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Archive for November, 2013

The Parent Trap, Part 5: The Biggest Loss 11.26.2013

Spousal loss . . . perhaps the hardest topic we’ve covered in our series. Despite the difficulty that comes with the issue of losing a spouse, it is important to discuss what the process looks like. Chances are one of your parents will pass away before the other one, leaving the living partner alone. So here is a look at what your parent will be dealing with during this time, and what you can do to help them through it.

Their struggle. Losing a life partner is painful – plain and simple. Your parent will not only be dealing with emotional grief, but physical repercussions as well.

The stages of grief are denial (shock), bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. However, they don’t always appear in this order. Everyone experiences grief differently, and certain stages can be harder for different people. Your parent might even seem to relapse into a stage that they thought they had already worked through. This is not an easy process but it is healthy for them to work through these emotions.

Furthermore, the emotional side of grief can have negative physical effects on your parent as well. They can suffer from insomnia, loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, and an inability to make decisions. Be aware of these things. If you notice these behaviors, don’t chastise them for not taking care of themselves. Realize that it is part of their grieving process and offer support.

Taking the right steps. The most important thing your parent can do in dealing with the loss of their spouse is make sure they’re taking care of themselves, even amidst the sadness. Remember that emotional grief can take a physical toll, so take extra care in helping them keep up healthy routines. Eating regular, nutritious meals and getting lots of rest are key. Also, keeping up on any medication they are taking and maintaining habitual trips to see their doctor are important.

Moreover, it might not be wise for your parent to make any big life changes in the midst of their grieving process. These changes should wait until they have successfully adjusted to life without their spouse.

Another helpful step for your parent to take is making sure they have an outlet for communicating their grief. They might not be ready to talk about it right away. In fact, your parent may be the type of person who never wants to talk about it. But eventually it will be beneficial to them to be able to let some of the emotional tension out. When you think they are ready, you might take time from your own schedule to have talks with them. Or you could recommend local grief counseling groups. Either way, communication is important.

Planning out their social activities with them can also be a beneficial step. Likely their social life will change with the loss of their spouse. But this doesn’t mean that it should cease entirely. Help them adjust their meetings and visits with people so that they are doing things they are comfortable with in the absence of their spouse. Plan ahead for certain events and holidays that you know will be hard for them to go through without their partner. Make sure they have things to do with other loved ones on those especially hard days.

Lastly, when they feel well enough, assist them in reorganizing their affairs. Meet with them and a lawyer about adjusting their will. Visit their accountant and other money professionals to take a look at their finances and life insurance policy.

All in all, it’s going to be a hard road for everyone. But these are some things to be aware of that will hopefully make the transition a little easier.

Coming next week: The Parent Trap, Part 6: The Senior Prom

The Parent Trap, Part 4: It’s Al Gore’s Fault 11.04.2013

One of the most prevalent aspects of our society today is internet use. From the internet we get email, social media, and endless information right at our fingertips. This technology is rapidly changing society, but there is one demographic likely not participating in this change – your parents and grandparents.

According to Statista, an online statistics portal, 87% of people ages 18-64 use the internet. Only 48% of people 65 and older are users of the web. Further studies show that 62% of people over the age of 74 don’t even own a computer.

For many aging Americans, the main reason they don’t engage in the internet is that learning how to use the worldwide web can be difficult for them. They have to learn how to navigate the broad spectrum of websites and pages, and they have to adopt a new way of thinking when it comes to how the internet works. Because of their age, they have much more trouble taking this all in than younger generations.

Nevertheless, if your parents can devote the time and energy necessary to learn the system, it can have extensive benefits in several areas:

Brain function. Learning how to use the internet and then participating in web searches, social media, and even online games can help sharpen brain function and keep folks thinking on your toes.

Access to services. We can purchase just about everything we need without having to leave our homes! It’s all there for us, online. Using the web for shopping, banking, making appointments, and even ordering prescriptions can save you time and energy.

Keeping in touch with family. It is likely that all of us have friends and family that we don’t see as often as we did in the past. The internet allows us to contact our loved ones even if they live several states away. Today’s technology means a grandparent can see his/her grandchildren and great-grandchildren face-to-face, even over a long distance. Not only can we visit our families, we can also keep track of old friends we lost track of over the years. The internet, social media and Skype can make it possible to stay close to family and friends that are living far away from us. We can talk through online chats, see pictures and read status updates about what’s currently going on with those we love. We can experience real interaction through video chat and Skype. These internet tools can improve our emotional well being and help us feel closer to those we love.

Exploring the world. Many people want to travel but don’t have the means or the opportunity to do so. The internet can give us the chance to see and read about places anywhere in the world without having to leave the comfort of our home. We can experience different cultures while sitting on our sofa!

Staying current. Some of our parents might believe the world is passing them by because they have a hard time keeping up. They don’t have to feel out of touch. They can get all the current news on politics, celebrities, local and national events, and more at the click of a mouse. Not only can the internet help us keep up with our families, it can help us stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world around us (for better or worse!) and help us avoid that “left-out” feeling.

Technology is continually changing and adapting. Right now companies are developing programs specifically catered toward the 65 and older age group – programs that will help our parents learn the ways of the web easily and quickly. So encourage your parents to engage with the internet. With your help, they’ll have a chance to explore a whole new world!

Coming next week, The Parent Trap, Part 5: The Biggest Loss