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What To Expect When Navigating Hospice Care With a Loved One

Photo By: Pixabay

Our thanks to Lucille Rosetti, for this contribution to our blog.

 

When a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the following days, weeks, and months can be scary and overwhelming. How can you make sure your loved one is comfortable? What arrangements need to be made? Hospice care is the next step, but what is it exactly?

According to MedicineNet, hospice care is “Care designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and focus on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure.” The ultimate goal is for your loved one to live out their remaining time comfortably and pain-free, while also supporting their emotional, social, and spiritual needs. If hospice is the next plan of action for your loved one, here is some helpful information to walk you through the process.

Starting the Hospice Care Process

Starting hospice care is simple – all it takes is a referral. The referral can come from a family member or friend, but typically a healthcare professional makes it. Once the request is made, care typically begins within two days. Keep in mind that eligibility for hospice states that your loved one must have received a life expectancy from a physician of six months or less, and has elected to stop all curative treatment. Terminal illnesses are unpredictable, so rest assured your loved one can continue to receive hospice care long after six months is up as long as their doctor certifies their eligibility.

Each disease and condition carries its own eligibility criteria as well. Although you will receive a referral, you aren’t obligated to use that particular provider. There are many hospice providers, so use this list of essential questions to help you choose the right provider for your loved one.

Getting to Know Your Care Team

Your loved one’s care team will include doctors, nurses, social workers, home health aides, and clergy/counselors. However, the one person you will likely be working with the most is a hospice care social worker. Having completed a Master’s of Social Work program via an accredited online or in-person university and the required 900 to 1,200 hours of field work, you can rest assured that the social worker assigned to your loved one has the background, knowledge, and expertise necessary to walk you, and at times carry you through this process. The social worker can assist you, your loved one, and family members with the following:

 

  • End-of-life planning and documentation
  • Healthcare decisions
  • Point of contact for local agencies and resources
  • Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid paperwork
  • Funeral planning
  • Arrangements/paperwork after your loved one has passed
  • Identifying emotional and spiritual needs of you and your loved ones and finding necessary support
  • Help finding grief counseling

 

Be An Advocate for Holistic Therapy

Hospice care doesn’t involve curative treatment, but pain/symptom management is key. This can be accomplished through medication, but you might also suggest holistic therapy as a complement such as massage therapy, reflexology, reiki, music therapy, guided imagery, meditation, or acupuncture. Unfortunately Medicare doesn’t cover holistic medicine, but it does offer some coverage for a licensed doctor of osteopathic medicine. However, if your loved one has a Medicare Advantage plan, there are additional benefits such as wellness programs and healthier food options, both of which offer a holistic care approach.

Be A Source of Support and Comfort

Whether your loved one is receiving hospice care at home or in a hospice facility or nursing home, you can be a source of support and comfort. Be mindful and respectful of their wishes, and assist in any way they ask you. Spend time together and share memories or create a legacy video. Most importantly, just be there, whether it’s to chat, watch their favorite shows, read a book together, or simply sit.

If hospice is the next step, take a deep breath. The care and support you and your loved one will receive is a bright spot during a difficult time. Rest assured that once you find the hospice provider that best meets your loved one’s needs and criteria, you’ll have a team to guide you every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2019 Guide to Medicare

Our thanks to Danielle Kunkle, for this contribution to our blog.

Though Medicare has been around since 1965, there are changes each year that affect your premiums, copays and deductibles for the next year. Sometimes there are also legislative changes that can impact your benefits. Let’s look at an overview of Medicare for 2019.

Medicare Has 4 Parts

Original Medicare includes Part A hospital benefits and Part B outpatient benefits. You enroll in these two parts via the Social Security office during your Initial Enrollment Period which begins 3 months before your 65th birthday month. Part A covers inpatient hospital, hospice and skilled nursing. Part B covers most other medically necessary services on the outpatient sides, such as doctor visits, lab testing, emergency care, physical therapy, chemotherapy and much more.

In1997, the Balanced Budget Act also created Part C, which is the Medicare Advantage program, which we’ll discuss more below

The most recent part of Medicare is the voluntary prescription drug program that we call Part D. This will help to reduce the cost of your retail prescriptions.

Medicare Doesn’t Cover 100% of your Costs

Although Medicare covers the majority of your healthcare expenses, you are responsible for some cost-sharing. This includes deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. On the outpatient side, Medicare only covers about 80% of your covered procedures, and you are responsible to pay the other 20%. For this reason, most people enroll in additional coverage to help them with their cost-sharing. There are two primary types of supplemental coverage: Medigap Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans.

Medigap plans are also known as Medicare supplements and these plans pay after Medicare. In most states, you can choose from one of 10 standardized Medigap plans. These plans allow you to treat with any Medicare provider nationwide and you don’t have to choose a primary care doctor.

Since Medigap plans don’t include outpatient drug coverage, you would enroll in a standalone Part D drug plan as well.

Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) is optional coverage in which you can get your Medicare Part A and B benefits through a private insurance company that offers a network of providers. These plans often have lower premiums than Medigap plans but you’ll pay copays at the time of service for various medical services.

Between Medicare and the right supplemental coverage, you can rest assured your benefits will cover you well without breaking the bank.

Finding Success as an Older Entrepreneur

Our thanks to Rae Steinbach, from fueledcollective.com, for this contribution to our blog.

Whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, much of the 2000s has been dominated by younger entrepreneurs who have changed our personal and business lives in a number of ways. From the rise of social media to the increasing popularity of remote work and coworking spaces, entrepreneurs have had a marked impact on society.  But contrary to how our current youth-oriented culture may seem, one can begin to build a great company at any age.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most common causes of new business failure is a lack of relevant skills and experience. Older entrepreneurs, as you’ll see, are often in a better position than ever to take a chance on the idea they’ve been dreaming about and watch it grow into a successful business.

 

Why Older People Make Successful Entrepreneurs

Seemingly everyone has a million-dollar idea that could change the world, but very few of us are able to navigate the business world and make it a reality. People who have spent more time working and gaining experience are generally able to hold a more realistic view of their goals, expectations, and needs.

Younger entrepreneurs also face difficulties in attempting to build a business while dealing with the financial and personal responsibilities that come with being in your 20s or 30s. Starting later in life means having more time, money, and resources to devote to your business.

 

Creating a Business

No matter how old you are, leaving an existing job for the unknown is a major risk that requires serious consideration. Half of all businesses fail within five years, so it’s crucial to be realistic and impartial when thinking about the costs and benefits of starting your own company.

When you do decide to branch out, you’ll also have to judge how much of your personal money to spend on the project. Unlike those in their 20s and 30s, older entrepreneurs generally don’t have as much time to replenish savings and retirement funds if the venture doesn’t turn out the way they hoped.

If your startup targets millennials or younger demographics, you may benefit from hiring some employees who can provide valuable insight into that market. Understanding how to capitalize on your strengths and find people to support your weakness is crucial to managing any business.

Starting a company is a massive undertaking for anyone, and that’s especially true for older entrepreneurs. That said, the experience and knowledge that come from decades in a business environment often prove even more valuable in a startup context. These strategies will help you build your company from the ground up and put you in a position to reach your goals.

 

 

Giving Gifts That Make a Difference

I get to take a look at products designed for older adults every day. This year I brought technology from two companies I have known since their start-up days into the homes of my parents.

Technology

After the passing of my step-dad, my Mom decided she wanted a medical alert device. We turned to Greatcall and Lively.  As I knew it would be, the service she has received has been exceptional. My Dad, who lives in a rural area, expressed an interest in some sort of device to stay in closer touch with us. He was especially missing all of the photos of his newest great grandson. Knowing that he is not tech savvy, we were reluctant to put an ordinary tablet in his hands. Instead we turned to GrandPad. Because of his location, the set-up proved difficult, but the service was excellent, we were communicated with about solutions, and understood the issues. I am happy to be the influencer on these purchases, and to experience the service models these companies have created.

Comfort & Joy

While I live and work in the world of technology, I’ve been working very hard this year to uncover things being created for older adults that bring joy, comfort and fun. There is plenty of investment in technology that solves for the dissonances of aging. There is not nearly enough focus (or funding) on joy. My short list of gift ideas is focused on this theme!

Give Loved1

Loved1 is subscription gift box for older adults that contains items focused on wellness and happiness. The difference is that the items are carefully curated to encourage engagement between the sender and receiver. Subscribers, usually the adult children, receive an email about the items in the box and an Engagement Guide filled with ideas to promote rich conversations and fun interactions. Subscriptions come in 12, 6 and 3 box options. This is the perfect gift for your family member living in a community to encourage family members of all ages to visit and engage around fun activities; and if you are long distance caregiver, the items in the box create conversations beyond the basic check-in calls. You can listen to my friend Paul Vogelzang’s Podcast with Loved1’s Joe Adams to learn more.

Bridges Together

Bridges Together is the go-to organization for intergenerational engagement. They offer training and tools to help individuals and communities embrace and create a truly age-integrated world. Schools, communities, and companies use the Bridges curriculum to create all types of intergenerational activities. Founder Andrea Weaver calls intergenerational engagement “an inoculation against ageism.” Become part of the age integrated movement and subscribe here. You can see the outstanding “How To Guides” that are part of your subscription. If you are looking for a fun stocking stuffer, or a way to stimulate non-political discourse over the holidays, check out the Grand Conversation Cards. This deck of cards has thought-provoking questions for people of all ages to encourage deeper conversations among multiple generations of family. These are great for the dinner table (sans devices), for workplace training, or you can play one of the games that come in the How To Guide.

 

Clothing That Comforts

Jan Erickson created Janska from a dream about a jacket. She had an older friend who had become disabled from a series of strokes. The hospital gown became her wardrobe and Jan wanted to create something to keep her warm and also restore her “personhood” during this difficult time. That jacket that Jan sketched from her dream launched a made-in-America clothing company with five collections and accessories sold nationwide. The Clothing That Comforts line is the embodiment of Jan’s philosophy that clothing does matter, and that soft, warm pieces provide dignity that can be lost when you are facing a health or mobility challenge.

I gifted my Grandmother with the Lap Wrap Shawl and the MocSocks. (I love the MocSocks too!) Imagine the joy that the cozy fabrics and beautiful colors will bring to your loved one!

 

However you celebrate the season, I hope you and your family have love, joy and fun! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Grandparents’ Day!

If you’ve read my book, The Grandparent Economy, you know that my interest in the lifestage is both personal and professional. I was raised by my paternal grandparents from infancy. It was something of a novelty in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Today that is a much different story.

The origin of Grandparents’ Day

In the 70’s, Marian McQuade was a champion of intergenerational relationships, urging young people to adopt a grandparent and to have older adults in their lives. She encouraged West Virginia’s Governor to recognize an annual Grandparents’ Day. In 1973, Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia introduced a resolution to the senate to make Grandparents’ Day a national holiday. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation making the first Sunday of September after Labor Day “National Grandparents’ Day.”

This proclamation cites the purpose, “”…to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer”.

Grandparents Today

Nearly one third of all families in the US are grandparent households, largely due to the aging of the huge Baby Boomer population. Baby Boomers are a new breed of grandparents – more engaged and financially involved – maintaining their “helicopter” status well into grandparenthood.

The other side of the grandparent experience are grandparents who step in to raise their grandchildren, just as mine did more than 50 years ago. More than 2.5 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. This transcends race and income. The growing numbers are largely due to extended deployments of parents, death of parents, and the opioid crisis. As the opioid crisis affects multiple generations, we are seeing an increase in great grandparents as the primary caregivers for children as well. Many older adults do this at the expense of their own health and retirement savings.

In May of 2017, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced the “Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act” with the support from 40 older adult and advocacy groups. This act was signed into law in July. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will coordinate the work of a Federal Advisory Council to provide resources and best practices to support grandparents and other relatives raising children. It’s a great start in providing for the physical and emotional well-being of these special families.

How to Celebrate Grandparents’ Day

I have some thoughts to share from a variety of my favorite organizations.

Bridges Together

In addition to Grandparents’ Day, it’s Intergenerational (IG) Awareness Month – a month set aside to raise awareness about and celebrate the benefits of intergenerational connections. Bridges Together invites you share your stories of intergenerational relationships:

Share the power of intergenerational relationships. Write a 500 word story, create a piece of art (visual or performing) and submit it to the Kraemer IG Story Contest.  The contest is now open and will remain open until Oct. 31.  Cash prizes will be awarded.  Read more and enter now!

Loved1

Do you have a grandparent or great grandparent living away from you and your family?
Loved1 delivers a gift box of thoughtfully curated products that focus on healthy living, quality of life, nutrition, and fun. You receive an email detailing the items in the box and an Engagement Guide to encourage great discussions and interactions with your family member.

GRAND Magazine

GRAND – the digital magazine for living the ageless life – is now available for FREE. If you are a grandparent, it is the ultimate guide to this stage of life. If you know a grandparent who would enjoy GRAND, subscribe for them as a gift! Check out GRAND’s site as well for more excellent information. To get your FREE subscription, click here!

Making Your Mental Health a Priority After the Loss of Your Spouse

Our thanks to Elmer George, Elderville.org,  for this contribution to our blog: 

A few months ago, my husband’s mom passed away. She had cancer and spent her final days in hospice. I must admit watching my father-in-law deal with the loss has been truly eye-opening. My mother-in-law not only did most of their cooking and cleaning, but managed their finances as well. We’ve been helping my father-in-law work through his grief, while also helping him learn to live on his own. I’ve shown him how to cook some easy recipes, my husband has taken over his finances, and we’ve tried to get additional help here and there to fill in the gaps. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to be doing to help my own parents as they age, and I’d love to share my experiences with others.

The loss of a spouse is a devastating life event. For seniors, many who have been with their partners for decades and decades, it can be an enormous blow to their mental health. Not only do you face crippling sadness, loneliness, and depression, but you have to cope while also handling final arrangements, dealing with life insurance policies and the will, and doing what you can to avoid clashing with family. That’s why it’s vital that you make your mental well-being your #1 priority during this trying time.

Don’t try to speed up your grief

“Numerous research studies have demonstrated spousal bereavement is a major source of life stress that often leaves people vulnerable to later problems, including depression, chronic stress, and reduced life expectancy,” notes Psychology Today.

It is counterproductive to try to convince yourself to get over your grief, or to listen to people who tell you that there should be a time limit on your mourning. While prolonged depression stemming from the loss of a spouse can lead to health problems, attempting to suppress grief can also be incredibly detrimental. Know that you are allowed to feel sad, and never try to speed up your grieving process.

One of the best ways to begin the grieving process is to have a service for your spouse. Whether the service is a funeral or for cremation, this is an important first step. A service honors your spouse, brings family together, begins the healing process, and may bring loved ones the closure they need.

Avoid short-term fixes that can become bad habits

You might think that it’s okay to develop a few bad habits because you’re just getting through the hard times and these new habits aren’t part of your normal lifestyle, just part of the grieving process. But relying on alcohol, smoking, drugs, or overeating to help you cope with your emotional pain is even more dangerous for seniors than for younger people. Alcohol, for example, exacerbates mental health problems like anxiety and depression and is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Not only that, but seniors tend to already be on more medications, which can have negative interactions with other substances.

Focus on eating right and exercising

The best thing you can do for your brain is to eat right and exercise. Getting enough physical activity helps our brain produce chemicals that improve our mood. What we put in our bodies is our fuel, and if you feed yourself subpar fuel, you’re going to have poor performance. If you want to help your brain battle depression and anxiety, stick to a healthy diet and be sure to get at least 30-45 minutes of moderate activity per day.

“Research in humans shows that exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to healthy cognition,” says the National Institutes of Health.

Force yourself to be social

When dealing with the loss of a spouse, many seniors tend to self-isolate. But this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. Talking with family and friends is one of the best ways to overcome excessive grief. “The most compassionate self-action you can take is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need,” says Oprah.com. Another way to talk to people about your grief is to join a grief group or seek counseling. These options may be available either locally or online.

There is no magic bullet for dealing with the devastating grief that comes with losing a spouse. But if you make a point to focus on your own mental health, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

About Elderville.org:

Elderville.org is a resource guide for everything related to seniors. We connect our readers to reliable sources on the internet so they don’t have to spend time searching. We have safety tips for daily activities, and resources that range from healthcare to volunteering.

Article & quick links provided by ElderVille: https://elderville.org/

Find your helpful quick links here for Seniors:

Can I Get a Mortgage if I’m Retired?
https://www.creditsesame.com/blog/mortgage/can-i-get-a-mortgage-if-i-m-retired/

A Guide to Downsizing for Seniors and Their Loved Ones
https://www.redfin.com/blog/seniors-guide-to-downsizing

Should You Own or Rent a Home in Retirement?
https://www.fool.com/mortgages/2017/05/04/should-you-own-or-rent-a-home-in-retirement.aspx

Home Modifications Increase Senior Safety
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/home-modifications-increase-senior-safety.htm

How to Save for a Down Payment on a House
https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-save-for-a-down-payment-on-a-house-1289847

7 Home Improvement & Remodeling Ideas That Increase Home Value (And What To Avoid)
https://www.moneycrashers.com/7-home-improvements-to-increase-its-value/

Home Construction & Design Techniques for Child Safety
https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/child-safety-home-design-and-projects/

How to Deter Burglars: Keeping Potential Robbers Away From Your Home
https://www.asecurelife.com/how-to-deter-burglars/

Sharing Hacking Longevity Research with California Assisted Living Association (CALA)

I am excited to be sharing insights from our latest research project, Hacking Longevity, with members of CALA on June 6th, 2018 in Sacramento. We’ll be discussing generational differences that make communication across three generations of older adults trickier, plus looking at Generation X as the new generation of family caregivers.

The theme for this year’s CALA Spring Conference and Trade Show event is “Elevate”:

el·e·vate / eləˌvāt / verb

  • raise or lift (something) up to a higher position.
    synonyms: raise, lift (up), raise up/aloft, upraise
  • raise to a more important or impressive level.
    synonyms: promote, upgrade, advance, move up, raise, prefer

We look forward to helping Senior Living professionals find new ways to elevate and shape the care and services they provide while enhancing residents’ quality of life through greater understanding.

To learn more, or to attend CALA’s Elevate Spring Conference and Trade Show, click here.

To learn more about Hacking Longevity, click here.

The Business of Aging reports on how older adults are “Hacking Longevity”

Hacking Longevity is the first study to examine how three generations of adults over the age of 50 – Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent Generation – are thinking about and planning for longer lives. Until now, the idea of increased longevity has been mostly conceptual and aspirational. Through a rigorous research process, Hacking Longevity examination, provides insights on how brands and organizations can better serve consumers of the longevity economy. The study was conducted in the Fall of 2017 and Winter of 2018 and led by Lori Bitter at The Business of Aging.

The study debuted at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington DC in April. This timeline illustrates key inflection points in people’s lives as they age, as revealed in the data. To learn more about Hacking Longevity, join us in June at The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit where we will provide a briefing for attendees.

Hacking Longevity was conducted in partnership with Collaborata, and underwritten by AARP, Wells Fargo Advisors, GreatCall, and Proctor and Gamble Ventures.

Excited to talk about The Business of Aging’s new research at AARP on April 12th!

The Business of Aging’s new research, Hacking Longevity, will premier at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington D.C. on April 12th. The event will feature an “experience” of key data points of attitudes and changes displayed along a timeline at the Newseum in Washington DC.

The research is sponsored by AARP, GreatCall, Wells Fargo Advisors and Proctor & Gamble on the new Collaborata research platform.

The agenda for the AARP’s Living 100 Event can be found here.

Watch our social media – Facebook/TheBusinessofAging and Twitter – @LoriBitter and @TheBusinessofAging for live updates!

Transition & Transformation: Navigating Your Third Act

Join us for interviews with thought leaders on aging and business. Join us on Tuesday March 27, 2018 at the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco California for a full morning dedicated to your life and career, featuring a team of expert guides, authors, and coaches to help you find what’s next. Think of it as a three and a half hour investment in you. Over the next 4 episodes, we’ll talk with Keynote speaker, author of the new book, “Jolt,” Mark Miller, we’ll discuss reinventing your career at midlife with John Tarnoff, of Boomer Reinvention. We’ll be speaking with Sandra Hughes, Sandra Hughes Consulting, about shifting from the BIG job to Your Own Business, and finally, we’ll hear from Rich Eisenberg, managing editor of Next Avenue about The Art of Making it in the Gig Economy. Join me today in welcoming to the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit Podcast, produced by the Business of Aging for What’s Next, Managing Editor of Next Avenue, Where Grown Ups Keep Growing, and host of the Your Next Avenue Podcast, Richard Eisenberg.