Family visits are a time of togetherness to share stories and reminisce with loved ones, celebrate traditions and strengthen relationships. Often, these gatherings come with the recognition that too much time has passed –and a lot has changed. The time together may spark awareness that your aging loved ones need additional help.
Timing Is Everything Pick a time when there are no distractions or other obligations, so you can focus entirely on the conversation and give it your undivided attention. For example, the middle of Thanksgiving dinner is likely not the right occasion for this discussion. A quiet moment during the weekend when there is a lull in activity can present a wonderful opportunity to connect with your loved ones on these issues.
Share Your Observations, Concerns, and Feelings
Maybe you have noticed that Mom or Dad seems to be struggling to keep up the house, or there is a lack of food. It can be hard to address these topics, but your loved ones want to know that you care. If you notice a problem, you often need to stay persistent, empathetic and strong as you work with them to find the right solutions.
A visit home offers a great opportunity for families to have important – and sometimes tough – conversations. Getting started with these conversations is easier than you may think. And taking the time to connect on critical matters will help lead to better outcomes. Here are five ways to successfully navigate these conversations.
Emphasize Your Roll as an Advocate
Explicitly state that you want to fulfill their wishes and they can depend on you and that you want to maintain their way of life and need their help to make the right decisions.
Listen to Their Concerns and Wishes
Make a list of the apprehensions your loved ones have in order to validate their concerns and guide you in finding the most appropriate solutions based on their preferences. In addition, gaining an understanding of the types of lifestyle they wish to maintain can help with planning and lead to positive outcomes.
End The Conversation With A Plan
This will ensure there are shared expectations around next steps. You also want to make sure you have an agreed-upon plan if your loved ones can no longer make decisions or in the event of an emergency.
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As we age, our social circles can often dwindle down for various reasons, but luckily there are more ways than ever to stay connected with friends and make new ones, primarily thanks to the internet. Whether you’d like to meet a new love interest or connect with old friends you’ve lost touch with, stepping outside of your comfort zone online can mean real connections with others like you.
How to Enliven Your Social Network:
Facebook: Often called The Social Network, staying in touch with friends is easy on Facebook, and finding new friends can be quite easy too. There are thousands of groups that you can request to join, some popular ones senior ones being: Activities for Seniors or Friendly Senior Citizens International.
There is an abundance of ways for seniors to get out and volunteer, and who knows? You may end up making a few friends! Some popular options to find reputable volunteer options would be: Volunteer International and VolunteerMatch. Some volunteer options are recurring and can be wonderful ways to get involved with the local or global community.
Meetup is a popular outlet for almost anyone looking to expand their social network, especially if you live near a major metropolitan area. Here in the Portland area, popular senior groups include Seniors on Steroids and Portland Theater Meetup for 55+ Singles.
Consider getting a part-time job:
Sometimes just getting out of the house for a few hours a day (or even a few hours a week) can expose us to situations and people that we normally wouldn’t be involved in. Even teaching English online with young students can be a fun and interesting way to interact with others who are grateful for your knowledge and expertise! Check out RetiredBrains for available jobs and tips on job searching.
Websites like Travel Chum or Thelma & Louise (for women) can help connect like-minded travelers who don’t want to see the world alone. So, if you’ve ever wanted to see the Egyptian Pyramids or visit the Galapagos Islands, but want to have a friend with you—look no further!
Hopefully, this list helped to get you thinking about ways you can invigorate your social life, whether in your hometown, online, or abroad!
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The Grove and Gardens
In 2003, when I started my career in the Senior Living Industry, the housing market made it easy for the seniors I was helping to sell their homes for a great price and move into a Senior Living Community fairly quickly.
Following the Housing Market decline in 2008, I started seeing a shift in more seniors holding off on selling their homes, which resulted in more emergent moves and a significant decrease in the amount they received for the sale of their home.
As you consider whether to stay at home longer or sell your home while it’s a sellers-market, below are 3 things to consider that can help you make this life-changing decision.
1. Current Housing Market
Diane Peterson a Realtor with Premiere Property Group says, “It’s still a seller’s market. The big change is that buyers are not panicking as they have in the past; they’re taking their time, and homes are spending more time on the market. Multiple offers are becoming a thing of the past. Homes are selling at or below their asking price. Home sales have slowed in 2019 compared to this time in 2018, with closed sales down 2.5%. The housing market has shifted. So looking into my crystal ball, what do I see for the 2020 housing market? Continued slowing.”
2. Interest Rates
a. Interest rates impact the number of qualified buyers.
b. Interest rates are expected to increase in 2020 and 2021, which will reduce the number of qualified buyers translating to slowing housing sales in many areas.
3. Planning ahead
a. The housing market forecast can and will have an impact on the number of assets you or a loved one will have to utilize for Senior Housing and Care, based on when the home is sold and how much is received from the sale.
b. If you believe you will want or need to downsize and move out of your home in the next year or two, now is the time to sell your home rather than wait knowing that the housing market is slowing and it could cause a significant decrease in the amount you will gain from selling your home while the market is good.
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Senior One Source
The word DOULA has been used for decades in the US to mean “one who serves”. Just as a birth doula supports the labor that culminates in a baby’s first breath, End-of-Life Doulas support the labor involved when dying people, and their loved ones, prepare for the final breath.
The role of End-of-Life Doula is experiencing a revival in our culture, even as it is, in reality, a most ancient contribution to many world societies. Historically, families and communities took care of their dead. In the US, the introduction of embalming during the Civil War led to death and dying becoming medicalized and moved out of the community and into the hands of professionals. EOL Doulas place choice and empowerment back into the hands of families and community.
End-of-Life Doulas are being trained around the world by various training organizations. Each has its own criteria for meeting certification requirements. Trainings range from 3-6 month online programs to 3-8 day in-person trainings. In the US, NEDA (The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance) is consolidating standards of knowledge into one competency test.
End-of-Life Doulas provide non-medical, holistic support, and comfort to the dying person and their family, which may include education and guidance as well as emotional, spiritual or practical care. End-of-Life Doulas provide valuable complementary services to patients and their families during life-limiting illness, and the dying process, in partnership with hospice personnel and other medical teams.
When we are afraid to talk about death, we deny death. Death denial can lead to trauma and chaos in the final days if a dying person’s wishes have not been expressed. Through education, preparation, and coaching, EOL Doulas help answer questions, lower anxiety, and foster healing.
“I am pleased to be involved in this new movement. From my many years of working with end of life, I have come to see that families, as well as patients, still bring fear and lack of knowledge to the end of life experience. It is education, support, and tender guidance during that time that brings comfort. It is the presence of someone who understands that what is happening is not pathological, is not bad, that turns an otherwise frightening experience into a sacred time and creates a sacred memory for the family. That is the goal, the mission of an End-of-Life Doula.”
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Evening Star End-of-Life Doula Services
Worrying takes an emotional and physical toll and can lead to serious medical issues. Unfortunately, just telling ourselves to chill out doesn’t stop the worry. And, when a loved one is aging and needs more help than they’re willing to accept, there is a real cause for concern.
Fortunately, you can increase your peace of mind. First, there are ways to be reassured that your loved one is safe, even when you’re not with them. Are they willing to wear a medical alert device? If so, there are many to choose from, and some include fall detection that allows the medical alert company to be notified in the event of a fall, even if the wearer doesn’t push a Help button.
If your loved one is resistant to a medical alert device, perhaps they will allow a daily check-in phone call. LollyCall makes an automated check-in phone call one or more times a day. This requires only a telephone and your loved one doesn’t have to wear a pendant or bracelet.
Still a no go? Many older people have systems with their neighbors that involve raising window blinds. If the blinds are up, the neighbor knows your loved one is okay. You can ask the neighbor to notify you if the blinds are not up. Or, if your loved one has a computer or an iPad, you can play games such as Words With Friends. If they stop playing the game, then you know to check on them.
It’s also important for you to get help. There are many services that can help you, and the book you are holding in your hands (or the web site you are browsing) is an amazing compilation of resources. Some examples? Meals on Wheels will deliver nutritious food to your loved one and notify you if they notice anything is astray. Store to Door is a service in Multnomah County that calls homebound seniors to get their grocery orders and then delivers the groceries the following day. There are senior loneliness lines that your loved one can call if they want someone to talk to, and there is a new service in Washington County, run by peer volunteers, who will call your loved one once a week to chat.
Finally, consider the Serenity Prayer: grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I wanted my aging parents to accept the things I thought they should do, have the courage to do what I told them, and the wisdom to know that I was right. But the more I fought the reality of who they were and how they were choosing to live their lives, the harder things were. Ultimately, peace of mind is a delicate balance between your loved ones accepting your help and you accept that they are who they are and nothing will ever be perfect.
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As of December 2019, market volatility is rocking the world and it appears that this may be the norm going into 2020 and many experts fear a recession is imminent. Whether a family member is already in long term care (LTC) or merely concerned LTC is on the horizon, a recession can severely impact financial resources and a family’s ability to pay for help. Planning for LTC now can protect families and their precious assets regardless of the financial weather.
Two Available Benefits
1. Military veterans may be entitled to Aid and Attendance which can provide over $2,000.00 a month of additional income to help pay for LTC.
2. For all others, Medicaid may be available to pay for LTC.
There are many rumors about Oregon Medicaid. While some are seeded in fact, they rarely tell the whole story. For example, while a Medicaid recipient may not have more than $2,000.00 in available resources, with proper planning their healthy spouse can keep significantly more. Also, did you know that even if you have more income than Medicaid’s maximum you may still be able to qualify? And, your home is an exempt asset if you or your spouse continue to live in the home.
Whether you are in care now or care is still years down the road, the time to plan is now. Only an elder law attorney can assist families when planning for LTC. And whether a serious medical condition exists or not, those that seek help right away are significantly better off than those that do nothing.
Planning for LTC takes many forms. However, the goal is always the same, to receive the best care possible without jeopardizing our loved ones. Such plans will include documents you may think you already have like a power of attorney or a trust. However, these documents can be deceptive. Estate plans that are not prepared by an elder law attorney, are likely inadequate to protect a family. Unfortunately, many families that find themselves rocked by healthcare costs are unable to prevent impoverishment because their estate planning documents are insufficient.
Planning for the Unknown
Although market gyrations will continue, families that have a plan in place are less likely to be affected by a market downturn and will have greater peace of mind regardless of the financial weather.
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Michael J. Rose, Attorney Rose Elder Law, LLC
Is Parkinson’s Disease affecting you or your loved one’s ability to speak clearly? Providence Health and Services is pleased to offer a two-part speech therapy program to help individuals with Parkinson’s regain and maintain effective communication: SPEAK OUT!® followed by The LOUD Crowd®.
This program is offered at various Providence locations throughout the Portland metro region as well as at Providence Medford in the southern part of the state. SPEAK OUT!® places emphasis on speaking with intent and converting speech from an automatic function to an intentional act. Together, patients and their speech-language pathologists work through a series of speech, voice, and cognitive exercises outlined in a SPEAK OUT!® Workbook.
Upon completion of SPEAK OUT!®, patients transition to The LOUD Crowd®. This maintenance program consists of weekly group sessions led by a speech-language pathologist. The SPEAK OUT!®exercises are performed, and group members provide support, encouragement, and accountability to one another.
Participation in The LOUD Crowd®, along with the daily home practice, has been shown to help patients maintain their communication skills throughout the progression of Parkinson’s. For more information about SPEAK OUT!® and The LOUD Crowd® contact Karen Smith, Speech- Language Pathologist at 503-215-1576. To schedule a speech evaluation, please speak with your physician to obtain a referral.
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Providence NE Rehab
For most Seniors, remaining independent in their own home on their terms is at the top of the list. However, the crippling effects of aging rob seniors of their desire to complete their life’s story with dignity and quality of life. The good news is that seniors can live their best life possible to the very end at home.
At some point, it will be necessary to acquire assistance from a caregiver. Bringing a caregiver into your home can be a big transition. That is why it is imperative to consider the following when choosing the right caregiver for your unique needs.
To start, we highly recommend utilizing an In-Home Care Agency when selecting your personal caregiver. In-Home Care Agencies are required to be licensed and accountable to the state. Agency Caregivers are employees, not independent contractors.
An Agency’s Responsibilities Include:
–Paying Social Security Tax
– Paying Medicare Tax
– Raying Pay Roll Tax
– Workers compensation
– Liability Insurance
– Background Checks
– Reference Checks
– Shift Scheduling
– Vacation Schedules
– Scheduling Shift Call-Offs
Caregiver Qualities Matter
Caregiving is the most intimate job in the world, so insist on making sure your caregiver is a match to your specific needs. A caregiver’s training and skills are only half the equation. The other half are the qualities of that caregiver.
These baseline qualities of an agency caregiver include:
– Relationship oriented and flexible to your needs.
– An agency caregiver should respect all boundaries and be socially sensitive to you and your family.
– Finally, a good caregiver is compassionate and motivated to adapt to your daily routines and always curious about you and your life story.
Choose an agency whose company culture promotes placing a caregiver in your home that is a match to your care and personal needs.
Imagine how it will feel with the RIGHT caregiver!
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ComForCare Home Care
“If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.”
– Steve Maraboli
We will never ever be happy if we focus on what we want and do not have. We can always find something to be grateful for. This does not mean we are not hurt when someone goes on hospice or fights disease. However, we can choose to be grateful for the opportunity to tell them how much we love and appreciate them before it is too late. Not everyone gets that chance, and we can learn how much more we can manage beyond what we previously believed.