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Life is Short – Be Grateful for the Moments

Last week I had the privilege of spending a week with my Mom in Curacao.  What a beautiful place and the weather was absolutely fantastic.  As Thanksgiving is approaching, I wanted to take the time to share my appreciation of this experience that I am very thankful to have shared with my mom.

During the week one of the many things I am grateful for is that Mom and I were able to take this trip and spend quality time together.  There was time to reminisce and share memories.  And to laugh over silly things that have happened over the years.

There was also the opportunity to ask Mom questions that only she would know the answers to. What a gift!

Many people no longer have the opportunity to sit and reminisce with their loved ones.  Seize the moments that you now have and treasure these memories.  There will come a day when I can no longer ask Mom those questions or hear her voice.  That will be a very sad day indeed.

Another thing I am immensely grateful to Mom for is that she has all her plans and personal affairs organized.  When that day does eventually come, it will literally be one phone call and everything she wants done to celebrate her life will fall into place.

Too many people do not realize what a gift this is as they have to learn about Celebration of Life options and decide what to do after their loved one has died.  If you were to witness the pain, anguish, and turmoil that families go through, I am not sure you would willingly or knowingly leave your affairs in disarray.

If you are not sure what being organized looks like, contact me – there is a solution and the time is now to get your affairs in order and leave a loving legacy for your family.

I would love to hear from you and help get the conversation started.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I wish you a wonderful weekend full of making memories with loved ones.

Until next time,

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly

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June is Seniors Month: Time to Celebrate Our Fantastic Seniors

June is Seniors Month.  A time to honor and celebrate the lives and contributions of the generations of Canadians that took care of their families, communities and country.  Yet for many seniors it can also be a lonely time.

The incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that seniors have is a treasure to capture. Spending time with a senior near you in the month of June can be an enormously rewarding experience for all of us.

Throughout the month of June, younger generations show their appreciation and thanks for the contribution Canadian seniors have made by honoring them in many different ways.  Special events, festivals, ceremonies, dinners, and teas are held for seniors as the guests of honour.  Youth groups, choirs, and scouting/guiding organizations often organize visits to senior’s facilities. Families can get together with their older loved ones and spend special time together remembering stories, family vacations, recalling older memories and making newer ones.

What do seniors want the most?  They want your time and attention, but mostly your presence.

Here are some suggestions to show your appreciation for a senior in your life:

  1. Take them to their favorite restaurant.
  2. Take them to a movie.
  3. Make a video of the senior’s lifetime. For example you may want to ask them how they met their spouse, their favorite holiday or family memory.  Then sit back and watch the glow in their face as they remember these times.
  4. Help them organize photos, closets, cupboards, etc.
  5. Volunteer time at a nursing home or long term care facility.
  6. Mend or fix something for them.
  7. Make a hot meal, deliver it in person, and share the meal with them.
  8. Prepare several different types of home meals and freeze them in containers for them to enjoy at a later time.
  9. Take a senior on an errand or help them around their home, mow the grass, weed the garden, wash their car.
  10. Bake cookies, or smaller treats and deliver them to seniors in your neighborhood.
  11. Help a senior with their correspondence, or buy greeting cards for them and help them address them.
  12. Take a senior with you to participate in special seniors events in your community.

For the younger generation, take the time to reach out and call your grandparents or great grandparents.  They will be thrilled and talk about you for days on end!  Go ahead, just 5 minutes of your time can make a difference.  The afterglow on their face for you taking as little time to say hello will remain with them for weeks.

How do you intend to celebrate the seniors in your life?  There are so many ways we can celebrate seniors in our family and community during the month of June.  Please share your experiences with me.

I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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Does Your Family Have an Emergency Preparedness Plan?

What would you do if you were one of the people in Fort McMurray who were told they only have 10 minutes to pack and that you have to leave everything behind right now?

Shocking, horrific, incomprehensible, and overwhelming for the 80,000 + people who had to do exactly this this past week after forest fires destroyed their homes and everything except what they could physically carry.

What would you decide take?  Where do you even start?

Have an Emergency Bag Packed at All Times

Even without the threat of an impending emergency, having an emergency bag packed and placed in one accessible location at all times is a great idea. Family members could pack their own bag, a bag that they can easily carry themselves, such as a backpack.  Consider having a family emergency plan, detailing where your packed emergency bag(s) is/are, where you would meet and how you would communicate or rendezvous to let each other know your status.   The Canadian Red Cross and the Federal Government website both suggest that your emergency bag have enough supplies to last for 3 days.

What to include in your Emergency Bag:

  1. Important papers or photocopies of these documents:
  • SIN card
  • Health Card
  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Personal Identification Card
  • Will
  • POA
  1. Cash, especially small bills, Debit and Credit cards
  2. Basic first aid kit including Band-Aids, disinfectant, small scissors, etc.
  3. Basic tools and equipment such as a shovel, bungee cords, tape, multi-function pocket knife, manual can-opener, whistle, string, etc.
  4. Battery or crank radio and flashlight
  5. Extra batteries
  6. Blanket or sleeping bag
  7. Personal items and comfortable clothing and shoes
  8. High-energy non-perishable food items such as power bars or dried foods
  9. Potable water stored in small containers; 2 liters per person per day

What Can You Do Now to Prepare for an Emergency?

  1. Prepare your emergency bag
  2. Place it in your readily accessible location
  3. Where applicable prepare a family emergency plan
  4. Have an In Case of Emergency ICE contact readily located on your phone or person (see below)
  5. The same should be done with a list of any allergies that members of your family have
  6. Update your contact list on your phone, virtually or on paper
  7. Keep your vehicle in top running condition with regular maintenance
  8. Keep your devices fully charged. You can even charge and store a “backup battery bank” to recharge your devices on the go

To help get your family emergency plan started, I invite you to contact me to receive a free In Case of Emergency ICE contact form.  Does your family have an emergency preparedness plan in place?  I would love to hear from you.  You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter too!

In the meantime our thoughts prayers and perhaps donations go out to our fellow Canadians in Alberta.

Kat

Katherine Downey is the #1 Funeral Preplanning Professional in Canada for the fourth time. She is a professional educator, author, licensed funeral director and insurance advisor. To set an appointment or have your questions answered, please contact Kat directly.

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Spring Cleaning: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with a Warm Hand

Wow, our lives sure can get busy and complicated.  We take care of our families – shuttling children to school, activities, getting the school forms signed, accumulating stuff, then chucking that “stuff” into a temporary storage space, while thinking “I’ll get to it later”. Maybe tomorrow, maybe on the weekend, maybe next week.  Then more time passes and before you know it there is more “stuff” accumulated everywhere.

As we get older, we may find that we use less and less of our everyday items.  We may have younger family members, children or grandchildren who may benefit from them.  Why not share some of your memories with family & friends and encourage them to make new ones?  This is a simple part of estate planning that can be done at any age, at any time.  The more organized your estate is, the less stress we leave our estate trustee in organizing it with the added stress of our passing. Read more

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Going Down Green – 5 Criteria for an Eco-Friendly Burial

eco friendly burialEco-friendly, natural or Green earth burial is gaining momentum. According to a 2013 study done by the Natural Burial Association of Canada, 50% of respondents viewed natural burial favorably, after they were aware of this option. On March 7, 2013 the Green Burial Society of Canada (GBSC) was incorporated as a society. At the AGM, this not-for-profit organization developed 5 criteria for green or natural burial designation:

1. No embalming
2. Simple covering of the deceased such as a shroud or simple box
3. No concrete liner or vault
4. Simple memorialization
5. Some aspect of habitat enhancement Read more

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Leaving a Good Voice Mail Message

seniors and voice mailOver the past few weeks, my elderly parents have been moving; discontinuing phone and cable, confirming moving details, etc. This resulted in a number of telephone messages. A couple of things became very apparent to me that I thought I would share with respect to how people can leave a good voice mail message.

Few people actually answer their phone anymore. Yes there is email, however my parents are not used to doing business this way. Their preference is to use the telephone so we need to consider this in our communication. Read more

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Do you Have Your Advance Care Plan in Place?

Advanced Care PlanDo you Have Your Advance Care Plan in Place? An Advance Care Plan is a process of conversations and decisions while you are of capacity. Reflecting your values, beliefs, goals, wishes, resources and faith, an Advance Care Plan outlines your wishes concerning future care.

Future Care takes into consideration your wishes concerning personal hygiene, nutrition, shelter clothing, safety, as well as health care, medical treatments, services or interventions. In the event of a sudden and unexpected incapacity such as car accident; or a longer progressive incapacity such as Alzheimer’s disease, your Advance Care Plan outlines your wishes for future health and personal care preferences in the event you are incapable of consenting to or refusing medical treatment or other care. Read more

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9 Ways to Get Full Value from Your Funeral Plan

pre-paid funerals OntarioDid you know Funeral Homes must provide you with a current price list that describes all the goods and service they offer and that this price list must be provided without cost or obligation? And, by law, all funeral homes must follow the same format in their price list. This assists the consumer to be able to compare and contrast the prices and selections fairly. However for many people the price list can still be confusing.  The best way to directly compare cost, is to shop around ahead of time and work with the funeral home and licensed funeral director you are most comfortable with. Here are 9 ways to ensure you get the full value from your funeral plan. Read more

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Is a Funeral Home Needed When you Opt for Cremation?

Cremation and funeral homeI only want cremation so I don’t need a funeral home, right?

No, actually that is incorrect.  Many people think that if they simply want their body to be cremated when they die, there is no need to involve a funeral home.  This is not correct.  The closest next of kin, legal representative or Estate Trustee needs to call a Funeral Home.

Read more

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Prepaid Funeral Plan for Loved Ones this Valentine’s Day

funeral planning expert MississaugaIn the Toronto Star February 8, 2014 article by Bob Aaron, he suggests an “offbeat gift suggestion for Valentine’s Day this week.  This year, he suggests preparing a Will and POA for Property and Personal care as an “expression of love, caring and compassion.” I would add one more item to this list – prepare a prepaid funeral plan. Read more