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How to combat isolation for seniors

We love our families and don’t know what we’d do without them. But for many of us that live away from our families, it can be tough to connect and see them more than once or twice a year. This is especially true for seniors, as many of them are not able to travel or are living in a specialized facility.

We want to see them often, but what can we do to help them not feel lonely or isolated when family can’t come to visit?

There are solutions! We will go through a few of them, and describe some that pertain to active, mobile seniors and to those who are living in a special care facility and aren’t as mobile.


Active, Independent Seniors

For the active senior still living on their own, there are many options for combating isolation. If they can drive, that opens up a world of possibilities. Even if they can’t drive, there are often specialized transport services made just for seniors in certain areas.

Once transportation is figured out, seniors can get out and do things including:

  • Meetup.org
    A website where you can find groups interested in similar topics like books, fishing, knitting, etc. and meet up with them
  • Library
    Heading to the library, browsing for a book, and reading a while is a great way to get out. Libraries also tend to host events and lectures, check their website for more information.

Non-Active Seniors

A non-active senior is one who needs assistance getting around and shouldn’t be moving on their own. For seniors like this, there are still plenty of options for combating isolation:

  • Skype
    Get your loved one a tablet or Chromebook and set up Skype. That way you can have daily or weekly chats where you all can see each other. Seeing a friendly face and hearing your voice can really do wonders.
  • Companions
    Here at Just Like Family, our Companions are the perfect cure to isolation. They will come over to help do routine tasks, or just to keep your loved one company by playing games or doing an activity.
  • Send a care package
    This applies to both active and non-active seniors. Everyone loves getting mail, especially when it’s an unexpected package! You can send some nice snacks, a letter, and maybe a few activities like knitting items, books, or a puzzle.

There are plenty of ways to help prevent your loved one from feeling isolated or lonely. If they live in a senior living facility, being around other people and having planned activities can engage them and really help the loneliness abate.


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Vegetable Gardening 101

Gardening is an excellent hobby for people of all ages. Everyone young and old delights in seeing their seeds grow to something beautiful (or edible). Not everyone is born with a green thumb, so it may take a few tries to see your seedling sprout and thrive. Don’t worry if your first few attempts don’t turn out quit right, gardening is a wait,water, and see game.

When deciding what to plant first, it’s a good idea to do a little research. You want to check out the type of soil you will be working with, your climate and region, the time of year, and what plants will work best in all of these conditions.

Lucky for you, there are a few vegetables that are quite easy to grow including lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, radishes, and zucchini. There are tons of resources to help you find the perfect first vegetable to try growing. The University of Florida has an excellent Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide to help you plan, plant, tend, and harvest. They also have a helpful chart for the best growing seasons for each region of Florida and notes on each vegetable.

Things to Consider Before Gardening

  • Gardening site: Will it have adequate lighting and water?
  • How is the soil?
  • How much fertilizer do you need?
  • Do you want to use pesticides?
  • Learn how to use pesticides wisely

Not only is gardening a fun way to pass the time, it’s also a great way to maintain your health and fitness, and even increase your real estate value! Some estimates say that landscaping can increase your home value by as much as 8-15%.

This Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet from Food Beast is another great place to get started with your vegetable gardening. It shows you the best vegetables for a whole garden or just one single pot. It also charts out the best planting and harvesting months for different vegetables, their spacing, common pests, pot size, germination, days to maturation, and more.

veggie cheat sheet


Tools for Gardening

Now that you have your favorite vegetables ready for planting, it’s time to grab your gear. Of course you need the basics like a trowel and gloves, but you will also want some trimming sheers, a hand rake, and watering can. For bigger projects you will need a large shovel, and rake.

In addition to the tools you will require pesticides if you plan to use them, or the correct organic matter to help grow your veggies. Also grab the proper fertilizer and soil.

This article from Greatist can help you run through the basics of gardening before you dive in. Once you know what you’re getting into, then jump in and start growing! You’ll love eating what you grow and wonder why you never gardened before this.

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Fun Family Outings in Naples


fun family outings in naples.png

Get out in Southwest Florida and spend time with your whole family! When you’re not working, you’re probably looking for ways to bond with your loved ones.

  1. Explore new worlds at the Naples Zoo
  2.  Beat the heat at Sun N Fun Lagoon
  3. View beautiful flora at Naples Botanical Garden
  4. Take the kids for some fun and education at the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples.
  5. Make something unique at Earth & Fire Ceramic Studio
  6. Head outside for some sports or playground action at Cambier Park
  7. Support your local Everblades hockey team
  8. Bring your 4 legged family member for a day at the Dog Beach
  9. Watch the Fort Myers Miracle in action
  10. Bowl your heart out at Beacon Bowl
  11. Hit the links with some mini golf at Congo River Golf or Golf Safari Minigolf
  12. Do a little shopping, dining, and sightseeing at Tin City
  13. Learn about our local natural life at Rookery Bay
  14. Get up close with the birds at The Bird Gardens of Naples
  15. Take a nature walk at Freedom Park

Don’t miss!

Naples St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 12 11am-2pm
5th Avenue South
Wear your green and enjoy the revelry of the 40th annual Naples St. Patrick’s Day Parade, followed by an all-day celebration at Sugden Plaza. The parade staging area and beginning of the parade will be at Saint Ann’s Church in Old Naples. The parade travels down 3rd Street South to 5th Avenue, then goes down 8th Street South to end at Crayton Cove.

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Free Things to Do in Naples FL


Thank goodness for the nice, year-round weather we have in Collier County. It means we can be outside, enjoying the beach, going walking, heading out and exploring nature, or just dining out on the patio of our favorite restaurant.

There’s plenty to do in Collier County if you are itching to get out of the house. We have our list of fun outings to help you explore, create, dine, and relax in the area without spending much money.

The Naples Pier
Grab the camera, fishing pole, and some shades for a nice morning or afternoon on the newly rebuilt Naples Pier. You can watch the sunset, try your luck at catching something, or just people watch. The beach is just steps away so you can take a dip in the water or lounge about as well. Then walk on down to 3rd Street South for some food and drinks to finish off the day.

Take a Walk in Freedom Park
Fred W. Coyle Freedom Park is located along Golden Gate Parkway as you head towards the Coastland Center Mall. This nature park is open daily and consists of a 5 acre lake, 3500 feet of boardwalk, and an education facility with restrooms, water fountains, and pavilions. This is a great place to talk a walk or run through some of the wetlands and native vegetation in our area.

Stroll Through the Naples Preserve
The Naples Preserve is located on 9 1/2 acres at the corner of U.S. 41 and Fleischmann Boulevard. The site protects two unique Florida Upland Habitats: Pine Flatwoods and Oak-Rosemary Scrubs. Explore the 0.4 self-guided nature walk as it curves through the shaded woods. Then, sit, rest, and take in the surroundings while sitting on one of our many benches. The Preserve offers you one of your best opportunities in Southwest Florida to see gopher tortoises in their natural habitat, along with native wildflowers, trees, birds, butterflies, rabbits, and more. The peak months for viewing wildflowers and butterflies are between August and September.

Art Shows
There are plenty of art shows and festivals that take place throughout the year in Naples. They mainly happen downtown between November and April. Check out the Naples Art Association website for their schedule.

Live Entertainment
Mercato hosts their Mercato Nights Music Series every season. They have a free concert every 1st Thursday from October-April 6-9PM.
The Jazz Concert Series at Cambier Park features Sunday concerts from 2-4PM.

Movies on the Lawn at Mercato
Every once in a while, Mercato hosts a free outdoor movie. The genres vary from older films to kid-friendly. Bring some blankets or chairs to enjoy the show.

The Naples Depot Museum is free to the public and showcases much of the history of Naples.

If you’re looking to head out with the kids, Cambier Park has an excellent playground for kids to spend hours in. There are also playgrounds at Veterans Park in North Naples, Eagle Lakes, East Naples Park, Golden Gate Park, Max Hasse Park, and Vineyards Park.

Anthony Park located on the Gordon River offers walking trails, tennis courts, a basketball court, and a small fishing pier so you can cast out for snook, redfish, and others. Other great fishing spots include the Naples Pier, and even the pond or lake in your community will often be stocked with bass, catfish, or sunfish.

Flea Market
Flea markets offer things that cost money, but just walking around is free! You can head to the Flamingo Island Flea Market along Bonita Beach Road to browse the stalls of products, food, and produce.

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Fun Family Christmas Movies

santa clause movie

Source: IMDB

The kids can’t wait to open presents, and you probably can’t wait to see if you got a little something yourself. What do you do on Christmas Eve to keep everyone occupied and away from the gifts? You could go out, but that’s what everyone is going to do so don’t be surprised if places are crowded. What about the park? That’s a great idea, but only if you’re in a place where the weather permits. So if you want to stay indoors, you can pop in a movie or bring on up on Netflix or another streaming service.

Here are some great Christmas-themed family-friendly movies to watch with everyone.

After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity. (IMDB)

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept. (IMDB)

The Santa Clause
When a man inadvertantly kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place. (IMDB)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas holiday for all of the citizens of the town. (IMDB)

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus. (IMDB)

A farm girl nurses a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa’s, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas. Her holiday spirit inspires those around her, something her disheartened father is having trouble understanding. (IMDB)

The Year Without a Santa Claus
When a weary and discouraged Santa Claus considers skipping his Christmas Eve run one year, Mrs. Claus and his Elves set out to change his mind. (IMDB)

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas. (IMDB)

It’s a Spongebob Christmas
It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!” is a SpongeBob SquarePantsepisode from season eight. In this episode, Plankton turns everybody in Bikini Bottom naughty by feeding them his special Jerktonium fruitcakes all in an effort to get his Christmas wish. (Spongebob Wikia)

Christmas Who?
Christmas Who?” is a SpongeBob SquarePants episode from season two. In this episode, Sandy tells SpongeBobabout Christmas traditions, and he then tells everybody in Bikini Bottom about Christmas. (Spongebob Wikia)

Christmas- Themed Episodes of the Simpsons

A Christmas Story
Ralphie has to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s. (IMDB)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster. (IMDB)

Home Alone
An 8-year old troublemaker must protect his home from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. (IMDB)

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DIY Halloween Party Decorations

At Just Like Family, we’re excited for Halloween! We can’t wait! We’ve already posted about costumes, and Halloween treats and drinks. Now we’ll cover party decorations you can make at home. These decorations will bring your party up from “eh” to “OMG”. People will be asking where you bought your decorations. And don’t be surprised if they’re stunned to hear that they’re all homemade! Save these projects, I bet you’ll be getting asked for instructions on how to make each item from your partygoers.


Headless Horseman Door Greeter
We’re starting out with a bang. This headless guy will greet your party guests and set the tone for the night.


Candy Corn Pinata
This is a great activity for kids (and adults who love to hit things).


Haunted Terrarium
This decoration is more understated than the previous two, but it’s a great table-piece.


Halloween Chair Decoration
This one is easy, all you need are coffee filters, string, and a Happy Halloween sign.


Halloween Welcome Sign
If you’re not up for making the headless horseman, try this cobweb welcome sign.

Instructables and CountryLiving

Head in a Jar
This one may freak out some of your guests, so create with caution.


Banister Owls
Cute little owls to watch over your yard…or guests.


Witch’s Broom Halloween Place Card Holders
These cute place cards are great if you’re planning a sit down Halloween party.


Hanging Foam Bats
Hang these cute little guys from the trees or in your dining area or living room.


Jack o Lantern Luminaries
Light the path to your door for guests and trick or treaters.

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Fun Halloween Party Ideas

It’s never too early to start planning your Halloween extravaganza! Maybe you throw one every year and are a pro at it now, or maybe this is your first year giving it a go. Whichever category you fall into, you are sure to find a fun party idea on this list. We’re going to give you ideas for drinks (if it’s an adult party), and tasty treats. These ideas are all DIY, so don’t expect to have to go out and spend $50 on a Halloween cake when you can make it yourself. Start getting into the Halloween spirit!

Halloween Treats


Bat Cookie Pops
See how to make these cute flying bat cookies on ForkandBeans.com. You only need 5 ingredients!


Mini Monster Milkshakes
Spice up your milkshakes by turning them into zombies and ghosts! PNPflowersinc.com has a tutorial on how to make these little milkshake designs.


Jack O Lantern Dip
This is a regular ol’ chip dip, but with a Halloween twist. Add some chips for eyes and olives for a mouth and you have a Jack O Lantern layer dip.


Chocolate Peppermint Cut Out Cookies
These cute little cookies look just like gingerbread men. But in the spirit of Halloween, they are now spooky! Try adding some black lines to resemble bones and make these into skeleton cookies.


Black Cat Cupcakes
Not many cats have a reputation like black cats. You can make these cute black cat cupcakes in less than an hour.

Halloween Drink Recipes


Candy Corn Cocktail
No, there aren’t actual candy corn in this cocktail. It just looks like one!


Spooky Skull Halloween Cocktail
This creepy, yet tasty drink will get everyone talking at your party.


Vampire Cocktail
This is a really creative drink that will be the talking point of your get together.