Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Love the Internet

I love the Internet. I truly do.

It is a giant encyclopedia. It is medical information that you couldn't get before. It is a place for conversations and learning and sharing. It's a place to find your next date.

It is a place for music. It is a place for movies and theatre. It is a place to contribute your crafting talent. It is a place to shop for goods, food and services (and find out how good they are first.) And, it's the biggest library and bookstore in the world.

What Happens in an Internet Minute
It is a place to help with graceful aging. But, many older adults are afraid of the Internet. It is the big unknown. It is a place where identity thieves lurk. It is a place where bad things happen to your computer. Or as Betty White said on SNL, "I didn't know what Facebook was and now that I do know what it is, I have to say it sounds like a huge waste of time."

AARP has started a new project called AARP TEK to help the 50+ crowd better engage with resources available online. They are presenting short, hands-on sessions lead by youth to help people learn about tablets.  A great idea.

But how can each of us expand this in our own locale to bring people online. That is the conundrum. We did a survey in San Diego County over a couple of years and discovered these pertinent facts:
  • Seniors want to learn from peers who speak their language.
  • Seniors are okay to travel somewhere to learn, but not more than 10 miles from home (and a senior center was at the bottom of the list of preferred locations. Libraries and community centers were more acceptable locations.)
  • Seniors want to learn the basics about the newest stuff and they want to learn about tablets and smart phones.
I want everyone to love the Internet. And I'd love your ideas on how to get more older adults online.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

End of Life Care: The Conversation Project

Time and time again, I talk to caregivers who have reached that critical point in their sandwiched lives -- they have suddenly realized that they need to do something to help mom or dad because of an illness or diagnosis.

And, time and time again, I ask if they've had "the conversation" with the parent. Do they know their wishes for health care treatments? Do they understand the finances, where the money is (or isn't?) Are they worried about their parent living at home with no supervision? Will the parent willing go to assisted living or do they want to stay at home for as long as possible? Which of the adult children do they trust? And the list goes on.

Many times, "the conversation" hasn't happened and the adult caregiver is stymied as to how to proceed.

Enter the Conversation Project.  Here's what they say:
"The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain. It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. We believe that the place for this to begin is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit—with the people we love, before it’s too late. Together we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can make sure that our own wishes and those of our loved ones are expressed and respected."
These folks have put together a great downloadable starter kit that helps guide a productive conversation about wishes (which is appropriate for end-of-life as well as serious illness.) 

Depression rates plummet if you've had this conversation.  Dianne Sawyer calls it "estate planning for the heart," in this clip about the guide.

ABC US News | ABC Business News

You can also download a CDC resource guide to help with advanced directive planning. [Everyone 18 and over needs an advanced directive... HIPPA rules and all.]

Start the conversation for yourself, your clients and your family. You will be glad you did.