After father’s death, bereavement leave becomes ‘believement’ leave

After father’s death, bereavement leave becomes ‘believement’ leave

My father passed away Jan. 23 after a long, brave battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 86. When he took his last breath, my mother and sister and his hospice aide were by his side.

Those of you who read my column may remember that I frequently wrote about my father and his journey. He was on hospice for six months. While his passing was expected, it was still a time when a myriad of emotions were running through our heads.

My other sister and I and our spouses flew home to New Hampshire the day after his death.

Our sister who lives locally was at my mother’s house when we arrived, as were her husband and their two children, who all work for the same employer.

It was probably one of the few times that three people all took the exact same bereavement leave.

Smart home devices can be a boon to seniors

Smart home devices can be a boon to seniors

My husband and I recently made an investment in a Google Home Mini (on sale for $39.95). I had heard about how this smart speaker that responds to your voice could be fun and useful.

You’ve probably heard about the Google Home and Amazon Echo devices, the latter commonly referred to as “Alexa.” Essentially, they’re smart speakers that respond to your voice for hands-free help around the house.

I selected a Google device because it runs on a Gmail account and I already have one of those set up. This 4-inch orb has become one of my new best friends.

From a practical standpoint, it has set wake-up alarms for me and timers for cooking, found my cellphone by calling it when it was lost in the house, and told me whether it would rain the day of my outdoor staff get-together. It also compiles my shopping list as I think of things I need during the week.

When CPR is needed, there’s no time to wait for professionals

When CPR is needed, there’s no time to wait for professionals
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I really didn’t want to learn CPR. I always thought there would be someone more knowledgeable around if the need ever arose, and if I learned it I might be obliged to resuscitate someone.

 

I was disabused of that belief several years ago when I was attending a CPR and first-aid training session for employees of Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks. Such training is mandatory because Senior Concerns is a licensed adult day care facility.

Our teacher asked us, “Who is the best person to perform CPR in an emergency?”

Being the Type A personality that I am, I immediately raised my hand and replied, “A doctor or a nurse.”

“Wrong,” the teacher said. “The best person to perform CPR in an emergency is you.”

When a loved one is on hospice, how does one prepare for the inevitable?

When a loved one is on hospice, how does one prepare for the inevitable?
It’s 2018 and I know I’ll have many great things to celebrate in the new year. However, I am fairly certain my father will not be around to celebrate 2019.

 

You see, my father’s been on hospice for six months.

I’m aware that the amount of time he has been on hospice is not directly related to the timing of his death. I keep reminding myself Art Buchwald lived for over a year after his initial hospice placement and wrote a book during that time.

It’s the other things that have been happening.

My father has lost his ability to stand or even move himself in bed. He’s incontinent. He sleeps almost all day long, and when he wakes, he is groggy and his eyes are closed.

Holidays, a good time to look for signs of elder abuse

Holidays, a good time to look for signs of elder abuse

My dog’s specialty vet closed her practice last week, a result of an elder experience that’s becoming far too commonplace in today’s world.

When I asked why she was shutting down, my vet told me she’d been struggling over the past year to deal with issues related to her aging mother. The problems had become too exhausting and frustrating, she said.

Her mother was declining mentally, and because she lives three hours away by plane, my vet had no idea of the extent of her ailment. It turns out the vet’s brother was writing checks to himself and having their mother, while in a state of cognitive impairment, sign them.


Experience shape seniors’ moral compass

Experience shape seniors’ moral compass
If you’re an older adult and recent news reports about the firing of media icons Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Garrison Keillor have rattled you, you’re not alone.

 I’d like you to read these two statements:

“Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times.”

“Lance Armstrong was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life as a result of long-term doping offenses.”

Which of these facts carries greater weight when gauging Armstrong as a person?

I posed this question to a group of seniors in Calabasas recently. It didn’t surprise me that all but a couple chose the second statement.

Studies have shown that when judging strangers and rating their likability, seniors weigh negative information about moral character more heavily than information about their abilities or accomplishments.

Good advice for seniors: Don’t worry, be happy

Good advice for seniors: Don’t worry, be happy
I marvel at my husband, who’s asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. Not me.
If I had a nickel for every time I lay awake at night thinking about something I needed to do the next day or replaying in my mind something that happened at work I’d be rich.

In my 20s I remember being embarrassed when a friend told me I emotionally reacted to a problem that might be rated a two like it was a 10. I actually wished that I had been born less inclined to agonize over even the smallest of things.

I’ve been a worrier my entire life, but thankfully, age has tempered my fretting.

It’s not that I have done anything special—except get older. It seems nature helps us to manage the ups and downs of life more skillfully as we age.

There is a theory called the Paradox of Aging, which posits that peoples’ reasoning changes as we get older.

New Medicare cards safer to carry

New Medicare cards safer to carry

The average American visits a doctor four times a year.

Seniors visit a doctor nearly twice that much.

At each doctor visit we are asked to show our identification and our insurance card. For most adults 65 and over, that is their Medicare card.

It’s always been a catch-22. Seniors need to show their Medicare card at the doctor’s office and at the hospital, but they’re cautioned against carrying it with them because it contains their Social Security number.

Social Security offers online account

Social Security offers online account

Recently my friend Ken sent me a link to a Washington Post article about protecting your Social Security number.

The article was in response to the breach at Equifax—one of the top three credit reporting agencies—that had exposed the personal information of 145.5 million people earlier this year.

On Oct. 12 the company said it had disabled one of its customer help online pages and is investigating another possible cyber breach.

Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers of about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information of about 182,000 people.

The Federal Trade Commission offered steps to help protect your information from being misused. In broad strokes, it 

As parents age, denial sets in for adult kids

Fear is often root cause

As parents age, denial sets in for adult kids
In my conversations with home-care agencies, residentialcare facilities and hands-on family caregivers, I hear an almost universal challenge: family members who are in denial about their senior loved one’s mental, physical or emotional health.

 

“Dad has never been violent,” says the son whose father with dementia punched the female caregiver in the chest.

“I visited Mom last week and she seemed fine to me,” says the daughter who’s been told her mother is taking and hoarding the possessions of other residents.

“I think you’re exaggerating,” says the brother who lives hours away after being told by his sibling that their father is ready for hospice care.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Denial is a psychological defense we use to reduce our anxiety when dealing with a stressful situation.”

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