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Caring for a Long Distant Senior Loved One

Published: January 1, 2019

Long-distance caregiving for a parent or senior loved one is a difficult reality for many adults.A study by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network, finds that 23 percent of American adults currently care for an older relative who lives more than an hour away.Providing care from a distance can be stressful. But if relocating closer to a loved one is not an option, Home Instead recommends the following tips to make providing long-distance care a little easier:

1. Establish open communication – When visiting your loved one, make time to meet the individuals who are part of his or her everyday life. Whether that’s a physician or caregiver, it’s important to get to know those involved in the daily care of a loved one.

2. Be observant – Do your loved ones avoid answering specific questions about their health? Have they stopped participating in their usual activities? Are they unaware of current events or forgotten important dates? These may be warning signs that they need additional care or help around the house.

3. Be prepared – Create a list of your older adult’s medical issues/medications, doctor’s names, and legal documents in case you need to access them from afar during an emergency.

4. Spend quality time during visits – It’s easy to get wrapped up in caregiving responsibilities.When you visit, set aside time with your loved one to participate in activities unrelated to caregiving. Go see a movie together, plan a visit to see other family members, go for a walk or simply relax at home.

5. Get to know neighbors and friends – Get to know your loved one’s neighbors and identify one or two trustworthy individuals who can check in and give you occasional updates.

6. Learn more about caregiving – Find support to help you become a better caregiver.

For example, Home Instead Senior Care offers resources that can help family members provide better care and learn skills, such as how to safely move someone from a bed to a chair, how to help someone bathe, and how to prevent and treat bed sores, as well as basic first aid.Family members looking for additional resources and support relating to long-distance caregiving can visit caregiverstress.com or find a local Home Instead Senior Care office by going to www.homeinstead.com/state. 

4 Tips for Cutting Your Home Energy Bill Even in Winter

Published: January 1, 2019

 You know it’s cold when it snows in Florida.Which is exactly how the new year unfortunately began thanks to a "bomb cyclone" that hammered much of the East Coast with heavy snow, howling winds, and temperatures so frigid that Niagara Falls on the Canadian border actually froze. Meanwhile, Embarrass, Minnesota – yes, that’s really the town’s name – was busy winning the unofficial title of "The Last Place in the Freezing Midwest You’d Want to Go Skinny Dipping," by hitting a low of 45 degrees below zero on New Year’s Eve.Forty-five degrees. Below. Zero.While you’re imagining the heating bills in Embarrass and with winter far from over, read on for some tips for lowering your own home energy costs that you may not have thought of.* Easiest money-saver ever. "Aside from the furnace, a laser printer draws the most standby power in the house at $131.07 watts," SaveOnEnergy.com reports. And yet, even though that translates into about $131 a year, a new survey found that only 14 percent of respondents unplugged their printers when not using them.* Pellet stoves aren’t just for environmentalists. ThisOldHouse.com likens them to the family pet — "they require a regular feeding schedule" — but Fido won’t heat a 3,000-square-foot ranch house, say, for perhaps less than $120 a month. And with the weather turning chillier in most places, curling up with a glass of wine in front of one of these babies in the living room could be as appealing to romantics as their eco-friendly heating is to greenies.What’s a "regular feeding schedule"? Depending on the size of the hopper and how often you use the stove, you’ll need to load in pellets — made from super concentrated sawdust — every four or five days.* Make sure your attic is properly ventilated. Homeowners might as well just send utility companies a blank check if they lack what GAF’s Jason Joplin, program manager for the Center for Advancement of Roofing Excellence, calls "a continual flow of air to help protect the efficiency of your attic’s insulation."The culprit working against achieving that: excess moisture buildup that clings to your roof’s underside in winter from seemingly benign sources — i.e., appliances, showers and cooking vapors — before ultimately soaking the insulation when the condensed moisture falls.Don’t be one of the 86 percent.Joplin’s suggestion to help ward off the problem? A properly balanced ventilation system consisting of Cobra Ridge Vent (installed at the ridge) and Cobra IntakePro (installed at the eave) by GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. "Both products work in tandem to allow cool, fresh air to enter at the eave edge while forcing moist, super-heated air out of the ridge vent," he explains.* Adjust door thresholds. "Sneaky" is the word Popular Mechanics magazine uses to describe this hint. The theory being, if you can see daylight beneath your front door, it means the indoor air –which, remember, you’re paying to heat or cool — is escaping outside."A little light in the corners is okay, but don’t raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door," the magazine notes.

Wellness Program Rewards Healthy New Year's Goal

Published: January 1, 2019

 As we start the New Year, we have thoughts and make plans about resolutions. Many people with health-focused resolutions will head to the gym for a workout, turn to a weight-loss program or swap soda for water.
While these are worthy steps, it can be hard to maintain enthusiasm over time, leaving you short of your goals. In fact, more than half of the people who make resolutions will break them in less than six months.
Here are a few tips for meeting and keeping your health goals: set personalized and achievable milestones, incentivize yourself and get rewarded for your progress. Programs such as Go365, a wellness and rewards program by Humana, make getting and staying healthy, fun.
Go365, which launched Jan. 1, 2017, motivates members to make positive lifestyle changes by tracking simple wellness achievements. Members are able to choose their level of engagement and participate in personalized activities tailored to their specific health needs and interests.
The program is designed for everyone, so members can benefit whether they are training for a marathon or just getting up off the couch. When they reach a goal, such as running a 5K or participating in a sports league, they get rewarded. Go365 awards its members “Bucks” that can be redeemed for items such as gift cards, movie tickets and compatible fitness devices.
“We want members to stay engaged in their health. Wellness programs such as Go365 make it easier to start with healthy activities each and every day,” says Joe Woods, Chief Executive Officer of Go365. “Go365’s special features make healthy choices and working towards personal health goals rewarding.”
Go365 is available with most Humana commercial insurance plans, and employers can even purchase it as a stand-alone wellness program. Ask your employer to explore Humana programs and you could reap the benefits.
To learn more, visit www.go365preview.com

Depression and Grief

Published: January 1, 2019

Depression and Grief

Sometimes, caregivers don’t realize the toll that the job takes physically and emotionally. Especially after the death of a loved one, it is normal to feel depleted and down. 
However, while grief is painful, most responses are a result of the sadness associated with the death of a loved one. There are things you can do to help you feel more in control: 
 
• Recognize that you need to care for yourself. 
• Get some physical activity.  
• Be sure to eat regularly. 
• Be sure to get enough rest and sleep.
• Return to activities that you’ve enjoyed in the past.
• Seek help. 
 
A bereavement support groups might help validate your feelings. Being with others who have had a similar loss can be helpful in ways you have never imagined.
Although feeling down is an expected response after a loved one dies, we each grieve in different ways and there is no timeframe for when grief ends. If some of the steps above don’t seem to help, or you continue to feel even more helpless or even hopeless, it may be time to talk with your physician. Be sure to let him or her know about your loss, in order to help make a medical determination between sadness and clinical depression. 
If your sadness is more than grief and is actually clinical depression, there are medications and therapies that can be helpful. Your physician will discuss these with you
Developed from Journeys with Grief: A Collection of Articles about Love, Life and Loss, edited by Kenneth J. Doka, Ph.D., MDiv., copyright Hospice Foundation of America, 2012.

The Dumb Things People Say

Published: January 1, 2019

The Dumb Things People Say

How Could She Say That?

When Well-Meaning People Say Things That Hurt

Erin Linn, in a wonderful book titled I Know Just How You Feel: Avoiding the Clichés of Grief, (Pubs Mark, 1986), offers helpful questions for dealing with insensitive remarks from well-meaning people.

What was the person trying to say? Friends and family are not intentionally cruel. In most cases, they are trying to convey support and comfort.

Why did the comment hurt? Only by understanding why the comment troubled you can you begin to heal that hurt; most of these comments hurt because they invalidate your grief.

What can we say? You may never have the opportunity to respond, but just thinking about what you could have said reaffirms a sense of control. You might answer a comment like At least you have other children with a simple It is a great comfort to have them, but I will always miss Jan. A reply to Everything always happens for the best might be I will never understand how the loss of my mother could be for the best. Responses such as these reaffirm your grief and, perhaps in the most favorable situations, teach others how to be more supportive.

Other troubling comments may take the form of unsolicited advice. You need to get rid of all his clothes right now or You should start dating again.  In such situations, it is often helpful to remember two points.

Trust your instincts. Each person handles loss differently. What worked for someone else may not work for everyone.  While someone advises you to clean out your loved one’s closet, you may not be ready to do so yet.

Give yourself time and space. While it may be important to not become isolated, you might not have the energy to keep up with social activities, much less consider dating again. Most grieving people have noted that there is no need to rush anything that doesn’t feel right.
The best support in grief is often the quietest. It need not say much beyond I am sorry or How can I help. Support often manifests in caring actions—the meal that is delivered or the chore that is done without asking. 

That level of quiet caring is always welcome.

Developed from Journeys with Grief: A Collection of Articles about Love, Life and Loss, edited by Kenneth J. Doka, Ph.D., MDiv., copyright Hospice Foundation of America, 2012.

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