthy eating plan for the new year. A healthy eating plan is not a diet, notice I’ve avoided that word. Dieting is not the answer to healthy living or losing weight. By dieting I refer to cutting back on what you eat. If you are overweight and do not have health issues that can effect  your weight, chances are you could be eating the wrong foods. Of course I am not a dietician, a nutritionist, nor a doctor – I am not licensed to give advice. What I write you can read in many places from many reputable sources, including this magazine.

I do a lot of reading about food and I am a firm believer that it is the best medicine. I’ve treated my own maladies with food and supplements with great success. I can also say I have a much higher energy level than lots of folks my age which I attibute to what I eat or perhaps more accurately, to what I don’t eat.

There is lots of good advice on healthy living in this magazine, it’s worth reading and taking to heart. As we approach the holidays I plan to enjoy this special time of year to the fullest while keeping myelf as healthy as possible. I know I’ll cheat, it’s very hard to pass up all of the wonderful treats that good friends and family pass my way. I’ll try very hard to enjoy in moderation and I’ll start the new year with a plan to do even better next year. I think that’s pretty doable and realistic. If we make realistic goals, it’s much easier to reach them. But I’m ahead of schedule, enjoy the next few weeks preparing for the holidays, enjoy them to the fullest, and then make some healthy goals for the New Year. That’s my plan…and I’m sticking to it!! Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays. Share the love in your heart not only with the people closest to you but with someone that may not know the joy of good friends and a loving  family.

This article is a reprint from Florida Health and Wellness Magazine, where I am a regular contributor.  

The Air You’re Breathing

Women Breathing Fresh Air - No Mold

For anyone with breathing problems, whether it’s from COPD, asthma, bronchitis, or any similar issue – the air inside your home must be pure! This is Florida, you’re here because of the blue sky, the beaches, the golf courses and the weather!!! That’s what brought me here as well, it’s truly a wonderful place to live. However, it’s a very different climate than up north and with the very warm temperatures comes humidity, and with humidity comes moisture and with moisture can come a four letter word that frightens many a south Florida homeowner…MOLD.

Let’s talk about mold – some facts. It is a living organism that belongs to the fungi kingdom, it breaks down dead plant matter – mold has been referred to as the original recycler. Mold also has some medicinal value, however it’s an unwelcome guest inside your home where it can grow and become toxic. Mold spores enter homes through windows, doors, and heating and air conditioning units. Animals can bring mold into a home as well. It becomes a problem when the spores drop where there is excessive moisture causing them to rapidly grow and multiply. Common places mold is found are under bathroom sinks or inside of cabinet doors in bathrooms that do not have proper ventilation. Once the mold enters a home, many building materials, including drywall, wallpaper, and artificial plants all provide suitable nutrients for mold, facilitating growth.

How dangerous is it? That’s a topic that brings forth a wide range of responses. There have been many attempts to link exposure to toxigenic mold with a number of serious diseases however there is not a lot of evidence to support these claims. It is known that sensitivity to mold varies from one person to the next and people with any pre-existing lung condition are at higher risk of developing health problems from exposure to mold. The bottom line, we want our homes to be mold free regardless of our health issues.

If you’re shopping for a home you may think the best answer to avoid a mold problem is to buy new construction. Sounds reasonable – but not so fast, if new construction sits empty for any length of time, there can be water intrusion. Worse, there have been cases where contractors have put up dry wall before the concrete was totally dry and in this climate, that’s going to create a terrible problem. Improperly sealed windows can allow water penetration which can go undiscovered for a long time resulting in a more serious mold issue. These are exceptions of course but there have been some recent incidences where mold has been found in new homes.

OK, enough, I’m painting a pretty dire picture here and it’s not that bad.  Before you buy a condo or a house, have a mold test done! It’s very inexpensive and worth every penny. Today’s inspectors have sophisticated equipment including infrared moisture readers. In a few minutes they can go over walls and floors looking for any sign of moisture. The home inspector works hand in hand with a licensed mold inspector who will take air samples in the home. These readings tell you whether there is mold present, what type of mold it is and the spore count. Based on the readings, proper mediation can take place. Even with high readings, the home can be cleaned. In the eleven years that I have been representing Buyers, I have only had two incidences of mold readings so high we chose to vacate the contract rather than mediate.*

If you purchased property in Florida and did not have a mold test done, it’s a good idea to have one done now. I have had a lot of experience with testing. The majority of homes have normal readings which require no action and in most cases, elevated readings can be easily corrected. An experienced Realtor can guide you through the process and refer you to professional companies that do mold testing and remediation if necessary.

*Make sure your Purchase and sales contract protects you in case of elevated mold, a rider may be necessary. If you have questions please call me at 239-877-2726,  or write me at sueellen@royalshellsales.com

This article is a reprint from Florida Health and Wellness Magazine, where I am a regular contributor.


Health Wellness Realtors View South Florida Bonita Springs

“Let me find you your perfect place in the sun” – it’s an often-used marketing phrase. A good Realtor® works very hard to do just that – knowing there are many things to be taken into consideration, including the view and nearness to the water. Many folks coming to Florida seasonally or moving permanently are at or near DELETE “to” retirement age.  It’s time to sit back and really enjoy life! Sounds great – and it can be if you take your time to ensure you’re choosing the right location for you and your lifestyle – this includes taking stock of your health.

Discussing your health is not something that is usually part of an initial conversation about real estate. Often, it doesn’t come up at all yet it is an important consideration. Seasoned Realtors (nice way to say “older”) face the same challenges that retired or soon to retire Buyers do and they can be an important resource in helping you make a good decision. You should feel free to discuss any issues you have with your trusted Realtor® early on in your search process.  Take, Gale, one of my clients who thought she had found the perfect house, it had everything she wanted and the price was right. She happened to mention to me that she had heard of a very good specialist for a health issue she had. The location she thought she wanted to be in was miles away from this Doctor.  Since she needed regular care, that distance did make a difference. If you only look at a map, often the distance from one place to another seems very short – eight or nine miles. If you’re heading out on May 15th, the trip can be completed within 15 or 20 minutes door to door. If you’re heading the same way on February 15th, it’s a completely different situation. Fortunately, this area has an abundance of beautiful communities to choose from. In Gale’s case, we found another house she just loved which resulted in a much easier commute to see the specialist she wanted to regularly see.

“Live near the gate” – have you heard that before? There are some gated communities that cover more than two thousand acres of lovely tree  lined streets, beautiful lakes and wonderful neighborhoods. If your idea of an ideal place means secluded and quiet, you might just find that perfect spot deep in the back of such a community. It may be the perfect place to live but if you need to go in and out on a regular basis – you must consider the true commute time. It can easily take fifteen or twenty minutes just to get from your new home to the gate.

What other factors are important? Have you really given consideration to issues that may restrict you in any way? Yes, we all smile and agree that 60 is the new 40 and 70 the new 50, but truth is we all face new challenges as we age. Recognizing this and taking good care now will aid in making that adage more of a reality. If your physician has made some lifestyle recommendations for you, why not choose a place that facilitates those changes? Many communities have miles of walking or biking trails. Golf courses are abundant but many communities also offer alternatives such as pickle ball, water aerobics, and a variety of fitness classes.

The area has excellent health care facilities in several different locations including physical therapy centers conveniently located near many gated communities; however, if you require special services, make sure you know exactly where those locations are in relation to where you think you want to be before you buy.

Your current Healthcare needs may not be the first things that come to mind when deciding to find your place in the sun however a current or anticipated condition should be part of the discussion earlier rather than later. Making the right choice is important, and the same is true when it comes to a good Realtor®. You ask for referrals when you choose a Doctor, do the same when choosing a Realtor®, remember you’re trusting that professional with what is – for most people –one of your largest assets. Choose wisely.

This article is a reprint from Florida Health and Wellness Magazine, where I am a regular contributor.