Senior Living in Lincoln, NE – 2018

0

Senior Living in Lincoln, NE – 2018

Retirement homes are not what they used to be. Professional chefs, personal trainers, organized events and activities, essential amenities, top-notch security and privacy—are we talking about a senior living facility or a 5-star hotel? It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes, especially with the senior housing options we have here in Lincoln. However, no matter how luxurious or accommodating these places are, nothing can replace the sense of home that only our family and loved ones can give us.

If you have a family member living in some type of retirement or assisted the living community, don’t forget that you still play a crucial role in their physical, emotional, and mental health. With the holiday season around the corner, this is a great time to renew your commitment to the elderly loved one in your life. Or, if you are one of our senior readers, perhaps it is time you renewed your commitment to your own health and well-being by educating yourself.

Accommodation & Inclusion

Heather Linderman
Graceful In Home Healthcare

The first step is to acknowledge the possibility of your senior family members feeling isolated. “The upcoming holidays can be a difficult time for many seniors,” Heather Linderman with Graceful In Home Healthcare notes. “Not having family close by, lacking the finances to travel or buy loved ones gifts, or not having access to any mode of transportation can cause stress and anxiety, resulting in a wave of depression.” Linderman also notes that cold weather can force individuals to stay inside, reducing their daily activity.

Planning to incorporate your elderly family members in activities means so much to them and can also help keep them active, engaged, and feeling loved. If you can’t be there with them in person for whatever reason, there are still things you can do to be present. If they are living in a senior community, encourage them to get involved in activities there and then call after to ask how it went. If they are able to remain living in their home, you can always arrange to have an in-home care provider, like the ones at Graceful In Home Healthcare, there to help with various tasks while you’re away.

Christy Merritt
The Waterford Communities

Christy Merritt with The Waterford Communities also touches on the burden many people feel as holiday gatherings approach. “There is often a tremendous amount of pressure placed upon seniors and families during the holidays,” Christy confirms. “Families often set themselves and their loved ones up for disappointment by hinging the success of an entire year upon one or two days. It is impossible to predict short-term illness, last-minute work complications, and, of course, the weather. Have a Plan A and a Plan B. Remember that it is more important that you get time together regardless of the date on the calendar. Do your best to just go with the flow.”

“Seniors look forward to family gatherings for months,” agrees Beth Friesen with Oasis

Beth Friesen
Oasis Senior Advisors

Senior Advisors. “Don’t be too quick to ‘brush off’ their comments about wanting to get things planned well in advance. It will ease their stress and oftentimes they absolutely love to plan the event. If possible, give them ownership of a specific aspect or activity if they’d like. In doing so, it will help you and your loved one feel like a bigger part of something.”

She also recommends setting a few extra places at the dinner table this holiday season, in case your family decides to “adopt” a few guests. Inviting seniors with family members who live far away or are traveling during the holidays to join you at your family gathering is such a nice gesture, especially since you’ll likely have enough food and companionship to go around.

Planning a family gathering during the holidays, formal or not, is generally a detailed process, especially if there are many people involved. Thinking about everything ahead of time instead of in the moment will allow you to make the necessary arrangements smoothly.

Barb Tyler
The Woodlands at Hillcrest

“Travel arrangements should be talked about as far in advance as possible,” says Barb Tyler with The Woodlands at Hillcrest. Questions to ask ahead of time, according to Tyler, should include: Who is picking up who? Are wheelchair accommodations required in the vehicle or at the destination? Travel length/time? Are there any medications or health considerations that need to be factored into the travel plans?

As for who is hosting a holiday event, Kyle Yates with Legacy Retirement Communities advises approaching the planning of those details early and with an open mind. He explains, “While there may be a certain family member who always hosts during the holidays, it may be a good thing to consider switching it up. If it just seemed to be too

Kyle Yates
Legacy Retirement Communities

much last year, coordinate with family and friends to bring a certain dish or offer to arrive early with the groceries to make the whole meal. This approach can greatly minimize stress for the host and also offers a chance for everyone to help out. Don’t be afraid to buck tradition and try something different. While reliving old memories can be enjoyable, there’s always an opportunity to make new ones too.”

He also brings attention to a special sort of “holiday” event you can enjoy with your senior loved ones happening this month. “Legacy Terrace on 57th & Fremont St. will be celebrating Grandparent’s Day with our annual Terrace Town Carnival on September 9 from 12-3 p.m. Bring the whole family to enjoy fair food favorites including snow cones, cotton candy, corn dogs, and tacos too! Expect entertainment full of balloon animals by Happy D. Clown, carnival games, pony rides, a photo booth, live music, and more! Parking will be available at Cross the Line Church on 5925 Adams St. and the Legacy shuttle will be available to take you to and from the event.”

Natalie Leon
Visiting Angels

As we discuss ways to include and care for the senior in your life, Natalie Leon with Visiting Angels reminds us that it is equally important to make our own health a priority. “It is stressful being a caregiver for an elderly parent or loved one, no matter how much you may love them,” Leon admits. “There is a significant amount of disruption to your life and schedule, as well as the worry and sorrow of watching the one you love become more helpless. There are ways to combat the stress of elderly care, including getting help and support, maintaining your health, and staying organized about the patient’s health and care. In addition, getting proper nutrition, rest, and exercise allows for your stable physical and mental health. Neglecting your health problems will allow stress to catch up with you easily. You will not continue to be a strong caretaker if you put your needs last. Our home care agency can help you maintain your schedule by assisting your loved one with things like meal preparation, light housekeeping, hygiene assistance, and companionship.”

Aubrey Paulsen
Tabitha Senior Living

Aubrey Paulsen with Tabitha Senior Living addresses this as well. “During the stressful holiday season, caregivers may need a break to shop for gifts, attend functions or simply need time to relax. GracePointe by Tabitha and Tabitha The Club – Adult Day Services are perfect options for respite care. These programs offer compassionate care for a loved one and include medication management, assistance with activities of daily living, nutritious meals, socialization and life-enriching activities for a day, two weeks or a timeframe that best fits your needs.

Volunteering is another fulfilling avenue for seniors. Tabitha has endless ways to donate time, talent and treasure that range from a one-time event to more frequently scheduled types of activities. Participating in health and fitness programs at local senior centers is also a great way for seniors to remain engaged and maintain a healthy lifestyle when it is more difficult to be active outside.”

Jeff Madsen
Right Foot Forward Fitness

When it comes to fitness and exercise, Jeff Madsen with Right Foot Forward Fitness shares three things seniors should know:

  • It is possible to improve your balance and proprioception but with practice, you can regain a tremendous amount of balance.
  • You can get stronger…a lot stronger!
  • You don’t have to perform a bunch of high-risk explosive movements to make this happen, just a handful of basic movements that are very doable for the average senior.

“There are two conditions that seniors deal with as they age,” Jeff explains. “Sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue as a natural part of the aging process) and osteopenia (loss of bone mineral density). Both of these conditions can be helped with regular weight-bearing exercise! As an added bonus to this type of strength training, a person’s sense of balance will usually improve along with their strength!

Ultimately, none of this about looking like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, it’s about being able to more easily pick up grandchildren and pets; being able to get down on the floor and back up again with confidence; and being able to live a physically fuller and more robust life with the people you care about! This is our passion at Right Foot Forward Fitness.”

Seasonal Safety Tips

With the colder months coming, more people are prone to falls because of snow and ice. For seniors especially, just one slip and fall can do serious damage, with the initial injury leading to further complications that may impede recovery.

Weatherproofing is something that should be a priority, along with conducting inspections of systems and appliances in your senior loved one’s home to ensure they are all in working order. Aubrey Paulsen adds, “For older adults still living at home or in an independent retirement community, it’s beneficial to discuss a plan for winter snow removal and transportation to appointments before the winter season approaches. Hiring a third-party or having another family member assist will help prevent falls and fractures during icy and snowy conditions.”

Getting you or your loved one’s vehicle into the shop for a routine inspection, or performing one yourself if you’re able before winter hits is also an important thing to remember. If driving, vehicle maintenance is extremely important not only for transportation but also for the safety of the senior. “The last thing you want is to be stranded in a storm for who knows how long,” Heather Linderman says. “Ensure that there is an efficient amount of tread on the tires, the battery is in good condition, and all belts and hoses are fray and leak free. Good breaks are imperative on icy roads and having the correct coolant mix is necessary to keep the lines from freezing. Don’t forget new windshield wipers and topping off the fluids.”

If applicable, consider how you can help out with the everyday tasks that a senior loved one may struggle with in the coming months. Barb Tyler suggests volunteering to help shovel their driveway, chain their tires, or salt their walkways. And don’t wait to be asked—volunteering your assistance freely will mean so much to your loved one.

Karla Frese
Home Care Partners of Nebraska

If an individual chooses to remain in their home as opposed to moving to a community, which is commonly referred to as “aging in place,” it is important to ensure accessibility, something that ties into safety. Karla Frese with Home Care Partners of Nebraska points to the fact that creating a safe environment at home is incredibly important. She recommends some things that individuals can do for themselves or for their family members to ensure a safe home:

  • Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs
  • Adjust toilet seats to be higher
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom
  • Organize and declutter
  • Move a mailbox from the curb to the door, if possible
  • Switch to smaller, more easily maneuverable trash bins
  • Relocate the bedroom to the main level of a house
  • Hire a caregiver to lend a hand (light housework or cooking, transportation, etc.)

Frese adds that there are some other ways to make adjustments so you or your family members can continue to live independently, too. “Many older adults feel like they have to give up their hobbies as they get older, but oftentimes that isn’t the case at all.

Take concerts for example. You don’t have to miss out on your favorite artists due to a lack of access, hearing issues, or just simply not wanting to fight the crowds. These experiences can be improvised by simply creating a station with favorite soundtracks on the music app of your choice. You are in full control of the volume and can enjoy your time together whether you’re dancing or reminiscing.

Gardening is another great example. The main reason most older adults give up gardening is the amount of kneeling and bending involved. If you have joint pain or back pain, gardening can quickly become an unpleasant activity. Here’s a solution: grow vertically. Many senior gardeners switch to raised planters and trellis-based plants so that they put less strain on their knees and spine. Also, gardening is safer, easier, and more fun if you can do it with a partner. If you’re having problems getting around, perhaps a walker, electric chair, or scooter would help. These are sometimes covered by Medicare. Do you need a ride or someone to go with you to the doctor or shopping? If you’ve exhausted your other options, hire a caregiver.”

After cleaning, inspecting, and making any necessary improvements/modifications to the home, as well as ensuring the safety of yourself or your family members, you can now take a deep breath and enjoy peace of mind knowing you’ve taken the appropriate safety precautions.

More Fall Festivities

Amy Fish Lancaster Rehabilitation Center - Headshot

Amy Fish
Lancaster Rehabilitation Center

There’s an interest that many of us here in Nebraska, young and old, share in common. You guessed it—Husker football! And let’s not forget about Husker volleyball, either. As Amy Fish with Lancaster Rehabilitation Center points out, “Tailgating and attending Husker games are definitely something that everyone in Nebraska knows and loves. When the calendar turns to fall in Nebraska, that means it’s football season. For those elder family members who are unable to attend the game, consider hosting a watch party to cheer on the Huskers together.

Hosting a watch party is something that is simple and doable—bring out some snacks, beverages, blankets, get in a comfortable chair, and turn on the TV to make a cozy afternoon or evening filled with football, friends, and family a success! Pay specific attention to making sure your senior loved one is comfy, happy, and enjoying the game by adjusting seat arrangements to their needs. Also, provide snack options that are able to be enjoyed by everyone.”

Fish also recommends attending farmer’s markets, as they are a fun way to relax and enjoy the fall weather, or to consider a day trip to a state park to enjoy the fall colors and weather. The holiday season brings with it many opportunities for gatherings, parties, and activities. “For seniors in our community, taking a simple Sunday evening drive around town to see the holiday lights is a fun, stress-free activity.” Advises Fish. “In addition, there are a variety of holiday musical performances and religious offerings to keep seniors active and involved throughout the holidays. For any outing, keep in mind the location, and if it is handicap accessible. Also, try to avoid gatherings in locations with stairs or narrow bathroom facilities. If the plan includes an overnight stay, ensure medications are organized and available to take when scheduled.”

As others have touched on already, Fish also takes the opportunity to highlight safety as a top priority, and that there are numerous resources out there to help meet your specific needs. She adds that there are many resources in Lincoln that seniors can utilize, like Meals on Wheels, home health care services, or temporary housing and/or respite care. “At the Lancaster Rehabilitation Center, we offer short-term respite stays where seniors can take up temporary residence until spring arrives,” she says. “That way, they enjoy all the comforts of home, plus the opportunity for interaction and engagement in our activity program. During the holidays, in particular, we offer a variety of events and socials to keep them merry and bright.”

Robbie Nathan
Bridge to Better Living

When living in a retirement community, seniors have more social opportunities on a daily basis. Robbie Nathan with Bridge to Better Living mentions this could help resolve some of the feelings of isolation, frustration, or worry that you and your loved one may be experiencing.

“Transition Consultants at Bridge to Better Living see an increasing number of seniors lacking social opportunities as they remain at home. Friends and family begin to pass away or move to other locations,” she says. “Retirement communities offer many opportunities for social interaction, even for true introverts. If a resident prefers a ‘one-on-one’ activity, the staff is able to provide something based on the person’s interests. It’s important to keep the brain engaged, especially during the winter months ahead when days are shorter. Take, for example, someone who really enjoys cooking. Some communities offer full-service kitchens so seniors are still able to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, cooking favorite recipes in the kitchen and preparing for the family meal.

Concerts and plays are common events many seniors enjoy as well. There is usually a sign-up list, everyone is notified and reminded, and transportation is arranged. At Bridge to Better Living, the staff not only makes reservations for events going on in the community, they also work hard to put together an inclusive schedule of in-house activities.”

Leslie Frank Nebraska Hearing Center - Headshot

Leslie Frank
Nebraska Hearing Center

Hearing can be another issue that prevents seniors from enjoying various interactions and activities. Leslie Frank with Nebraska Hearing Center agrees with the idea of giving the senior a task to partake in, and to make sure to include them in activities. She says seniors often have issues when talking to grandchildren or women, in particular, at gatherings because of their higher-pitched voices. While you’re spending time with your senior loved ones, she advises to be on the lookout for these common signs of hearing loss:

  • Repeatedly asking “what” when talking to family members
  • Having the TV volume up too loud
  • Being unable to or having trouble understanding conversation in noisy environments
  • Mentioning a ringing in their ears

Frank says many individuals do not realize how bad their hearing is, and therefore it is common to put off getting it checked out by a professional.

The factors that have caused individuals to lose their hearing vary, however, Frank says many of her clients have hearing loss because of “prolonged exposure to loud noises. There are a number of medical conditions that may lead to hearing impairment as well.”

Due to loss of hearing, older adults may avoid social situations that put them at risk of embarrassment, Frank says. She recommends that individuals get their hearing checked in person. “At Nebraska Hearing Center, we encourage preventive care and urge everyone to have their hearing tested annually so that changes can be addressed right away. We believe that knowing where your hearing stands is very important and that is why we offer complimentary hearing evaluations to establish a baseline and any future progression of hearing loss.”

Starting the Conversation

“As we gather to celebrate the holidays it’s a great opportunity to check in on an older friend’s or relative’s status,” notes Aubrey Paulsen. “You may notice an overall decline in your loved one’s health or that they are having difficulty managing the upkeep of their home. This is the perfect time to address it and discuss wishes and put plans in place to ensure their safety and well-being as they grow older. One uncomfortable conversation will result in a more positive experience down the road. Unfortunately, most simply avoid these discussions until it becomes a crisis.”

Addressing ‘what’s next’ eases the stress of making difficult decisions during an emotional time and frees up valuable time to spend with each other. It allows the family member to determine who should be their Power of Attorney (POA) and jumpstart topics such as advanced directives and living preferences.

Barb Tyler mentions that if it’s particularly difficult to stay at home during the winter, much more so than the other times of the year, perhaps a temporary move would be a solution to consider. Tyler explains, “The Woodlands Hillcrest is a month to month rental community with no buy-in; families can be assured of a loved one’s safety and know that they are being active with well-balanced meals being provided to them and nursing available around the clock. It might put your loved one at ease to know that the move doesn’t have to be permanent.”

Kyle Johnson Care Consultants for the Aging - Headshot

Kyle Johnson
Care Consultants for the Aging

“In my line of work, lack of preparation is something I see often,” says Kyle Johnson with Care Consultants for the Aging. “It can present a number of problems for people depending on the circumstances. As we all age, life just becomes more difficult. People who are more aware of their personal care development are the ones who seem to do best when sudden changes occur.

Care Consultants provides a Home Care Registry. We screen and refer caregivers who work for families. The care is client-directed, ensuring that you make the decisions regarding your care for that of your loved one. This unique service has proven time and again to be of superior quality as evidenced by our reputation for providing the best level of care possible.

Total charge for CNA assistance through Care Consultants for the Aging is $19.50-22.50/hour depending on the length of visit and cares needed while CNA is present.

“Your loved ones need to be a part of the decision-making process,” emphasizes Robbie Nathan. She recommends discussing the options in small portions, then giving everyone time to think things over and waiting patiently for a response. Nathan says that when discussing options, family members should relate success stories of seniors who have moved into a community to your loved one, as it could help them worry less about being unhappy in a new home. She suggests using the help of a third party, such as Bridge to Better Living, to be certain all options have been considered.

“Bridge to Better Living knows that once the family is on board about relocating their loved one to a senior living option, whether it’s an independent, assisted or memory care unit, it’s crucial to be consistent in the planning. Avoid putting off whatever the next step is, even if the senior is not entirely positive about a move.”

Individuals and family members do have the option to tour communities with one of the Bridge to Better Living’s Transition Consultants if it would help them feel comfortable and more secure in their decision. “We will set up tours and accompany them on the appointments. Pictures of the community are able to be taken and reviewed by the family and their senior,” Nathan says. She adds that by doing so, an open and ongoing conversation is possible and all the individuals involved in the process will have an easier time trusting the decision. If a community is chosen after tours are complete, Nathan encourages families to immediately make a deposit in order to get on the waiting list right away. This will increase their chance of an apartment opening up when the time is right.

Nursing facilities and assisted living communities do an amazing job, but hospice is another option to explore, especially if your loved one is diagnosed with any type of end-stage diseases, including cardiac, pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, liver, and neurological diseases, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, AIDS, multiple system failure/nutritional debility, Parkinson’s, and dementia.

Rhonda Saunders Hospice Community Care of Nebraska - headshot

Rhonda Saunders
Hospice Community Care of Nebraska

“Hospice can provide patients with even more attention,” comments Rhonda Saunders with Hospice Community Care of Nebraska. “We’ll send in a team which includes a nurse, who provides pain and symptom control, a nurse’s assistant, who provides shower and meal assistance, a social worker, a chaplain, and volunteers, who can provide anything from companionship to massage and pet therapies to art and music activities. The hospice team works with facility staff and supplements the efforts of hard working nurses. For eligible patients, Medicare part A hospice benefit covers 100% of many costs, including medications associated with terminal illness, a personal physician, durable medical equipment such as oxygen, hospital beds, specialty mattresses, and incontinent supplies, and registered nursing visits available 24 hours a day. Hospice is a philosophy of care and a way of helping people live out their lives with as much comfort and dignity as is possible. At Hospice Community Care of Nebraska, we’ll come to where you call home. We recently moved into a new office space and have had a few exciting additions to our team, allowing us to better serve our patients in Lincoln and the surrounding area.”

While we’re discussing different senior living options in Lincoln, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the community’s newest facility, Fallbrook Assisted Living & Memory Care. The building currently being constructed in the Fallbrook area of Lincoln off of HWY 34 behind Super Saver. Co-founders, Jason Lange and MaryLynne Bolden, have plans to open in October and they are very excited to begin serving the senior community in Lincoln.

Fallbrook Assisted Living & Memory Care is an MJ Senior Housing Community, a locally owned and operated company with over 20 years of senior housing development ownership, management and training experience. Their portfolio includes Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care Assisted Living communities across Nebraska. In addition, they provide consulting and sales training for other organizations in the senior housing industry.

The consulting and training they provide is customized into a 10-week, 40-hour sales course entitled, Senior Conversations. We encourage our readers who are in the senior healthcare industry, or represent a senior housing entity, to check out this course by MJ Senior Housing, LLC. Whether you are promoting an independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, home health, hospice, long-term care insurance, etc., the basic principles of communicating with people apply across the board. While each salesperson has a unique selling style, two characteristics are common among the most successful salespeople we’ve met: they listen more and talk less; and they focus the conversation on you, not them. Learn more on their website and keep up with Strictly Business Magazine for exciting updates about the opening of Fallbrook Assisted Living & Memory Care!

Making the Move

After finding the ideal place for you or your loved one, transitioning from a home to an apartment-sized space can be a daunting process. From sorting out belongings and downsizing, to physically moving the items from one location to the other, which oftentimes requires putting some items in storage—it takes a lot of time and effort.

After retirement, for those who are interested in moving, whether it be somewhere for a couple of months or permanently, it can be overwhelming. Let’s be honest, a move is a big undertaking no matter the age! People generally have a lot of items that they want to bring with them—after all, every item holds a memory or meaning. However, some items are things that will not be able to fit into apartments. This is a realization that can be hard to admit because of the connection people can have with certain items.

When downsizing for a move, the most important questions to ask yourself or your loved ones are “Do I need it?” and “Will I use it?” If the answer is no, then it becomes a question of what to do with it. Options include selling it at a garage sale, donating it, passing it on to future generations, or storing it while its fate is being decided.

Rod Berens
Store It All

Storage units are an easy way to not only store things but ensure that these items are all in one clean, secure place for safekeeping, Rod Berens from Store.It.All. says.

“Transitioning out of your home usually means you are living somewhere that you don’t own, unless it’s a condo, in which case it’s still likely to be less square footage than the space in which you’ve been accustomed to living for so many years,” he says. “If the senior has no home of their own and all of their possessions are gone, they are probably going to feel a powerful disconnect. Being able to hold onto those items is important, even if they are in a storage unit.”

Berens recommends when you or family members are moving into a new home, to take things at a slow pace and to move a few items from home at a time, rather than setting one day as “moving day.”

Removing a few items from the home at a time is easier to digest than showing up with a bunch of people on the day and announcing “It’s moving day!” as you can take your time deciding, organizing and moving items to the places they need to be. It’s less hectic, as mentioned before, and ensures a smooth move.

If you or your loved one have items that need a place to stay, check out Store It All. Store It All offers small, medium and large storage unit options and customers are able to upgrade and downgrade as needed.

In Case of Emergency

In all reality, you can plan all you want, but you never really know what the future will hold. However, you can prepare for the most likely scenarios and then make adjustments as you go, which is much easier than not having a plan at all.

Death, for example, is something that we expect to happen to all of us, of course, but none of us know when our time will ultimately come. When a family member passes away and there were no plans made while that person was alive as to their final wishes, it makes for some tough calls ahead. Alternatively, if you know what they want and perhaps if you’ve even made the necessary arrangements, it’s a much different outcome that has much less stress involved.

Rick Carney Butherus, Maser & Love - Headshot

Rick Carney
Butherus, Maser & Love

Rick Carney with Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home says a conversation concerning funeral plans should occur at some point, sooner rather than later.

“When starting the conversation about future funeral plans, everyone involved in the planning should be on the same page about their loved one wants during their service,” says Carney. “While it may not be in the Top 10 list of things you want to do over the holidays, it is certainly a great time to start that conversation since everyone is together.”

Carney says it is helpful to have all family members involved in the pre-planning process. In doing so, the children will then know where the funeral plans were made and not mistakenly make duplicate, and costly, arrangements with a second funeral home. A recent study showed that seniors were better able to deal with these discussions than their Baby Boomer children. Children often think it will be too hard on their parents, when in fact they may well be the ones struggling with the process. It is important to have this talk, to know where important papers are kept and what people will need to be contacted right away, etc. So often when the death of a loved one occurs, family members are mentally and physically exhausted during the initial wave of the grieving process. That is not the time to be scrambling for biographical information, looking for paperwork, or arguing with siblings about the way things should occur. This is a time when families should be supporting each other through their grief.

He also details a common scenario where planning ahead would make a big difference. “Perhaps one parent is the caregiver for their ailing partner. It is not unusual for the stress the caregiver faces to cause them to pass away first, creating a very difficult situation for the surviving spouse that may or may not be in a position to handle the decision-making. This is why I cannot stress enough the importance of having conversations like this with your loved ones early on and to have documentation of the decisions made on file with a funeral provider.”

Jodi Freeman Roper & Sons - Headshot

Jodi Freeman
Roper & Sons

Jodi Freeman with Roper & Sons Funeral Home agrees that details to know when discussing the future include “where your estate and funeral plans are located, who your attorney is, what your healthcare wishes are, including how critical illness and the end of life should be managed, and which funeral home you wish to use and all of the plans you have in place regarding a funeral or memorial service.” She also notes, “Your estate plan, your healthcare, and your end of life choices are yours, but Roper and Sons does encourage you to seek input from your loved ones when it is appropriate.”

Freeman also cautions, “One mistake we commonly see at Roper & Sons is not planning for one’s own end-of-life decisions, with the assumption that family is willing and able to take care of any final arrangements. Life is unpredictable—we always tend to think ‘Oh, I have plenty of time,’ until one day, we don’t. It is very difficult to think about our end-of-life decisions, without a doubt. However, it is even more difficult for families in the midst of the greatest loss.”

Something to also think about when discussing funeral plans or even moving a senior out of their home is out-of-state death. People traveling to warmer climates in the winter is common. Freeman says one of the questions to ask is, “How would things be handled if I or my loved one passed away out of state?” Transporting your deceased loved one over state lines, Freeman adds, is incredibly expensive. “Having a funeral home chosen, along with having your funeral arrangements made and paid up, or a payment arrangement is very important when you spend part of your year out of state,” she says.

Some funeral homes like Ropers & Sons offer an “out of area” protection plan, which covers expenses like these. Freeman also advises that if you or your loved one travels frequently, to be sure to ask your insurance provider about out-of-state coverage when discussing pre-planning funeral arrangements.

Christine Vanderford
Vanderford Law

Also related to one’s passing, estate planning is a big piece of the puzzle too. Christine Vanderford with Vanderford Law notes that “It is extremely common for people to think that their spouses automatically speak for them as their power of attorney. But this is not true, especially if there are assets only in your name, or when it comes to gaining access to restricted/confidential medical information and your medical records. Decisions are often needed to be made regarding your health care and rehabilitation. If you have not already begun, it is time to start thinking about what you will need from Medicare and Medicaid too. It is not a matter of if you will need it; it’s more a matter of when you will need it. Consider meeting with your estate planning attorney as well as your financial advisor to discuss the best plan for your long-term needs, and protection of your assets.”

Vanderford further advises, “A good estate planning attorney should make the estate plan process fairly smooth and painless, but it will likely require more than one conversation with your loved one and family members. It tends to be a process that takes place over a period of time, which is why it is never too early to start talking! The end goal is both a caregiving and estate plan that ensures all the wishes and needs of your loved one will be represented and respected.”

Insurance, like Vanderford, says, is something that also is an important part of the discussion covering after-life situations, as some insurance companies help with the payment of the funeral service, as well as any hospital visits and bills. For seniors, having adequate insurance coverage is so important for a number of reasons, some obvious and some you might not think about until the time comes that you need it most.

Christine McPike
ComPro Insurance

Christine McPike with ComPro Insurance says the enrollment date for Medicare begins October 15 and goes until December 7, encouraging people to take specific actions during that window of time.

“This is the time to review your options for Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans for 2019. We strongly encourage all Medicare beneficiaries to work with a professional insurance agent to help you evaluate your choices,” she said. If you don’t have a professional insurance agent to help, ComPro offers many options and can help guide you through the process.

As baby boomers retire at a record rate of 10,000 a day in the United States, many families are unsure of where to turn for assistance. Seven out of ten adults over 65 wish to remain in their home, however, 70 percent will require some form of assistance. Don’t put off having these tough conversations and educate yourself on the best way you can enhance the health and well-being of your senior loved ones.

We hope your cup runneth over with all of truly wonderful parts of life, especially this holiday season, and may you also take full advantage of the time you are giving with the most important people in your world. You might find yourself needing to get down to business and face some tough realities, and that’s okay—it’s a part of life for all of us. When you need a helping hand, be sure to reach out to the local resources here in Lincoln, because doing it together is so much better than doing it alone.