Talking Terminal Illness with Children

Posted on Jul 12, 2017

Having to tell a child you’re terminally ill isn’t something that’s typically covered in the parenting handbook. It’s hard for children to learn their parents are dying at any age, but as a young child, it can be devastating. This will be a difficult conversation to have no matter how you go about it, but there are a few things to keep in mind that can make it a little easier.

Be the One to Tell Them- This isn’t something anyone looks forward to doing, but don’t put it off so long that they overhear the news from someone else. It’s important they hear this from you in a setting that allows you to answer whatever questions they may have.

Let Them Help- As you’re going through the various treatments and procedures, try to include them in your care. Let them get you a glass of water or a pair of slippers when you need it. Finding age-appropriate jobs for them to do will help them feel involved.

Be Clear- When you break the news, it’s okay to be direct with your child and let them know the name of the disease and what the expected side effects are. This will help prepare them for the coming months and gives them more clarity.

Create a Support System- Your child will need a support system of people who they can talk to about what they’re feeling. Let their friends, teachers, and other family members know what’s happening so they can be there to offer care and support.

Keep Their Schedule- This news will come as a huge shock to them, and one way to help them cope is to maintain their schedule as much as possible. Although you might not be able to take them to all their activities, ask friends and family if they can help take care of chauffeuring them around.

Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

Posted on Jul 05, 2017

With the 4th of July now behind us, we’re well into the summer months that are sure to be sweltering. Now that the heat is on, we need to pay close attention to the senior community as they are very susceptible to the effects of heat. If you have a loved one in their senior years, here are four tips you can follow to keep them safe in the summer.

Stay Hydrated

As we age, our sense of thirst is often diminished. This means seniors can easily forget to drink enough water, and by the time they remember to drink some water they can already be dangerously dehydrated. This goes double for seniors with dementia. To ensure proper hydration, make sure caregivers are regularly providing water and monitoring hydration levels.

Stay Connected

If your loved one lives alone, without visits from caregivers, it’s best to give them a call at least once a day. See how they’re doing and ask how much water they’ve had to drink. You can rest assured they’ll appreciate the daily communication and it’s a great way for you to check up on them to see if they need anything.

Stay Cool

The summer heat can take a toll on seniors, but keeping them cooped up in their homes all day can also have serious negative health effects. It’s important for seniors to maintain an active social life during the summer, but proper planning is needed. Avoid running outdoor errands during the hottest parts of the day and schedule trips to air conditioned locations throughout the day.

Stay Aware

If all else fails, you need to be aware of the signs of heat stroke. Not sweating in hot settings, confusion, nausea, headaches, fatigue, fever, and rapid pulse are all signs your loved one might be experiencing a heat stroke. If this happens, seek immediate medical attention. 

Helping Children Through Grief

Posted on Jun 26, 2017

Helping Children Through Grief

Dealing with grief is a skill we all must learn at some point in our lives. Whether it’s the death of a friend, a family member, or helping a friend through a death, understanding how to deal with grief for the first time can be a hard journey to walk. Children who go through grief-inducing experiences, particularly those who do so at a young age, need guidance to help navigate the emotions they may be feeling for the first time. You don’t have to be a professional counselor to help children through grief, so here are some tips to help you help them.

Death is Normal- Try to be proactive and teach children about death before they experience the death of a loved one. Point to examples of death in nature, like dying plants or animals, as less emotional examples of death. This allows children to grasp the concept of death without the associated grief. Sometimes parents avoid talking about death with their children in an effort to shield them from harsh realities, but children need to understand death is a normal part of life. 

Be Ready for Questions- It’s not uncommon for children to have a lot of questions about death when they hear about it for the first time, so be ready. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so. Let them know you’re struggling with this too.

Honesty- Sometimes analogies and metaphors are helpful, but this might not be the best time for such tools. Don’t be afraid to be straightforward about death. Using terms like, “they went to sleep” might confuse children about what death is and how it works.

Grieve with Them- Don’t feel the need to grieve behind closed doors. Children need to see how people grieve and what’s okay to do in these times. It’s okay for your kids to see you cry and be emotional. This lets them know it’s okay to feel and experience the emotions that are flooding in.

Grieving with children, like grieving with anyone, is a learning process. Don’t feel pressure to get it right the first time or be perfect. The more important thing to do is let them know you’re here for them. Not every child will grieve the same way. Be adaptive and flexible, so you can meet their needs. 

How to Let Friends Know What You Need

Posted on Jun 20, 2017

When going through a loss one of the hardest things to do can be letting friends and family know what you need. Although friends can be quick to offer help, knowing how to respond to their offers isn’t always straightforward. One reason for this difficulty is that it’s often just hard to figure out what you need, let alone communicate it to others. Despite the difficulties, letting people know what you need can really improve the grieving process and help you get through this time.

Just Talk

Talking is often the best way to overcome this hurdle. It could be about what you’re feeling or it could be about the weather. Ideally you’ll eventually be able to work up to talking about your grief, but starting with small talk is perfectly fine. These conversations can be incredibly therapeutic and can help you assess and better understand your needs.

Write it Down

If you can’t handle talking it out, try writing it down. Start a journal about what you’re feeling and how it’s affecting you. Be introspective and once you feel comfortable enough, share some of your journal entries with close friends or family.

This Isn’t Working

It’s okay to, politely, let people know if what they’re doing isn’t helping. Your friends want to help you, but it’s most likely going to be a learning process for everyone. So if they try to help in a way that just isn’t really working, don’t be afraid to say so. A word of caution though. If you feel like changing course because you feel like you’re “too big of a burden” for your friends, this is not a good excuse. Don’t ever feel like your grief is causing others to suffer, your friends are there to help.

Different is Okay

When it comes to family, you might feel pressure to grieve or cope in the same ways the rest of the family does. However, family traditions don’t apply to grief. Just because they like to keep busy to take their minds off it, doesn’t mean you have to. Have an honest conversation with the rest of your family and work together to make sure everyone is getting the support they need.

Avoiding Family Conflict with No Estate Plan

Posted on Jun 14, 2017

Dealing with the death of a family member is hard enough when the deceased prepared a crystal-clear will, but when there’s no will to be found it can cause some serious issues. Since recent studies have estimated more than 60% of Americans don’t have a will, this situation is one you might have to deal with one day. Dying without a will doesn’t automatically doom the family to chaos and feuding, if it’s handled correctly.

It’s hard to be right

Just because the deceased told you they wanted to give you some item or money after they pass doesn’t mean they didn’t tell another family member contradictory information at a later date. Anytime you mention a statement you recall them saying, do so with grace, and don’t be surprised if another family member remembers something different.

Include everyone

During the deliberation process, it’s common for a few pack leaders to rise up. While this can ensure the ball keeps moving, you don’t want to exclude people from the process. People are always more likely to accept a decision they don’t agree with if they feel their voice was heard from the start of the process.

Define “fair”

One word that will get thrown around a lot in these situations is, “fair.” You’ll hear statements like, that’s not fair, let’s all try to be fair, or that seems fair to me. The problem is that not everyone has the same idea of what fair means. Some might define it as trying to equally divide everything based on monetary value, others will want to factor in sentimental value, and others might want to divide assets on a needs basis. Get everyone on the same page and things will go much smoother.

Call a Professional

Dealing with this kind of problem isn’t something most people have ever tried to do. Thankfully there are professionals who do this for a living. If things get to a point where you feel the family can’t handle it, call a mediator or estate planning attorney. Either one will be able to guide you through the process and offer some sage advice.