June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
June 19, 2018
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at several senior living facilities about Legacy Planning. My actual presentations can vary because they are designed for the attendees.
At one senior living facility, the majority of the audience was individuals who lived there. They were a delightful group of seniors who willingly shared their stories about downsizing, moving, and distributing their possessions in order to accommodate their smaller living spaces. In those two hours, the stories ranged from the cost of assisted living to caring for pets to funeral arrangements. One gentleman talked about his dog and the joy of being able to have his pet with him at this particular senior living facility. This led to the Legacy Planning discussion about pets and who would care for his dog if he were to pass away before his pet. With our conversation now shifting to funerals, one woman shared her story about her brother giving her many of his personal papers including his DD214 when he became ill. She wasn’t aware when he passed away that she was in possession of his honorary military discharge papers which delayed his military funeral by several months until all the family could gather together again.
The audience at a different senior living facility was a small group of caregivers who had a loved one there. This presentation was focused on the challenges they face, especially those who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many shared their stories and though some were sad to hear, there were also moments of laughter. One woman commented about our humorous discussion on dying and the fact that ‘sooner or later, we all run out of time’. After everyone had left and I was packing up, one gentleman stayed behind and asked me a couple of questions which I gladly answered. His wife has Alzheimer’s and no longer recognizes him or remembers the life they shared for so many years. I was honored to be listening to him talk about his family’s history, and his devotion to his wife.
In honor of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, I’d like to share the following statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association website:
In 2018, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; by 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
These caregivers provided an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care valued at over $232 billion.
In 2018, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $277 billion; by 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion.
Our mission at Strategic Hourglass Solutions is to educate others on the importance of Legacy Planning by starting the conversations on topics such as moving, downsizing, disability and death. “Because sooner or later, we all run out of time …”
May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month!
May 15, 2018
In honor of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the following is a story about a motorcycle, legal documents and household financials as communicated to me by a dear friend in Texas. In May 2016, her husband and his buddy were on a 5-day motorcycle trip in the Texas Hill Country. On the last day of their trip, as she was working in Houston, the buddy called and said her husband misjudged a curve and veered off the road. He watched in horror as her husband and his bike flipped several times, end over end. The paramedics on scene deemed his injuries life-threatening and summoned LifeFlight. She immediately left work, hurried home and prepared for her drive to San Antonio. Several hours later, she arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center, the region’s premier trauma center. Her husband spent 4 weeks there in ICU and another 5 weeks in two other hospitals before he returned home. Thankfully, today he has almost fully recovered.
She stated they both learned two very valuable lessons from this serious event.
Lesson #1 - Legal documents. They had medical directives and wills created in 2004, but at this very critical time couldn’t FIND them. Fortunately, they didn’t need the documents this time; however, they never found them. They contacted their attorney and new ones are now in process.
Lesson #2 – Household Financials. She is the primary bill payer of the family, so bills are paid on time without worry of late payment fees or services being canceled. If that had been her in ICU, intubated for 3 weeks, her husband would have been dealing with not only the trauma of her in the hospital, but also the additional stress of not knowing the bill paying procedures. They are now making it a priority to document all their financial payments and obligations so that either of them can step in when the unexpected happens.
Do you have a will? Are your medical wishes documented in a medical directive? Can you lay your hands on them? Could someone pay your bills so your mortgage isn’t foreclosed, your car repossessed, or your utilities turned off? Even though her husband was an experienced rider and well versed in motorcycle safety, life can change in the BLINK OF AN EYE. Be prepared!
Am I really this old already? That just can’t be right!
May 1, 2018
As we gathered last fall to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday, we had relatives flying in from all over the country. My mother was blessed with four sons and six daughters, and she came from a large family too, so it was a weekend of catching up with aunts, uncles and cousins we hadn’t seen in years. As I entertained some of the older cousins that weekend and our conversation drifted to the fact that most of us kids are now in our 60s, one cousin made a statement which resulted in laughter at first, but then the reality set in of what she had just said. Her comment was “I thought growing old would take longer!” It was quite humbling to realize we all were closer to the age of 70, than 50. Because several of us had lost siblings at much younger ages, we were thankful to be celebrating my mother’s 90th and proceeded to share stories and laughter of those much younger days when we thought we’d live forever. We also talked about how and where we’d want to ‘grow old’. Have you let others know your wishes? Do your loved ones know how you want your personal property distributed, where your insurance policies are located, what to do about your funeral services, who to contact in case of your death or any of your other personal information?