August News Brief

Happy August Further Shore friends!

Happy Anniversary to us

Since readers appreciated my mention of National Lasagna Day in the July News Brief, a new tradition is born to share about a special day in each month! For the month of August, I’m choosing August 21st, Nation Senior Citizens Day, a holiday established by Ronald Reagan in 1988. During a proclamation for the day, he stated: “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.” Suggestions for celebrating this special day include spending time with, offering gratitude to, or volunteering for seniors.

On a personal note, Robert and I will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary on August 21st, a happy occasion for sure. Recently Robert asked me if we could set aside some time to discuss how we might see ourselves in 10 or 15 years? As official “senior citizens,” where are we living? What are our days like? How are we taking care of ourselves? Will we need others to care for us? His query inspired me do some research into the topic of long-term care planning. Let’s dig in then go for the News!

The case for Long-Term Care Planning:  The inevitability of aging is something we all share. Ideally, we want to live healthy, active lives and remain independent for as long as possible. According to statistics, about 70% of seniors will need some type of long-term care that includes services to meet a person’s health or personal care needs. These services help people to live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform daily activities on their own. The AARP has published a great Resource Guide for such planning. There is a nifty quiz on page 3 to help clarify why it is important to make long term care plans! Some areas to consider about life after “the big 6-5” include:  

  • Health – How to keep healthy into senior years? Is there a sensible wellness plan? We know that lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, hygiene, mental health coping strategies, social support, and tobacco cessation can improve health. Is there a need to make changes NOW? Are there strategies in place for dental, mobility, hearing, or vision challenges? Is there a plan for health insurance, Medicare/aide, long-term care insurance, or other arrangements to meet age related medical care needs?  In case of a disability, who provides personal care services; how is that paid for? Health includes mental health screening!
  • Home life – Has there been enough downsizing (i.e. tossing out of “stuff”) to make a move to a smaller, more streamlined place to live? If not, start NOW! Where to live – house, apartment, assisted living, skilled nursing facility? Is there a yard or garden, companion animals? How are things like maintenance, housekeeping, and repairs handled and by whom? Is there transportation assistance needed? Is the home safe and accessible if mobility becomes a challenge? Is the dwelling owned? Is there a mortgage or reverse mortgage? Are there funds in place to pay for the home and living expenses in case of a disability or other limiting circumstances? If not, who to contact for financial planning support?Do I share my home with spouse, family, friends, or renters? Can I live alone?
  • Finances – Is it possible to continuing working past retirement age? If not, what is the source of income? Is it be likely (or possible) to continue handling legal matters, bookkeeping, tax reporting, banking, investments, and bill paying? If not, how will those tasks be reassigned and to whom? Is a public fiduciary needed? Is there a trusted spouse or family member to assist with a long-term plan for handling finances?
  • Community –Are there friends or family nearby? Making social connections easy or difficult? How to find and enjoy community connections? Are grocery stores, pharmacies, parks, movie theaters, churches, gyms, and medical providers nearby and accessible? If not, how to access those? What kind of social services are available? Are emergency services readily available?
  • Wishes/Your Voice – Is there a living will (advance directive for healthcare) in place that describes healthcare preferences in the event of accident or injury? Is there a trusted, documented medical or healthcare power of attorney in place to give voice to those healthcare wishes? Is there a need for financial advisors, estate planners or lawyers to assist with setting legal affairs in order? Is there a will, living trust, or other legal documentation in place with a power of attorney, trustee, or executor to uphold last wishes and distribution of worldly goods upon death?
  • The Trouble with Assisted Living – If physical disability makes it impossible to remain at home, there are options for assisted living facilities. The organization A Place for Mom is a good resource for learning all about these communities. While some of them sound wonderful, there is a dark side. More than 50% of assisted living residents have some form of memory loss, cognitive decline, or dementia. The industry is struggling to improve on memory care and keep up with increasing demand for that kind of care. This Frontline documentary, Life and Death in Assisted Living, paints a bleak picture of the struggle. {Warning: this documentary is very difficult to watch.} Speakers in the documentary say that a skilled nursing facility is a better place for dementia patients. But skilled nursing facilities are reported to have similar problems. Bottom line:  if you don’t have a long term care plan, start to make one! Need to talk about it? Feel free to contact me for a conversation.

Now for the News:

  • On the Blog:  “P” is for Practice is now available!
  • Pandemic tidbit:  Again this month, I’m hearing from folks in my orbit that they are not recovering well from the latest version of COVID-19 infection. Age doesn’t seem to matter and in some cases, it is hitting younger people (25-40 range) harder than it hits the elders. In this short YouTube Stanford neurologist, Dr. Michelle Monje discusses what she sees as a Neurological Health Crisis associated with Long Covid. Medically vulnerable friends:  stay safe out there!
  • Movies that Move Us:  This month’s choice is The Bucket List (a Rob Reiner film, 2007 PG13). Join the adventure as Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) embark on a globetrotting bucket list tour. They meet up as patients in a hospital room; both with terminal cancer. These two unlikely, argumentative fellows team up to do all the things they ever wanted to do on their bucket lists before they die. The film has plenty of Nicholson’s quirky commentary about life alongside Freeman’s soulful reflections about finding the joy in life. It is funny, touching, and it just might inspire you to write your own bucket list.  
  • Quote of the Month:  “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

May all beings be safe, well, happy, and content.

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