Honoring the Mighty Pen

Making an estate plan that clearly documents intention helps surviving family members avoid fighting; especially in court. Yet lawyers will write the estate plan for exactly that purpose — writing as if it were going to be fought over in court. I call this legalese legal dis-ease. Write your intentions down in your own hand-writing for inclusion in your estate plan so that you don’t risk miscommunication or misunderstanding among surviving family members.

5 Retirement Planning Mistakes to Avoid

The most important goal for many of my clients is to retire on their terms – which often means planning a long, secure retirement that enables them to check off items on their ultimate bucket list. Retirement requires careful planning in addition to avoiding financial missteps along the way. Here are five common mistakes, and strategies to avoid them…

Honoring and Protecting Patients’ Rights

Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult residential care homes, expanded adult residential care homes and community care foster family homes. We are NOT the state inspectors and do not write deficiencies or issue fines or citations. Our focus has always been on quality of life and quality of care issues — advocating for all our residents so their rights can be honored and protected.

Having Help Close at Hand if You Fall

Every 13 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Lower-body weakness, difficulties with walking and balance, and vision problems can make a person more likely to fall. Other causes include home hazards and clutter. Having a medical alert system can reduce a person’s risk of not being able to receive timely treatment, by obtaining immediate medical assistance in the event of a fall or emergency.

MemorC: A Free Memory Aid

One of the challenges for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is finding ways to engage their loved one or patient in tasks that strengthen the ability to recall who people are and what their relationship with them is. Dr. Warren Wong, a local geriatrician with decades of experience working with such patients, took on that challenge and has developed a free iPad app to fill that need: MemorC.

Dementia and Vision Changes

Human beings use five ways to take in data: sight, touch, smell, taste and sound. From the time we are born, we prefer to take in data first by what we see, then hear and finally through touch. Vision, our primary source for processing new information, is controlled by an area in the back of our brain called the occipital lobe. Dementia attacks and damages the occipital lobe resulting in skewed vision, poor depth perception and diminished peripheral vision.

Know Stroke Warnings and Call 911

Stroke remains Hawai‘i’s third leading cause of death and a leading cause of major disability. However, 80 percent of strokes are preventable. And those that do occur, in many cases, are treatable if symptoms are quickly recognized and treatment is quickly sought. Hawai‘i EMS data shows, however, that almost 50 percent of Hawai‘i stroke patients aren’t being delivered to hospitals by EMS ambulances.

A Life Shared is a Life Well-Lived

Most of life’s memorable experiences are memorable because they’re shared. What if there were an easy way to not only write down your memories for family and friends but to also give them the opportunity to reminisce with you about them? There is! Developed by a team right here in Hawai‘i — led by local entrepreneur Beth N. Carvin — JamBios is an easy-to-use memoir writing platform that lets you write one story at a time while also keeping you organized.

Medical Cannabis: A Therapeutic Resource for Seniors

Since 2017, licensed Hawai‘i cannabis growers have been formulating and dispensing medical products to qualified state-registered patients. A majority of their clients who are benefiting from cannabis treatments are seniors. Maui Grown Therapies dispensary in Kahului has been open over a year. Leading their Science & Medical Advisory Board is Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrated Medicine, an advocate for alternative medicine and an early pioneer in the research of medical cannabis.

February – March 2019

February – March 2019

Since 2017, licensed Hawai‘i cannabis growers have been formulating and dispensing medical products to qualified state-registered patients. A majority of their clients who are benefiting from cannabis treatments are seniors. Maui Grown Therapies dispensary in Kahului has been open over a year. Leading their Science & Medical Advisory Board is Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrated Medicine, an advocate for alternative medicine and an early pioneer in the research of medical cannabis.

Please, Make the Time to Visit

When my father-in-law “Gramps” had a stroke, he spent time at the hospital, rehab, and then a nursing home, before finally being able to return to his house. During those months of recovery away from home, my family made every effort to visit him daily. Between my wife, brother-in-law, mother-in-law and myself, we were pretty successful in making sure he would have the company of a loved one every day.

Understanding Grieving Styles

There is no “good grief” or “bad grief”— there is only grief. Drs. Kenneth Doka and Terry Martin* suggest that there are two types of grievers: “instrumental” and “intuitive.” Neither type is deficient; only different. Understanding the difference can allow family members to empathize with, rather than attribute bad motives to, another family member.

Setting Financial Goals You Can Keep

Setting New Year’s resolutions is a tradition for millions of Americans who see January 1 as a fresh start. However, we all know how easy it is to have resolutions fall to the wayside as the year progresses.

Fortunately, if the goal you have in mind is a financial one, there are ways you can break it down into steps that will keep you motivated and on track to achieve it.

The Fascial Self-care Revolution

Fascia is the collagenous soft connective tissue that binds all of your body’s other structures. Defined as the largest organ system of the body in 2012 by the Federative Committee on Anatomic Terminology, it is now the most studied tissue in human movement science. Here is what current research is learning about this amazing tissue that, like the mesh on a garden hose, needs to withstand pressure from the inside  (by exerting pressure itself) and also stay flexible.

Yoga: The ‘Ki’ to Mastership of Your Life

Our daily lives are filled with so many distractions that it’s easy to feel scattered and stressed. When you are chronically stressed it becomes harder to function properly, increasing your stress even more and often inviting disease. To help manage their stress, many people have turned to yoga and mind-body training because its healthy effects on body and mind are now widely recognized.

‘Life Stories’: A Spotlight on Our Kūpuna

With the holidays and the spirit of the season upon us, our energies turn toward the festivities with our friends and families. What better opportunity for us to shine the spotlight on our kūpuna than by tapping into their vast knowledge of life, wisdom and memories? A fun way to do this is through a day of “Life Stories,” where all the generations get together and share their fondest memories.

3 Tips to Help Discuss Aging in Place

There is no perfect time to discuss end-of-life care. Most seniors would prefer to age in place at home, as independently as possible. But too few take the time to discuss their preferences with their family, leaving family caregivers
stressed and scrambling. The most important thing any family can do to prepare for a loved one to live at home is to talk about it today.

Making the Most of Retirement

When I moved from Moloka‘i to Kapolei earlier this year, my goals for retirement were to spend time with my granddaughter, become involved
in my new community by volunteering at the library and local school, and to continue what I enjoy doing — walking daily, reading, acrylic painting, gardening, cooking healthy meals, attending art shows and educational workshops, and hosting new students from Southeast Asian countries who are currently pursuing their degrees at UH-Mānoa.

Sharing a Love of Books

One of the pleasures of being a grandparent is spending time with the grandkids, and reading books together is a wonderful way to do just that — whether introducing a toddler to the alphabet or helping a sixth-grader research a project. Here are some ideas for locally published books to share with your special keiki.

Molokai Arts Center

The day I visit the Molokai Arts Center, Betty West is teaching a kūpuna ceramics class. Betty was one of the founders of the center, which grew from an idea discussed at the local pizza café by locals — mostly seniors — who felt the island needed a place to nurture the arts. Between 2010 and 2012, the group incorporated as a nonprofit, raised funds and applied for grants, and were offered a home on the property of Coffees of Hawaii in Kualapu‘u.

How My Watch Helped Me Set Goals

I have learned a lot about setting goals from interacting with my smartwatch! The S.M.A.R.T. approach to setting goals has been around far longer than smartwatches, but the watches demonstrate perfectly the basic S.M.A.R.T. concepts originally created in 1981 by George T. Doran as a management tool but relevant for any type of goal.

What I’ve Learned… Thus Far

What I’ve learned is about just that: What I’ve learned these past 16+ years since I entered this field called “aging.” I was 42 years old and didn’t know a whole lot about retirement planning, Social Security or health issues, let alone caregiving and Alzheimer’s. Most people in that age range don’t think about this stuff; however, it is important to think ahead to when we get older and/or about our parents own aging and health issues.

Runninʻ On Aloha with Carole Kai

From a very young age, Carole Kai showed a flair for the dramatic — sometimes pulling a bedsheet off the clothesline and holding it tightly across her shoulders while flying around the backyard like a superhero. Other times, she showed a more businesslike approach — like the time she hosted a boxing match in her backyard and sold tickets to neighborhood kids for 5 cents apiece.

December 2018 – January 2019

December 2018 – January 2019

From a very young age, Carole Kai showed a flair for the dramatic — sometimes pulling a bedsheet off the clothesline and holding it tightly across her shoulders while flying around the backyard like a superhero. Other times, she showed a more businesslike approach — like the time she hosted a boxing match in her backyard and sold tickets to neighborhood kids for 5 cents apiece.

October – November 2018

October – November 2018

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter was a caregiver herself and she believed that family caregiving is a cycle of life that touches everyone. In this issue, four people, each at a different point on the cycle, share their care stories from the heart, offering words of wisdom and points of caution. As you read, consider your journey on the Cycle of Caregiving.

Lottery/Sweepstakes: An Overview

If I were to open a crime college, a place to learn the fine art of thievery, one class that would assuredly be on the curriculum would be Advance Fee Frauds, commonly known as sweepstakes and lottery frauds. This con involves the victim being told the lie that money is coming their way (usually from lottery winnings, insurance refunds or inheritance) but a fee/tax/processing charge has to be paid first to receive it. This one scheme is responsible for more money being stolen in Hawai‘i than any other crime.

Tension over Intention

It is not just families who disagree about the interpretation of legal documents. There seems to be tension among estate planning attorneys in regard to recommending that clients write down their heartfelt intentions to accompany those documents. Many lawyers believe that it is the form that is most important — that the written legal language will communicate their client’s heartfelt wishes. Others believe that, no matter how carefully written, the form alone cannot transfer intention.

Educating Adult Children About Saving

Many parents, in addition to planning for their own future, care deeply about helping their children find their financial footing as they enter adulthood. Having spent decades building up their nest eggs for retirement, they recognize the power of long-term financial planning and hope their children will capture the same benefits by starting to invest while they are young. Convincing someone just starting off in their careers to set aside money for retirement — which to them, may seem like light years away — can be a tough sell.

Hiring a Private Caregiver Can Be Tricky

When hiring a caregiver, you may be tempted to try to make the process as simple as possible by treating the caregiver as a “private contractor.” You tell the person “I will pay you so much an hour, and you deal with the IRS and the State when it comes time to pay taxes.” After all, taking on the responsibilities of withholding taxes (and then paying the taxing authorities), buying Workers’ Compensation insurance, paying Social Security and Medicare tax, and all the rest, can be a real pain. However, the IRS and the State will take the position that the caregiver is an “employee,” that you are an “employer,” and that all the legal obligations that attach to those labels are applicable to your situation.

Workplace Insurance and Medicare

One question that is frequently asked by people about to turn 65 who have health insurance through an employer is: “Do I need to enroll in Medicare?” Good question! If you or your spouse are still working when you turn age 65 and have insurance through your employer you may consider delaying Medicare Part A and Part B until you retire if you have Creditable Coverage, which means coverage as good as Medicare. Or you can choose to elect your Part A, which is premium-free, and delay Part B until retirement. Depending on the size of the group, one plan would be primary while the other would be secondary.

Medicare News!

According to Kathryn Coleman, Director at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), a final rule issued in April 2018 has redefined the “primarily health related” supplement benefit definition. As a result, CMS expects Medicare Advantage plan sponsors to begin offering services for enrollees needing assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL) or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).

Keeping Seniors Happy, Healthy & Strong

When a senior member of your family is in need of 24/7 care, it is fortunate that Hawai‘i has many professional, caring and dedicated homes and facilities to welcome them. What every family wants to know is: “Will my mom or dad be happy living in someone else’s home, eat right, and stay mentally and physically strong?”

From a Patient’s Point of View

People living with dementia (PLWD) have challenges with verbal communication: language comprehension, speech production, and vocabulary. But they are not unconscious to what is going on around them. Even as the brain declines, emotional intelligence is preserved. PLWD take in data visually rather than auditorily and react to what they think is happening. As caregivers we must remember that PLWD are really doing the best they can with the abilities they have left.

Being a Better Caregiver

Home healthcare providers are often asked what makes a better caregiver. The answer is that, while many factors come to mind, an interest in learning is high on the list, and essential to a caregiver’s progress. For example, an important role caregivers have is recognizing when an individual’s health condition is changing. Those who can reflect and learn from these changes often develop into better caregivers.

Healthy Aging and Hearing Loss

As we age, our hearing often loses its edge. Clinical research suggests that hearing loss can have a negative effect on some key measures of healthy aging as cognitive, physical and social functioning decline. A study by the National Institute on Aging indicates that people with untreated hearing loss are significantly more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Rehab for Breast Cancer Recovery

October is National Physical Therapy Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Physical therapy may not be the first healthcare field that comes to mind when someone is undergoing cancer treatment, but physical therapists can play an integral role in promoting a speedy recovery and in assisting a return to previous levels of activity following surgery and radiation/chemotherapy treatments.

New Support for UH-Mānoa Athletes

If you attend any sports events involving the University of Hawai‘i’s Rainbow Warriors or Wahine, it soon becomes obvious that local kūpuna are among their most avid supporters. From attending home games, to donating to booster clubs, to picking thousands of flowers to make lei for the Women’s Volleyball Team, Hawai‘i’s seniors are with the athletes every step of the way.

Caregiving in the Cycle of Life

Former first lady Rosalynn was a caregiver herself and she believed that family caregiving is a cycle of life that touches everyone. Here, four people, each at a different point on the cycle, share their care stories from the heart, offering words of wisdom and points of caution. As you read, consider your journey on the Cycle of Caregiving. Where are you? Are you prepared?

August – September 2018

August – September 2018

As morning dawned on December 5, 1941, a fisherman cast his net along O‘ahu’s north shore. A college student helped his father open a new business. A volunteer took kids to the beach in Waimānalo. It was pretty much like most other days, for most people. But Sunday, December 7, 1941, would become known as “a date which will live in infamy” and President Franklin D. Roosevelt would announce to the nation the next day that, early on Sunday morning, “the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

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