woman creating vision board with cup of coffee.

Create Your Own Self-Love Vision Board

The most important relationship that you will ever have in your life is your relationship with yourself. Creating a self-love vision board is a creative and relaxing exercise that offers an opportunity to cultivate a strong sense of love and acceptance through creativity and the power of visualization.   Vision boards are a collection of images, words, and memories arranged to inspire you and help you manifest your goals or vision. Visualization and manifestation are empowering tools to create a positive and more accepting connection with yourself.    When we have a healthy level of self-love and self-esteem, it significantly impacts our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Vision boards are an amazing tool to help you tap into Love for Self. Ask yourself: Who am I? What am I calling in? What brings me joy? What do I love most about my life?    Once you create a vision board, we recommend placing it where you will see it often — such as near a mirror or on the wall in a room you use frequently. Remember to take a moment each day (or several times throughout the day) to look at it and reflect on what it means to you.   Vision Boarding Materials:  Poster board, as big or small as you desire. Pro tip: you can leave space to add on throughout the year whenever inspiration strikes you. Stickers! Give yourself a gold star! Magazines, postcards, cut outs. You may be surprised where you’ll find inspiration and what messages or images you’ll find on everything from receipts to old flyers once you begin looking. Scotch tape, scissors, glue — or even better: glitter glue! Markers, gel pens, colored pencils, crayons. (Yes, crayons!) Childhood photo. Connect with little you, and make time to PLAY! At no extra cost: your own imagination and creativity.    Listen to our podcast episode on Embracing Self-Love to hear how we create self-love vision boards in our workshops — and to get more ideas on how to create yours!
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Dawn McMullan and Gorethy Nabushosi with some of the students in the Congo Restoration sewing school.

Restoring Women’s Lives in the Congo

When Dawn McMullan visited Africa in 2007, she never dreamed it would change her life in so many ways — or change the lives of others. “I went to Rwanda on a trip with my church and saw things I didn’t know existed,” says Dawn, a freelance writer and editor in Dallas, Texas. The country had been ravaged by civil war in the mid-90s; more than 1 million people died in Rwanda and 6 million were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I’d seen deep poverty [on other mission trips], but I hadn’t seen a lack of infrastructure where basic human needs were just unreachable.” That experience was still fresh in her mind when she met Gorethy Nabushosi less than a year later. Gorethy, a refugee who had fled the Congo in 1997 and raised her six children in Dallas, had visited her home country to see how she could help. A decade after the genocide, she saw a system that was completely broken. [caption id="attachment_19859" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Gorethy Nabushosi with twin fifth grade students from the Congo Restoration sewing school.[/caption] “She went to a village and basically found a lot of orphans and took in all 30 kids,” Dawn says. “Then she called her husband and said, ‘I need $1,000 to figure out what to do with these kids. I can’t leave them.’ And that’s how it began.” Unsure of where to turn, Gorethy returned to Dallas and reached out to a Methodist church for help. The church connected her with Dawn, who immediately jumped on board. “When Gorethy came into my life, I was already somewhat familiar with the situation and had this great, inexplicable passion for it,” Dawn says. “From there, we started what became Congo Restoration.” Changing Africa One Woman at a Time The first order of business was to secure a home with caretakers for the 30 orphans Gorethy had taken in. Then, they focused on empowering women through education. In 2010, they started a sewing school that provided girls with a skill and a six-month education. In the Congo, girls and women are usually sent to work in the fields; Gorethy knew that offering them an education would be life changing. “Not only does that give them a way to make money that they didn’t have before, but it also raises them up in society,” Dawn explains. “They’re no longer the lowest ranks of society; they are respected women, because they have a business. They can send their kids to school. They’re in charge of their financial destiny. And that is not a thing in the Democratic Republic of Congo that a woman would usually be in charge of.” Initially, it was a hard sell to convince parents to take their daughters away from working in the fields to teach them a skill because it meant the girl wouldn’t be bringing home money during that time. Sometimes, Dawn says, they had to offer the family things of value like soap or salt to seal the deal. But the sewing school has now graduated more than 800 women, supplying each one with a sewing machine and a sewing kit with everything they need to start their own business. Creating a Brighter Future “Now when we're about to graduate a class, hundreds of women line up wanting to be in that next class,” Dawn says. “Their families cry when they get their diploma. It’s a shift in how the community sees these women.” She also sees dramatic changes in the women who attend the school: “We teach them a lot of things in those six months. Sewing is one of them, but there are other things we teach them about how valuable they are. And by the time they graduate, you can see that in their eyes.” Congo Restoration continues changing the lives of families in the Congo, but Dawn says she is the one who has gained so much from the work. “When I go to Congo, when I’m doing things for the schools, I get so much thanks from the people there,” she says. “But they have no idea how much they’re changing me, how much they’re teaching me. I wish everyone could find the one thing they can do like that that lights them up. “If everybody did something with a passion to do good in the world, there’s just no way the world’s not benefiting from all that good energy.” [caption id="attachment_19865" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Gorethy Nabushosi with recent graduates of Congo Restoration's sewing school.[/caption]
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#HappyActs Happiness Wall.

Spread More Happiness in Your Community This March

With global unhappiness on the rise and more people experiencing feelings of worry, stress, loneliness, and sadness, it’s clear that we all need to pitch in and to do our part to make the world a happier place.   Since 2013, Live Happy has been celebrating the International Day of Happiness (IDOH) on March 20 with a month-long #HappyActs campaign to bring awareness to happiness and well-being. This year’s #HappyActs theme is all about building stronger communities because improving the places where we live, work and play benefits us all. Community can have many definitions but at its core, it is people helping people. When we all work together, we can enjoy a more harmonious life. Whether it’s checking in on an elderly neighbor, cleaning up your local park, or volunteering your time at a local animal shelter, we all have the responsibility to make a positive difference. Every act of kindness has the chance to not only make the beneficiaries happy, but also the people who perform these acts. That’s a winning combination. During the month of March, Live Happy is calling on all Happy Activists to go to livehappy.com/happyacts to learn how to participate in this year’s IDOH 2023 celebration. Here are just a few things you can do make sure you are spreading happiness to those in your community. Host Your Own Happiness Wall At, LiveHappy.com, you can find several ideas on how to create your own Happiness Wall, download a printable Happiness Wall that can be posted almost anywhere, or order Poster Happiness wall from the Live Happy store. It doesn’t matter what type of wall you create, just as long as you register it with us here. Join thousands of Happy Activists around the world by hosting Happiness Walls in public viewing areas, including parks, shopping malls and businesses. Classrooms and offices can be also great places for a Happiness Wall. Celebrating IDOH 2023 is a fun way to share happiness with your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community members. Make #HappyActs a Happy Habit All Month Long While acts of kindness should be positive habits practiced all year long, Live Happy is encouraging all Happy Activists to download their very own free #HappyActs calendar with a different act of kindness idea for each day of the month. That’s 31 #HappyActs all dedicated to making your community stronger. You can plant some flowers or vegetables in your community garden, leave a positive review for your favorite neighborhood business or just give someone a sincere compliment. These #HappyActs will not only make other happy, but your happiness will increase too. Don’t forget to let us know through your social media by using #LiveHappy and #HappyActs.
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Happily ever after sign with red letters

Here’s How to Avoid Relationship Anxiety This Valentine’s Day

Relationship anxiety is a REAL thing. Whether or not people admit it, 34% say their relationship stress is the leading cause of their mental health concerns. So as this Valentine’s Day approaches, here are a few tips to let you know if your relationship is with the right one. Don’t Play Games At least not the kind that leave you up worrying all night. The healthiest relationships include clear communication where there aren't mixed messages, ghosting, and intermittent hot and cold seasons. These games may seem sexy at first and keep you on the edge of your seat, but they'll ultimately leave you dizzy and distressed in the worst way. If you are constantly fretting about whether or not the person is going to leave you and if they “really” like you, it’s likely not your best match. Why? Because you’re so often worrying about how the other person feels that you have little time to question if you actually like the person. Create More Positive Experiences Every relationship goes through low points and that’s not necessarily cause for concern. However, we need to have ideally three positive experiences with our partner for our negative one. You and your partner want to be intentional about creating these positive experiences together so that you're not getting pulled down into a negative spiral. If you find that you or your partner are ruminating, holding grudges, and unwilling to come back together after a disagreement or conflict, that’s something to start challenging. It’s not so much about the fight (which can actually be healthy), it’s more about each of your openness to repair the relationship afterward. Having Doubts May Not Always Be a Problem The better question to ask yourself is if this is a particular problem that you can deal with now...and the next 20 years. Every relationship is going to have its issues—you just need to determine if these issues are absolute deal-breakers or if they're livable discomforts you can work through. There’s no need to shame yourself if this particular problem set is something that you especially struggle with. For example, some people are especially triggered if their partner has a drinking problem because of family history while others are able to sit with it a little more. This doesn’t make you an unloving partner—it just means you’re aware of what your boundaries are and when too much is too much. Agree on the Things That You Can’t Compromise On Where I see couples in my practice really get into a bind is when they cannot agree on a non-negotiable, such as whether to have a baby, get married, or move to a particular location. You can't go halfsies on these things and therefore it's so important to be clear on what you want for your life when it comes to the big life decisions, rather than playing it coy. Be honest with yourself and each other and take people for their word when they say what they want for their lives. They could change your mind, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself to try convince them otherwise. So give yourself grace this Valentine’s Day if you’re looking for love or wondering if you’ve found the one. No relationship is perfect and if you’re waiting for a flawless relationship, they’ll be many more boxes of chocolate eaten solo. Embrace the mess and lean into the imperfections—that’s what finding and being with your “one” is all about. Dr. Lauren Cook is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, company consultant, author and speaker. With a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and her Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Lauren frequently appears in the media to provide commentary while also working with companies as well as individual adults, couples, families, and teens to help reduce anxiety and improve personal and professional outcomes. For more on Dr. Lauren, visit drlaurencook.com. 
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Kids doing arts and crafts

The Art of Parenting

As the mother of three children under the age of 10, Kate Vastano is used to finding unexpected surprises around the house. But when she discovered that her 5-year-old daughter, Jules, had painted the wall with nail polish, it stopped her in her tracks. She learned that Jules had been trying to paint their dog’s toenails, but when he refused to cooperate, Jules decided to hone her painting skills on the only other available canvas: a hallway wall. Kate’s immediate thought was to paint over it, but there was one little problem. “I had no clue which shade of paint we used on that wall,” says Kate, who lives in Brentwood, Tennessee. “I thought we were really screwed this time.” But she quickly channeled her frustration into creativity. She put a frame around it, complete with a museum-worthy description, and declared it “art.” “It’s on a wall between my home office and upstairs bathroom, so I get to experience it multiple times a day,” she says with a laugh. Not taking situations like this too seriously — and instead finding humorous ways to deal with them — has been essential to her as a parent, she explains. “My husband, Bryan, and I realized shortly into our parenting journey that it’s not worth stressing out over everything. If we can laugh when things get nuts and find the humor, we can make it fun for everyone.”
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Two women looking at computer

Embracing Conflict Management for a Happier Workplace

To create a harmonious environment in your organization, you have to reduce the number of conflicts among team members. You can do this by speaking to and understanding each employee's concerns. Not fully knowing or understanding why a conflict happened can result in additional issues later. Before your workplace develops into a breeding ground for frequent arguments and clashes between employees, you should begin implementing conflict management. Authorities within your company should establish a system for dealing with and handling employees who cannot work together. Here is how your organization can begin the process of embracing conflict management. Find The Source of the Conflict Before approaching team members, it is a good idea first to figure out why the conflict occurred. Supervisors should investigate the workplace circumstances, any involved team members, and review any evidence leading up to the conflict. This can help reveal how relationships began to degrade and prevent team members from placing the blame on one another. Create a Safe Space to Talk Conflicts can’t be resolved by shaming individuals. Instead of taking sides or placing the blame on specific team members, you should create a safe space to speak to them in private. You can speak to each involved employee in private and as a group to help assess the situation. In private, team members can be honest about how they feel without feeling coerced to act a certain way. Listen to Everyone Every employee plays a part in an organization’s success, which means that leaders within the company should actively listen to each person. This can also help reduce conflict because everyone’s voice is heard. Hearing each employee’s concerns and finding a solution for them will be one of the initial steps to a resolution. Figure Out Where Things Went Wrong After an authority figure checks each employee’s complaint, they can then address the problem. From inflammatory emails to angry verbal exchanges, the supervisors must review all the activities that occurred during the conflict. Getting information from witnesses and reviewing any evidence will help company leaders pinpoint how the conflict began. An employee’s anger may have stemmed from one team member being poorly trained. They may feel they are more skilled and competent, making them impatient toward a less skilled worker. If this is an issue, the poorly performing team member can be trained to create better outcomes. Create a Common Goal Conflict management needs to get all employees to work together as a coherent team. This means that a common goal must be established so that everyone understands why they are working together. Reminding team members of that common goal will be important to helping them establish stronger working relationships. Employees who don’t understand where they fit in, lose sight of their purpose, misunderstand what they are supposed to do, or aren’t well-trained enough to deliver the correct results can make team members fall off track. Getting all team members to fit into the workplace culture will help make them more coordinated and motivated. Find a Solution Once senior members of the organization understand the source of the conflict, how the falling apart between team members began, and who was involved, they can develop a solution and implement it. The solution should be well-rounded and not only address one but multiple problems. Additionally, it should seek out the root core of the issue and resolve it. Follow Up Evaluation Even after a workplace conflict has been solved, it is important to maintain and develop workplace relationships. Employees should be evaluated over time and invited to a discussion to review how they have changed since the conflict resolution. Productivity should be reviewed, and employees can give feedback on how leadership is doing. This can build a healthy culture that reduces overall conflict within your organization. How Do Conflict Management Specialists Get Rid of Issues in My Company? You can learn more about how conflict management works and whether it is the right step for your organization. Speak to an experienced team to help benefit your organization and increase performance.
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Live Happy Impact on Adult Bullying Children's Brain Development

The Impact of Adult Bullying on Children’s Developing Brains

We prefer to talk about child-to-child bullying. Even though it’s a horrendous and serious crisis, it’s still a comfortable topic. However, we become quickly uncomfortable when anyone raises the issue of adult bullying. Advances in brain science have provided us with new understanding that can give us the courage to talk about adults who bully children. Not long ago, we did not believe a concussion was a problem. In fact, we saw it as a badge of honor for an athlete to go back into competition and show his team and coach what he was made of. We now know that concussions are actually serious brain injuries and must be recovered and repaired before an athlete returns to play. Likewise, we now know that all forms of bullying and abuse can do serious harm to the brain. This includes: neglecting, ignoring, refusing feedback, walking out on someone, ghosting, excluding, shaming, blaming, using put downs, humiliating, berating, threatening, yelling, swearing, assaulting and all forms of cyber, sexual, and physical abuse. Extensive, replicated, consensus-building research documents on brain scans how these kinds of bullying behaviors harm the brain. We cannot see the injuries with the naked eye, just like we cannot see the blackening of lungs when individuals smoke. We need a brain scan to make visible the harm to the brain and we need an x-ray to make visible the harm to the lungs. Now that non-invasive technology has revealed to us just how deadly all bullying behaviors are to our brains, we need to change how we conduct ourselves. Adults — especially those in positions of trust and power over children, such as parents, teachers, and coaches — need to lead the charge. Children’s brains are developing and vulnerable. They are extremely sensitive due to their developmental stages especially from 0 to 5 and from 13 to 25 years. A teen or twenty-something may look like an adult, but their brains are not yet mature and they have heightened sensitivity to their environment and peer relationships. In a positive, psychologically and physically safe, caring environment, adolescent brains will flourish. In a toxic, psychologically or physically dangerous, bullying environment, their brains will struggle and may suffer damage. It can be difficult for adults to recognize that they are bullying children and youth. It is challenging because we’ve been raised in a society that normalizes adult bullying while telling children not to do it. When adults bully, we do rarely hold them accountable. In fact, we are more likely to change our terms when adults bully. We say what they are doing is “motivating, giving tough love, rejecting political correctness, being passionate, refusing to be a wuss, toughening kids up for a tough world, breaking down the victim to build them back up better,” and so on. As a society, on a deep level, we still believe the myth that bullying and abuse are a necessary evil to attain greatness, power, and prestige. Perhaps this is why political leaders in society do not feel compelled to coverup blatant bullying behaviors in public or documented on social media. The myth that bullying is necessary to attain greatness is a myth in the sense that there is no research to back it up. None. In contrast, there is extensive research spanning decades that provides evidence for the long lasting, serious harm to the brain by all forms of bullying and abuse. A quick way for adults to identify if they are bullying children is to compare how they treat kids to how they treat adults in positions of power over them. Do the parents speak and act the same way with their bosses as they do with their children? Does the coach act and speak to the Athletic Director the same way he does to his child athletes? Does the teacher act and speak the same way to the principal as she does to her students? If not, why not? Do children not deserve the same kind of respect and care? Surely they deserve more because they are sensitive and vulnerable and in a massive power imbalance with the adults in their lives. Science has informed us that all forms of bullying and abuse harm brains. Now it’s up to us to take this empowering, inspiring knowledge and change our conduct. We can work together to role-model empathy, thoughtfulness, and compassion so that our child populations learn a new way of being in the world, a far healthier, happier, and more high-performing way, grounded in brain science and advanced through the adults concerned by the normalized bullying in society
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Kids laughing and playing outside

3 Ways to Lasting Happiness for Kids

We all love fleeting happiness. It feels fantastic in the moment. The challenge we faced with it is the moment leaves quickly, and unhappiness shows up at the door. The following are ways to strengthen your children’s growing sense of lasting happiness, so they don’t have to go from joy to pain, and back again continuously. Children can learn how to become happier, understand their emotions, and point in a direction that continually feeds their joy. Helping Others Have you ever noticed the more you place the focus on helping others, the more there is this “magic” that occurs, and you end up feeling happier. The thinking goes from “me, me, me” to “we, we, we” and you forget all the things that you were bothered by. The same is true for children. Guiding children to help others, share their toys, hold the door open, and volunteer as they get older, and participate in a “bigger” way in life are all ways to help them grow a happy heart. Recently, I had a client who volunteered to help his elderly neighbor clean up their yard, and the same family invited some foster youth over for a 4th of July barbeque. Whether it’s a smile, a nice word, or some other helping you or your children can do it is a recipe for happier life experiences. Using Challenges as Opportunities You can guide children to see situations as challenges to learn from, and opportunities to move in a better feeling direction. Think of challenges as stepping-stones to something better. For example, in my book: The Happiness Workbook for Kids, I have an activity where children put a problem inside a box (square) and they put on each of the four sides something they can learn from it. So, say, they wrote: My BFF is moving away. They can learn to: 1) Keep in touch on Facetime, and play videos games together in different places, 2) Make new friends, 3) Visit each other, and 4) Wish her good luck (even though it’s hard) in her new school. Learning from challenges, and pointing toward a better feeling situation makes children happier – every single time. Calming the Mind The number one thing I recommend to parents, especially new parents, is to help their children calm. Children who learn to calm themselves can often stop before making not-so smart choices. Some calming strategies to learn alongside your children include: Breathing techniques (for example, flower breath, hand on heart, hot soup all in The Happiness Workbook for Kids), Mindfulness (for example, can you spot all the red on our walk), Creative outlets, Exercise, and more. The aim is for your children to slow down, calm, and make those better choices even with tricky emotions! (Tip: Have your child teach you the activities, and they’ll be the feelings boss!) Becoming happier is a skill for children to learn – just like reading, counting, and making their own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The aim is to have fun with it. Fill up your happiness bucket as a family and be creative. Do happiness experiments like gardening, going to the zoo, making a new recipe, watching a funny movie, or something deeper – helping others, learning to meditate or take a mindfulness walk. The door to lasting happiness is open for children, and they can learn to create real happiness sooner rather than later! Maureen Healy is a child therapist, mindfulness author, and leader in the field of children’s emotional health and happiness education. She writes for Psychology Today, and her books include: The Happiness Workbook for Kids (PESI), The Emotionally Healthy Child (preface from Dalai Lama) and Growing Happy Kids (HCI Books). Learn more about working with her, or reading her books: growinghappykids.com
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Live Happy Meaningful Father's Day Quotes

Meaningful Quotes for Father’s Day from Leading Thinkers, Activists, Athletes and More

Father’s Day offers a time to reflect on both fathers and father-figures who have helped to shape our lives. It’s a wonderful time to reflect on all of those who went the extra mile for us, and whose actions and words are etched into our memories. So often we recall specific gestures and times in the form of things said at special turning points of our lives. Whether we like it or not, emotions often rule our lives and relationships.  But it can be challenging to see them clearly and express them wisely, especially when we need to most. I wrote Emotional Shorthand: 2500 Greatest Self-Help Quotes and Life Insights because quotes from others help express memories and emotions which can be difficult to express on our own. A longtime friend Andrew Nikou writes that “Stories always share a part of time,” and a Gaelic proverb reminds us that “A thing is bigger for being shared.” I hope these quotes below can help you to re-connect and to share your thoughts and stories with someone special to you, whether in a greeting card or conversation—or both. “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” —Jim Valvano (1946-1993), American college basketball player, NCAA National Champion coach, and broadcaster. “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, and statesman. “If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”—Abigail Van Buren (1918-2013), American columnist and radio show host “What kind of blessings will your children and grandchildren have because you did the right thing, even when it was hard?”—Joel Osteen (1963-present), Pastor “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”—Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States “Your time is the greatest gift you can give someone.”—Proverb “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”—Epictetus (50 CE-135 CE) Born a slave and crippled by a slaveowner in Turkey, he eventually found his way to Rome as a philosopher, and was granted freedom. “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” —Joseph Goldstein (1944-present), American teacher. “If you want a rainbow, you have to deal with the rain.”—Augustus Caesar (63BCE-14CE), Father of the Roman Empire “A good coach can be a second father. He’s a mentor and a friend who turns boys’ hearts. He takes all the blame and knows he can expect very few rewards. He’s a man who knows that a boy needs someone he can look up to. A boy remembers his coach all his life.”—David M. Hendricks (1943-present), Father, teacher, coach, and mentor. “Don’t underestimate yourself. You are more capable than you think.” —Sue Bird (1980-present), American-Israeli athlete, widely regarded as one of the greatest female basketball players of all time. “Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”—Michael Jordan (1963-present) Father, Greatest Basketball Player in History. “If it’s not important, let it go.”—Hill McAlister (1958-present), Former President, The Rotary Club of Nashville “Hire a teenager while they still know everything.”—Bumper Sticker “Don’t talk about yourself. It will be done when you leave.”—Wilson Mizner (1876-1933), American playwright and entrepreneur. “I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: ‘Checkout Time is 18 years.’” —Erma Bombeck (1927-1996), Humorist, author, and columnist.                                                                  People are often sustained in life when they hear from those they love, and a special proverb teaches us: “A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.” Or, as Cicero once wrote in ancient Rome: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others.” Thank you for being here, and Happy Father’s Day to you and yours. D. Earl Johnston, a former world champion sailor, is a writer, researcher, and public speaker with deep interests in understanding emotions and behavior. Currently managing director of a financial litigation consultancy, he has written extensively on domestic finance and international economics for publications including Law360, Legaltech News, Thomson Reuters and Advisor Magazine.
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Smiling young woman sitting on sofa with happy older retired 70s father, enjoying pleasant conversation with cup of coffee tea together in living room, mature parents and grown children communication.

What’s the Best Way to Help Your Aging Parents?

It's Time to Be Their Advocate, Not Their Parent. Here’s How. Too often, as parents age adult children feel the best way to help and support them is to reverse roles and become their ... parents. But as a professional care manager with 40 years of experience helping adults in their Fragile Years and their families, I cringe when I hear adult children talk about how they feel like they’ve reversed roles with their parents who are now dependent on them. That attitude is a trap that can result in bitterness and resentment on both sides. Parents don’t like their children telling them what to do—no matter how fragile they might be. There is a much healthier way to engage with the new family dynamic, and that is to view this as an opportunity to become your parent’s strongest advocate and supporter—a source of kindness, compassion, and understanding.  I talk about this in my book, The Fragile Years. You aren’t reversing roles. You are entering a new stage of your relationship. This isn’t a burden; it’s an opportunity to make your loved one’s final years as comfortable, peaceful, and secure as possible.  You’re also preventing the stressful complications that arise when crises occur amid a lack of preparation. Consider this also as your time to demonstrate to your own family, especially your children and grandchildren, how you would hope to be treated in the later stages of your own life. This as an opportunity to become your parent’s strongest advocate and supporter—a source of kindness, compassion, and understanding. Here are 7 steps I have found make all the difference: Begin preparing yourself and your parents for the Fragile Years as they enter their seventies. That means laying the groundwork for conversations by introducing, little by little, topics such as priorities and values for happiness and well-being, and whether your parents have a living will or power of attorney.  Over time, you can move toward setting tools up where they are not already in place and ensuring that choices align with your parents preferences and values. Discuss their preferences for the late stages of life and end-of-life while they are still mentally fit. These conversations can be uncomfortable conversations, but the alternative is to leave the door open for stressful crises and decisions that might be made in a context of doubt and disagreement. Consider these conversations an act of love.  You will be very glad to have prepared for the fragile years ahead and all the challenges they bring. Gather critical information on their financial, medical and legal affairs. Find out where your parents keep important documents and secure them all in a place or places where you can get to them. These include property titles and deeds, car titles, online passwords and pin numbers, loan papers, investment information, and monthly bills for household expenses and insurance. Make sure, too, to have contact information for your parent’s lawyers—especially those who have their wills on file—and their primary doctor. You’ll also want to have access to any stocks, mutual funds, IRAs, or other financial instruments. Some will ask for documentation from your parent’s doctors saying that the individual no longer has the mental capacity to handle their own affairs -- so preparing in advance is crucial. Get to know the senior care offerings in your communities before there’s a need. Find out if your communities have assisted living, nursing homes or rehab facilities, and learn about the depth of their services. Also ask if they have long-term beds available - right now there is a chronic shortage of beds in nursing homes. Cultivating contacts at each local facility helps ensure that they'll notify you when beds may be available. Keep it personal! If your parents are resistant to any help, search for a trusted advisor. Care managers are trained to provide help in these types of scenarios and to advocate for your parent’s care and safety, whether it’s provided by a hospital, a nursing home or an at-home caregiver. It is money well spent. Above all: make the most of the time you have remaining with your loved one. This is your opportunity to create even more meaningful memories and to let them know once again that they are loved and will be remembered. Amy Cameron O’Rourke is a nationally-known pioneer and advocate for senior care in the U.S. She has been a professional care manager for more than 40 years, with 20 of those years at the helm of The Cameron Group (now Arosa), which she founded, as well as O’Rourke & Associates in Orlando, Florida. Amy is also the author of The Fragile Years.
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