Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday, November 8, 2020
It has been said that the difference between Illness and Wellness is “I” versus “We.” Everyone needs others in their life.
“It’s one of the keys to living a successful life,” said Annette Junell, co-host of an educational seminar series designed to help older adults make informed decisions.
“Each of us needs others in our lives – the ‘We’– in order to live our best lives,” she added. “One of the keys to living a successful life is who we surround ourselves with.”
Success is measured in many ways including health, wealth, family, relationships and support – to name just a few.
A senior living expert listed these critical issues for seniors to consider when considering their “We” team:
– Make proactive, educated decisions versus reactive, crisis-driven decisions.
– Identify the key influencers and their roles in the decision process.
– Define independence and what it means to you.
– Live life to the fullest not just survive day to day.
Junell and seminar panelists stressed that it’s important for seniors to identify who should be on their “We” team while they are in good health instead of waiting for an unexpected crisis or deteriorating health.
Barbara Seiler of Revel Rancharrah, an Independent Living Community, stressed the need for putting a “We” team together before needs arise.
“It’s so, so very important,” Seiler said. “What’s going to happen if something happens to them. Who’s going to be there to make medical decisions? Who’s going to be there to make their financial decisions? Who’s going to be there to make the decisions when they’re not here?”
She stressed the need to have individuals you know and trust on your team. She cited the example of a resident who did not have trustworthy individuals on his team and lost financial control because of it.
“This poor guy is going to be left without a home very shortly, and no support system,” Seiler said. “We recognize that the people who are most successful in our community are those people who have those support systems outside of our community.”
While most of the residents at the independent apartment community have support systems in place. Not all do.
“We’ve seen people deteriorate that we never thought would deteriorate, and so they are dealing with things they never expected without a “We” to look after them,” she said.
She described the situation of one couple whereby the wife is on hospice, and she is very worried about her spouse because they don’t have any family to provide support for him.
“She’s scrambling while on hospice and needs someone to take care of her husband when she soon passes. This is a really difficult situation because you have to have those powers of attorney in place, you have to know in advance who is going to provide help when the spouse who was the main decision maker is no longer there. So, that’s heart-breaking to us.”
Positive examples are those where older adults have moved to the community to be near family who actively looks after them.
Stacey Taylor of Clearwater at Rancharrah, an Assisted Living & Memory Support Community, listed family as the most important members of the team for most seniors but acknowledge that family is not always willing or able to assist.
“First and foremost, family needs to be involved,” Taylor said. “But, there are times when family is not involved, and so I would say get a good friend, someone that can go through this journey with you. Sometimes that isn’t possible, so there are case managers out there for seniors to use to help them through the process, and they have great success with those as well.”
She said some families will use a case manager “from the get-go” to reduce confusion and cross-communications among family members.
As with many decisions, planning and clear communications with the “team” are important for all aspects of the aging process.
This is particularly true when it comes to financial matters, according to Juliana Hart, a personal financial representative with Allstate Financial Services.
She recommends everyone have a financial advisor or somebody who can help them get their finances in order for retirement and that next phase of life.
“With a lot of couples, just the husband will come in and handle the finances, and the wife doesn’t have a clue what’s going on,” Hart said. “So, step one is both spouses need to be aware of what’s going on.”
Beyond that, she stressed the need to have someone you trust to look after your affairs, especially if you don’t have children.
“Whether it’s a trustee of a bank, or a niece or nephew, or neighbor, someone you care about, it’s so important to get those things in place. It’s so important to have people in your corner, especially from the financial side to help you get relocated, or pay your bills, anything like that. It’s just so important.”
Another concern, according to Hart, is that people overlook telling others where all their assets are. She suggested using a booklet which lines out all your assets and financial responsibilities. Important bills like life insurance and health care insurance can be overlooked by your “team” if you haven’t put all the information in a place easily accessed by those who are looking out for you.
It’s important that your caregivers have a clear understanding so that your wishes are carried out even if you’re not in a position to communicate them. Don’t wait until the last minute.
“Anytime when you’re scrambling, something always falls through the cracks,” Hart warned.
Join us to learn who should be on your team, your “We”!
For those interested in learning more, the seminar titled, The Truth about Who Should be on Your Team, will be held November 17 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. via Zoom or call in. The webinar is free to seniors and their guests.
Registration can be made online at www.RetiredLivingTruthSeries.com or by calling (775) 432-6398 to receive Zoom Webinar access & instructions.
The seminar is part of the ongoing Retired Living Truth Seminar Series organized by Annette & Brett Junell.