Numbers Games

Statistics have always annoyed me. Depending on who is providing them and what the agenda is, numbers can be used in all kinds of unsavory ways to persuade people to do things that may not be in their best interest.

I’ve also learned that no matter how you present compelling data, you will not influence anyone to change their mind unless there’s a good story to illustrate exactly what the numbers mean.

Here are some numbers that I find troubling and I am going to attempt to show you WHY you should find them troubling too.

10,000 people are turning 65 every day in the USA, and that will keep happening through 2030.

That means 3.65 MILLION PEOPLE are becoming eligible for Medicare every year, and 70% of them will have a long term care event. Long term care events (incapacity that requires assistance from another person) are not covered by Medicare. And these sick people are likely to live into their 80s and longer with deteriorating health, escalating expenses, and requiring that they receive help from others to get through their days. Where will they get this help? Will you be a helper? Will you, yourself, require care?

Over 40 million people in the US are family caregivers, most of them working and/or running businesses.

What’s the problem there? Family caregivers rarely get paid for their services, wind up paying for many of their loved one’s needs, often suffering illnesses and stress without getting proper care themselves. Many of them are Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. A growing segment is Millennials, and they are not getting the support they need. Being younger, they tend to believe they are invincible and don’t ask for help until they are in crisis.

Approximately half of family caregivers of people with dementia die before the people they are caring for. (For spouses in that position, the number is 63%).

If that doesn’t give you a panic attack, consider this: if the primary caregiver of a person with dementia dies, what happens to that person who needs care? SOMEONE will have to step up and fill in. Will it be you? The state? No one? Are any of those scenarios even remotely acceptable to you? Me neither.

What can you do?

  1. Get educated. There are things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones, but you have to get moving BEFORE crisis strikes. Human beings don’t like to be proactive. They would rather deny that there could be a problem, and when they can no longer deny the truth, they will procrastinate on taking meaningful action. Finding out what needs to be done while you and those you care about are still healthy gives you leverage and choice.
  2. Be courageous. Initiate the tough talk BEFORE crisis strikes. (But back off when you get pushback and try again when things cool down. Don’t give up!).
  3. Team up. It’s easier to make meaningful progress with another grown up in your corner. Seek out people who are respected by those you are trying to persuade.

Three problems Three steps to start addressing them. Sounds easy, right? Spoiler alert: it’s not. But if you want a “cheat sheet,” ask for this awesome FREE eBook: “8 Topics You Must Discuss.” It will help you get started with those three items on the to-do list above.

Want a good story that illustrates why being proactive is a great idea? Read my book, “Dementia Sucks.”

And if you’d rather not do anything right now, know that you’re in the majority. And that’s fine. You could, conceivably, beat the odds. Or you could be another sad statistic.

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The Myth of Retirement

Once upon a time, I believed what I saw on TV. When I heard the term “retirement,” it brought a most pleasant time of life to mind. I watched my parents get there. I was happy for them when they’d arrived. Having worked hard all of their lives, it was nice to see them living it up and enjoying themselves.

The myth of retirement looks something like this:

  1. You stop working
  2. Start spending money
  3. Spoil your kids and grandkids
  4. Travel
  5. Do all the things you dreamed of doing when you were working and couldn’t
  6. Die peacefully in your own bed
  7. Angels escort you to heaven; cue heavenly choir

Unfortunately, for most people, this is fantasy. If you’re lucky, and you managed to put some money away, then steps 1 through 5 are certainly a possibility. However, there’s a significant step that no one wants to consider before you get to 6 (and your step 6 may not be “peaceful” or “in your own bed,” either).

For the vast majority of us, there will be a period of 20 to 30 years of “post retirement.” This is that sad time when we’re no longer able to travel at will and do whatever we want, because we’re sick or disabled. We are seeing doctors more than our loved ones. The time and expense of these visits puts a strain on our assets and our energy reserves.

If this is bumming you out, I apologize, but, dear reader, you need to wake up. Very few people have the luxury of going to bed healthy and happy and simply not waking up.

So here’s a suggestion: read a book that will introduce you, gently, to some harsh realities. Sit with the feeling for a little while. Then take action. Review the 8 Topics (they’re in the book). And if you want help from there, ask for it. Don’t myth out.

Tackling Those Old Photo Albums

From guest blogger, Mollie Bartelt of Pixologie

When thinking about planning for the future, we often consider our financial situations, health status, living arrangements and much more. However, our family photo collections routinely are left to the bottom of the priority list. Most people know it’s a problem, but are just not sure where to start.

Why Should We Take Time To Save Our Photos
Family photos are integral to passing down family values, celebrating the best in life and connecting generations. Deborah Gilboa, MD says that “organizing and displaying photographs connects children to our families, our values and life goals for them.” In her experience, photos teach respect, show responsibility and build resiliency in children.

In addition to those important reasons, when we take the time to save our best photos and document who is in them, we are leaving our legacy to future generations. Our children do not want to deal with a mess of albums, boxes of photos and unidentified relatives.

Lastly, when we save our photos (ensuring they are scanned and backed up), our memories are preserved if an unfortunate disaster hits. I have met people who have been in housefires, floods and even the wildfires out west. They have expressed deep regret for not protecting their photos.

Preparing to Remove Photos From Albums
For this article, I am focusing on photo albums, but many families have boxes and bags of photos stored many places in the home. It is important to bring all of your photos to one place with the goal of saving the best photos.

If you want to preserve your photos for future generations, your photos have to come out of the albums at least temporarily for organization and scanning. The decision of whether to put the photos back into albums lies with you. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do I want to have these albums forever?
  • Will my kids want these albums?
  • Are my photos safe in them?
  • Are these albums in good condition?
  • Will I want or need to downsize my home someday?
  • As you look through photo albums, do any photos stand out that you no longer need to save?

Remember, back in the day; it was normal to save every photo taken because we had so few to look through. If you do decide to continue using photo albums, chances are, you’ll want to get rid of poor quality photos and place the good pictures in new, photo safe albums. Another option is storing the photos in high quality, photo safe archival boxes.

Getting Started
First, be sure you are prepared for quick action in working with your albums. This is no time for memory lane if you want to finish saving your photos. Here’s a list of items that will be helpful for you as you start removing photos.

  • Photo boxes or bins
  • Index cards and Post-It notes
  • Photo labeling pencil
  • Spatula for sticky album pages or dental floss 
  • White gloves if you have very old, fragile photos

As you take photos out of the albums, only keep the best photos that help tell your family story. You can place them in photoboxes or bins temporarily (if returning to the albums) or you can put them in a photo safe archival quality photo box. I like to use index cards or dividers to separate the photos by year.

Later on, when you are scanning the photos, then the digital files can be labeled by year. If you prefer, you can also divide your photos up by person or subject. However, chronological order is great if you are dealing with many photo albums. We recommend our clients create an Age Chart to help with estimating the dates of photos you don’t know. 

Which Photos to Keep?
It can be overwhelming to look at decades of accumulated photo albums. Think of your role as a curator. No one wants to look at all the photos of a lifetime. Instead, you will want to select the best photos and stories out of a generation or more of photos that the family can enjoy together.

 Here’s some thoughts as you think about what to save.

  • Identifiable people: save the photos where you know who is in the picture and why the event is significant to the family
  • Vacations: save the very best photos with family members in the picture. Save a few of the best landscape scenes
  • Repetitious photos: Never mind duplicates, repetitious photos are boring to look at. Think of the many birthday parties with one picture for each present a child opened.

Remember we are trying to save the photos that tell the essence of what life was like back in the day. We don’t need to save a photo for every moment that was caught on film. 

Scanning Photos
With today’s available technology, scanning photos can be easy. Using a flatbed scanner is definitely not going to be a good answer. We recommend using the Kodak Alaris Picture Saver Scanning System. The high speed scanner can scan photos up to 1000 photos an hour, depending upon how prepared you are. In addition, it scans both the front and the back of a photo if you’d like to preserve any handwritten notes. If you don’t have a local place to rent this scanner, use the contact information below and we can arrange to have a scanner system shipped to you.
 

Wrapping Up
Hopefully, this article will have shed some light on how you can start to preserve your photos and family memories. Prepare to laugh and cry as you go through your photos, but more importanly, enjoy the feelings of relief when you have saved the best of your family photos for future generations to know your story.
 

About the Author
Mollie Bartelt, Co-Founder of Pixologie, has helped hundreds of people get their photos out of chaos and back into life to be celebrated and shared. She wrote “A Simple Guide to Saving Your Family Photos” to share the Pixologie photo organizing system. It is available on Amazon.

email: mollieb@pixologieinc.com
phone: 414-731-1881
website: pixologieinc.com