7 ways to help a loved one with dementia reclaim joy

Music, art, good food—there are many ways to brighten the day of a person with dementia

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Your loved one has dementia. It’s hard, for them and for you.

Tia Powell, author of Dementia Reimagined: Building a Life of Joy and Dignity from Beginning to End, acknowledges that the advanced stages of dementia are frightening.

But she says that fear of those late-stage declines can prevent us from helping our loved one make the most of the days when they are still able to spend time with family and friends, enjoy activities, and be part of the wider world.

Powell is the director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics in New York and her expertise includes dementia treatment and end of life care.

Powell’s own grandmother and mother died from dementia. In her research, she came across a phrase that resonated with her: Every remaining day should be a good day.

“I love the sound of that,” she says.

Here are seven ways you can help your loved one with dementia find joy in their remaining days:

1. Look forward, not back

So many people are grieving the loss of the person their loved one used to be. “We think, ‘This is so terrible, my mother is no longer a great mathematician,’” Powell says.

As difficult as it is, you need to try to accept that your loved one isn’t the person they once were and try to embrace who they are, she says.

When you’re focused on who your loved one used to be, you can inadvertently shame them. If you say things like, “That’s not like you,” or “You don’t need help with that” you can end up embarrassing your loved one, she says.

2. Think beyond safety

When your loved one is in the earlier stages of dementia, you may think they can safely stay home alone. But safety isn’t the only concern. Your loved one might be spending hours staring out the window or watching TV.

“Family members get into denial and don’t want to address the fact that it’s not really okay to leave them home alone all day,” Powell says.

You don’t necessarily have to look at residential placements. Your loved one could get out and do things with other people in a day program a couple of times a week, she says.

3. Get care for other medical conditions

To help people with dementia get the most out of every day, it’s important to make sure other medical conditions are well controlled.

A family member or companion might need to accompany your loved one to medical appointments.

That’s because a person with dementia might not accurately report problems. They may forget that they fell recently, or not notice that they are getting out of breath more easily than they used to.

And, a person with dementia might forget what the doctor says. If their doctor changes their medication, for example, they need to remember to both stop the old prescriptions and start the new ones.

“They need someone to be external memory for them,” Powell says.

4. Boost joy with good food

“Food is often one of the last remaining pleasures,” Powell says. Plus, food can be an important part of family celebrations and culture. She feels that as people with dementia age, it’s time to lighten up on the food rules.

“If I’m 94 and have dementia, I don’t really care about my cholesterol,” she says. “I want to order up an ice cream sundae if I feel like it.”

“When you’re younger and worried about protecting your cognition, I think it’s appropriate [to make healthy food choices],” she says. “Once [dementia] is moderate to severe I would not overly restrict. I think then you can make some tradeoffs.”
5. Help them keep moving

“Exercise is one of the few things that everybody agrees helps prevent speeding of cognitive delays,” Powell says. “And it’s another way to get that happy feeling.”

Complete Article HERE!

‘Swedish death cleaning’ is the new decluttering trend

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It’s not what it sounds like.

My mother used to be addicted to the thrift store. She went every week for no purpose other than to browse for deals. Of course she found deals, being the shrewd and careful shopper that she is — gold earrings, fine china sets, silverware, high-quality linens, kitchen appliances, to name a few. The problem was that these deals came home. They filled the house, packing shelves and occupying counter space, to the point of feeling cramped.

Several years ago, I said to my mother in frustration, “It would be a nightmare to have to deal with all this stuff if you died tomorrow.” She looked at me, stunned. Up until then, I suspect she’d assumed that everyone appreciated her junk-treasures as much as she did. What ensued, mercifully, was a house purge. Mom removed much of her stuff and ceased her weekly pilgrimages to the thrift store, avoiding temptation.

That conversation revealed to me the importance of discussing the long-term intentions for one’s belongings. If I hadn’t said anything, I suspect it would have been decades before my 50-something-year-old mother realized what a burden her stuff would be on the family someday — and just think of all the additional things she could’ve accumulated in that time. It makes me shiver.

Enter “Swedish Death Cleaning.” (I’m not joking. This is for real.)

The first time I heard the term, I thought it meant some kind of hardcore Scandinavian house-cleaning routine (they take a lot of things seriously there), where you scour your home from top to bottom to the point of physical collapse, as in “working yourself to the bone.” Well, I was wrong.

The first time I heard the term, I thought it meant some kind of hardcore Scandinavian house-cleaning routine (they take a lot of things seriously there), where you scour your home from top to bottom to the point of physical collapse, as in “working yourself to the bone.” Well, I was wrong.

In Swedish, the word is “dostadning” and it refers to the act of slowly and steadily decluttering as the years go by, ideally beginning in your fifties (or at any point in life) and going until the day you kick the bucket. The ultimate purpose of death cleaning is to minimize the amount of stuff, especially meaningless clutter, that you leave behind for others to deal with.

A woman by the name of Margareta Magnusson, who says she’s between 80 and 100, has written a book titled “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter.” She says she has moved house 17 times over the course of her lifetime, which is why “I should know what I am talking about when it comes to deciding what to keep and what to throw away”. Reviewer Hannah-Rose Yee, who practiced some Swedish death cleaning herself, describes it as being “like Marie Kondo, but with an added sense of the transience and futility of this mortal existence.”

Magnusson says that the first secret to effective death cleaning is to speak about it always. Tell others what you’re doing so they can hold you accountable. Yee writes: “If you vocalise it, it will come. Or something like that.” Pass on your belongings in order to spread the happy memories.

The second key point is not to fear death cleaning:

“Death cleaning isn’t the story of death and its slow, ungainly inevitability. But rather the story of life, your life, the good memories and the bad. ‘The good ones you keep,’ Magnusson says. ‘The bad you expunge.'”

Finally, Magnusson encourages those engaging in Swedish death cleaning to reward their efforts with life-enhancing pleasures and activities, such as going to watch a movie, spending time in the garden, or eating an enjoyable meal. (Need I say no shopping?)

Who can possibly resist a decluttering philosophy with the name of ‘Swedish death cleaning’? Watch your friends’ eyebrows skyrocket when you pull this one out as an excuse for not wanting to go out next weekend. “Sorry, but I must engage in my Swedish death cleaning routine…”

Complete Article HERE!

After 73 Years of Marriage, This Canadian Couple Chose to Die on Their Own Terms

This is a truly beautiful story about two people dying.

By Hemant Mehta

George and Shirley Brickenden, who are 95 and 94, respectively, decided they didn’t want to wait any longer for death to arrive. They’d been married for 73 years and their bodies weren’t faring so well. Shirley had a heart attack in 2016 and nearly died; she now had rheumatoid arthritis and was in constant pain. George was found passed out, unconscious, on his birthday and his heart was also failing.

Under Canadian law, both of them qualify for what’s known as physician-assisted death. They’re older than 18, Canadian citizens, mentally competent, suffering from a “serious and incurable disease, illness or disability,” and in an “‘advanced state of irreversible decline,’ with enduring and intolerable suffering.” Furthermore, there was no coercion involved. They checked off all the boxes.

And both of them decided to end their lives together, in peace, at the same time last week.

Shortly before 7 p.m., Mrs. Brickenden turned to her husband. “Are you ready?

“Ready when you are,” he replied.

They walked into their bedroom and lay down together, holding hands. The two doctors, one for each patient, inserted intravenous lines into their arms.

Angela rubbed her mom’s feet. [Pamela] rubbed her dad’s. “They smiled, they looked at each other,” Pamela said. Then Mr. Brickenden looked at his children, standing at the end of the bed.

“I love you all,” he said.

This is exactly why the law was passed. Forcing people to live in pain is a form of torture. The Brickendens were able to get their lives in order, say goodbye one last time to their children, and end life hand in hand with the person they love most. If you were to imagine your own perfect death, it would probably look something like that.

And yet there are many religious groups that oppose letting people make that decision because it’s thwarting God’s plan for their lives. They’re so “pro-life,” they would rather see people suffer than die on their own terms. In some cases, like when a dying patient ends up at a Catholic hospital that doesn’t allow the procedure, the result is even more cruelty.

In Canada, however, this is now a legal procedure with sensible hurdles in place to prevent people from abusing it. It was made for situations like these. There may be certain situations where the moral thing to do isn’t always obvious, but this isn’t one of them.

Their mutual obituary is really incredible:

As age and overwhelming infirmities overtook them, on a beautiful spring day, after 73 years of marriage, they toasted each other with family and good champagne, held hands and left this life gently and together, on their own terms. This was their final act of love, hoping their act will pave the way for others who are suffering. They were fully at peace with this decision and had the support of their four devoted children who have always known this was how they wanted it to be when the time came. We are all forever grateful for the compassionate assistance of Dying with Dignity. They have blessed this earth together for 73 years and it’s time for them to bless the stars.

Instead of flowers, they asked for supporters to make donations to Dying with Dignity.

In the United States, death with dignity is only legal in six states and Washington, D.C. That leaves a lot of places where people who are ready to end life are forced to prolong it against their will. That needs to change.

Complete Article HERE!

How to Be Present in the Moment

Many of us are so used to living in the past or the future that we have no awareness of what being in the present means. Recent research has shown that we are not as conscious as we think we are. In fact, we are unconscious most of the time as we move about our day, with […]

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Many of us are so used to living in the past or the future that we have no awareness of what being in the present means. Recent research has shown that we are not as conscious as we think we are. In fact, we are unconscious most of the time as we move about our day, with only specific decisions making their way into our consciousness. Because of this, we struggle to live in the present because our mind swings from thought to thought, only briefly settling somewhere that captures our truest form of attention. To become more mindful and present in your life, focus on these three areas.

Unselfconsciousness

Thinking about yourself and how you appear to others takes you out of the moment. When in a situation you already feel anxious about, focusing on the anxious feeling worsens it. Instead of focusing on what’s going on in your head, think instead of what’s happening around you and how you are a part of that. Mindfulness blurs the line that exists between yourself and others. Without feelings of self-consciousness, you’re able to witness the passing of feelings and perception of being evaluated by others without feeling threatened and taking it personally.

Savoring

Being so caught up in our thoughts prevents us from truly experiencing and enjoying our own lives. Instead of appreciating what we’re experiencing, we think of when the next time we’ll get to experience this again is or how the experience could be better. Learning how to direct your attention allows you to become an expert at savoring the present moment. No matter what the moment is, take note of how you’re feeling in all of your senses. Taking a few extra minutes to savor daily activities helps you to feel more joy and happiness and fewer depressive symptoms. Savor the taste of food, rather than gulping it down. Savor the feeling of fresh air as you walk to your car rather than re-playing what happened in your meeting. Savor the smell of your favorite cologne, perfume or lotion to bring yourself into the moment. Because the majority of negative thoughts involve the past or future, thinking in the present forces you to stop ruminating on the past and stop catastrophizing about the future.

Acceptance

When faced with pain or discomfort, our natural reaction is to avoid it. Resisting unpleasant feelings and thoughts means you don’t have to face them. Humans have two types of emotions: primary and secondary. Secondary emotions are ones that we feel around other feelings. When we feel stressed out about being busy at work, the primary emotion is the stress surrounding your workload. The secondary emotion is hating feeling stressed. Instead of fighting these emotions, allow yourself to take them in. Be open to how you feel in the present moment without judging your feelings or trying to push them away. Focusing on your secondary emotions instead of feeling your primary ones actually prolongs the negative feelings. Accepting these emotions doesn’t mean you like them and want to feel this way forever. It instead means that there are some things you can’t change, and how you feel right now is one of those things. Accepting your feelings doesn’t mean resigning to them.

Applying these three techniques will help you develop PRESENCE. When you are able to bring your presence to each situation in your life, be it at work, in your relationship, or even when hanging out with friends, the quality of your life experience will increase dramatically.

Complete Article HERE!

How to Live Life with a Conscious Mind

The power to think and act is special to human beings and we must exercise this power in whatever we do. The major hindrance “to think and act” is an alliance between our opinion about ourselves and how we should live our life. To live life more consciously we need to break this alliance and […]

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The power to think and act is special to human beings and we must exercise this power in whatever we do.

The major hindrance “to think and act” is an alliance between our opinion about ourselves and how we should live our life. To live life more consciously we need to break this alliance and focus on these two factors independently.

In the first case, when we make an opinion, we keep ourselves on a higher level, which means we consider ourselves different from others and in that consideration, we pose ourselves as superior.

This superiority is reflected in our thoughts and actions. In whatever we do, we begin comparing ourselves with others and take key decisions of our lives. It gets into our habit and makes us do things unconsciously.

It creates a chain like we meet one person in life whom we admire, we want to become like that person, we copy the traits of that person, get a superior feeling, and then find the next person to admire and copy.

We do this unconsciously, churning out copies of human traits.

Breaking the Habit

Some habits may seem useful.

For example, we often read about people who have transformed their lives by doing a particular thing, and we also want to give it a try. At that moment, we start believing that key to the happiness of our lives, the missing link, is that one thing which we are not doing.

This unconscious habit of copying others, setting other people as standard, and achieve that standard to feel superior or make our lives better than what we have now tied ourselves into a never-ending loop.

To break this habit, we must keep ourselves in the center, and learn about our “self” and do things that make that “self” happy.

Demolish the Boundaries

There are many boundaries we have set against “living our life”. Some boundaries are social, some are mental, and others are physical.

We live our entire life within these boundaries because again we attach a sense of superiority to them.

A common example is we decide what we should wear and where should we live within these boundaries. And we create opinions based on that, like a person of a certain age should get married, a person of a certain age should wear this, a person studying should behave like this.

We act and live within the periphery of the boundary, like a cow tied to a post, whereas the world and our ability to do the things in the world is vast.

To live life with a conscious mind, we need to see things in a more open perspective. We need to get into the life, whatever may come, explore the world with a conscious, open mind, and to do that we need to demolish the boundaries we have set to live our life in certain away.

Follow No Pattern

The moment you see that you are following a certain pattern, getting married at a certain age, making a boyfriend because everybody near you is having a boyfriend, wanting to make money as most of the people around you are rich, you need to stop right there.

Keep yourself in the center, shake off pattern, think consciously like what you want and start living a life that you totally own.

Complete Article HERE!

The Shortness of Life:

Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long

By Maria Popova

How we spend our days, Annie Dillard memorably wrote in her soul-stretching meditation on the life of presence, “is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And yet most of us spend our days in what Kierkegaard believed to be our greatest source of unhappiness — a refusal to recognize that “busy is a decision” and that presence is infinitely more rewarding than productivity. I frequently worry that being productive is the surest way to lull ourselves into a trance of passivity and busyness the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being.

Despite a steadily swelling human life expectancy, these concerns seem more urgent than ever — and yet they are hardly unique to our age. In fact, they go as far back as the record of human experience and endeavor. It is unsurprising, then, that the best treatment of the subject is also among the oldest: Roman philosopher Seneca’s spectacular 2,000-year-old treatise On the Shortness of Life (public library) — a poignant reminder of what we so deeply intuit yet so easily forget and so chronically fail to put into practice.

Seneca writes:

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

Millennia before the now-tired adage that “time is money,” Seneca cautions that we fail to treat time as a valuable resource, even though it is arguably our most precious and least renewable one:

People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.

To those who so squander their time, he offers an unambiguous admonition:

You are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply — though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire… How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end! How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived!

Nineteen centuries later, Bertrand Russell, another of humanity’s greatest minds, lamented rhetorically, “What will be the good of the conquest of leisure and health, if no one remembers how to use them?” But even Seneca, writing in the first century, saw busyness — that dual demon of distraction and preoccupation — as an addiction that stands in the way of mastering the art of living:

No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied … since the mind when distracted absorbs nothing deeply, but rejects everything which is, so to speak, crammed into it. Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man; yet there is nothing which is harder to learn… Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.

In our habitual compulsion to ensure that the next moment contains what this one lacks, Seneca suggests, we manage to become, as another wise man put it, “accomplished fugitives from ourselves.” Seneca writes:

Everyone hustles his life along, and is troubled by a longing for the future and weariness of the present. But the man who … organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day… Nothing can be taken from this life, and you can only add to it as if giving to a man who is already full and satisfied food which he does not want but can hold. So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.

Seneca is particularly skeptical of the double-edged sword of achievement and ambition — something David Foster Wallace would later eloquently censure — which causes us to steep in our cesspool of insecurity, dissatisfaction, and clinging:

It is inevitable that life will be not just very short but very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil. They achieve what they want laboriously; they possess what they have achieved anxiously; and meanwhile they take no account of time that will never more return. New preoccupations take the place of the old, hope excites more hope and ambition more ambition. They do not look for an end to their misery, but simply change the reason for it.

This, Seneca cautions, is tenfold more toxic for the soul when one is working for the man, as it were, and toiling away toward goals laid out by another:

Indeed the state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations, but must regulate their sleep by another’s, and their walk by another’s pace, and obey orders in those freest of all things, loving and hating. If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect how small a portion is their own.

In one particularly prescient aside, Seneca makes a remark that crystallizes what is really at stake when a person asks, not to mention demands, another’s time — an admonition that applies with poignant precision to the modern malady of incessant meeting requests and the rather violating barrage of People Wanting Things:

All those who call you to themselves draw you away from yourself.

[…]

I am always surprised to see some people demanding the time of others and meeting a most obliging response. Both sides have in view the reason for which the time is asked and neither regards the time itself — as if nothing there is being asked for and nothing given. They are trifling with life’s most precious commodity, being deceived because it is an intangible thing, not open to inspection and therefore reckoned very cheap — in fact, almost without any value.

He suggests that protecting our time is essential self-care, and the opposite a dangerous form of self-neglect:

Nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing… We have to be more careful in preserving what will cease at an unknown point.

He captures what a perilous form of self-hypnosis our trance of busyness is:

No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.

But even “more idiotic,” to use his unambiguous language, than keeping ourselves busy is indulging the vice of procrastination — not the productivity-related kind, but the existential kind, that limiting longing for certainty and guarantees, which causes us to obsessively plan and chronically put off pursuing our greatest aspirations and living our greatest truths on the pretext that the future will somehow provide a more favorable backdrop:

Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.

Seneca reframes this with an apt metaphor:

You must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow… Just as travelers are beguiled by conversation or reading or some profound meditation, and find they have arrived at their destination before they knew they were approaching it; so it is with this unceasing and extremely fast-moving journey of life, which waking or sleeping we make at the same pace — the preoccupied become aware of it only when it is over.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his own occupation, Seneca points to the study of philosophy as the only worthwhile occupation of the mind and spirit — an invaluable teacher that helps us learn how to inhabit our own selves fully in this “brief and transient spell” of existence and expands our short lives sideways, so that we may live wide rather than long. He writes:

Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have passed before them are added to their own. Unless we are very ungrateful, all those distinguished founders of holy creeds were born for us and prepared for us a way of life. By the toil of others we are led into the presence of things which have been brought from darkness into light.

[…]

From them you can take whatever you wish: it will not be their fault if you do not take your fill from them. What happiness, what a fine old age awaits the man who has made himself a client of these! He will have friends whose advice he can ask on the most important or the most trivial matters, whom he can consult daily about himself, who will tell him the truth without insulting him and praise him without flattery, who will offer him a pattern on which to model himself.

Perhaps most poignantly, however, Seneca suggests that philosophy offers a kind of spiritual reparenting to those of us who didn’t win the lottery of existence and didn’t benefit from the kind of nurturing, sound, fully present parenting that is so essential to the cultivation of inner wholeness:

We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be. There are households of the noblest intellects: choose the one into which you wish to be adopted, and you will inherit not only their name but their property too. Nor will this property need to be guarded meanly or grudgingly: the more it is shared out, the greater it will become. These will offer you a path to immortality and raise you to a point from which no one is cast down. This is the only way to prolong mortality — even to convert it to immortality.

On the Shortness of Life is a sublime read in its pithy totality. Complement it with some Montaigne’s timeless lessons on the art of living and Alan Watts on how to live with presence.

Thanks, Liz

Complete Article HERE!

Why Is Death Left Out Of Wellness?

Here’s How To Start The End-Of-Life Conversation

By Shoshana Ungerleider, M.D.

As an internal medicine physician practicing in a busy urban hospital setting, I care for people of all ages who have never considered their own mortality. Far too often, this results in an experience at the end of life that doesn’t embody the goals and values of the life they have lived. They suffer, and so do the people they love. It’s led me to question, why is this?

For the vast majority of human history, we have been thoughtful and intentional about death. Without the benefits of modern medicine, we cared for our family members at home when they became ill. When people died, they were laid out in the parlor of the home, surrounded by family, and ancient death rituals were performed. Death was an expected occurrence that was accepted and planned for. Our cultural understanding, at least in the West, began to deteriorate about a century ago as death became increasingly medicalized.

Despite our culture’s propensity to share just about everything, the idea of death remains a cultural taboo, keeping us from personal reflection, discussion with those we love, and planning ahead.

Why death is left out of the wellness conversation.

There are only two things we really know for sure: We are born, and we will die. As a culture, we invest in nutrition, exercise, and spiritual well-being as a means to live well—but a critical part of living well is dying well. A recognition of our own mortality can allow us to live an even more fulfilled life. We become better people who feel more grateful for our experiences every day.

While historically many people pondered death and the idea of an afterlife through the lens of religion, the growing number of Americans turning away from organized religion and seeking a hybrid spiritual identity invites us to actively explore other cultures’ practices around death, both past and present. Almost every philosophical and spiritual tradition encourages thinking regularly about death to not only reduce our fears but ultimately, to live a more authentic, meaningful, and even joyful life.

How to bring end-of-life discussions into the wellness movement.

No matter your spiritual or religious beliefs, here are six steps to take action toward living more comfortably with death:

1. Take time for personal reflection about what matters most to you.

Make it count, and make it a regular practice. I like using my birthday as an annual reminder to step back and reflect.

2. Recognize which relationships matter most to you.

Think about the one or two people in your life who you would want to speak for you if you were unable to speak for yourself, AND ask them to serve as your health care proxy.

3. Have a conversation about your values and priorities.

I like the card game Go Wish to help with this conversation. Go Wish has 35 cards with simple prompts about what might matter most if you are seriously ill or at the end of your life. The goal: to facilitate a conversation and prioritize what’s important so those who have to make decisions for you will know your wishes.

4. Document your wishes.

Do this in the form of an advanced health care directive or living will, and make sure your health care proxy has a copy.

5. Discuss your wishes with your health care provider.

You don’t need to wait for them to bring it up. You can start the conversation about your end-of-life preferences with your health care provider at your next visit.

6. Revisit your wishes annually.

As new circumstances arise or your health condition changes, review your wishes annually with your loved ones.

End-of-life wellness looks different for everyone. The goal is to identify what is most important to you, regularly check back in with yourself, and create a network of people who support your values. Give one of these steps a try today, and see how it goes. You might be surprised that by making choices about how you want to live and die, you feel inspired to live life to the fullest.

Complete Article HERE!