The quiet blessing of grief that never ends

This writer finds beauty in the pain she feels over the loss of her sister

By Jill Smolowe for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

In the almost seven years since I laid my husband to rest, followed barely a year later by the loss of my sister and mother, I’ve developed an appreciation for just how unpredictable and, well, amazing grief can be.

I’m not talking about the period of hollowing when the shock and fog of loss clouds every thought and informs every waking (and perhaps sleeping) moment. No, I’m talking about the grief that comes after that. After the deceased loved one’s absence is no longer a constant presence. After the acute ache subsides and then, unthinkably, stills. After life moves forward, opening new melancholy-free vistas that trace no connection to the departed.

The grief I’m referring to lays claim to no stage and holds no hope of being put behind. Even on the happiest days, it lies patiently in wait for some quirk of logic to unleash it. A scent. A song. A glimpse of an almost-familiar face. Suddenly — whap! — you’re puddled in a heap, sobbing and thinking, WhatTheWhatThe.

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The 5 exercises you should do every day

Improve your range of motion and balance in less than 10 minutes

By Rashelle Brown for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Balance and mobility training can benefit us at any age, but it becomes more important as you reach and pass the age of 50.

Maintaining joint range of motion allows you to move naturally and helps to combat the postural problems that cause neck, back, shoulder and hip pain.

Far from only preventing stumbles and falls, balance training is extremely important for everyone because it makes us better at every physical thing we do. Having a keen sense of proprioception (the sense of where your body is in space) makes all movement more efficient. When combined with fluid joints that allow for a full range of motion, this puts you at your functional best.

Here’s a short sequence of five exercises you can do every day to improve and maintain your balance and mobility. Done in a slow, controlled fashion, you can finish the whole workout in under 10 minutes:

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Finding love in a senior living community

Add romance to what single older adults look for when seeking housing

By Kimberley Fowler for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

There are many reasons older adults move into a senior living community, but is looking for love one of them?

Burdett Stilwell has been working with older adults for many years and, and as sales and marketing director of Somerby of Mobile,  she has had the pleasure of developing friendships with the many residents of this Somerby Senior Living home in Alabama. She’s up-to-date on who is dating whom. When it comes to relationships, Stilwell says, the Somerby people she knows fall into two categories: those who are interested and those who have “been there, done that.”

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Communication key to loved one’s comfort

shutterstock_416295511By Shawntelle Shute, MA, CCC/SLP

Executor of the will… round and round and round….check.

You get the picture. As mom and dad start to age, we try to make sure they get everything needed done while they are still able to make their own decisions, because we, as their grown children, so badly want to give our parents what they want.

Skip ahead…days, months, years. We never know how long it will be, if ever, that mom and/or dad will start to have what is often deemed as “behaviors.”

We get that dreaded phone call from the senior living community, “Mr. Smith, your dad is not letting us give him a bath. He screams at us and tries to hit us. The other residents will not tolerate a resident stinking. We are going to have to figure out some way to get him to agree to a bath or shower.”

We think about all of the things we might need to do as out parent’s age, but one of the things that often isn’t pointed out to us, is what is to follow. Think of the statement “He’s just set in his ways.” Why, yes he is. And so are you! I ask you to think for a moment about how you take a shower. This is a total secret! No one really knows what we individually do in the shower. Do you wash your hair first? Do you wash your body with a wash cloth or sponge? Do you only shave on Friday?

Think about how secretive this is. And then when we start to age and lose the ability to tell someone how we want something done, we get very frustrated when it isn’t done in the same manner that we have always done it! It is like waking up on the wrong side of the bed, putting your shirt on inside out and wearing two different shoes on a day that you have a huge meeting and no time to do back home to change!

Think about how you take your shower. Think about how “off” you get if you do something out of sequence. Think about how it might throw you off and make you want to swing at the person who is washing your face with the same wash cloth that your feet were just washed with. In your mind you are “furious!” All you can think is “FIRST FACE, THEN FEET!”

Maybe have a conversation with your spouse about how he or she takes a shower. Compare how differently you two do things.

There are so many more things that are part of being “set in our ways” than having to sit in the same chair and watch the same news in the same slippers every night a 6 p.m.

Have a conversation with your family member before he or she gets to the point that communication is no longer effective. Find out what order they take a shower in, what order do they get dressed in, how do they like their cereal, and so many more. Make it fun, and you’ll be better prepared when the time comes to make sure your loved one is cared for the way they want.

Shawntelle is a dementia specialist who is currently contracting with Presbyterian Manor in Clay Center and Salina, KS. Shawntelle does training sessions is many areas for family and staff.

Don’t ignore these facts about sunscreen

5 ways to apply it right and help avoid skin cancer

By Sheryl Kraft for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

The sun’s power is undeniable: The largest object in our solar system, it contains approximately 99.9 percent of the total solar system mass. Its interior could hold more than 1.3 million Earths. The sun provides for our very life. But this 4.5 billion-year-old star also has the power to kill.

Melanoma, the most dangerous and potentially lethal form of skin cancer, is caused most often by intense UV rays of the sun, and its rates have been rising for at least 30 years. About 73,870 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the U.S in 2015, and approximately 9,940 people are expected to die, according to the American Cancer Society.

The typical victim? On average, a person is 62 when the cancer appears. The risk of melanoma increases as we age.

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The health benefits of pets for older adults

They reduce blood pressure, help us get exercise and brighten our outlook

By Ronni Gordon for Next Avenue

Caption: Bridget Irving and her Yorkshire Terrier, Ben

When Lynette Whiteman’s youngest child went to college, Whiteman went out and got a second dog that she calls “my empty nest dog.” She wanted someone else to care for, “who loves me non-judgmentally and doesn’t mind if I’m gaining weight or getting gray.”

Whiteman may get home from work tired, but the 60-year-old resident of Toms River, N.J., says the dogs stare at her until she puts their leashes on. She walks them and always feels good afterwards.

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10 ways to turn your finances around in 2017

How advisers say you can do it without a lot of effort

By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

Did you resolve to save more for retirement this year, become debt-free or put cash aside for a bucket-list trip? We’re more than a month into the new year, but there’s still plenty of time to turn your finances around in 2017.

Next Avenue spoke with a few noted money experts for their suggestions. Here are 10 recommendations:

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Gilbert named executive director for Clay Center Presbyterian Manor

C-Gilbert-CCPM-webCLAY CENTER, Kan. — Christian J. Gilbert has been appointed as the new executive director of Clay Center Presbyterian Manor, returning to Kansas after serving as executive director at a Memory Care center in Oregon. His first day is April 10.

“Currently, I oversee daily operations including census development, ensuring profitability, optimizing resident care, adhering to state and federal compliance, and managing positive employee relations,” said Christian. “I look forward to using these abilities in my home state at Clay Center Presbyterian Manor.”

Gilbert has served in a variety of capacities at several senior living communities. He started his career in planning and executing activities for residents before becoming a certified nurse aide. From there, he entered the Administrator-In-Training program in the Overland Park area, and has served as an assistant administrator and administrator for a Colorado-based senior living community system.

“Christian has served in nearly every area of senior living, and brings a broad scope of experience to Clay Center Presbyterian Manor,” said Bill Taylor, chief operating officer, Presbyterian Manors of Mid America. “He’s received several awards for his effective leadership in healthcare, and we look forward to seeing his ideas in action at Clay Center Presbyterian Manor.”

Christian graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelor in History and Minor in Gender Studies, and will graduate with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of Cincinnati in 2018. He’s received several awards during his career, including Commitment to Quality Bronze Award in 2016 from the American Health Care Association, Highest Customer Satisfaction in 2015 from Frontline Management, and Best in Class, 2016 from Pinnacle Quality Insight.

Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, Inc. has 17 senior living communities in Kansas and Missouri. The not-for-profit organization is headquartered in Wichita, Kan.

5 tips for disorganized taxpayers

How experts say you can avoid the mad scramble at tax time

By Rosie Wolf Williams for Next Avenue


Tax season is here and it may be causing you agita. Rifling through drawers for your 2016 tax paperwork; sorting a flood of receipts to qualify for write-offs; printing out assorted bank, brokerage and mutual fund statements and on and on.

Don’t hide under the covers. Instead, follow these five organization strategies from tax advisers to get your taxes together once and for all:

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4 money moves for a happier retirement

Advice from a writer who just combed through the latest retirement surveys

By Bart Astor for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

How do pre-retirees and retirees feel about retirement these days? Glad you asked.

Since this is “National Retirement Planning Week” (dreamed up by 40-odd financial industry and advocacy groups), a passel of retirement surveys have just been released. I’ve read them — so you don’t have to — and here are the highlights and four action steps to take based on the findings.

Interestingly, the results are somewhat contradictory.

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