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Home Care

Home upgrades that really work

Start by determining the scope of your project. It may be just a new tub or shower, or it may be the entire kitchen. Some homeowners find it helpful to consider their project in terms of must-haves and nice-to-haves so it’s easier to make adjustments as obstacles or finances require.

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Bathroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.

A Better Bathroom
Bathroom makeovers can take many forms, from simple updates to total overhauls. Consider these common approaches, identified by the home experts at JCPenney Home Services, to determine the best match for your home and needs.

Tub-to-Shower Updates
According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 60 percent of homeowners prefer a stall shower without a tub. Whether you want to join the ranks of homeowners transforming their outdated tubs to modern showers, need a larger tub to soak away the day or simply want to update the look of your space, converting your tub or shower is a simple way to add functionality while transforming your bathroom.

Aging and Accessibility 
More than 200,000 injuries occur in the bathroom each year, according to the National Safety Council. Especially for those with mobility challenges, water and slippery surfaces can be a dangerous combination. If you’re taking on a bathroom upgrade with accessibility in mind, be sure to consider options like slip-resistant flooring, strong grab bars, shower seats and a practical walk-in tub or low-threshold shower base.

Complete Remodel
If you’re looking for a substantial change, a complete remodel may be your best answer. This approach allows you to integrate a consistent look and style throughout the room and create a truly custom experience. However, a project of this scope often requires professional assistance. There are companies like Re-Bath, a partner of JCPenney Home Services, that offer an exclusive remodeling process to remove old materials and fixtures and replace them with beautiful, new products in a wide variety of colors and styles. Partnerships with leading brands provide ample choices in cabinets, countertops, fixtures, hardware and more for a one-stop solution to upgrading your bathroom from floor to ceiling.

Create a New Kitchen
It’s the hub of the home, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners start with the kitchen when they’re planning functional upgrades. New appliances, countertops and tilework all add to the style and function of a kitchen, but don’t overlook these highly functional features that can make your home more enjoyable.

Water Filtration
Features like the faucet and sink, and even refrigerators with ice-makers and water dispensers, can take a real beating through basic everyday use. One way to minimize the wear and tear, and take your kitchen upgrade to the next level, is a water filtration system. Cleaner, clearer water can benefit your home in a number of ways. It eliminates the need for expensive bottled water, produces cleaner, spot-free dishes, lets you save on soap and detergents, results in less build-up on fixtures and helps increase the life of appliances that use water.

Flooring
Updating the floor of your kitchen is another easy way to upgrade the space, even if it’s the only enhancement you make. For example, JCPenney Home Services offers a broad line of hardwood, laminate and luxury vinyl, all of which are affordable and practical solutions for a high-use area like the kitchen.

Lighting
If there’s one place in the home where task lighting really matters, it’s the kitchen. Proper lighting can help ensure you can see well for safe food handling. It also helps set the mood for the room, whether it’s a lively gathering with guests or a quiet candle-lit meal at your eat-in nook. You can create a focal point with exquisite fixture over a feature like an island then be sure to complement your standout fixtures with recessed lights on multiple switches with dimmers so you can customize the lighting as needed.

Planning Your Project

Define your desires. Although obvious, many homeowners find this to be among the most challenging aspects of a renovation. Start by determining the scope of your project. It may be just a new tub or shower, or it may be the entire kitchen. Some homeowners find it helpful to consider their project in terms of must-haves and nice-to-haves so it’s easier to make adjustments as obstacles or finances require.

Set a budget. The easiest way to overspend on a renovation is to go into it without an established budget. If you specify what you can afford from the outset and plan against that budget every step of the way, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your investment in the long run.

Expect the unexpected. If possible, review a blueprint of your home (or have your contractor take a look) to identify details behind the wall, like the layout of the plumbing and electric lines, which can be costly to relocate. It’s also a good idea to take a thorough inventory of your current space so you’re aware of any damage or wear that will need repaired before you begin.

Hire the help (or not). With some preliminary information on the complexity of the job and a better idea of exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish, you should be able to make a decision about whether the project is something you’re prepared to tackle on your own or if hiring professionals is more likely to provide the results you’re seeking.

Monitor progress. Even if you’re handling the project on your own, it’s a good idea to continually monitor the project in terms of budget, timeline and quality of work. It’s easier to make corrections as you go than to get to the end and discover a problem that needs reworking.

Find more ideas and inspiration for your kitchen or bathroom upgrade at jcpenney.myhomeprojectcenter.com.

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Home Care

Spending time on household chores may improve brain health

Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

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Photo by @deconovo from Unsplash.com

Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

“Scientists already know that exercise has a positive impact on the brain, but our study is the first to show that the same may be true for household chores,” says Noah Koblinsky, lead author of the study, Exercise Physiologist and Project Coordinator at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI). “Understanding how different forms of physical activity contribute to brain health is crucial for developing strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.”

In this study, published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, the researchers looked at the links between household chores, brain volume and cognition in a group of 66 cognitively healthy older adults living in the community. The participants attended three assessment visits at Baycrest Hospital, including a health evaluation, structural brain imaging and cognitive assessment.

Participants were asked about the time they spent on household chores, such as tidying, dusting, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, heavy housework, yard work, home repairs and caregiving.

The researchers found that older adults who spent more time engaging in such activities had greater brain volume, regardless of how much exercise they did. This was observed in the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory and learning, and the frontal lobe, which is involved in many aspects of cognition.

Although it is possible that individuals with larger brains are more likely to take up household chores, there could be several explanations for the brain benefits of household physical activity.

First, we know that heart health is closely tied to brain health. It could be that household chores have a similar effect on the heart and blood vessels as low-intensity aerobic exercise.

Second, the planning and organization involved in household chores may promote the formation of new neural connections over time, even as we age.

Third, it could be that the older adults who engaged in more household chores spent less time being sedentary, which has been shown to be associated with negative health outcomes, including poor brain health.

“Besides helping to guide physical activity recommendations for older adults, these findings may also motivate them to be more active, since household chores are a natural and often necessary aspect of many people’s daily lives, and therefore appear more attainable,” says Dr. Nicole Anderson, Senior Scientist at the RRI, Director of the Ben and Hilda Katz Interprofessional Research Program in Geriatric and Dementia Care, and senior author of this study.

This study was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

As a next step, the researchers would like to assess household physical activity more objectively using wearable technology. With additional funding, they could also plan controlled trials with the aim of increasing individuals’ household activity and studying brain changes over time.

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Home Care

Fresh ideas for home upgrades

Spring means it’s time to start sprucing up your home and garden with a little TLC inside and out.

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Photo by Daiga Ellaby from Unsplash.com

Spring means it’s time to start sprucing up your home and garden with a little TLC inside and out.

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider these tips:

Make function a priority.

While aesthetic changes may boost value and please the eye, be sure to consider upgrades that make living easier, like organization units that give you more space or upgrades that create additional living space.

Keep budget in mind.

Make a list of the projects you’d like to complete and estimate how much each will cost. Use the list to determine what you can afford to complete now.

Do your research.

If you’ll be making a significant purchase such as a new vacuum or grill, be sure to explore your options, read reviews and shop around for the best prices for greater confidence in what you choose.

Set yourself up for a more enjoyable spring with more home and garden tips at eLivingtoday.com.

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Home Care

When to update home and garden goods

As you tackle spring cleaning this year, take stock of your common home and garden equipment to determine what may need updating.

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Photo by Tom Byrom from Unsplash.com

Investing in quality products, properly maintaining and storing them all have an impact on how long they’ll stay in good working condition.

As you tackle spring cleaning this year, take stock of your common home and garden equipment to determine what may need updating.

Lawn Mower: If your mower needs a repair that exceeds its value, it’s time for a replacement. However, there may be other signs that an upgrade is warranted. Rough operation, frequent breakdowns or other indications of faulty performance deserve a second look. Before you buy new, remember to check your warranty to determine whether repairs might be covered.

Vacuum: Many homeowners discard their used vacuum when it stops picking up dirt and debris as efficiently as it did originally. Before you move on, be sure to check that performance issues aren’t the result of clogged hoses or a filter than needs cleaning or replacing. A belt may also be worn or need adjusting. Other signs it may be time to replace the vacuum include damaged or frayed cords, motor issues like overheating or making strange noises.

Grill: A grill may last anywhere from 5-15 years, depending on the quality of the materials and how it is maintained. However, it’s common to have to replace parts along the way. Signs you may need a new grill include a firebox (the main enclosure) with cracks, rust or holes and burners that distribute heat unevenly. Damaged grates can affect even grilling if they’re warped or if they’re flaky or rusted, they can contaminate food. If you’re not able to replace the grates, or any other essential part, including hoses and connectors for a gas grill, you’ll be better off replacing the unit.

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