RE/MAX 440
Michael Gillis

Michael Gillis
701 W. Market Street  Perkasie  PA 18944
Phone:  215-469-0213
Office:  215-453-7653
Fax:  267-354-6911

My Blog

Make the Best Choice When Seeking Home Help

September 6, 2012 5:58 am

Families looking for caregivers to provide help at home for their loved ones got a scare recently with a study published in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study, conducted by Northwestern University, examined the hiring and screening practices of 180 responding homecare agencies, and concluded that families need to be cautious that the agency is not misrepresenting their caregivers’ skills and their agencies’ training and supervision.

The reality is that not every homecare agency offers the help a family may need. Some agencies may not provide adequate screening or training or put effort into finding the right fit between the caregiver and the client. The situation is often made even more challenging because it may be an unplanned need, making it both more important and harder to be selective in evaluating an agency and an individual caregiver.

To make sure that families get qualified help, families should ask agencies the following questions to ensure they find a right match:

1. How does your agency recruit caregivers, and what are the hiring requirements?

2. What types of screening and background checks are performed on caregivers before they are hired? Make sure that the agency has checked the caregivers’ background through legitimate records databases, not through an unverifiable agency.

3. Is the agency bonded and insured, and licensed if that is required?

4. What kind of health-related training, if any, do caregivers have?

5. Does the agency provide specialized and continuing education for caregivers?

6. What competencies will the caregiver have (e.g., lifting and transfers, homemaking skills, personal care skills including bathing, dressing and toileting, training in behavioral management, cognitive support)? Not every situation will require a caregiver with all of these skills, but it is important to know what a caregiver is able to do.

7. How does the agency assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?

8. What is the policy on providing a substitute caregiver in the event a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?

9. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, can he or she be replaced “without cause”?

10. How long has the agency been in business?

11. How does the agency stay abreast of new techniques and research in home care? Franchise agencies usually have a strong network of ongoing skills training to draw on, but every agency should be taking part in local network and education opportunities to ensure they are providing the most current care modalities.

12. Can the family meet the caregiver before the person starts work? Inviting someone into your home to provide care can be scary. Being able to meet and approve the proposed caregiver before hiring can be very important, and it’s one of the things a good agency will offer.

Source: Visiting Angels

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for Parenting Teenagers

September 6, 2012 5:58 am

There is an old school saying that parents grow as their kids grow up. Raising teenagers is perhaps the most difficult phase of a parent’s life. There is simply too much that happens all the time. There are too many factors that have to be considered. A teenager is likely to develop the most physically, mentally and emotionally in these years and when so many aspects develop together, it is bound to get complicated. Whether or not your teen is going off your preferred path for him or her, tackling every little aspect is still a major challenge.

Keep the following in mind when parenting your teenage son or daughter:

-Independence is of prime importance for teenagers. They have always been confided in your arms and it is time they would spread their wings to see life as they want to see it. Liberty is what you should be offering them. That is freedom with some restrictions. The restrictions should never appear to be overbearing as that could just lead to more troubles. Give them their space but let them know where to draw the line.

-Talking things out is the most advisable parenting tip. Regardless of what the situation is and how grave the problem may be at hand, talking always helps. Speak with your child about the risks of what he or she may be doing, show them what is right and what is not, prevent them from taking risky moves and try to create an understanding that is more than just communicating disciplinary teachings.

-Be welcoming of the world your teen is presently in. Not everything will be mutually agreeable, hence, try to win on the graver issues and let go on the minor ones. Drug addiction or bad company is a red sign, but playing an hour more on the computer or curling her silky straight hair does not pose any threat.

Parents who have troubled teenagers or those that have indulged in unacceptable habits and activities need not shy away from a teen treatment center, and opting for one sooner than later is the wisest decision you can make.

Source: Eagle Ranch Academy

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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The Importance of Taking Home Inventories

September 5, 2012 5:58 am

How much do you like your widescreen plasma TV, ultra-fast computer, designer clothes, high-count Egyptian cotton sheets and tweaked out ride-on lawn mower? How would it change your life if you had to downgrade to a 24" TV, slower computer, discount retail clothes and linens, and a push mower?

If the unthinkable happened tomorrow and your home was severely damaged or destroyed in a fire or hurricane, you'd be understandably devastated. Once you got over the initial shock, you'd have to begin the long and difficult task of recovering or replacing everything that you lost.

If you don't have a home inventory, the chances are good that you will be doing some major downgrading.

Discovery One: You Have a lot More Responsibility Than You Think You Do

The first thing you're going to do is call the insurance company, who is going to ask for a detailed list and description of everything you lost and need to replace. All you need to do is provide the make, model and serial number of your electronics and appliances and substantial proof that your clothes were from Talbot's, your sheets were 600-count and your mower was a high-end John Deere. Easy, right?

Most people can't even remember where they bought many of their belongings, never mind the model and serial number. Receipts? What receipts? Appraisals? Lost in the fire. It's not unheard of to find people digging around in the soggy ashes of their once-home desperately looking for evidence to show insurance adjusters. If only they had been more proactive.

Discovery Two: You Don't Remember as Much as You Think

How big are your grandmother's heirloom pearls? How many are on the string? How long is the strand? Not sure? What about that pocket watch your great-grandfather brought here when he emigrated from Europe? Can you describe it in detail? When is the last time you really looked at it?

If they were stolen, could you describe them to the police? Do you have any pictures?

A comprehensive home inventory can help ensure that you have the right amount of insurance coverage, provide proof of ownership to your insurance company, maximize your insurance recovery payments, and improve your chances of recovering irreplaceable treasures if they're stolen.

A complete inventory, including photos, may be one of the most valuable investments for peace of mind anyone can make for themselves and their families. If something happens to damage homes and property, an inventory will eliminate the need to piece that information together in the aftermath.

A home inventory service can document and catalog all your possessions and requires no preparation. Services can be tailored to your needs and budget. You'll sleep better -- and enjoy relaxing in front of that widescreen TV much more -- knowing you're ready to maintain your family's quality of life if disaster strikes.

Source: www.FEMA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips on How to Avoid Common Locksmith Scams

September 5, 2012 5:58 am

There are several things that homeowners and drivers can do to ensure the locksmith they employ is legitimate so that they don’t fall prey to a scammer.

When a consumer calls a locksmith, the first thing to notice is how the call is answered. If the person answering the phone says something general such as "locksmith services," hang up. A legitimate locksmith will identify the name of their company. The reputable locksmith will discuss the services needed, provide a quote over the phone and will stand by the quote once the work is completed with a receipt showing all charges. Beware of the "too good to be true" low price scammers will offer - it usually is.

Also, check the yellow pages of the phone book. Local locksmiths will usually have an ad that contains information about services they offer, a local phone number/address, and professional organizations they belong to such as the Better Business Bureau or Associated Locksmiths of America. If there’s no ad, check for a listing that has a local address.

While doing research online, go to sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp and Service Magic. These sites offer real reviews by real people. Companies are not allowed to review themselves on these sites or buy advertising. Also, go to findalocksmith.com/search for listings in your area.

When ordering service from a locksmith, notice the vehicle they arrive in and how the locksmith is dressed. Scammers will arrive in unmarked vehicles and not in any kind of uniform. A reputable company will have clearly marked vehicles and uniforms with identification.

When it comes to finding a reputable locksmith, always remember these tips and trust your instincts.

Source: Pop-A-Lock

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Over-sharing in the Office: When More is Too Much

September 5, 2012 5:58 am

For a variety of reasons, people are sharing more in the workplace; sometimes over-sharing. For many, the office has become a second home and a new relationship. People want to make this relationship comfortable, and that means communicating and sharing personal information. But you can talk a relationship to death. For those who are over-sharing in the office, they may be putting their careers or jobs at risk.

There is a variety of contributing factors to this: People are becoming more comfortable airing personal details thanks to social media; younger generations suffer from an "overblown sense of self worth" and believe everything they do should be shared; people are searching for a sense of connection.

We seem to be doing an over-correction of transparency. Companies often used to foster secrecy but because of many cultural shifts, some people are showing complete transparency instead and as a result, it's lead to over-sharing.

Employees should consider how their proclivities will affect their relationships at work. In an effort to connect and be comfortable on the job, they may actually be doing more harm than good. Showing a little more caution about airing dirty laundry is always beneficial and workers are encouraged to ask themselves the following questions before becoming too vocal:

-Who's listening to me? Telling something to a close friend at work is different than broadcasting it to the office, or airing dirty laundry in earshot of a boss.

-Why am I sharing? Oftentimes people are motivated to over-share in order to get people to pay attention to them, not because they really want to share their story.

-Does what I'm sharing further my career? Drunken exploits, drug habits, relationship issues, and so forth can turn people off.

Over-sharing can have a detrimental effect on your professional future. Keep this in mind whenever you're in the office and really consider how your public discourse could affect your career.

Source: Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips to Keep Your PC Clean and Quick

September 4, 2012 5:58 am

What you don't know can hurt you when it comes to what's hiding in your PC. From "naturally" occurring registry errors to more insidious threats like spyware, hidden problems can slow your computer performance to a crawl or even cause it to crash.

A little proactive maintenance, however, can go a long way toward preventing problems. Keeping your PC "clean" and running at its best is as simple as establishing a routine maintenance schedule and using the right kinds of software to address the most common problems.

Here are three key "cleaning" tasks that you should perform on a regular basis (at least once a week):

Run a registry cleaner

If your computer is slower now than when you first bought it, the problem may be registry errors. Installing and removing software, playing online games, application crashes and upgrades of software problems can all create "natural" errors in your PC's registry. They accumulate over time and the more errors you have, the higher the likelihood that you'll experience trouble.

Out spyware

Did you know that 61 percent of PCs have spyware on them? And of those infected, 92 percent of users didn't know spyware was present on their computers, according to a poll by AOL and the National Cyber-Security Alliance.

Spyware - software that gets installed on your computer without your knowledge or consent - is considered a serious security threat. Not only can spyware collect information about your Internet usage, it can install additional software, hijack your browser, change your computer settings and slow down your computer performance.

Scan for spyware daily if you are on the Internet often and download frequently. Many companies offer completely free anti-spyware software for download.

Be vigilant to viruses

With so many other computer threats cropping up, it may be easy to overlook virus protection. But viruses continue to be a major threat to computer security, costing consumers and companies billions of dollars worldwide each year to prevent virus transmission and clean up after infection.

The best defense is a good offense when it comes to computer viruses. Subscribe to virus protection software that provides constant updates since new viruses emerge and old ones evolve into new forms every day. Scan for new viruses at least once a week - more frequently if you are a heavy Internet user or receive large volumes of unsolicited email.

Source: www.liveinformed.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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A Pet Owner's Guide to Disaster Preparedness

September 4, 2012 5:58 am

With hurricane season upon us, pet owners must be prepared on all levels - including being prepared to protect their pets. If you’re wondering what you can do to keep your pets from becoming victims of a disaster, these tips on disaster preparedness will help you keep your dog, cat or other animal safe should disaster strike.

1. Make sure your pet is microchipped and always wears a collar or harness with his microchip tag and town license tags.

2. Always keep your pet up to date on vaccinations.

3. If you need to evacuate, know where the nearest shelter is or have a designated evacuation site. If the shelter or site does not allow pets, have a pre-arranged place to bring your pet, such as a relative's home or pet-friendly motel.

4. Each pet should be in his own carrier clearly marked with all of his and your information. Even if your pets have shared a crate in the past, an emergency situation could stress them out and cause them to be more agitated than usual.

5. Prepare an Evacuation Kit including: photocopies of all veterinary records; copies of all registrations and proof of ownership; a two week supply of food and directions for feeding; a two-week supply of water; a can opener; emergency contact list including your vet and alternate vet, pet-friendly motel, relatives, local animal shelters, police, fire and Red Cross; medications including directions and name of pharmacy; leash and collar.

Take the time now to prepare an emergency kit for your pet in the event of a disaster.

Source: Royal Flush Havanese

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips on Handling Water Damage

September 4, 2012 5:58 am

If a home or office has experienced water damage, it is important to locate a water damage repair company that is well trained and has the equipment to completely dry the structure as quickly as possible.

Water damage is progressive and items that could be restored within the first 48 hours of the damage occurring may not be restored if emergency response is delayed. Although the homeowner might be tempted to use a shop vacuum or call a company that only has equipment to dry carpet, remember that water will wick up walls and travel under base molding and sill plates. It will penetrate through floor coverings into sub-floors, even causing water damage in rooms below.

In addition, if humidity inside the structure is not controlled, items that were not originally damaged could be damaged as a result of absorbing moisture from the air. Structures that are not dried out quickly and properly can become a food source for mold growth, which may require professional mold removal.
In the event of water damage, do the following:

• Stay calm!
• Turn off the breaker in the damaged area before unplugging or removing any electrical devices located on the wet carpet.
• Place aluminum foil under the legs of any furniture that’s in contact with wet carpet. This might help prevent furniture stains on the carpet.
• Lift draperies away from wet carpet.
• Pin up upholstered furniture skirts that may get wet.
• Remove books, shoes, paper goods, fabrics, potted plants, and other items, which may stain wet carpet.

Do not attempt the following:

• Don’t use a home vacuum, since electrical shock may result, as well as certain damage to the equipment itself.
• Don’t place newspaper in traffic areas to walk on, since newspaper ink transfers easily to wet carpet fibers and may result in permanent staining.
• Don’t walk on carpet any more than necessary. This will keep the damage from spreading to unaffected areas.

Source: Rainbow International

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Natural Food Brands on the Rise

August 30, 2012 5:56 am

Natural raw organic foods are on the rise in the U.S. According to Super Market News, recent information released at the Canaccord Genuity Global Growth Conference indicates a growing and prosperous healthy food industry in the United States. Whole Foods Market, which recently announced plans to triple its number of natural food store locations, boasted a 36 percent gross margin over the last two quarters. General Mills announced that 68 percent of its retail products have been made healthier this year, touting reduced sodium and more whole grains, and Annie’s, an organic snack food line, released plans for two new products set to launch in early 2013. Natural food producer Wholesome Goodness also recently announced plans to sell products in Rite Aid stores nationwide.

While recent business performance seems to indicate a positive outlook for the healthy food industry, here are the top 10 superfoods recommended for those interested in natural, health or raw food options:
1. Walnuts
2. Blueberries
3. Avocados
4. Broccoli
5. Spinach
6. Whole grains
7. Yogurt
8. Salmon
9. Dark chocolate
10. Flaxseed

Source: MassageSchoolSanDiego.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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7 Steps to Start The School Year Strong, Safe and Sound

August 30, 2012 5:56 am

Looking to give kids a better start to their school year? A new list of seven steps can help your child start the year off strong, safe and sound.  

1. Take a realistic look at your child’s emotional school-readiness.
Qualities like being more sensitive or less sensitive, more outgoing or more reserved, louder or quieter, are all normal and have both benefits and potential liabilities. The sooner children can learn to be in charge of their qualities, so that these are gifts instead of problems, the happier and more successful they will be. 

2. Be clear about both safety and learning expectations.
Tell your child clearly, 'I expect you to feel respected and safe at school. And I expect you to act in safe and respectful ways towards others.' Be explicit about what this means, using specific examples relevant to your child.

3. Make a plan for potential problems.
Children can suddenly find themselves struggling with some academic subject or having emotional or social problems with someone in their circle of friends. Explore ways to make learning and interacting with friends easier. Sometimes children need major support, but often a little bit of help can make a huge difference.

4. Stay in touch with what is going on at school.
Many children are tired of school by the time they get home and don’t give much information when asked general questions like, “How was school today?" At the same time, most children like to share what’s going on in their lives if they are listened to without being lectured or having to hear negative comments about themselves, their school, or their friends.

5. Offer support to your child’s teachers and schools.
Teaching is a hard job and schools face many challenges. Supporting teachers and not taking them for granted is vital to helping kids have a good experience at school. 

6. Prepare your children to set boundaries and to advocate for themselves.
In an ideal world, people would always be kind to each other rather than being mean to each other. However, even people who really care about each other annoy and bother each other sometimes. Rehearsing how to handle specific problems will help to increase confidence, reduce anxiety, and build competence. 

7. Advocate for your children when things go wrong.
Remember that, as parents, our job is to make sure that our children are in places that are emotionally and physically safe and with people who are creating a supportive, effective learning environment. If something goes wrong, be prepared to advocate in a respectful, powerful way for your child.

Source: Kidpower.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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