As featured in North Hawaii News March 11, 2019
This month marks my five-year anniversary of writing this Kupuna Transitions column. I am grateful for the opportunity every month that I get to sit down and share ideas with our Hawaii community about caring for ourselves and the older adults in our lives. Your positive response and comments in the community have encouraged me to continue to create messages that hopefully inspire and support you. I wish I could give each reader a big high five! In reviewing my contributions since March 2014, I noted a few common topics that I’d like to highlight over the next few months.
Communication is the first subject that has come up many times over the past five years. The words we use, and think, can have a powerful effect on those around us. I found that many people use infantizing words around older people like cutie and sweetie. This usually comes out of care and concern, almost a nurturing instinct, yet it may feel condescending or childish to the full-fledged adult they are speaking to.
A great way to utilize communication for good is the ask about the life stories of those older adults in our lives. It helps to validate the whole individual rather than the present tense problems they may be facing, and also opens the door for great advice that can be passed down to the generations following us.
Communication also goes far beyond the actual words that are coming out of our mouths. Irritated tones often break down relationships, and they often come out of burn-out from being responsible for someone else’s well-being 24/7. This leads to the importance of self care in order for the care giver to find resilience amidst the challenges they may face on a daily basis.
There are many tools available to assist us all in finding peace amidst the storms of life. Stepping out and silently appreciating nature is the quickest way to get a shot of perspective. There are also a variety of meditation apps that can bring peaceful sounds or guided meditations to our fingertips and help us breathe through the present moment until we find our emotional balance.
Appreciating what we do have keeps our attention on growth and opportunity and helps limit the amount of time we stay in the dark cloud of misfortune. It is human nature to focus on our shortcomings over our strengths, so we need to be intentional about building ourselves and our situations up. Emphasizing on what we are good at and bringing others into the situation who excel in other areas will likely help create the best case scenario when providing care.
Ultimately, the way we communicate with ourselves and others create our life experience. We make so many small choices every day that we seem to forget that we are in control of the direction of our lives. Believe in your ability to adapt and grow through these experiences and life will be a beautiful mosaic to look back upon.
I personally would like to thank my husband and my father, the two most important men in my life, for supporting me the past five years. My dad sends kind words of appreciation after each article, and my husband helps me to find the exact wording that speaks to my heart when I’m too caught up in the passion to see the light. My 10-year-old daughter has also been an ongoing inspiration, as she is my sunshine, and she says that I am her sky. It doesn’t get much better than that!
As featured in North Hawaii News February 11, 2019
Life presents us with many opportunities to make financial decisions based on emotions, and I’m hoping you’ll consider with me how our money best serves the values we hold dear. It can be used as a demonstration of love, yet can also be used to manipulate love if it becomes a tool for control.
An example of this is the way that inheritance can fracture family relationships, especially when uneven distributions of one’s estate are left behind. On the other hand, if the estate is evenly divided but one sibling provided more physical or financial care of a parent without fair compensation, they could feel frustrated and/or hurt.
When considering a legacy that truly leaves the family in a better position than they had originally been in, we may want to consider other ways to demonstrate love through those funds. Large family adventures or appreciation parties are a lovely way to create memories that keep you vivid in their minds after your departure.
We give much of our lives for the income that serves our basic needs and preferred lifestyles, and spending some of those funds in preparation for future situations is a newer concept for society. The average life expectancy for men born in 1919 was 53. One hundred years later it is almost 80 years old. Due to this shift in the number of years we spend in our bodies, there are evolving expectations of how our income will be utilized.
The above-mentioned desire to leave our loved ones with some sort of monetary gift when we pass away is thoughtful and quite common, particularly for older generations. The ironic thing is, the societal shift has taught us to expect our older loved ones to living longer so many children no longer rely on an impending inheritance. The best way to avoid being a burden to our loved ones is to plan for our financial futures.
I believe a good approach to this preparation is understanding the resources that are out there, as well as the funding sources behind those programs. I would guess that at least one-fourth of the family members who reach out to me, looking for services for their parent, believe that their blue cross/blue shield or Medicare insurances will cover the care. If they had an idea of what out-of-pocket expenses could be expected, creating a step-by-step plan to pay for it would be more beneficial.
We need to take ownership of the precious earnings in our own lives so they can be used as a tool of support for many years to come. Investing in life/long term care insurance and retirement accounts that can grow through the years are wise ways to help our money work for us. A financial advisor can help you plan for the day when you will no longer be heading off to work and, in the meantime, help the compounding effect work in your favor.
Should you be in a situation where someone has prematurely promised you an inheritance, it may be tempting start making plans for that windfall. Chances are, the well-intended money may be needed for care services or other needs. It may be prudent not to mentally spend it until that day actually comes. I’ve seen how the anticipated inheritance spent on the care of an adult loved one creates feelings of resentment that would not have been there if they hadn’t expected it.
Benjamin Franklin said “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” May you lovingly grow your own fruitful financial garden of knowledge and wealth!