Five Things a Family Can Do to Make Passing More Comfortable

 Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author 

Losing a loved one is never an easy life event. The cycle of life’s dramatic end can be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually taxing on both the one passing and on family and friends left behind. Feeling all of the emotions of sadness in the present are perfectly okay and are expected human nature.

Leading up to the final last breath, there are measures that family and friends can do to make the experience more comfortable. Not only are these practices a way for the passing to experience more peace, it also allows for family to better cope prior, during, and after the loss. Here are some practices and terms of etiquette to consider during this time.

One of the most influential actions you can do during this time just before your loved one is expected to pass away is to be in the present moment; be present with them. If your loved one is drifting in and out of consciousness they still maybe very alert to what is happening around them. To be by one’s side during their last moments is to pay recognition and honor letting them know that their life mattered before they expire. Some people who have suffered a stroke may be on medication to sedate the pain as their body succumbs to the result of the shock of the stroke. They are still alert. They can still hear you even though they may not be able to move. Before the health of a loved one progresses to that moment, you should come to terms and peace with that loved one. If you have anything to say, any regrets or affirmations, now is the time to express it, not when they are gone.

You can help create a living memorial. Modern technology has allowed us to recapture and digitize old photographs. Take as many of these photos from that person’s life and organize them into a slide show presentation that can be played on a loop on a screen or device. Have this presentation play, easy for the loved one to view. Not only are you providing positive images for your loved one to remember life by, you are also are putting your down time into a constructive use, which will help you cope with the passing time. Other living memorial idea you may want to consider: gathering a collection of thank you cards; where family and friends write in their card to the passing loved one their favorite memory with that person. We often have a habit to share these memories with other loved ones after the passing but never with the person of focus in the loss. After these cards are collected, have family members and friends read them to the family member who is approaching their final moments. You will be surprised at the amount of peace it will provide.

Reconnect your loved one with their faith. Regardless of religion or affiliation, your loved one deserves to have a proper blessing before leaving the physical world as we know it. For a very small donation, a priest, pastor, monk, rabbi, tribal leader, and/or mufti will be honored to grace your loved one with their last rights and a few comforting words from their associated book of faith. Having this peace in their final moments has been known to provide extra comfort to those that are passing. Usually, the same clergy staff is there to provide peaceful affirmation for the family left behind, and will make them available to perform services later.

Most people forget to have the affairs of passing in order before it happens. This in most cases creates fighting between family members over property, or how the passing loved one declared their last wishes. Some people have stipulations in their “living will” in case major organs such as the heart and brain fail before the rest of the body does. Be clear to have this paperwork read and in order. Having these documents available will not only help with the business of the passing, but will provide for a smooth transition before and after the passing has taken place. The best way to prevent any agreement or miss-direction is to prepare the conversation with the loved one well in advance before they are in their final moments.

Make sure there is a built in support structure for the family itself who is by the bedside of the loved one. Because this life event can be very taxing on people; to avoid unnecessary conflict due to the lack of sleep or meals; create a family care schedule, where members rotate in shifts. This allows for family to refresh in between the moments of being bedside, and it always provides the loved one with someone in their presence. No one likes or deserves to die alone. This will allow other family members to get sleep, meals, showers, and cope with the pain of losing that loved one, while preserving their strength for supporting the loved one bedside. Also have a phone chain prepared ahead of time to reach other loved ones when the event happens.

Today we live very busy and fast paced lives. Some faiths and religions require for the deceased to be laid to rest within 24 hours of passing. To have systems in place to inform family and friends, will save valuable time in honoring their faiths practices.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

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Excellence in Senior Care-What Matters…

Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column, Published on http://www.PrideTLC.com, www.SamBurlum.com, http://www.manawacommunitylivingcenter.com

It is inevitable that the majority of us will reach our golden years and have to make choices determining our lifestyle after retirement and beyond. One of the hardest choices we will have to make is choosing our senior health care provider(s). It is even more difficult when we are shopping for assisted living or nursing home facilities for a loved one who may no longer be able to make decisions on their own. It seems like a daunting task, so where does one begin?

When investigating a senior health care facility, one of the top factors you may want to explore is a facility’s staffing turn-over rate. High staff turn-over is a key indicator that things may not be all that well in paradise. The unfortunate statistic is that health care industry staff turn-over is as high as seventy-five percent in most facilities. You will want to ask management how long they have been at the helm, how long does the average staffer stay at their facility; and are there programs available by the facility for staff to upgrade their education or professional career experience. During our own search, we found only a few facilities that had less than twenty-five percent or lower in staff turn-over. This is important to consistent care for the patients and residents who rely on the services others provide. High employee turn-over will usually reflect in a higher cost for the consumer.

Another indicator that’ll let you know if you have chosen the right facility, is the facility’s record of state inspections. These records will tell the story whether a facility honors standards that are in place to protect patients and residents. Most states inspections result in an average of ten infractions or violations. Facilities that have a trend of posting higher amounts of infractions on a regular basis are facilities you may want to think twice about entering. There are only a few facilities who have demonstrated low amount of infractions (under five per inspection). These are facilities that respect and value their patients.

One of the highest risks to be aware of in any health care facility is infection control. One of the leading causes of death in hospitals and nursing homes is from infections that are spread from staffers and visitors from the outside. Some medical centers and senior health care facilities have strict policies for their staff and for visiting family members, relating to infection and illness control. Some facilities will not allow employees to return to work until after a 48 hour period. If symptoms continue, then the employee must seek medical attention and be cleared by a doctor before returning to work. Ask to see a facility’s infection control rules for more details. It will be helpful for you to understand these rules, thus not becoming part of the problem, and refrain from entering the facility if you are sick.

A quality assisted living or nursing home will also understand that mobility is life, and with age, comes declining physical abilities. A facility dedicated to total patient care will have a well-crafted regiment to service residents in need of extra attention. Most patient facilities are now retrofitted with the required equipment to serve persons of disabilities in every room. Ask for a free tour and an opportunity to inspect the buildings and grounds. If services and facilities are lacking for handicap access, wheelchair access, hand and arm rails, you may want to continue your search. Also ask about their nursing rehab programs; how many times a day someone checks in on a patient, or what the protocol is for handling a patient who has become confined to a bed.

Senior health care facilities that do not utilize patient sedation via drugs to control a patient’s behavior will most likely have a better system in place for quality care. A facility that institutes tender and gentle personal interventions to calm patients will have more active residents, who may be more social than their

counterparts who receive chemical intervention. Medications are a part of elder care, but they should not be the first line of defense in helping a person control their emotions or behavior.

Now that you are retired and may need medical assistance as part of your lifestyle, it does not mean you have to stop doing everything you enjoy. Most facilities will also have an Activities Director, or some position equivalent, who is responsible for keeping residents entertained. Check to see what the schedule of events may be, both on and off-campus. If they do not provide off-campus activities, do they bring people in from the community for social engagements? Do they have opportunities for seniors who may be in much better health and have not lost their ability to be mobile to volunteer for projects on campus? Find out what activities a facility may offer if this is important to you.

Does the facility foster a culture of wellness? Or is it just a place that houses old people until it is time for them to expire? Senior health care facilities that promote wellness will have a strict code of ethics and a creed dedicated to patient care. The kitchen is important. Do they plan for the best nutritional combinations within their meal planning? Is there fitness and exercise equipment? Are the practices and culture devoted to one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health by promoting best industry practices? These are additional factors to consider.

Cost and operational efficiency also plays a role in proving excellence in senior health care. A facility that pays attention to strict enforcement protocols, institutes preventive maintenance, and promotes an environment of health will have much lower price tag than corporate facilities that have tendency to waste valuable resources not dedicated to patient care. All costs are eventually passed along to the consumer. There is a balance between price and quality, as our report found, you can still offer quality services, for a lower price tag, if the management of the facility operates the senior health care center like a well-oiled machine. This is extremely important for baby boomers who are watching their dollars during life after retirement.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

Business Investment versus Costs

Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column Published on 6/1/15, a www.SamBurlum.com Exclusive

Source: We take a look at the most common business expenses and determine whether they are a cost or an investment; explaining the difference.

The Small Business Administration estimates that nearly half of all new businesses fail and disappear in the first five years of operation. One of the key reasons for this unfortunate statistic is that the majority of businesses are underfunded, and do not have enough cash on hand to pay for operational expenses during lean times. If your business is one of the more fortunate stories, congratulations, you survived the statistics; however you might still be operating on a shoe string because cash is limited. I have seen many businesses in this shape, and when they are operating with very limited cash, business owners will usually say, “they cannot afford to spend money,” whether it be on marketing and advertising, new equipment, or even on hiring new employees. Managing cash can be a balancing act. There is the old saying, “you must spend money to make money.” So, when it is safe to spend money as a small business?

When allocating valuable financial resources as a small business, one must ask, “What is my return on investment on spending the money?” First, you must determine whether the business expense is an investment or if it is a cost. Most business costs are either fixed expenses such as rent for a storefront, or cash spent on inventory or labor, all of which may be at risk if the product or service never sells. A business may spend cash on services associated with marketing and/or advertising, which should be viewed as a long term investment because they help generate leads which eventually lead to sales; sales that may have never occurred if the advertising effort was never put to practice.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors.

Operational necessities that may not provide a return on investment should be treated as a cost. The basics such as an office or storefront location, phone, and basic website, should be treated as costs. These are expenses that are a must if you provide a service and/or product and depend on foot traffic for sales. If you offer “free delivery” such as a pizza parlor or dry cleaning service, there is a cost in providing the service of the delivery such as the vehicle, a driver, vehicle maintenance, insurance, and fuel cost. Other examples of hard cost which may be indirect to providing your product or services include but not limited to the cost of taxes, cost of licensing and permits, accounting and legal services; all which require a business to spend money.

Some expenses are perceived as costs; but should be categorized as an investment. One of the largest investments any business can make is in its employees. Yes, an investment into people will help grow your business. In the book, Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder; Creating Value by Investing in Your Workforce, the author, Jody Heymann explains how a company benefits by offering additional skills training to employees at the expense of the business.

“These companies have been profitable for their owners and shareholders, not only while being profitable for their employees, but because they have been profitable for their employees,” writes Heymann, “Employees determine 90% of most businesses’ profitability.”

Other studies have found when employers recognize the needs of their employees, employees become less worrisome of their own issues in the workplace and more productive and profitable for the business in which they are employed.

Another area which most small business owners tend not to realize is an investment, is marketing and advertising. Marketing includes the practice of branding, market capability research, choosing the appropriate demographic audience and geographic fit for their business, and lead generation. Most marketing programs will determine the most effective advertising approaches for a business to be noticed by potential customers. A program that employs both a marketing plan and targeted advertising campaign is the best use of cash when trying to get your business noticed. Most small businesses will allocate a very small budget in this area, and expect advertising to instantly provide a return of big dollars in sales, the first ad placement out.

Marketing and advertising is a long term engagement and should be treated as a long term investment. The more consistent and specific the effort, the more effective the return on investment will be. Most successful businesses will spend 20% of all of their working capital on marketing and advertising, however, many small business owners hesitate on spending cash on marketing and advertising, thinking they cannot afford it or it is wasteful. Truth is, you cannot afford not to advertise. People will usually patron a business that is at the top of their mind. If you are not in front of your potential customer, then you do not exist to them.

Most small businesses also hesitate to implement systems or technology that will save them time; processes that may automate business functions. Time is money, and most small businesses in America have less than five employees. It is important to get the most out of an employee’s time. There are many information technologies, software systems, and communication platforms that can help manage staff and tasks, minimizing or even eliminating some cost..

Do you rent, lease, or purchase your location? It depends. In some cases, it is more advantageous to the business owner to rent or lease their location; both which are tax deductible expenses. But when it is more expensive to rent, and cheaper to own the physical location, a business owner may want to consider making the investment into owning the building versus renting it. Owning the business location can be a business in itself and a smart investment. The building might be a multiple unit building that provides rental income which can be valuable for offsetting costs associated with the upkeep of the building. You must also consider the age old reminder, “location, location, location,” in evaluating whether spending your cash on a building is a smart investment. Your location itself is an investment. The closer you are to your ideal clientele, the more probable it is to be noticed by that targeted audience.

Investing into your small business will always be a risk. Risk is limited by having a sound understanding what the possible returns on your risk are. Setting realistic expectations on the desired results will also help develop a discipline on how you spend your cash. The age old saying, “you must spend money to make money,” is truth however you can determine the best use of that cash by having a clear understanding whether the expense is an investment that will help grow the business or if it is a cost that is just a part of doing business. By evaluating your expenses as either a cost or an investment will aid in curbing wasteful spending.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

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