In the realm of End of Life and Hospice care, Barbara Karnes stands out as a true luminary. Widely recognized as one of the rockstars in this field, she has left an indelible mark with her seminal work, "Gone From My Sight," affectionately known as "the little blue book." For countless individuals, awareness of this poignant guide often dawns when a loved one enters hospice care. Remarkably, according to bkbooks.com, this influential book has reached a staggering 35 million copies sold since its inception in 1985.
Yet, Barbara Karnes is more than just the author of "Gone From My Sight." Her literary contributions extend to a diverse array of topics surrounding end-of-life experiences. Among her notable works are titles such as "The Eleventh Hour: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes Before Death," "You Need Care Too: Self Care for the Professional Caregiver," "A Time to Live: Living with A Life-Threatening Illness," and "Pain at End of Life: What You Need to Know About End of Life Comfort and Pain Management."
What sets Barbara Karnes' body of work apart is not only its profound impact but also its accessibility. Her books, typically ranging from 15 to 22 pages, are concise yet comprehensive, making them easily digestible in just a half hour or less. The information is presented in an effortlessly readable format, transforming her publications into invaluable reference materials. They are portable companions, ready to be pulled out whenever needed, providing a wealth of insights at one's fingertips.
In addition to the wealth of books available for purchase, Barbara Karnes's website also hosts an informative blog. This online resource serves as an extension of her commitment to disseminating knowledge, offering additional insights and perspectives on various end-of-life subjects. Whether through her compact yet impactful books or the insightful blog posts on her website, Barbara Karnes continues to be a beacon of guidance and support in navigating the complexities of hospice and end-of-life care.
On today's segment of "Know Your Funeral Options," I would like to discuss cremation, a rapidly growing choice in end-of-life arrangements. According to the Cremation Association of North America, in 2022, 59% of Americans opted for cremation. There are two primary types of cremation: Direct Cremation and Cremation Memorial.
Direct Cremation involves the cremation of an individual without a viewing. The person is picked up, cremated, and their ashes are then returned to the family. Subsequently, the family may or may not choose to hold a service or ceremony. On the other hand, Cremation Memorial follows the standard American funeral procedure, including dressing, viewing, placing in a coffin, and then cremation with the ashes returned to the family. Like any option, there are both advantages and disadvantages.
The first advantage is cost. According to Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, the average cost for Direct Cremation in the Detroit, MI area is $987, with a price range of $655-$2000. Cremation Memorial costs an average of $2,092, with a price range of $1,300-$2,500. This is significantly more affordable than Traditional Burial, which averages $4,700 in the Detroit area but can escalate to $9,000. For more information on Burial, refer to the earlier post in the series on Traditional Burial.
Another pro is the environmental impact. While not as environmentally friendly as water cremation or human composting, cremation is still more eco-friendly than Traditional Burial. Traditional Burial is associated with groundwater pollution and requires substantial resources like concrete and wood for coffins, all of which are buried. Cremation uses fewer resources, and Direct Cremation can be done without the need for embalming, reducing the use of harmful chemicals.
Despite the numerous pros of cremation, there are a few cons. The first is that cremation is not approved by all religions. Some religions, such as Jewish and Islamic faiths, prohibit cremation. As the rates of cremation rise, it is crucial to discuss this option with the family and ensure it aligns with their beliefs.
Another con is the cost associated with handling the ashes. While cremation itself may be affordable, options like turning ashes into a coral reef or a diamond can be quite expensive, often costing tens of thousands of dollars. Traveling with ashes on airplanes requires paperwork, and international travel demands even more documentation, with the added risk of damage to the urn during security checks.
In conclusion, cremation is a popular choice among many Americans, offering both advantages and disadvantages. It stands out as a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. However, cons include the expenses related to handling ashes and the necessary travel paperwork, along with the potential to offend certain religious beliefs. Despite these drawbacks, cremation remains a viable and practical option for many people.
Welcome to our new series of our blog posts, titled "Getting to Know Your Healthcare Provider." Throughout this insightful journey, we will delve into the various members comprising your healthcare team. A well-rounded healthcare team is a symphony of professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), social workers, administrative staff, and end-of-life doulas. Together, they form a cohesive unit dedicated to meeting both your physical and mental healthcare needs.
This diverse ensemble collaborates seamlessly, drawing upon their unique expertise to provide comprehensive care tailored to individual requirements. Doctors, the linchpins of the team, bring their medical knowledge and diagnostic skills to the forefront. Nurses, with their compassionate care and specialized training, ensure the smooth execution of treatment plans. Pharmacists play a crucial role in medication management, guaranteeing the safety and efficacy of prescribed drugs.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) contribute invaluable hands-on support, attending to patients' daily needs and offering essential assistance. Social workers bring a holistic perspective to healthcare, addressing social determinants that may impact well-being and assisting with emotional support. The administrative staff plays a pivotal role in maintaining the efficiency of healthcare operations, from appointment scheduling to handling paperwork.
In this collaborative effort, end-of-life doulas emerge as compassionate guides, providing emotional support and practical assistance during a delicate phase of life. Together, this dedicated team endeavors to create a patient-centric approach, ensuring that every aspect of your healthcare journey is thoughtfully considered.
Through this blog series, we aim to shed light on the individuals behind the white coats and scrubs, showcasing their roles and contributions. Understanding the dynamics of your healthcare team empowers you to actively participate in your own well-being, fostering a sense of partnership with those committed to your health. Stay tuned as we embark on this illuminating exploration of the integral players in your healthcare journey.
As individuals age and find themselves in need of increased care, Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI) emerges as a viable option for consideration. This insurance type is specifically crafted to provide financial assistance to those requiring prolonged support with activities of daily living or managing chronic illnesses. Like many aspects of life, there are both advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully weighed before making a decision.
A primary advantage of LTCI is the financial security it affords. Long-term care expenses can be substantial, and without insurance, loved ones might rapidly deplete their savings. LTCI serves as a safety net, covering costs associated with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home care.
Choice and Control:
LTCI policies often grant individuals the flexibility to decide where and how they receive care. This freedom in choosing the type of care and setting—whether at home or in a facility—empowers individuals to maintain a level of control over their lives.
Relief for Family Members:
Long-term care can impose significant emotional and financial burdens on family members. LTCI can alleviate this burden by covering caregiving costs, enabling family members to focus on providing emotional support rather than bearing the entire financial responsibility.
Cost of Premiums:
A major drawback of LTCI is the expense of premiums, which can be substantial and, for some individuals, financially burdensome. The gender factor also plays a role, with women often paying double the premiums compared to men due to longer life expectancy and higher likelihood of utilizing the insurance. Balancing the need for coverage with premium affordability is a crucial consideration in assessing the feasibility of LTCI.
LTCI premiums are not guaranteed and may increase over time. This unpredictability can pose challenges for policyholders who may find it difficult to budget for future premium hikes. Some individuals may be compelled to discontinue their coverage if they cannot cope with rising costs.
LTCI policies frequently come with limitations on coverage, including waiting periods before benefits take effect and maximum benefit amounts. Understanding the policy's terms and conditions is vital to ensure that the coverage aligns with individual needs and expectations.
The long-term care insurance industry has undergone substantial changes in recent years, with some companies exiting the market or modifying their offerings. This dynamic landscape introduces an element of uncertainty for individuals contemplating LTCI, making it challenging to predict the stability and reliability of a chosen provider over the long term.
Long-Term Care Insurance is a tool that demands careful consideration of individual circumstances and preferences. While it offers financial security and peace of mind, the cost of premiums and the potential for rate increases present challenges. Understanding the policy details and staying informed about the evolving landscape of the LTCI industry are essential steps for individuals navigating this important decision. Ultimately, LTCI can be a valuable tool in planning for the uncertainties of the future, but informed decision-making is key to maximizing its benefits.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, marking a time when families come together amidst a blend of stress and joy. While the prospect of gathering with loved ones is delightful, the accompanying travel-related stressors can be daunting. Amidst the shared laughter and warm embraces, there lies an opportunity for meaningful conversations. End-of-life planning, though a topic often brushed aside, becomes increasingly crucial as we age. It entails tasks like completing an Advance Directive, establishing a Will, and discussing funeral arrangements.
Approaching your parents about life planning demands sensitivity and empathy. Put yourself in their shoes; broaching the subject reminds them of their mortality, a deeply unsettling notion. The natural inclination might be to evade the discussion, responding with dismissive remarks like, “We don't need to worry about that just yet.” A thoughtful reply could be, "I understand, but it's essential to be prepared. Have you considered setting up an Advance Directive just in case?" Their response may vary; they might agree, decline, or deflect to a different topic. If the conversation shifts, don't be discouraged. Talking to your parents about end-of-life planning often necessitates multiple discussions spread over months or even years.
Following the initial conversation, give them time to process before revisiting the topic. If you broached the subject during Thanksgiving, consider waiting until the New Year. This interval allows your parents the space to reflect. Concurrently, use this time to work on your own end-of-life planning. Offer assistance in filling out their Advance Directive if they haven't already. If you're scheduling a meeting with a lawyer to establish your Will, propose doing the same for them. Taking the initiative in your own planning can alleviate their anxieties.
While contemplating end-of-life matters may be disconcerting, it is undeniably vital. Life's uncertainties can catch us off guard, making it essential to preemptively answer questions like, "What choices would Mom prefer in this scenario? Should she be kept on life support?" End-of-life planning provides a sense of solace and can mitigate the difficulties of an unexpected emergency or tragic day. This Thanksgiving, amidst the festivities, take a moment to engage in this crucial conversation with your parents. It might be a daunting task, but the peace of mind it provides is invaluable.
November 2nd is All Souls Day, a day observed by certain Christian denominations to commemorate the departed. This occasion provides an opportunity to cherish the memory of those who have passed away through visits to their graves, the lighting of candles, and even by preparing their favorite meals. All Souls Day addresses one of the 6 Needs of Mourning, as conceptualized by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. While the process of grieving is unique to each individual, most people undertake six distinct tasks during their mourning period.
These needs serve as guiding principles, offering a framework for navigating the turbulent waters of grief. The progression through the 6 Needs of Mourning is not necessarily linear; you may address them in any order and revisit them as needed.
Acknowledging the Reality of the Death
The first step in the mourning process is acknowledging the reality of the loss. It involves coming to terms with the fact that the person is no longer physically present. Often, this need is met through rituals like funerals or memorial services, providing a communal space for individuals to confront the reality of death. Acknowledgment paves the way for acceptance, allowing mourners to gradually accept the truth and start their healing journey.
Embracing the Pain of the Loss
Grief is often accompanied by intense emotional pain, a natural response to the absence of a significant person in one's life. Embracing this pain rather than suppressing it is crucial for healing. It signifies an understanding that mourning is not a sign of weakness but an expression of love and connection. By allowing themselves to experience and express their pain, individuals can begin to untangle their emotions, fostering a sense of catharsis and renewal.
Remembering the Person Who Died
Remembering the person who has passed away is an essential need in the mourning process. Memories, stories, and shared experiences serve as bridges between the past and the present, enabling individuals to keep the essence of their loved one alive. Celebrating the life that was lived, acknowledging their impact, and cherishing the legacies they left behind provide comfort and ensure that their presence is felt even in their absence.
Developing a New Self-Identity
Loss can fundamentally alter one's identity, leading to a search for meaning and purpose in the aftermath. Embracing this transformation is vital. It involves integrating the experience of grief into one's self-identity, acknowledging the changes it brings and finding a renewed sense of self. This process of self-discovery allows mourners to redefine their lives, incorporating the lessons learned from their loss into their personal narratives.
Searching for Meaning
Grief often prompts profound existential questions, challenging individuals to find meaning in the face of tragedy. The search for meaning is a deeply spiritual need, guiding individuals to explore the larger questions of life, death, and the human experience. This introspective journey can lead to a greater understanding of one's purpose and values, offering a sense of direction and peace amidst the turmoil of grief.
Receiving Ongoing Support from Others
Lastly, mourning is not a solitary journey but a collective experience. Seeking and receiving support from others—whether it's friends, family, support groups, or mental health professionals—is indispensable. The presence of a supportive community provides a safe space for individuals to express their feelings, share their stories, and find comfort in the company of those who understand their pain. This sense of belonging reinforces the idea that no one has to navigate the difficult path of grief alone.
Alan D. Wolfelt's Six Needs of Mourning offers a roadmap for healing in the face of loss. These needs, from acknowledging the reality of the death to receiving ongoing support from others, offer a holistic approach to mourning. By embracing these needs, individuals can traverse the challenging terrain of grief with resilience and grace, emerging from the experience transformed and with a deeper understanding of life's intricate tapestry. Through these needs, mourning transcends sorrow, becoming a poignant yet beautiful tribute to the enduring power of love and connection.
Welcome to the latest installment of our series, "Understanding Your Funeral Options." Today, we delve into Traditional Burial, also known as Conventional Burial, a practice familiar to many across the United States. While specifics can vary based on cultural backgrounds, this option involves several key steps.
1. Selecting a Funeral Home: The initial step in planning a traditional funeral is choosing a funeral home. If you're having trouble finding one, your hospice or local hospitals may offer recommendations. Funeral homes vary in services and pricing, so it's advisable to research online or call for more information.
2. Deciding the Type of Funeral: Traditional funerals come in diverse styles, shaped by cultural, religious, and personal preferences. Determine if you prefer a religious ceremony, a secular service, or a blend of both. Always consider the wishes of the deceased and the expectations of the family.
3. Arranging the Viewing or Wake: Many traditional funerals incorporate a viewing or wake, allowing friends and family to pay their respects. Choose the date, time, and location for this event, coordinating with the funeral home for necessary arrangements.
4. Choosing the Burial Plot: Select a burial plot in a cemetery and choose a casket. Funeral homes can offer recommendations for both. Coordinate with the cemetery for the burial arrangements.
5. Planning the Funeral Service: Collaborate with the funeral director to plan the service details, such as music, readings, and eulogies. If a religious service is involved, coordinate with clergy or officiants. Decide on any cultural or traditional elements to include.
6. Notifying Friends and Family: Inform friends and family about the funeral details, including date, time, and location. Consider creating an obituary or memorial announcement for newspapers or online platforms.
7. Organizing Transportation: Arrange transportation for the deceased and mourners to and from the funeral service and burial site. Ensure all logistical details are in place.
8. Selecting Flowers and Decorations: Choose flowers and decorations for the funeral service and burial site, considering the deceased's favorite flowers or colors.
9. Planning the Reception: Following the funeral, many families host a reception or gathering for attendees. Decide on the venue, catering, and any special elements like a slideshow or memory table.
While Traditional Burial offers meaningful opportunities to bid farewell, it's crucial to acknowledge its cost. This type of funeral can exceed $10,000, with most starting points at around $3,500. Establishing a budget and collaborating closely with the funeral director can help manage expenses.
In conclusion, planning a traditional funeral demands careful consideration of the deceased's wishes, family traditions, and cultural or religious customs. It's a time to honor and remember a loved one, finding closure in the presence of friends and family. By following these steps and working closely with a reputable funeral home, you can ensure that the funeral is a meaningful and respectful tribute to your loved one's life.
Cleaning can be quite a challenge, especially when you're also responsible for the care of a sick or elderly loved one, and it can quickly become overwhelming. "Unfuck Your Habitat" by Rachel Hoffman takes a refreshingly different approach to cleaning compared to most self-help books. Hoffman provides a no-nonsense, relatable, and highly practical approach to decluttering and maintaining a clean living space.
Hoffman's book steers clear of the unrealistic expectations often associated with traditional cleaning advice. Instead, it meets you where you are, recognizing that life can be messy, and not everyone has hours to spare for cleaning and organizing. The main takeaway here is that small, manageable steps can lead to significant improvements, and this book serves as a roadmap to get you there. One of the book's standout features is its emphasis on mindfulness and self-compassion. Hoffman acknowledges that achieving a cleaner home isn't solely about scrubbing floors and folding laundry; it's also about understanding the emotional and mental aspects of clutter and chaos. By addressing the underlying issues that contribute to a messy home, readers can make lasting changes. Hoffman's insights into the emotional baggage tied to clutter are both eye-opening and reassuring.
"Unfuck Your Habitat" is brimming with practical tips and tricks that anyone can put into action. The 20/10 method (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break) is a game-changer for those who find tidying up daunting. The book also offers guidance on creating cleaning routines tailored to your schedule and lifestyle, making it adaptable for people with busy lives. One of the book's strengths is its inclusivity. Hoffman is sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities, mental health challenges, and hectic schedules. Her advice is accessible to everyone, and she emphasizes that it's perfectly okay to seek help when needed. This inclusivity fosters a sense of community and support among readers, making the journey to a cleaner home feel less intimidating.
In summary, "Unfuck Your Habitat" is a must-read for anyone seeking to declutter their lives and establish a more organized, tranquil living space. Rachel Hoffman's practical advice, coupled with her empathetic approach, makes this book a standout in the self-help genre. It's an empowering and uplifting guide that will leave you feeling motivated and equipped to tackle even the messiest of spaces, one step at a time.
"Please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others" is a familiar phrase during the safety briefing on airplanes. This advice extends beyond air travel and is universally useful. Caring for an ailing or elderly loved one can be both rewarding and demanding. If you find yourself in the challenging position of the "sandwich generation," responsible for the care of both children and elderly parents, the stress can escalate. Add in the demands of working, childcare, and household management, it can quickly lead to a state known as caregiver fatigue or burnout.
Caregiver fatigue manifests as physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion resulting from the constant care of another person. Common symptoms include:
The first step is acknowledging that you are struggling. Once you recognize this, take the time to identify the areas where you require assistance. This will let you tap into available local resources. Consider options such as home health care services to aid with day-to-day tasks, utilizing adult day care centers, or arranging for respite care. There are numerous resources ready to provide support. If you need assistance in discovering these resources, consult your healthcare provider or reach out to a local end-of-life doula for guidance.
Next, try to allocate at least an hour each day for self-care. This can be as simple as taking a leisurely walk or indulging in an episode of your favorite TV show. Engage in activities that bring you joy and allow you to temporarily shed the role of caregiver. Given that caregiving can be emotionally taxing, seeking the guidance of a therapist can prove indispensable. A therapist can help you navigate your feelings and equip you with additional coping mechanisms for your emotional well-being.
Additionally, remember to prioritize your physical health by ensuring you get adequate sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and limiting the use of drugs and alcohol. If eating a healthy, nutritious diet proves challenging, consider meal prepping, a convenient solution. Numerous websites offer guidance on meal prepping, and services like Amazon Prime and Misfit Market can deliver groceries to your doorstep. For exercise, even a short 20-minute walk a few times a week can significantly benefit your well-being. It provides an opportunity to step outside, breathe fresh air, and can be enjoyed solo or with a friend for some much-needed social interaction.
In summary, You can’t help others if you don't take care of yourself. While caregiving is important, safeguarding your own well-being is critical to provide the best care for your loved ones. Seek help and support when necessary, and remember, it's perfectly okay to prioritize your self-care.
When it comes to end-of-life options for your body, you are presented with several choices for your funeral arrangements. Traditional methods like burial and cremation remain prevalent, yet there are also lesser-known alternatives worth considering. This marks the first entry in the "Understanding Your Funeral Options" series. Today's article will delve into Water Cremation.
Water cremation, recognized by terms such as alkaline hydrolysis or flameless cremation, constitutes a distinctive approach to cremating remains. It employs a blend of alkaline, water, heat, and pressure to effectuate the cremation process. The outcome encompasses ashes akin to those emanating from conventional cremations and a pH-neutral liquid known as effluent. The ashes are returned to loved ones, while the effluent can be safely disposed of alongside other wastewater.
Why might one opt for water cremation? A foremost rationale revolves around the environmental advantages it offers compared to traditional flame-based cremation. In the latter, fossil fuel-derived natural gas fuels the combustion. Emissions stemming from this process, including elevated levels of carbon dioxide—a potent greenhouse gas—are released. The emissions also encompass mercury, sourced from individuals' dental fillings, along with carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. This pollutes the surroundings and contributes to air contamination. According to the Cremation Association of North America, a conventional cremation consumes roughly as much energy as a 310-mile car journey and produces approximately 534 pounds of carbon dioxide.
In contrast, water cremation demands only a fraction of the energy required by its conventional counterpart. Furthermore, it employs electricity instead of natural gas, thereby eliminating greenhouse gas emissions during the cremation. The liquid byproduct of this process can also serve as an environmentally-friendly fertilizer for gardens or local forests. Notably, water cremation excels at breaking down hazardous substances such as chemotherapy drugs and embalming fluids.
A drawback of Water Cremation lies in its unavailability within Michigan. While viable for pets, no funeral homes or crematoriums in the state provide Water Cremation services for humans. Opting for Water Cremation entails transporting the body out of state, thereby incurring additional costs, time, and necessitating advanced planning. Although numerous funeral homes and crematoriums express interest in offering Water Cremation, their decision hinges on the level of demand. Therefore, if you have an interest in this method, start a discussion with your local funeral home.