Peg’s Perspective: Life Lessons I Learned from Our Residents

By: Peg Carmany

I first began to work in senior housing in 2002, and it’s remarkable to me how fast those 15 years have flown by.   As I look back, I think my biggest misconception at the beginning was that I was here to help them. In reality, they have given me invaluable gifts of knowledge and friendship.

Here are but a few of the things I have learned from my residents over the years:

  1. Adversity does not have to define you.     If you get a chance to live into your 80s (or 90s) (or 100s!), life will definitely throw you some curve balls.     Poor health.   Unexpected loss of a loved one.    Financial troubles.      You name it.    And at some point (and I’m not entirely sure at what age, but it will happen), you grieve, you adjust, and then you accept that everyone is carrying around something that is burdensome.
  2. Once you realize #1, you are kinder to others as a result.
  3. Gratitude is important. It sounds trite, “Count your blessings.”   But it is not trite, it is important.     Almost always, there is something, oftentimes more than one thing, to truly be grateful for, and to acknowledge.
  4. If you become a good listener, most people will think you’re a terrific conversationalist.
  5. Life is short, and it goes by quickly, and none of us are getting out of here alive. Don’t waste a day lost in meaningless details. Know that “This too shall pass,” eventually.

Now in 2018, I continue to remind myself how much our residents have helped me grow as a human being. I am better at handling the curveballs that life throws my way, whether it’s at home or at work and I strive, every day, to express my gratitude in a variety of ways. But most importantly, I truly enjoy spending time with the people who have taught me so much. There’s always room to grow.


Our Resident Blog- To our Precious Ann

A poem to Ann from Joan:

 

O Ann, Ann, our comedian;

Our hostess with the mostest; our Samaritan.

You’ve united us beyond compare

With cards and costumes debonair.

The get-together meetings for new residers

And appetizers are grand providers

PDR dinners for new neighbors are great.

They help make it easier to relate.

Your current events really keep us more sane

As we discuss the happenings that rattle our brain.

How much we owe you, our very dear friend,

For making our lives comfortably inter-blend.

So let us be thankful for your intercession

Making a compassionate, caring population.

 

-Joan


One Journey in a Conversation

I like to meet people, talk to them and learn something unique about them. I learned early on from my father the art of being social. As I look back on my life, I realize that I have met some amazing people. Think about those individuals you knew in your neighborhood, your high school, college, maybe even your first job. We have crossed paths with people who have impacted our lives in some way. But I think the most interesting people I have found are in my own family.

My niece Emma Grace is a freshman at a local high school and was assigned a special project: interview someone and document the conversation. She had to write a list of questions based on who her subject was, and she was even going to videotape it. This is coming from a generation that spends time with their heads down, buried in their phones, and fingers madly typing a thousand miles an hour, not readily engaged nor seeming to care what anyone thinks or says.

And Emma? She chose a subject very near and dear to my heart: her grandmother, my mother. We set everything up in the living room of my sister’s home: lights, camera, chairs and had the microphone ready to capture grandma’s responses. I couldn’t wait to hear what Emma was going to ask her. What was her favorite food? Who was her favorite grandchild? Surprisingly, I was not even close.

Emma had thought diligently about her questions. She knew my mother grew up poor, the seventh child of eight children in a coal-mining town. She knew that she had traveled to Austria a few summers ago to visit her mother’s town. She knew she lost her husband to cancer at a young age. I sat there while Emma interviewed my mother and was captivated. There were things I did not know about my mother. “Grandma, tell me when you knew HE was the one?” “How did you deal with the death of your husband at such a young age?” “What do you hope that your children or grandchildren learned from you?” Yes, these were some of the questions dear Emma asked my mother. I was overwhelmed by emotion.

Too often we wait to acknowledge what someone means to us after they pass away or leave us. And what we miss is the simple fact that someone so close to us fell in love, had dreams, fears and philosophies that we never knew. But we can ask them…now. I ask my mother a lot about her life, and I have many memories tucked away, but I learned so many things that day.

I challenge you to take a moment and go on a verbal journey with someone you love, respect or maybe always wanted to just know more about. Don’t be afraid to ask them thought-provoking questions or just about what makes them tick. We all have that inside each of us. It is amazing what you can learn and how you feel afterwards. One journey in a conversation. Take that trip. If you would like to share a life-changing conversation, share with us.


Super Tuesday in Ohio. Are you Ready?

Hold on to your political hats, Ohio. The 2016 Presidential Campaign is about to get real and will make many stops right here in our home state. It has already started — Super Tuesday comes to Ohio on March 15th. Do you know the candidates and what they stand for?

The 2016 election campaign is already shaping up to be one for the record books. Whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, your vote for our next President of the United States will go down in the record books and is more than likely to change your life in some way. From Social Security to Medicare to healthcare and everything in between, the platform of your chosen candidate or that of the opponent will change the face of America moving forward.

And once again, national eyes are on Ohio. When Ohioans head to the polls on March 15th, they will have the opportunity to cast their votes for a former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or another U.S. Senator who touts many years of expertise in Washington and refers to himself as a socialist. Interestingly enough, Bernie Sanders is gaining a lot of traction with the millennial generation. On the flip side, the GOP brings a whole other element with business tycoon Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. And let’s not forget our very own Governor John Kasich, who just this past weekend announced he is just ramping up his campaign to a whole new level. Hang on. It’s going to be one interesting campaign year.

As part of the population heading toward retirement, there are a few topics the candidates are drilled in on that should have you on alert:

Medicare & Healthcare: Both have serious impact on the aging population as the funding and affordability of private and public healthcare plans, drug companies and programs will directly affect long-term care, health insurance and so much more. Pay attention and make sure you understand every nuance of not only your candidate, but also the opposition.

Social Security: Baby boomers are aging out of the system at a rapid rate. Many are heading towards retirement. The system was created to provide secure retirement for Americans who have paid into it throughout their work life. It also has been critical as income for those individuals who may have suffered the loss of the main breadwinner. In 2013 alone, 22 million Americans were kept from living at poverty level because of Social Security. But, as we know, this system is in trouble. Updating Social Security for future generations is crucial and a primary focus for candidates. Want more info? Check out www.2016takeastand.org.

In addition, focus on our foreign policy, minimum wage, college affordability and the effects of global warming and environment changes and needs are all topics that will have impact to not only you, but also to your family, your grandchildren and future generations. Remember, voting is your American right. Choose wisely.

And on a personal note: Rest in peace, Mrs. Reagan. Thank you for your service.


Happy Birthday, Aunt Helen.

February 8, 1926. That is the day she was born. She is Helen Jean, and she is my mother’s sister, my aunt and my Godmother. She grew up in the tiny coal-mining town of Glen Robbins, Ohio in a four-room house with her seven siblings and parents. Yes, ten people in a four-room house. She lived there for 88 and a half years until we moved her to a memory care center and sold her house.

Last week, my mother and I visited her. When we walked in she was sitting in the common room with other residents. She greeted us and told us she was going to a dance. She introduced her “sisters” and we walked back to her room. We sat on the edge of her bed and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. She smiled and said we sang so well we should be on television! Then she opened the gifts we brought her and ate some of the candy, especially the Tootsie Pops. She loves the cherry ones the best.

Why do I tell you this? As I grew up, my family always made a big deal about birthdays. We still do. And my dear Aunt Helen never missed one. Not for my four sisters or me. She always sent us a card in the mail, brought us a little gift and stood in our kitchen and sang our family birthday song. Memories. My family celebrates our birthdays and those of our friends, co-workers, etc. Why? Because we believe that each person is brought into this world with a unique gift to give…. Themselves…. and that they should be celebrated.

My aunt is 90! That is almost a century of living…..of moments and memories, of snapshots and dreams. And everyone has their own. How wonderful is that? Individuals who are residing in senior communities, assisted living or nursing centers should especially be celebrated. They have so many stories to tell and knowledge to share.

It does not take a lot to recognize someone on his or her special day. Send a card, make a phone call and sing into the phone, arrange a lunch or dinner with friends, bring a cake to a neighbor or just pick up a bouquet—do something even if it as simple as showing up and saying “Happy Birthday”.

So I ask you to think about someone you know who is celebrating a birthday soon. Celebrate with them. You will enjoy it. I promise. Do you have a favorite birthday memory? Share it with us.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Helen. I love you.


What Is #GivingTuesday?

What Is #GivingTuesday?

By now, most of us have probably heard about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These “holidays” following Thanksgiving can be great ways to find some items on sale before Christmas, and you can end up saving a lot of money by heading to a local business on Small Business Saturday or by surfing the web on shopping sites on Cyber Monday.

What Is #GivingTuesday and What Day Is It?

Giving Tuesday is the day following Cyber Monday that encourages giving to different organizations or community programs instead of spending money on commercial needs. You can give to any nonprofit organization that interests you, and then share how it helps others on your social media pages. This year in 2015, it takes place on December 1st. This newly-christened day is a way for people to give back when they might not have known about organizations that need funds in order to continue their services.

How Can You Help?

Consider donating the amount you saved on your Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains to our organization this year on Giving Tuesday! Many folks are not aware that it can be difficult to pay for daily living expenses as a Methodist ElderCare resident. These struggles can make daily life stressful and uncomfortable for the residents here—even after they might have been saving for years, they might have experienced a setback or two that would have drained their funds. Many find themselves struggling to pay for services or daily needs, lowering the quality of their lives and health care. Your donation will be sincerely appreciated by our residents.

How Do These Donations Help Others?

In 2014, we at Methodist ElderCare offered 56 residents $1.4 million in care. This money goes directly to helping the residents at either the Wesley Glen or Wesley Ridge location, and goes into the Charitable Care Fund. Each situation is looked at, and the money from the Charitable Care Fund fills in the gaps between what the resident can pay and how much is needed in order to stay there. One year in a nursing home can cost over $80,000, so there’s always a need for more assistance.

Nursing home care also manages to become more expensive every year. Last year, 4% was the five-year annual growth rate for the cost of living in a nursing home. When you are thinking about spending your money on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, think about putting it to a different use and donating money to your favorite charity or the Methodist ElderCare Services. By giving a little money on Giving Tuesday, you can increase the quality of someone’s life.

To learn more about #GivingTuesday or to make a donation, please visit www.methodisteldercare.org/giving-tuesday.


The Difference Between A Last Will and Testament and a Living Will

Last week my grandmother’s doctor asked her if she had a living will during her medical appointment. She answered, “Yes, I have a will, but I don’t remember it being called a living will.” Her doctor explained that a living will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance care directive.

Here is how my grandmother’s last will and testament differs from the living will she discussed with her doctor. The purpose of a last will and testament is to distribute your assets after you pass away. I’ve not been to the reading of a will, but I understand that a will allows you to decide what you would like to go to whom, when, and how. Without a will, state law will determine who inherits your assets and handles your estate. Your will, as well as a living trust, allows you to structure the asset distribution to help avoid estate taxes, protect your heirs from creditors and space out the distribution over time.

The purpose of a living will is to memorialize your health care wishes so that your family, doctors, and/or health care proxy (the person making your health care decisions) know what you want done if you are not able to make decisions for yourself. You are able to specify whether you would like to be kept alive by artificial means if there is no hope of recovery. You are also able to specify the level of care that you want to receive if you are in an accident or a coma.

Both a will and a living will are important pieces of any estate plan. Each should be prepared under the guidance of an attorney, and both need to be witnessed by two disinterested persons. That is where the similarities end. If you don’t already have a will or living will in place, contact an attorney who can explain the difference between the two documents and prepare the proper estate plan for your individual needs.


Learning Your Family History

I am sure you’ve heard the saying “it’s a small world” at some point in your life. About 3 years ago, I learned just how small the world really was and how important it is to know your family history. My best friend’s mom passed away, and I attended the memorial service and met one of her co-workers, Mary. We had an instant connection and became fast friends. So, 3 months ago I received a text message from my Mary asking if my grandfather had a sister named Viola who had lived in Mississippi. To my surprise, she was correct!

Mary and I had been friends and had no idea we were related. When I joined Facebook, I used my married name and recently decided to add my maiden name to my Facebook profile. After a short conversation, I learned that Mary was in fact the granddaughter of my paternal grandfather’s oldest sister. This year instead of one family reunion, I will be attending two, with plans to share all I know about my family’s history. The friendship between Mary and I encouraged me to learn more about my father’s side of the family and my family tree. Learning your family history can be a wonderful journey into history. There are many research websites to locate public records, like www.usa.gov and membership-based websites such as www.ancestry.com. These websites can help you build family trees and upload photos so that this information can be passed on to generation after generation for years to come.

I hope my story encourages you to share at family gatherings this summer all the knowledge you have about your family’s history. Even if you feel the information you have to share could be redundant, share it anyway. Someone may learn something about you or members of your family that they never knew. For more ideas to make learning and sharing family history fun, visit sites like www.Pinterest.com, or www.Ask.com. Both sites offer a wide variety of ways to learn and share your memories.


Understanding Your Explanation of Benefits (EOB)

For the past few years since moving from Virginia to Columbus, my father has allowed me to take over paying his bills. Each month, along with his checkbook, he hands over the EOBs he has received that month from his insurance company, with payment amount circled with his red ink pen, which he believe he owes. Every month I explain that just as printed on the top of each statement, it is not a bill, but that it is an Explanation of Benefits. One day I thought I should ask what he had done with the EOBs he received while living in Virginia. He said “I’ve paid them.” I had him show me how he had determined what to pay, and quickly learned he had been giving money away, paying the amount of the bill before his two insurance companies had paid their portion.   After a few inquiries, it was apparent that he just needed to move forward and there was no way to recover the money he had paid out already, especially since it had been a couple of years.

Have you ever considered paying the amount listed on your EOB?   Do you have friends who have or who consider it? I hope the information below will help you and those close to you when you receive your next EOB in the mail. According to most insurance companies that I talked to, here are things you should know. An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is a notification form provided by your insurance company when a healthcare benefit claim is processed on your behalf. The EOB displays the expenses submitted by the provider and shows how each claim is processed.

The EOB has four major sections:

  • Claim Information includes the member and patient name, the member’s group and identification numbers, and the claim number.
  • Summary highlights the financial information – the amount billed, total benefits approved and the amount you may owe the provider.
  • Service Information identifies the health care facility or physicians, dates of service and charges.
  • Coverage Information shows what was paid to whom, what discounts and deductions apply, and what part of the total expense was not covered.

The EOB may also include additional information:

  • Information About Amounts Not Covered will show what benefits limitations or exclusions apply.
  • Information about Out-Of-Pocket Expenses will show an amount when a claim applies toward your deductible or counts toward your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Information about Appeals explains your rights regarding review or claim denials.
  • Fraud Hotline is a toll-free number you can call if you think you are being charged for services you did not receive or if you suspect fraudulent activity.

Your EOBs are always available, and if you would rather contact your insurance company by phone, you will find their 800-number listed on the back of your insurance card. Remember — don’t reach for your checkbook until you are sure of the exact amount of your out-of-pocket cost.


National Nursing Home Week

Join Methodist ElderCare as we celebrate National Nursing Home week.  What is National Nursing Home week?  National Nursing Home week began in 1967 and was incorporated into the celebration of Older Americans Month established in 1963 when only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays.  At that point about a third of older Americans lived in poverty, and there were few programs to meet their needs.

Each year there is a theme for National Nursing Home Week, and this year’s theme is “Bring on the Fiesta.”  During this week the spotlight is on nursing home residents and staff.  Everyone is encouraged to celebrate the elders who make a positive difference in the lives of others.  The week also provides an opportunity to highlight and honor those who contribute to our nation’s nursing homes — residents, family members, employees and volunteers.

Methodist ElderCare Services is celebrating all month long with activities at Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge Retirement Communities. There will be activities such as gardening, music, dance and art classes. The month will end with a Memorial Day Picnic.

Wesley Ridge is also hosting “A Splash of Style Family Fashion Show” this week on Saturday, May 16th.

How will you celebrate that special senior in your life?

For more information on activities at Wesley Ridge or Wesley Glen, visit the events calendar at www.wesleyglen.com or www.wesleyridge.com. You can also check with your activities representative for a complete list of events for this week.