Funeral Directors May Not Tell You This

Source: 10 Facts Funeral Directors May Not Tell You | Fox Business

Funeral Directors might not tell you this

Terry Sheridan over at Fox Business wrote an excellent article about making funeral arrangements, and the money you can save by being a better informed consumer.  As with many things, caring for aging parents is infinitely more difficult when a crisis hits.  One of the most difficult issues occurs when we lose the ones we love.  It’s usually at this point when certain things have to be done… and what we really want (and need) to do is grieve.

The average cost of a traditional funeral, including embalming and a metal casket, is almost $6,600, according to the most recent data from the National Funeral Directors Association. Cemetery services, including the gravesite and vault or liner, can cost an additional $3,000, says Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance. — Terry Sheridan/Fox Business

Nobody wants to think about the death of a loved one.  But planning ahead (as hard as it is) can alleviate a lot of heartache down the road.  Identifying a funeral director that you want to work with before a crisis hits, can really pay off in the end.

Funeral directors are business people, not ministers. But people often think they are quasi-clergy, Slocum says. Make that mistake, and you’ll tend to believe everything they say, he says.”Remember, funeral homes are in business to make money,”– Fox Business

Here are a few tips from the article, but we recommend that you visit Fox Business to get the list in it’s entirety:

Planning For A Funeral

  1. Shopping around can save you thousands (do this ahead of time, before a crisis hits)
  2. You must be given clear prices up front (there is an FTC mandate to do so)
  3. Funeral directors aren’t clergy (they’re business people)
  4. Some “required” services are not required (like embalming or expensive caskets)
  5. Cremation services can save you some money (You can even buy your urn at Costco)
  6. You can buy a casket anywhere (you don’t have to buy one from the funeral director)

The bottom line is to accept the cold hard facts.  We’re all aging, and as hard as it is, we can help prepare for the inevitable.  We can help make preparations for our own funeral if we’re of sound mind and body.  We can also make preparations for the funerals or memorials of our loved ones.  Make yourself an informed consumer on this topic in your local area.  Talk to a few funeral directors, and get a feel for whether you’d like to work with them down the road.  Understanding your loved one’s wishes is important too.  If they want a small service with family only… Or their ashes scattered on their favorite beach… I believe those wishes should be honored.

Do you have experience planning memorial services?  Any tips for our readers?  Let us know in the comments below!

Lessons In Caregiving

Lessons in CaregivingMany of us will be family caregivers in the coming years.  The baby boomer generation is experiencing this with their own parents right now… So one day the rest of us will be facing the same issue.  The video I’m sharing below is one of the best short videos I’ve seen depicting the realities of family caregiving.  It really touched me, and I hope it does you too.

Evelyn Corsini and her family allowed photographer Francine Orr to document the final months of her life, to observe caregiving. Orr’s interest was journalistic but also personal: As the caregiver for her father, she had been living the story herself for more than a decade. – Los Angeles Times

Caregiving for a family member isn’t easy, it’s tough work.  We do it because we LOVE our mothers and our fathers, our brothers and our sisters.  Caring for a family member requires modifications to the home, changes to our lifestyle, and a knowledge of ADL’s (activities of daily living) and how to manage them.  If you’re not familiar with the various ADL’s, here’s a list of the 6 basic ADL’s:

  1. Eating
  2. Bathing
  3. Dressing
  4. Toileting
  5. Transferring (walking)
  6. Continence

The video “Lessons In Caregiving” was posted by the Los Angeles Times in December of last year, and it gives us a glimpse at one family’s story during the final stages of life. Special thanks to Evelyn Corsini’s family members for allowing us to learn from their experience. It may help us prepare for our own journey down this road.

Are you a family caregiver?  We’d love to hear your story.  Tell us about your caregiving journey in the comments below.

Gently Showering Your Aging Parent

showering your aging parentWe love to pass along caregiving tips that might help our readers with aging parents.  One of the realities of caregiving that many new family caregivers don’t fully understand when faced with these responsibilities is showering and bathing a loved one.  This is a delicate subject for both the family caregiver as well as the aging parent.  This is a vulnerable (and scary) time for both, but it doesn’t have to be if you understand some of the basic techniques associated with this exercise.

Caregivers for Caregivers put this great educational video together on showering your aging parent.  They offer a wide variety of information that provides help to Caregivers of all types. One of Caregivers for Caregivers mantras reads; “We help you look at the world to see it as the new normal”.  Today we’d like to share a video that provides great tips on showering your aging parent.  We’ve included a clip below.

Tips: Showering Your Aging Parent

  • The caregiver should over communicate.  Letting your aging parent know exactly what’s going on at all times (and why) is important and will set everyone at ease.
  • The caregiver should plan the shower routine.  Notice that he has the proper equipment (chair, towel, shower temperature, etc.) all ready for his resident.
  • Keep your loved one covered so their not cold when out of the water.

Life With Alzheimer’s Disease

Life with Alzheimer's DiseaseLife with Alzheimer’s Disease can be pretty tough.  It’s tough on sufferers of this debilitating disease and it’s tough on caregivers too.  Although much progress has been made researching Alzheimer’s Disease, it still remains a bit of a mystery to us all.  It’s been called “the memory thief” and affects half of all people over 85.  In an effort to educate the public on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, The Senior List (as well as other publishers) have shared the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease which was put together by the good folks at the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org).

In a wonderfully presented video, Lisa Cerasoli invites us into her world of caregiving for her grandmother Nora Jo.  Nora Jo suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.  One of the many things that Alzheimer’s Disease steals from sufferers are the most profound memories of our lives.  In this case, Nora Jo relives the terrible news that her husband has died.  She relives this realization every single day.

This is the first video in a mini series that Lisa Cerasoli has put together entitled “Life With Alzheimer’s Disease”.  She uploaded this video (entitled “Truth”) in 2011.

Life With Alzheimer’s: “Truth”

If you or your family members need more information on Alzheimer’s Disease, we invite you to visit alz.org for more information and resources. If you’d like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you below.

Caregiving And The Toll It Takes

Caregiving and avoiding burnoutIf you’re a caregiver or you know someone who is, chances are you know that what a difficult job this can be day in and day out. Caregiver stress and caregiver burnout are real issues to deal with, especially when dealing with memory problems in the elderly. Debbie Cool of the Washington Area Agency on Aging talks about caregivers that care for people with memory problems; “The demands on the caregiver grow continuously and often they end up becoming ill because they’re no longer paying attention to their own needs“.

Because caregiver burnout is real, and can lead to real health consequences it’s important to understand how to take care of oneself.  We wrote about this a couple of years ago in a post titled the “Self Care Plan for Caregivers“.  This self care plan notes that caregivers must care for themselves first.  They must exercise, eat right, and get enough sleep.  These seem like little things, but doing the little things can keep caregivers out of harms way.  Caregivers are no good to others if they can’t take care of themselves.

It’s true that caregiving brings with it a stress load that can threaten the health and well-being of the caregiver. That’s why so many experts—me included— so strongly advocate for caregivers to engage in active self-care. A self care plan for caregivers is a must. – Joanne Reynolds (caregiving expert, author, teacher)

Here’s a great video produced by the Washington Area Agency on Aging that discusses the issues that caregivers face today, and the toll it can take on their own health. If you know a person suffering from caregiver burnout, send this post along so they know a) they’re not alone, and b) there’s something they can do about it!

Bathing And Dressing Your Aging Parent

Bathing and Dressing an Aging ParentThe National Center on Caregiving’s Family Caregiver Alliance offers help and support to caregivers of all types.  Whether you’re taking care of a family member at home, or you work in a senior living facility you’re probably faced with a lot of situations that put you in unfamiliar territory.  The Family Caregiving Alliance offers education and support to help guide you through these challenging times.

Here’s how the Family Caregiving Alliance describes the work they do: “FCA is first and foremost a public voice for caregivers. Founded in the late 1970s, we were the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. We illuminate the caregivers’ daily challenges to better the lives of caregivers nationally, provide them the assistance they need and deserve, and champion their cause through education, services, research and advocacy.”

One of the key components of caregiving addresses important needs of aging adults called activities of daily living (or ADL’s).  These activities include those many of us take for granted like eating, dressing and going to the bathroom.  If any of you are dealing with an aging family member today, you know that even the most basic activities become a struggle for some.  It’s the caregiver’s job to understand how to help in the best way possible.

The term “activities of daily living,” or ADLs, refers to the basic tasks of everyday life, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring. When people are unable to perform these activities, they need help in order to cope, either from other human beings or mechanical devices or both. – The US Department of Health and Human Services

The video we’re sharing (below) offers some great guidance on how best to bathe and dress someone that requires assistance.  This is chapter 4 in what the Family Caregiver Alliance is calling their “Caregiver College Video Series”.  It’s titled “Bathing and Dressing”.  This video also includes five very important points to remember when bathing and dressing an aging parent:

  1. Don’t Rush
  2. Make it Safe
  3. Allow Independence
  4. Talk It Through
  5. Show and Tell

 Bathing and Dressing Techniques For The Caregiver

Are You Afraid Of Dying?

Are you afraid of dying?It’s a simple question.  Are you afraid of dying?  In her beautifully written essay over at When The Table Turns, Judy Fox posed the question to her mother, for whom she is a full-time caregiver.  In a moment of clarity, Judy’s mother answered no, that she wasn’t afraid, and actually “she was looking forward to it”.  When Judy asked her why, she explained that she “would be at peace”.

Death and dying is such a tough topic for many folks, myself included.  The realization that we have a finite time-limit in this existence is difficult to get your arms around.  How much more time will I have with my parents?  How much time will I have with my children?  How much time will I have with my husband? These are all fundamentally difficult questions to consider.  No one wants to run out of time, so clearly the key is to make your time count.

In a previous post we took a look at just how much quality time we have in our lives (away from work, commutes, sleeping, and more).  The reality is that the hourglass has been tipped for each of us.  What we do, how we do it, and who we do it with defines us whether we like it or not.  Being able to “be in the moment” matters, and so is consciously loving AND being loved.  Judy Fox captures these thoughts so eloquently in her essay entitled “Catching The Fleeting Moment“.  Here are a few excerpts:

A few days after writing this I was talking to a friend who had recently visited a relative in hospice. This relative didn’t seem to realize she was dying and consequently it wasn’t discussed. I realized how lucky I was that my mom has so openly accepted her dying and how much that has affected our whole being together. There are no hidden corners…we can talk about dying and death; we can say how much we love each other with the awareness that we have limited time together on this earthly plane. This is very much a result of my mother’s openness. She has made this possible.

So I am like this fisherwoman catching these fleeting moments in time and giving them space, giving them room to expand and grow. I open a door and then all sorts of reflections and conversations get aired and ignited.

And like a fisherwoman, I want to share my “catch” with others whose lives are probably very different from mine – circumstances different – and yet I know that what touches me will touch others; not in the details necessarily, but in the mystery of life; in all these tender moments that contain such jewels.

Judy often stops by and visits The Senior List on Facebook, so you can catch her on FB, or at her website. We’re so very appreciative that Judy shares such an important narrative with us. The fact that she does it with such style and grace is icing on the cake.

Part-Time Janitor Donates Millions

Janitor donates millions

Janitor Donates Millions

We’ve all heard the adage, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, and that theme revealed itself again today with some incredible news out of Vermont.  Today.com is reporting that a part-time janitor in Brattleboro Vermont passed away recently and bequeathed $6 Million dollars to the local hospital and library.  Ron Read lived a private life, but no-one in town knew what he managed to stash away in his 92 years on this earth.  $4.8 million dollars is going to the local hospital and $1.2 million is going to Brooks Memorial Library.


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Chris Serico of Today.com reports that Mr. Read was an incredibly frugal man on one hand, but a stock-picking-whiz on the other!  He managed to amass an $8 million dollar fortune that no one knew about (not even his step children).  Townsfolk used to try to buy him meals and/or look out for him because of his appearances.  His jackets were held together with safety pins for goodness sakes!

It’s an incredible story of rags-to-riches, but in some ways it has a sad ending.  Ron Read will never be able to see the true goodness that these donations will bring to his community.  Perhaps though it’s fitting… and just the way Ron would have wanted it.  Read the entire story at Today.com.

How Much Time Do We Have?

How much time do we have?

What are you doing with all of your time?

How much time is left?

Your Life in JellybeansThese are tough questions to answer, but the video below puts them in perspective using 28,835 jellybeans of all things!  Why the number 28,835? Because this is the average number of days we have to live our lives.  Some have more days, and some have less… But on average, this is what we get.  In the video below by Zefrank1 on YouTube, each day is represented by a single jellybean.

What if I told you that it would take 5,474 days to turn 15 years old (ya I know that’s easy math).  At 15 years old we’re on the precipice of adulthood, and we have our whole life in front of us.  Now for some interesting statistics from the American Time Use Survey (creatively illustrated by Zefrank1).  After turning 15, you’ll spend 8,477 days sleeping, 1,635 days eating, drinking and preparing food, and 3,202 days at work (ugh).  Additionally (with special thanks to Lakers fans) you can plan on wasting 1,099 days in the car commuting to wherever it is you’re going.

Just how much time to we have left?  What else are we spending our time on? How bout watching TV, doing chores, caring for friends and family, bathroom activities, and community services.  After all that… What’s left over?  And more importantly, what does it all mean?  Watch the video to find out.

28,835 days

Gifts for Caregivers

gifts for caregiversWith the holidays quickly approaching, I have been asked by clients and family members alike what the best gifts for caregivers are this season.  After some reflection about all the things caregivers do for the people they are taking care of, I made a few adjustments to my answer.  There is no amount of money that will ever fully recognize the amount of stress, love, and care that any family or professional caregiver goes through each and every day.  However, here are a few ideas that may help the caregivers in your life feel recognized, appreciated and pampered.

Private Caregivers

I think of these caregivers as the folks who work for in-home care, home health, and hospice companies.  They may also be private caregivers who work for themselves or through a caregiver referral agency.  If they work for a private company, do check on company policies for gift-giving.

  • Massage, Manicure, and/or Pedicure gift certificates
  • Gift certificate to a nice restaurant
  • Movie tickets
  • Anything to help facilitate relaxation and pampering

Family Caregivers

Did you know that 4 in 10 U.S. adults cares for a sick or elderly loved one?  That’s a whole lot of care being provided without any paycheck at all.  Family caregivers often feel overwhelmed, under-appreciated, and pulled in many different directions by work and family obligations.

  • Offer to go shopping
  • Cook a meal
  • Clean the house
  • Lunch or dinner delivery
  • Let them know how much you appreciate everything they are doing!
  • Respite- can you help them have a day/night off?

Facility Caregivers

Facility caregivers are anyone who works in a nursing facility, long term care facility, assisted living, memory care, retirement community, adult care home or any other residential setting for seniors.  These caregivers are definitely underpaid for the amazing work they do.  Often, the companies they work for also have very strict gift-giving policies in place that can make it difficult to express gratitude.  As with private caregivers, check the company policies on gift-giving first.

  • Letter of recognition- This is one of the most personal gifts I can think of for a facility caregiver.  A letter touting their amazing skills with your loved one, the care and compassion they bring to work everyday, or they way that they bring a smile to the resident’s faces that they care for will go a long ways in showing your appreciation.  This letter could be given to an administrator as well to be put in the caregiver’s employee file.
  • Donation to the facility or organization the caregiver works for- Many care facilities will have an “employee bonus” fund that is split amongst the employees or direct care staff.
  • Donate on behalf of the caregiver- If there is no bonus fund to contribute to and/or the gift-giving policies are tight, donate to a non-profit or cause like the Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s Association, or Senior Wish Foundation in your area.  I found this great site that rates and links to charities if you need ideas.
  • Food, Coffee, Teas for the breakroom- and make it the good stuff.

Gifts for Caregivers: Not just for the Holidays!

Don’t just say thank you at the holidays, say it year round!  Let the caregivers in your life know how much they are appreciated.  A smile, pat on the back, a listening ear, and a willingness to help out are always welcome.  Don’t forget each November is National Caregivers Month, another special time to recognize the caregivers in your life.

Have any gift ideas we missed?  Add your thoughts in the comments below!