Guest Blog: Suzie Kolber
Giving Condolences to Relatives: When You Don’t Know What to Say
Many people feel uncomfortable in expressing condolences to a relative when that person loses someone. They don’t know what to say and are often afraid of saying the wrong thing. Here are some tips to help you the next time you are in that situation.
Don’t try to come up with the “right words.” Instead, just focus on being sincere. Even a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” has great meaning when it comes from the heart. If you are close to the grieving person, you can offer more words of encouragement but don’t feel that you must. If they are a distant relative, just a short note is plenty to show your condolences.
Write It Down
Another worry for many people is that they will call or stop by at the wrong time. Since dealing with all of the issues surrounding a person’s death can leave the person overwhelmed and busy, a written note or email may be more appropriate at this time. You can wait until later to make a visit or phone call. In fact, it may be more timely then when they don’t have as much support.
Offer to Help
If you are in a position and at a close distance to help, feel free to extend the offer. Instead of a generic “let me know if I can help,” it is often appreciated if you give tangible suggestions. Since the person is probably feeling overwhelmed, he or she may not know what is needed. Here are some ideas on ways you could offer to help.
- Stopping by the grocery to pick up food
- Bringing over a dish
- Taking pets for a walk
- Taking the kids out for a few hours
- Checking on the house if the person will be gone
- Inviting the person to a support group
- Inviting the person for lunch
Your offers of help don’t have to just be for the first few days after the loved one’s death. Many times, support is needed for several weeks or even months while the person is still grieving the loss. In fact, your support may be even more appreciated then.
What Not to Do
There are some things you should avoid in your wish to offer condolences to a family member. The main thing to know is to respect the other person’s beliefs. They may have different convictions and ideas about death, especially if they are of a different religion or background than you. If you are not sure of their beliefs, try to avoid comments and expressions that include that sentiment.
Don’t be upset if you don’t hear back from the person right away. It may take some time for them to get back to you in response to your offers of help and condolences. Know that they appreciate any concern you express even if they don’t respond.
Supporting family members through a loss of a loved one can be difficult, but don’t be afraid to reach out. Any sincere expression will be appreciated if given in the right attitude.
Suzie Kolber is a writer at http://obituarieshelp.org/words_of_condolences_hub.html . The site is a complete guide for someone seeking help for sympathy messages, condolence letters and funeral planning resources.
On a list of the greatest fears many seniors have, failing health, hearing loss, and falling often rise to the top. One major fear that few actually talk to their families and doctors about though is losing the ability to drive. In fact, a new AAA study found that over 80 percent of older drivers never discuss their safe driving ability at all with their care networks or medical professionals.
For many seniors, driving is the hallmark characteristic that defines independence. Being able to drive allows seniors to travel, to run their own errands, to get out of their house and socialize. Losing that ability to drive doesn’t just strip those things away, but it also requires seniors to ask for help and coordinate transportation, all of which can leave them feeling like a burden on their caregivers.
What is the danger then? Well not only do older drivers who have outlived their ability to safely drive a vehicle endanger their passengers and other drivers on the road, they put themselves at increased risk for injury and even death. Because older adults typically have more fragile bones and higher rates of chronic illness that can complicate an injury recovery, they are more likely to get hurt or even die in a car crash than younger adults.
Talking About Driving with Your Aging Parent
The bottom line is that simply conducting a dialogue about driving doesn’t mean a senior will lose their license or be held back from driving. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Just as using a cane for walking empowers a senior with mobility limitations to keep moving, talking about safe driving can empower seniors to take helpful steps that keep them safe on the road.
For example, the Senior Driving division of AAA offers loads of helpful resources, tools, and information that connect seniors with local refresher courses on defensive road wise driving, help them understand how medicine can affect safe driving, and much more.
If you need to have a conversation with your aging parent about safe driving, experts recommend approaching it from a place of compassion and empathy. Instead of accusing them of being an unsafe driver, confess the concerns you feel about their safety on the road and ask them about their own perspective. Discuss helpful driving tools, safe driving refresher classes, and even consider attending a senior driving expo together.
We have all heard of the “sandwich generation” – those middle-aged adults who are still caring for their own children and also an aging parent. Well, here is an emerging trend that I will call the Triple Decker Sandwich generation: Baby Boomers who help care for aging parents, who still have children at home of their own, and who find themselves also taking on full time care of their small grandchildren. Yes, that is a sandwich of an entirely different kind. That is a Triple Decker.
Pew Social Trends (2013) revealed that many adults in their 30s and 40s were caring for ailing older parents and also providing some type of financial support for grown children. This resulted in reports from the sandwich generation in feeling in a hurry, rushed, and not having enough time for all of their expected duties. Now, add to those statistics another emerging trend: grandparents caring for grandchildren. I am not referring to the occasional or even regular hour babysitting or childcare that loving grandparents provide. Instead, this is the 24/7 responsibility for grandchildren who live with them, or whom they have adopted. The 2015 Profile of Older Americans from the Agency on Aging found that “in 2014, about 554,579 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them”. Now, please note that this is only those grandparents aged 65 an over. What about all the others in their 50s and early 60s doing the same? I imagine that each person reading this can think of at least one or two grandparents who are raising small grandchildren. The implications of this on the health of aging persons is enormous. So, here are some tips to survive the Triple Decker Sandwich generation.
If you have this many people in your life to care for, you must pace yourself. Avoid the temptation to give 100% all the time. It isn’t possible. Something in your life will suffer – and often this is your own health. Think of this task of caring for multiple generations as running a marathon. Develop skills, train, get into a good rhythm that you can maintain for the long haul.
You might have been able to juggle 4 kids and a job when you were in your late 20s or early 30s, but maybe now you are in your 50s with aging parents, teenagers, and a grandbaby to care for. Flexibility is a key to success. You just can’t do everything the same way if you are caring for small children again. Decide what is most important. Set reasonable and attainable goals. Make small goals for each day and celebrate those accomplishments.
Even if you were used to being able to do it all yourself when you were younger, the amount of care that a Triple Decker generation person takes on requires some help at times. Let your adult children watch that baby to give you a break. Let the teens in the house help with the childcare. It is a good time for them to learn these skills for when they are parents. Tag team with your spouse to share the burden if you have a little one in the home. Church friends are happy to help if you need a night out.
Take time to rejuvenate
Being part of a Triple Decker sandwich is tough. Take time to rejuvenate to avoid burnout. You can’t care for anyone if you become ill or incapacitated yourself. For each person, renewal comes in different forms. For men, this might mean playing a sport or watching games on TV without interruption, or having a quiet private place in the house that is off limits from the noise of the household. For moms, this might be shopping alone or getting a manicure or pedicure. Sometimes talking on the phone, or meeting with friends for lunch provides a needed break. Know what you personally need to recharge and refocus and then allow yourself this (without guilt) on a regular basis. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can change how you deal with them.
Don’t expect too much
Chances are, if you find yourself in the Triple Decker mode, you are aging yourself. You can remember how you balanced work, life, kids, and higher education by yourself years ago. Now you wonder how you did it all. Well, you were 20 or 30 years younger then, so cut yourself some slack. Be sure to get enough sleep. Take breaks as needed. Exercise and eat right. Cut out the unnecessary things you did before to fill time and focus on those priorities that you set, without neglecting your own health.
Triple Decker Sandwich persons are tough and resilient. Congratulate yourself that you have been able to make it all work and care for your many loved ones. You sacrifice many things such as an easy and comfortable retirement and the ability to travel. But, you have given a great gift to those you love by sharing your care for them. In the end when you reflect back on your life accomplishments, you might very well find that this was one of the greatest.
Whether you’ve recently retired, are planning to retire soon or are facing an unknown future where retirement seems virtually impossible, when you’re living on a fixed or tight income, you’re always looking for ways to save money. Plus, since one of the first areas to get cut when the budget is tight is entertainment, you may wonder how can you still have fun, without spending a fortune. To answer that question, here’s a list of inexpensive activities that could be perfect for you!
Attend Free Events. From free nights at the museum to local art gallery showings in town, keep your radar on for free activities in the area that you might enjoy. Most cities will host free lectures, concerts, movie nights and other activities from time to time.
Start a Club or Discussion Group.
- Start a book club, movie group or discussion group with a handful of friends, hosted either at your home or rotating homes month to month. Getting together will cost little more than making some snacks — and it will still be a fun night for everyone.
Take Advantage of Community Centers and Libraries. Rent movies or check out books at the library, and go for walks at the local community center track. Within your specific city or town, find what other amenities are available to you and decide to make the most of them, either on your own or with a friend.
Volunteer in the Community. Volunteering not only makes you feel good about helping others, but it also connects you with people in the community and often qualifies you for some cool, cash-saving perks. Whether it’s free food when you’re volunteering at the local school district or a place to socialize when you’re serving as a greeter at the hospital, volunteering helps you reach outside yourself and have fun in the process.
Host Potlucks. Rather than always going out to eat with friends, try hosting potlucks where everyone brings a dish to pass. You’ll only need to make one dish, still have the fun of socializing with friends or loved ones, and save a bundle in the process.
Enjoy the Outdoors. Go to the park, take walks on trails at the forest preserve, plan a picnic or watch a local Little League game. Getting outside is not only good for your spirits, it’s usually inexpensive too!
Mark Westerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for CareOne, Inc., a provider of debt relief services nationwide.
1. Introduction to Oral Health
An increase in education about oral health, as well as better access to toothbrushes, fluoride toothpaste and floss, have led to more older adults retaining their original teeth. However, as you age, your teeth and gums require a little extra attention. Read on to learn about how to care for your teeth after 55.
2. Oral Health Challenges in Aged People
– Dry mouth
Hormonal changes and many medications contribute to reduced saliva production resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease by allowing bacteria to breed more easily and can also lead to difficulty speaking and eating, fungal infections and problems wearing dentures.
Attrition refers to general wear and tear on teeth that occurs as you age. Years of chewing and grinding wears down tooth enamel increasing the risk of cavities.
Older adults over the age of 55 years old have an increased risk of developing thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth, as well as oral cancers.
– Root Decay
Gums can recede as you age exposing the base of the tooth to bacteria which can decay your teeth from the roots.
3. Common Conditions Found in Aged of 55+
Even with a good oral care routine, adults over the age of 55 years old have an increased risk of developing some problems with their teeth and gums. Some common conditions include:
• Darkened teeth which is often due to enamel erosion and changes in the dentine inside the teeth, but can also be caused by regular consumption of dark foods and beverages.
• A reduced sense of taste which may be due to the side effects of some medications but can also be caused by dentures.
• Gum disease which is most often caused by plaque build-up but can also be caused by cancer, anaemia and diabetes.
• Misaligned jawbone as a result of tooth extraction or loss without replacing the missing teeth which lets remaining teeth drift.
4. What Can You Do to Maintain Your Oral Health?
To keep your natural teeth strong and bright for many years to come, there are several ways you can protect your teeth and gums.
– Increase Fluoride
Fluoride is present in most drinking water and in dental products like toothpaste and mouthwash. Increasing your use of fluoride can help to protect your teeth from cavities by helping to remineralise your teeth after acid wear.
– Eliminate Tobacco Chewing
Tobacco chewing has been linked with several negative oral health issues including cavities and discolouration. But quitting tobacco can be a challenge. Talk to your doctor about resources to help you quit and make an appointment with your dentist in Southend for a tooth whitening treatment for a brighter smile.
– Increase Oral Hydration
Staying hydrated is a great way to combat dry mouth as a result of medication. Keep a water bottle close by and sip throughout the day. You can also improve your oral hydration by chewing sugarless gum and limiting your intake of alcohol.
– Antibacterial Wash
Improve your oral health by reducing the build-up of plaque with antibacterial wash. Swish a small amount of alcohol-free mouthwash in your mouth after brushing at night.
With proper oral care your teeth and gums will last your lifetime but take extra care of your teeth after the age of 55. If you interested in learning more about how your oral health changes as you age, call your local dentist for an appointment.
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When you’ve started to notice changes in an elderly relative, you may wonder if a mental health issue is the cause. While it is important a mental health professional diagnoses these issues, some signs exist indicating that the time has come to make an appointment.
Depression can occur for a host of reasons. Elderly individuals may be suffering from the loss of a loved one, or they may feel alienated, isolated or otherwise separated from their friends or from their interests outside of the house. Individuals who seem filled with sadness and negative emotions or who are hinting about emotional turmoil may need outpatient or inpatient treatment for depression.
Anxiety Issues/Bipolar Disorder
You may also notice that your loved ones are having heightened periods of elevation followed by periods of deep sadness. They could be suffering from bipolar disorder. Serious anxieties could begin to manifest at this age too. For example, you may notice that your elderly relatives always seem to be thinking about their own death or about expected loss of other loved ones.
As people age, you may think that it is a normal occurrence for them to forget information that they would have once remembered. However, these early slips could be signs of a more serious problem that is coming into fruition. Your loved ones might now be forgetting about certain dates or social events, but these struggles could turn into failures to take medication or complete other necessary medical tasks.
If you notice that your loved ones are not taking care of themselves as they used to, this situation could also be a sign of mental health issues. For example, you may have noticed that your relatives are no longer brushing their teeth or bathing on a regular basis. Seeking professional help can uncover the root of the issue so that a plan of treatment can be devised.
Your loved ones might also seem to not want to participate in social activities anymore. Whether they are constantly declining invites to attend family functions or they do not want to participate in community activities any longer, these decisions could be signs that a mental health issue is present.
As your loved ones age, you may be the lookout for physical health issues. While addressing these problems is imperative, so is watching for signs of mental health struggles. May is mental health awareness month, get involved to help bring awareness to this important cause!