Comforting a loved one at the end-of-life

comforting-a-loved-one-at-end-of-lifeFacing the death of a loved one is an incomparable emotional challenge. When your loved one’s End of Life is imminent, allow yourself to be present with them. Focus on the time you have together. This can enrich your relationship and provide meaning, peace and comfort to both of you at this important, inevitable time.

Gather Close Support Resources

Help your loved one gather those who are closest to them. Remember to reach out for support for yourself and your own family too.

Consider gathering these people when a loved one’s End of Life is near:

  • Close family and friends
  • Healthcare proxy and/or Will executor
  • Hospice or palliative care providers
  • Religious or spiritual advisors
  • Therapists, counselors or psychologists
Offer Reassurance and Emotional Support

Each person’s emotional needs differ in the final stages of life. Many worry about loss of control and dignity as their physical abilities decline. Some fear being a burden to their loved ones yet also fear being alone.

Your loved one’s physical strength and cognitive functions may diminish, yet their capacity to feel peaceful and secure may remain. They may no longer recognize you, but may draw comfort from your companionship, touch or the sound of your voice.

Late-stage caregivers can offer emotional comfort in the following ways:

  • Provide company: Talk to your loved one, read to them or simply sit and hold their hand
  • Promote a calm environment: Create a soothing atmosphere; communicating through sensory experiences such as touch or singing
  • Bring small pets: Small pets or trained therapy animals may bring comfort to even very frail patients
  • Offer familiar remembrances: Surround your loved one with pictures and mementos, reading treasured books and playing favorite music
  • Remain attentive: Avoid burdening your loved one with your feelings of fear and sadness; discuss your grief with a supportive, appropriate listener instead
  • Listen without interruption: Let your loved one express their fears about death; communicating their thoughts may help them accept the reality of their End of Life
  • Allow them to reminisce: Remembering life experiences provide perspective. Recalling positive life stories may help promote dignity and comfort.
  • Provide information: If they are still able to comprehend, most patients prefer to be Include patients in discussions that concern them or their care
  • Honor their wishes: Reassure your loved one that you will faithfully honor their wishes, including ADs and wills
  • Respect their requests and privacy: For most, End of Life is about preserving dignity and ending their life as comfortably as possible

Reprinted with permission by Passare.com.

6 Reasons elders inspire innovation

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One undeniable fact is once Baby Boomers start retiring, America is going to lose a large part of our workforce. But in a paper recently published by the journal PLOS ONE, a group of researchers believe having a larger aging population could be to our advantage.

Here are six reasons why:

1. More people will have time to innovate

Think about the innovation potential of the tens of millions of retiring Baby Boomers. They are relatively healthy, educated and financially secure and now have the leisure time to tinker and innovate.

2. The education level of our workforce will increase

An overall increase in education level will offset the loss in our labor force. “Think of America’s future workforce in terms of a smaller pool of highly productive workers rather than a shrinking pool of average productivity workers,” writes Dominic Basulto of The Washington Post.

3. More people will be healthier, greener and more productive

“Think of this demographic shift as a net gain of people who are healthier, greener and more productive,” writes Basulto. “These people will care more about innovations in areas ranging from health care (since they are living longer) to renewable energy (since they will be consuming fewer energy-intensive goods.”

4. There will be more “encore entrepreneurs”

The AARP and the Small Business Association (SBA) recently promoted the idea that “encore entrepreneurs” older than 50 might be an unexpected source of innovation activity for the American economy. “Many new entrepreneurs are saving their best acts for their encore performance,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “They’re using their decades of expertise and their contacts to start new businesses and to finally pursue that venture that has been stirring their dreams for all these years.”

5. Retired Boomers will fund late stage Venture Capital financing

A renewed focus on encore entrepreneurs might lead to a boost in late-stage venture financing. “With all that extra leisure time on their hands, Baby Boomers might decide to launch new ventures in fields that help them lead better, more productive lives as they age,” writes Basulto. “Who says you can’t launch a new venture at age 65? Or become an angel investor in a new start-up at age 80?” 6. America will be forced to create innovations for an aging society A larger aging population will force us to develop the kind of innovations that cater to their needs. “We need to focus on the quality of life of elderly people and that’s going to require big changes,” writes Basulto. “Perhaps states like Florida with a high concentration of retirees may one day become a hub for the development of technologies devoted to aging Americans.”

Read the story here.

Shared with permission from Passare.com. 

5 Retirement healthcare savings tips

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One of the biggest expenses retirees will face will be paying for health care. How can you manage your medical costs to ensure your wealth lasts through retirement? A story by USA Today recently shared five ways to save.

1. Get a Medicare Supplemental Plan

One of the biggest misnomers is the idea Medicare will cover all your medical costs; not true. Even for those who qualify, Medicare can come with very high deductibles and co-pays. To protect yourself against out-of-pocket expenses, enroll in a Medicare supplemental insurance plan called Medigap. It can help pay for any co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles that Medicare doesn’t cover. Keep in mind, there is a monthly premium for Medigap and to get a policy, you must already have Medicare Part A and Part B. Also Medigap policies only cover one person, so if you want coverage for you and your spouse, you will have to buy two separate policies.

2. Enroll in Medicare Part D

While Medigap can help pay for some expenses, it won’t cover everything. For example, it does not pay for prescription drugs. To get coverage that helps pay for drug costs, enroll in the Medicare prescription drug plan called Medicare Part D. Be aware, Most Part D plans also have a coverage gap or “donut hole,” which limits your coverage after you’ve spent a certain amount on drugs. The good news is prescription drug companies are required to participate in Medicare’s Coverage Gap Discount Program, which offers discounts on drugs to people who fall in the coverage gap. With all the insurance plans available, it’s important you choose a plan based on your prescription history. Medicare offers a free online Plan Finder Tool that can help you decide what is best for you.

3. Save Money on Prescriptions

When possible, retirees should switch from brand-name drugs to generics. They’re just as effective and can result in big savings. Also it’s important you choose the right pharmacy to fill your prescriptions. According to a Consumer Reports study, Costco’s pharmacy offered the lowest prices while CVS had the highest. Another way to save on prescriptions is by ordering in bulk. Ask your pharmacist if they offer a discount on bulk orders.

4. Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Poor health can result from a lack of physical activity, poor diet or bad habits. By staying active, retirees can increase their energy, require fewer visits to the doctor, improve heart health and potentially live longer. According to the American Heart Association, physically active people save $500 a year in health care costs. With fewer visits to the doctor and limited medical bills, overall health expenses should decrease.

5. Plan Early for End-of-Life Care

Medical costs during the last year of life can drain your savings. To make a plan for End of Life care, the first step is to create an Advanced Directive or Living Will that specifies the medical actions you want taken if you’re no longer able to make decisions for yourself. Next, consider buying Long-Term Healthcare Insurance, which covers home care, assisted living, hospice care and nursing homes. It can be a good investment if you can afford it, as it helps cover out-of-pocket expenses, which most people will eventually need. According to Fidelity Investments, the average retired couple will need more than $220,000 to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses during retirement. There is also a tax benefit to having Long-Term Healthcare Insurance. The IRS considers their premiums a medical expense. Finding answers on your medical assistance and long-term care questions can be difficult. This list of resources may be helpful to you as you navigate the medical system and weigh your options.

Read full the story here.

Reprinted with permission from Passare.com. 

How life gets better as we age

How life gets better as we age

Many assume as we age life becomes less satisfying, but a growing body of research shows in many ways life gets better. Is it possible that everything we’ve been led to think about aging is wrong?This story in the Wall Street Journal makes the case.

“The story used to be as we age satisfaction with life went downhill, but the remarkable thing is that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said Timothy Salthouse, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia.

Growing evidence indicates:

  • Sense of well being improves with age
  • Friendships tend to grow more intimate with age
  • Intelligence continues to develop and expertise deepens with age
  • The ability to resolve conflicts by seeing problems from multiple perspectives appears to flourish with age

Of course, some people don’t age as well as others. Chronic conditions become increasingly common at advanced ages, but those who fall into the “stereotype of being depressed, cranky and irritable” constitute “no more than 10% of the older population,” said Paul Costa, a scientist emeritus at the National Institutes of Health. “The other 90% of the population isn’t like that at all.”

Here are five myths about aging that recent research has dispelled.

Myth 1: Depression Is More Prevalent in Old Age

According to a 2014 study, emotional well-being actually improves until the 70s. “Contrary to the popular view that youth is the best time of life, the peak of emotional life may not occur until well into the seventh decade,” said Professor Laura Carstensen, director of Stanford University’s Center on Longevity. Why? Older adults tend to focus on positive emotions and see the good more than the bad in life. “Older adults tend to be happier, less anxious, less angry and adapt well to their circumstances,” said Karen Fingerman, professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin.

Myth No. 2: Cognitive Decline Is Inevitable

Because of their vast knowledge and experience, older adults who are tested in real life situations make wiser decisions than younger adults. Studies indicate, barring dementia, older adults perform better problem solving in the real world than younger people. “Lab tests underestimate the abilities of older adults,” said Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. Lab tests, “tell us what people can do in artificial situations” but in the real world “most of what we do is based on the knowledge we have acquired.”

Myth No. 3: Older Workers Are Less Productive

The stereotype is older workers are less adaptable and productive but studies show “there is no relationship between age and job performance,” said Harvey Sterns, director of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology at the University of Akron. In fact, studies show in jobs that require experience, older adults have an edge. “Older workers know how to avoid severe errors,” said Matthias Weiss, academic coordinator at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

Myth No. 4: Loneliness Is More Likely

Most people add to their social networks until age 50 then they tend to contract their social circle to maximize interactions with “close partners who are more emotionally satisfying,” said Carstensen. “Their loved ones seem to mean more than ever.” This doesn’t mean loneliness isn’t a problem for some older adults but on average, older adults are not as lonely as young people. “Older adults typically report better marriages, more supportive friendships, less conflict with children and siblings and closer ties with members of their social networks than younger adults,” said Carstensen.

Myth No. 5: Creativity Declines With Age

Creativity has long been seen as a youthful trait but studies pinpoint midlife as the time when it can be the most prolific. David Galenson, a professor at the University of Chicago, analyzed hundreds of famous artists, poets and novelists to see when they produced their most valuable work. His conclusion was creative genius comes into two categories: conceptual artists, who do their best work in their youth, and experimental artists, who need more time to reach their full potential. “People who are creative in older age aren’t anomalies,” said Galenson. Mark Twain, Paul Cézanne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Robert Frost and Virginia Woolf are just a few of the artists “who did their greatest work in their 40s, 50s and 60s. These artists rely on wisdom, which increases with age.”

Read the story here.

 

Reprinted with permission from Passare.com. 

How to preserve your family’s legacy

How to preserve your family’s legacy

We’d like to share an interesting story that asks the question: are family stories, mementos and keepsakes more important to people than a cash inheritance? Those surveyed in the story say it’s not all about the money.

In the fast-paced world we live in, many modern families express regret over not doing more to record their histories while their ancestors were still alive. Unless someone writes them down (or tapes them), stories that are passed down verbally tend to fade away with the passing of an aging relative.

What can you do to pass down your family’s legacy for future generations? Here are a few steps you can take:

1. Record Your Family Stories Take time to record your family stories. Write them down or make an audio or video recording. Make notes on the backs of photos to preserve memories. Heirs often regret not knowing more about the family photos they inherit.

2. Write An Ethical Will

Sharing your family values can be among the most treasured keepsakes. Consider writing an Ethical Will, which is a document that passes on your life story and personal values. An Ethical Will can take any form like a video or a letter that is included with your Will.

3. Talk About Your Keepsakes

Establish a method for disbursing your keepsakes; it can go a long way toward avoiding conflict. Talk with children individually and as a group. Come to an agreement then put it in writing.

4. Add A Memorandum To Your Will

Create a memorandum in your Will that details how you want to divide property with sentimental value. Attach a photo of each item in your memorandum. A common approach is each relative gets to pick one item. Some of your heirs may not be happy with your decisions, but they’re less likely to be unhappy with each other.

5. Avoid Favoritism

If you have a favorite family member, show your affection for them before you pass away in order to make your division of property more equitable. If you want to leave a legacy that fosters harmony in your family, treat them as equally as possible.

6. Choose Your Estate Executor Wisely

Remember you’re giving power to one person who is often a family member. To make things more equitable, consider hiring a corporate fiduciary as executor; you can name a professional executor in your Will or you can request your executor hire a professional after you pass away. Read the story here.

Reprinted with permission from Passage.org.

What to do with a loved one’s social media accounts after death

In today’s culture, individuals of all ages typically have some sort of social media account. When a loved one passes away, their virtual footprint remains. You may have mixed emotions about what to do regarding these accounts. The good news is there are various options you and other family members can consider when deciding how to best honor your loved one’s digital presence. 

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Memorialization

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Some major social media platforms have memorialization options for after loss. Accounts can be “memorialized” on Facebook, which prevents the account from showing up under “People You May Know” or triggering birthday announcements. However, keep in mind that Facebook will not provide log in information, even under these circumstances. Once the account is memorialized, it will not be able to be altered unless your loved one chose a Facebook user as a “legacy contact.” A legacy contact has the ability to approve new friend requests, change profile/cover photos, monitor any posts or shared content on the profile’s timeline, and write a pinned post on behalf of the user. Although the legacy contact can make specific changes to the account, they do not have complete access to it. The legacy contact cannot edit/delete any content written or shared before the individual’s passing nor can they read any personal messages. Memorializing an account can help bring comfort to grieving friends and family. They may feel as if they can stay “connected” with their loved one by being able to post thoughts, memories, or photos to their wall.

Deletion

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Though memorialization may be a healthy mourning option for some, it may not be the best fit for others. If seeing a lost loved one’s social media stirs up unhealthy emotions, then deletion is another option you can consider. Social media companies have different requirements that must be met in order to have content removed from their site. Therefore, it is crucial to read each social media platform’s policies on what information is necessary for deletion and the rights you and your family have over previously posted content. Remember, deleting an online account is permanent. Take time to contemplate and consult with family members to ensure this option is what is best for your healing heart.

Let it Be

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During your grieving season it may be hard to determine what action you would like to take towards your loved one’s social media accounts. Or perhaps the effort it takes to memorialize or delete an account seems too strenuous. In either case, choosing to leave social media accounts alone is also an acceptable option. Some considerations to keep in mind if you choose to leave the account alone is that all content will remain public, friends will still receive birthday notifications, and they will still show up in online searches or “People You May Know” sections. You may find serenity knowing the account remains untouched since your loved one last logged in.

Plan Ahead

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How would you like your social media assets handled? It is beneficial to start thinking about this question now in order to help your family save time and respect your digital private property. There are also data protection companies that specialize in keeping your login information and digital assets safe. However you chose to store your personal information, it is essential to communicate with relatives on how to best honor your digital wishes. Leaving families in the dark can create a predicament amongst loved ones. Consider setting your own legacy contact on Facebook and writing down usernames and passwords to your social media accounts and placing them in a safe place where your next of kin can find it.

This can decrease the time of a potentially tedious and stressful process for family members during their time of grief. There are many different opinions on how a lost loved one’s social media profiles can be handled, but ultimately the choice is up to you. Examine the pros and cons of each option and take time to assess what decision is best for your family. Finding out how to best respect your loved one’s social media will allow your heart to begin the healing process in your grief journey.

Reprinted with permission of Passare.

 

Remembering a loved one who has died

Remembering a loved one who has died

Ceremonies, traditions, and rituals help us to express our deepest thoughts and feelings about life’s most important events. Ceremonies like graduations, weddings, and baptisms involve traditions and rituals that help us mark special occasions. When a loved one has died, rituals and traditions can also help us mark a special occasion and remember our loved one, even years after the loss. Setting aside special times for remembering a loved one who has died can bring comfort to those who mourn.

How do ceremonies and traditions help us heal after a loss?

1. Rituals Are Symbolic

First, ceremonies, rituals, and traditions are symbolic actions that point to a deeper meaning. When we lose a loved one, we can use symbolic actions such as lighting a candle for the one we love, releasing a balloon, or setting a place at the table on a birthday or anniversary. These symbolic actions allow us to take an active role in our own healing process. After the funeral, it is sometimes hard to know what to do to honor our lost loved one. Establishing traditions and habits or rituals can help us feel more connected to our loved one’s memory.

2. Rituals Help Us Express Emotion

Second, ceremonies and rituals help us express emotion. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, respected author and educator on the topic of healing in grief, is often quoted as saying, “When words are inadequate, have a ritual.” There are times when we need more than just words. Words can help, but emotions are not always experienced at a conscious level. When we are wounded by a loss, the wound is often felt by a much deeper part of our heart. For those parts or our hearts that need more than words, a ritual can bring comfort and healing.

3. Rituals Bring People Together

Lastly, a ritual unites people in a shared experience. We participate in funerals, memorial services, candlelight vigils, and remembrance ceremonies because they help us feel bonded to others who are experiencing the same grief and pain that we are. We draw comfort and support from others who are with us on our journey through grief. When a loss occurs, we can use rituals and traditions to help us remember and heal. Ceremonies help us express our emotions, feel connected to others, and find a way forward on the road to healing.

What Are Some Helpful Rituals for Healing after Loss?

  • Lighting a candle – Whether you light a candle every night or on special days like holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, a lit candle can symbolize the presence of your lost loved one whose memory continues to live on in your heart.
  • Releasing a balloon or a lantern – Whether you are with a group of mourners or even by yourself, releasing a balloon or lantern can help symbolize the spirit of your loved one ascending to heaven. The act of releasing also helps us to know at a deeper level that as we “release” our lost loved one, we can begin to experience greater peace and healing.
  • Sharing memories – Some families gather together on special days to share memories and honor those who have died. This shared experience helps to bring comfort through mutual support.
  • Visiting the grave – Some mourners visit the place of rest regularly or on special occasions to leave flowers and experience a time of reflection. Leaving fresh flowers at the graveside helps to symbolize that our love for the person who has died lives on.
  • Attending remembrance events – Occasionally, churches, communities, or funeral homes will organize remembrance events or prayer vigils. Such events help us to engage in rituals with the support of others, which can bring a greater sense of peace.
  • Wearing remembrance jewelry – Wearing a daily reminder of the one we’ve lost can help us feel closer to our loved one. Remembrance jewelry may be anything that reminds you of your loved one.

Reprinted with permission of Passare.com.