Archive for March, 2012
Volunteering and Chronic Conditions
It appears that volunteering may pay special dividends for seniors who have chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Three-fourths of these seniors in the U.S. (75 percent), and even more in Canada (86 percent) say that staying active through volunteering helps them manage these conditions, according to research conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care® network.
Seniors with chronic conditions devote slightly more hours to community service each month when compared with seniors who have no chronic conditions. They are more likely than other seniors to say that their volunteer hours will decrease in the next five years, but they also are more likely to say they plan to continue volunteering “forever”.
The emotional benefits of volunteering are particularly relevant for seniors with chronic conditions. For example, 77 percent of seniors with chronic conditions say an important reason they volunteer is to overcome feeling depressed, compared with 63 percent of seniors without chronic conditions.
Here are some other benefits of volunteering those 65 and older in the U.S. that were reported, according to this research.
- Strengthened Mission—99 percent want to make a difference. Whether it’s passing out
lunches to the homeless or building a home for a family in need, nearly all senior volunteers
want to make a difference.
- Improved Physical Health—98 percent stay active and feel better physically. Recent
research confirms what other studies have revealed: giving back pays special dividends in
increased activity, which often results in improved health.
- Stronger Emotional Foundation—98 percent feel better emotionally. Perhaps it’s the
idea of putting others’ needs before one’s own, but older volunteers almost always feel better
- Renewed Spiritual Purpose—98 percent gain a sense of purpose. Along with a need to
make a difference, senior volunteers overwhelmingly want to gain a sense of purpose.
- Shared wisdom—90 percent want to share their talents, skills and experience. Many
older adults have spent a lifetime in careers or honing domestic and creative skills that
they are more than happy to share with others.
- Refreshed Perspective and Mental Acuity—84 percent want to occupy their free time.
Published studies from the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial showed that senior volunteering
in the classroom helped support certain mental tasks like “executive function” or brain activity
in key areas of the brain.
- Effective Pain Remedy—75 percent with chronic conditions say volunteering helps them
manage these conditions. It appears that giving back could serve as an important stress reliever
and distraction for seniors suffering from various chronic conditions such as arthritis,
diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Invigorated Social Networks—74 percent are able to overcome feeling isolated. There’s
no time when the risk of isolation is as great as the senior years. Volunteering gives many
seniors a reason to walk out the door each morning.
- Better Mental Outlook—70 percent are able to overcome feeling depressed. Depression is
among the biggest challenges faced by older adults who have lost spouses or whose families
have moved away or are too busy for them. Nearly three-fourths in the survey say volunteering
- Long-Lasting Legacies—53 percent say that they learned the importance of volunteering
from their parents’ community service and 84 percent say they have encouraged their children
to give back to their communities.
“Volunteering provides many older adults with a purpose,” said Dr. Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps, who serves as the expert source for the Salute to Senior Service℠ volunteer recognition program. “That purpose can help sustain a healthier lifestyle that includes increased physical, mental and social activity,” he added.
“There is a sense of well-being that you get from volunteering and it offers huge health benefits,” says Ruth MacKenzie, President and CEO of Volunteer Canada. “You get more physically active and intellectually active, and connect in a meaningful way to your community, and that’s the big one. The health benefits associated with volunteering are a means to combat isolation and loneliness.”
Read more here.
Every law office has this situation from time to time. We get people who are not our clients calling to have an attorney answer their question over the phone. Sometimes they frame the requests as “just a quick question.” Often what seems like a quick question, is really a request for advice that can’t be answered in any helpful way with a quick answer.
It usually requires an initial consultation in order for the legal advice to be helpful and accurate.
An initial consultation should provide you with a picture of where you are currently. What goals are important to you, and what legal options are available to accomplish those objectives. During an initial consultation, the attorney will discuss applicable issues of law, and how they apply to the specific facts of your case. By the end of the consultation you should understand the issues of your case, and what the cost will be.
In order to give you this “road map“, the attorney can’t just answer a quick question over the phone. To be able to give sound legal advice, an attorney needs to speak with you at length about the details of your case so that the legal advice is tailored to your specific circumstances. So the question might be quick, however, it will probably be answered with another question, and then another. So giving a well-reasoned answer will be anything but quick.
Consider whether you would have the same expectation of other professionals. Do you call a doctor’s office where you are not a patient and expect them to give you free medical advice? Some doctors will give you a telephone consultation, but only after you send over your medical records and answer a 20-page questionnaire. That’s so the consultation will actually be an informed one. As you might guess, they don’t review those records and questionnaires, and talk to you on the phone for free.
If you aren’t looking for a well-reasoned answer, but just have a “quick question“, that doesn’t do you or the attorney any favors. You risk getting incomplete or inaccurate answers when you insist on making it just a quick question with quick answers.
As an estate planning and elder law attorney, one of the thorniest problems that our baby boomer clients face is how to take away Dad’s car keys when he is no longer safe to drive – before he kills himself or someone else. This battle over car keys has also generated a national discussion over how long can older drivers safely operate automobiles, when it’s time to stop and who gets to decide. In my experience it’s one of the toughest issues families confront.
Recently I read about an intriguing new solution for how to handle this problem – the family driving agreement. The idea behind this is to come up with an agreement for a future plan of action where the older family members who may now be a perfectly fine driver acknowledges that with age-related changes, “there may come a day when the advantages of my continuing to drive are outweighed by the safety risk I pose not only to myself, but also to other motorists.”
With this document, the driver designates a trusted relative or friend to notify him when he should either stop driving or continue only with certain restrictions. He pledges to listen and accept that person’s recommendation. Then the driver, his designated adviser and a witness, or several, affix their signatures.
This could be an important piece of the disability planning we do now with our clients where they acknowledge that if the time ever came that they were no longer unable to make good decisions for themselves, a trusted person that they name, would step in to protect themselves from financial calamity.
Matt Gurwell, who retired in 2008 after 24 years as an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper and then administrator, adapted this idea from the informal contracts often recommended for teenage drivers and their families. “I saw a significant void in how we deal with this problem,” Mr. Gurwell told me in an interview. “Families don’t know what to do. Physicians sometimes don’t want to get involved. Courts’ hands are tied because of sentencing guidelines. It’s a hot potato.”
During his highway patrol years, Mr. Gurwell recalled, he made more than 100 death notifications, knocking on somebody’s door in the middle of the night. A substantial proportion involved elderly drivers, who after age 75 have significantly worse accident records and are also more vulnerable to injury and death.
Read the article at the New Old Age blog – a family agreement to stop driving