Common myths of hospice debunked

Five things you may think about hospice that aren’t true

By Jacob Edward for Next Avenue


In the past 40 years, attitudes towards death and dying in America and much of the rest of the world have slowly changed. The hospice movement has grown considerably and now constitutes its own segment of the health care system. Prior to hospice, people often died alone, in institutional settings like hospitals.

While some people still pass away without their loved ones around them, many are choosing to receive palliative care at home as a way to make the end of their lives as comfortable and rewarding as possible. But there are still many common misconceptions about hospice. Nobody likes to dwell on the subject of death, so people are naturally reluctant to study what hospice care is until they are in need of hospice services.

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A smart way to curb senior loneliness

In this program, old and young people connect with one another

By Rachel Adelson for Next Avenue


“Take two friendships and call me in the morning.”

That’s what Dr. Paul Tang, an internist and national expert on health care quality, would like to tell aging patients. He, and other doctors like him, view social engagement as a treatment for a very modern ill: loneliness.

Tang divides his time between Washington, D.C. (where he influences health care policy) and the David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation (he’s the director). Tang has developed a cross-generational program meant to get people of all ages helping and connecting with one another. Called linkAges, the centerpiece of the program is a community-based service exchange in the form of a volunteer time bank. The service is being tested in California, with hopes that it’ll soon expand elsewhere.

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How to craft your memoir

Be sure to include experiences and feelings that make your life story meaningful

By Bart Astor for Next Avenue


When I overheard my father reminiscing with his old Army buddy about how desperate they felt as kids having to do menial tasks to earn money that would help their families — even plucking chickens — I realized I hadn’t heard much about his emotional life growing up.

In fact, other than the few stories he told about his two brothers, he didn’t talk about his childhood. Over the years, I managed to collect facts and figures— where his mother and father were born, important dates and some highlights of his life. But I knew little of his family’s financial struggles during the Great Depression and almost nothing about his older brother’s death.

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Lighten up your favorite recipes of yesteryear

You don’t have to give up all the flavor if you use a “sliding scale of decadence”

By Joanna Pruess for Next Avenue


Do you long to eat favorite foods from your youth without a side order of guilt? With creative tweaking, chocolaty brownies, creamy scalloped potatoes, hearty meatloaf, green bean-mushroom casserole with fried onions and other comfort foods can return from the list of no-nos. The key is determining which diet-wrecking ingredients you’re willing to compromise on and how much you’re willing to cut back on them. But the choices aren’t black or white: I think of them as existing on a sliding scale of decadence.

Leaving a little indulgence in foods helps us to eat better because we end up feeling more satisfied. Think about it: If your revisions are super-healthy but tasteless, you’ll probably do something at least twice as unhealthy later, like diving into a bag of chips or having a date with Ben & Jerry.

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What to know about money and work by 50, 60, 70

Master these skills for your finances and career when turning each age

By Liza Kaufman Hogan for Next Avenue


Staying on track with your finances and career requires checking in every so often to be sure you’re meeting your goals and anticipating your needs at each life stage. Although you may have been saving for retirement and enjoying success at work for years, there are still some things to learn. You may have gaps in expertise you’d like to fill or may be ready to plunge into a new career.

Whatever your goals, here’s a checklist of basic money and career management knowledge it’s good to have by age 50, 60 and 70:

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Why your relationship needs forgiveness

Even for serious wrongs like infidelity, hanging on to anger hurts you, too

By Barb DePree, M.D. for Next Avenue


By the time we reach midlife, we’ve experienced all kinds of things in our relationships, some good, some bad. It’s great to think back on the positive experiences once in a while, maybe even re-live them from time to time.

For the negative experiences, that’s not such a good idea.

And the more serious the situation, the harder it is to not think about it. Maybe you’ve had to deal with an infidelity or some other kind of betrayal by your partner. If so, its lingering effects may very well be interfering with your ability to fully embrace your partner in a healthy — and even in a literal — way.

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Your pet and your estate: No joke

If your pet isn’t in your estate plans, it’s time to remedy that

By Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue


Maybe you heard that Joan Rivers left a portion of her $150 million fortune to her four rescue pups, who are now living with her longtime assistant. Or that Lauren Bacall’s will said her dog, Sophie, would inherit $10,000 of her $26.6 million estate.

You might have even laughed when you heard the news.

But anyone who owns a pet or ever has understands exactly what Rivers and Bacall were doing — ensuring that their loved ones would be cared for after they were gone. As Rivers told The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman in early September: “I’ve left money so the dogs can be taken care of.” (In my own family, the loss of our beloved miniature schnauzer, Chance, a few years ago, was one of the saddest days of our lives.)

If you’re a pet owner, you should follow the lead of Rivers and Bacall, no matter how big your estate will be.

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Summer Chapel Tuesday mornings in August

shutterstock_352728503While the men’s and women’s Bible studies take a break for the summer, the spiritual life committee has arranged special Tuesday morning summer sessions with speakers from near and far.

Summer Chapel sessions are open to the public, so invite a friend and hear about what God is doing all over the world. Sessions are in the chapel from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.each Tuesday morning through Aug. 30.

The schedule is: Aug. 2 — Drs. Keith & Jeannette Shubert, professors in the seminary in Singapore and mentors of cross-cultural students.

Aug. 9 — Dr. Roy Beacham, chairman of the Old Testament department at the Central Theological Seminary in Minneapolis. He teaches Aramaic, Hebrew and many other courses and is also a chaplain for the police department in Plymouth, MN.

Aug 16 — Dr. Lynn McBride, director for prison ministries for county jails and area correctional facilities, manages 160 volunteers in prison ministry.

Aug. 23 — Dave and Eileen Barkman, missionaries with SEND Mission in Japan working in the area hit by the tsunami.

Aug. 30 — Andy and Lisa Entz, missionaries with World Impact Mission, working in Wichita to train men and women in the inner-city to reach their neighbors for Christ.

School brings Dana Johnson rich memories

NPM-DanaJohnson-June2016-2It’s the time of year when students get shiny new supplies and are secretly relieved that summer is coming to a close. It’s back to school season, and for teachers like Dana Johnson, it’s one of the happiest times of year.

Dana taught art for 35 years, retiring in 1986. Recently, he was moved to write a poem, not about going back to school, but about the end of the school year and the melancholy it evokes in an instructor who truly loves his work.

“The hallways and galleries are lifeless echo chambers,” it begins. He had just written it when he saw our request for back-to-school reminiscences for the August issue of Community Matters.

Teaching art is more personal than teaching other subjects, Dana said. Instead of big lecture halls, there are usually just a handful of students in a studio with a teacher.

“When you’re working one-on-one with students, you get to know them. You develop a rapport,” he said. “In a way, it’s why I wrote that poem. At the end of school, when they all leave, you’re losing a bunch of kids that you’ve established certain bond with. You miss them at first, but of course you know they’re anxious to get back home.”

Dana started teaching at a small school in northeastern Missouri. Next, he served as a graduate instructor in the department of design at the University of Kansas, then moved on to what is now Southeast Missouri State. Finally, he moved to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where he spent the lion’s share of his career — 20 years.

Today he still sketches a little, but writing has taken over as his main creative pursuit. Dana blocks out time every day to work on short stories. It’s how he keeps his mind nimble, he said — along with the occasional poem. Here is the one he shared with us, calling it “a college instructor’s perspective from 55 years ago.”

The hallways and galleries are lifeless echo chambers,

shrouded in a ghost-laden mist of silence

that eddies around the disorder of studio easels,

tables and chairs where they were left;

three unclaimed pieces of arthang desolately on the unlit display wall,

faint residuals of the chatter,

the easy laughter, the beautiful facesand random energies of youthful moments.

With them gone I have a queer feeling

of no longer being what I was.

— by Dana Johnso

4 myths about brain health and how to stay sharp

What your doctor may not know, but you should

By Leslie Kernisan, MD for Next Avenue

BrainHealth - web

Credit: Thinkstock

Want to stay mentally sharp for as long as possible?

I certainly do, and I’m guessing you do, too: an AARP survey found that 87 percent of respondents reported being very concerned about this issue.

And in April, a highly influential nonprofit released a new report whose recommendations represent the best available medical knowledge on how our brains change as we age and what we can do about this.

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