For Help with Family and Friends

  • What To Do After the Loss of a Loved One
  • Protecting Your Pet From Disaster
  • Helping Your Child Excel in School
  • Skills For Helping Students Stay Organized
  • Gift Ideas for Seniors

What to do After the Loss of a Loved One

The  unthinkable happens…a loved one dies.  Here is a helpful guide adapted  by Bet from the winter issue of  Thrivent magazine and written by Nancy  Fitzgerald.

Right away:

  • Call  one family member or trusted friend and ask others to place  the rest of  the calls for you.  People really want to help.  Let them  help with  some of the practical things that need to be done.
  • Call your pastor who can offer compassion, care, and help planning the memorial service for your loved one.
  • Call a funeral home.  Working within your budget, the funeral director can help you make necessary plans.
  • Take  care of yourself.  Eat healthy food and drink.  Accept the  care of  family and friends.  Give yourself permission to take as long  as you  need to adjust to your loss.

In the weeks ahead:

  • The  estate will need to be settled.  Set up a filing system with a  folder  for each financial institution or task.  This can be in a  filing cabinet  or an easily transportable storage box.
  • Order  multiple copies of the death certificate.  You’ll need to  send them to  insurance companies, banks and others.  You can order  these from the  funeral home.
  • Locate  the will, trust, and/or any related legal documents and  discuss the  estate with an experienced attorney.  If there was no plan  in place,  speak to your attorney about the next steps.
  • Cancel credit cards and stop automatic payments when applicable. 
  • Notify  Social Security.  Surviving spouses may be entitled  to a one-time  payment toward funeral expenses.  Do not cash any  Social  Security checks made out to your loved one after he or she has  died.
  • Notify the employer, or, if retired, the retirement plan administrator.
  • If your loved one was a veteran, notify Veterans Affairs.
  • Have all valuables, such as jewelry, paintings, tools, and
      equipment professionally appraised for tax purposes.

Very important:

  • Try to wait at least one year before making any major
      financial decisions, such as selling your house. 
  • Give yourself time to process your emotions.
  • Avoid making decisions in haste without good counsel.

Put your own affairs in order.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would you want done in regard to medical treatment
      in the event of a life-threatening illness?  Have a “Living Will”.
  • What kind of funeral or memorial service would you like?
  • Are  you willing to donate your body or organs?  Have you made  arrangements  to do so?  Contact your state government to receive donor  cards to keep  in your wallet.
  • Do  you need to change the beneficiary(ies) on your life insurance   contract, IRA, annuities and similar assets?  For example, did you   update these documents after a marriage or divorce, or after the birth   of a child?
  • Are  your real estate holdings, stocks, bonds and other financial   instruments titled so that they can pass easily to those you wish?
  • Do  you have an up-to-date will?  If so, does your family know  where it and  other important papers, like bank account records, are  kept? 


Protect Your Pet From Disaster

Disasters can strike without warning. If you have a pet, here's some tips reprinted from Parade Magazine, July 9, 2006.

"You Can Protect Your Pet From Disaster" - By Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson

When  Hurricane Katrina slammed  the Gulf Coast last summer, many evacuating  residents were forced to  leave their pets behind. Animal-lovers won't  soon forget the images of  thousands of lost pets, alone and afraid,  wandering the abandoned  streets. Any of us could be forced to flee in an  emergency. With 163  million dogs and cats depending on us for their  care, we need to plan  for our pets as we plan for ourselves.

Here's how:

ID Your Pet:

  • Lost   pets are much more likely to be reunited with their families if they   are easily identifiable. 
  • All animals should have ID tags that include a   cell-phone number, since your home phone likely will be useless in a   disaster. 
  • Microchips can provide fail-safe proof of ownership. Injected   under your pet's skin, these rice-sized chips contain an ID number and   other information. The implant remains forever, readable with a   hand-held scanner. A clinic may offer microchips at low cost. Check  with  the nearest shelter or your veterinarian. 
  • Take several  pictures of  your pet. Be sure to get front and side views, and groomed  and  ungroomed photos for long-haired dogs.

Pack an emergency Pet Box:

  • You  should have a special travel box ready for your dog or cat.  In addition  to basic first-aid supplies, here are some essentials:
  • Food  and clean water to last several days. For water, a SteriPEN  (sold at  camping stores and on the Web) uses ultraviolet light to kill  bacteria,  viruses and protozoa.
  • A small box with some lightweight litter for your cat. (Make sure it's a brand he or she knows well.)
  • Copies  of your pet's records. Proof of vaccinations (especially  rabies), a  list of medications, photos and other ID information should  be stored in  a sealed plastic bag.
  • A list of emergency numbers of veterinary clinics, shelters, nearby friends and hotels that accept pets.
  • Any other "can't live without" item. A familiar toy can make a big difference during a bad time.

Be Prepared to Evacuate Quickly:

  • During  a crisis, there's no time to hash out transport plans.  Leashes and  collars for dogs and harnesses for cats (all with tags!)  should hang  with car keys by the door. In an emergency, you may need to  confine your  animal in a carrier. If he resists, you might be forced  to leave him  behind. Training your pet now to accept a crate or carrier  could save  his life.
  • If  you must leave your animals behind, bring them inside and  leave them  loose in the safest part of your home with as much food and  water as  possible. Self-feeders and automated water bowls can supply  food or  water over many days. (Pick a food your pet isn't wild about,  so he or  she won't binge on it all at once.) Set the food and water in a  corner,  away from doors and windows. Also affix a sticker to a window  or door  indicating the number of animals inside your home and your  contact  information.
  • Congress  recently introduced the Pets Evacuation and  Transportation Standards  Act, which would require state and local  authorities to make plans for  people and their animals to safely flee  in a disaster. Check your town's  evacuation policies and lobby to have  them changed if they do not  accommodate pets.
  • Brian  Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson are animal trainers and the  authors of  several best-selling books on pet care, including "Good  Owners, Great  Dogs."

Helping Your Child Excel In School

Reprinted from the September, 2006, newsletter of the Penn Foundation,
 Behavioral Health Services in Sellersville, Pennsylvania

Summer is over and school has begun. Helping to make the back-to-school
 transition smoother and to enable your child to excel in school begins in the
 home with building self-esteem and responsibility. There are many things
 you can do to help your child build self-esteem and become more
 self-confident. Here are a few strategies:

  • Give your child daily or weekly chores-this will help him/her to
      develop a sense of responsibility and success in doing something well.
  • Let your child teach you or others; kids love to teach and help.
  • Encourage  your child to become an expert in something that  interests him/her;  provide opportunities to accomplish this. Let  his/her teachers know  about his special knowledge.
  • Play with your child…children learn best (and the most) by playing! Remember to have fun with your child.

Remember  that excelling in school  is not all about the academics. School is a  place to learn, make  friends, and participate in arts and sports as well  as a place to help  children grow. When you take the time to help your  child, it can (and  does) influence school success. Some tips to  encourage success in  school are:

  • Encourage  him/her to participate in clubs, sports, art and/or  music-whatever fits  with your child's interest. Collaborate with  coaches and group leaders  about your child's learning/emotional  difficulties.
  • Set  a study time and stick to it. Involve your child making the  schedule.  Turn off the TV and radio so there are no distractions.
  • Be  available to help if your child has questions about his/her  homework.  If you do not know the answer, it can become a project in  which you work  together to solve it.
  • Talk  with your child daily and really listen to what he/she says.  Ask about  new ideas he/she has learned or other projects he/she is  working on.
  • Get  to know your child's teachers, counselors, and principal. Let  them know  you are interested in your child's progress in school.

Success  in school is not always  measured by the grades your child receives.  Success is better measured  by how well you have helped and supported  your child to do his/her  best, by how well you have instilled an  enjoyment of learning, and by  setting realistic goals and celebrating  achievements and successes.  With each success, children gain confidence  in themselves and in their  abilities that will spill over into other  areas of their lives.

Some helpful websites for parents from Forbes/Business Digest:

  • Kidshealth.org - a huge collection of age-appropriate articles by pediatricians
  • Familyfun.com - a web version of the Disney magazine brimming with crafts, recipes and activities
  • ACDE.org  - (American Council for Drug Education) - an  informative, no nonsense  primer about drugs; gives tips on how to  discuss drugs with your kids
  • About.com/parenting - plenty of links, chats, news and features on a wide scope of parenting topics.
  • Familyeducation.com - bring together families, educators and schools
  • Screenit.com - this mom and pop team screens films in astounding detail


Skills For Helping Students Stay Organized

Here's a few tips to help you or your student get organized and stay organized; organization is a key to success!

  • Backpack cleaned out every day.
  • Place  in kitchen--basket, folder, file on wall--for parent(s) to  see papers,  sign papers, return papers, leave messages for teacher,  etc.
  • Have  a place that is reserved at a certain time of the day for  the student  to study. Preferably a desk in his/her room. If a kitchen  table have  paper, pencils, erasers, dictionary etc, available nearby so  the student  will not "roam" looking for these items. Have them in one  drawer or in a  basket that can be put on the table for the student.
  • If  your student has trouble concentrating, make sure all  distractions are  turned off--tv, radio, computer games. Some students  need a little noise  in the background to concentrate. Observe your  student's ability to  keep to the task under different conditions and  make his/her study area  conducive to those conditions.
  • Have  one day a week when their study area must be cleaned up and  put in  order. The easy way to bring order to a messy area is organizing  by  "subject". School supplies in one drawer. Pending assignments, like  book  reports or term papers, in another drawer. Be consistent. Keep  related  items together. Go through piles of paper to weed out old  out-dated  items.
  • Have a bulletin board in your students' room so important items can be seen and not lost.
  • Have a large squared calendar easily accessible to your student to write when reports are due.
  • Keep their room clean and attractive so they will want to be there to study.
  • Block  out time to talk to your student every day about the  progress being  made on assignments. Have a time you talk about problems  with school or  friends so they know you care about all areas of their  lives. Problems  with friends can affect their school work.
  • Let  them pick what is for dinner one night a week, within your  budget. They  only get this privilege if their room is clean before the  meal is  eaten.

Gift Suggestions For Seniors

Have  a senior family member, neighbor, or  friend? Looking for a nice way to  thank, award, or bless them? Check  out these gift suggestions for  seniors. These will ease their days, add  excitement to their lives, or  make them feel special and appreciated.

  • Gift certificates for their favorite grocery store, deli, or pharmacy.
  • An assortment of greeting cards for birthdays and anniversaries, as well as get-well and sympathy cards.
  • Gift certificates for haircuts, manicures, dry cleaning, restaurant meals, theater tickets, videos and department stores.
  • Prepaid long distance phone cards.
  • Bus passes or coupons for senior transportation or taxis.
  • Postcards or lined stationery and envelopes with a generous supply of stamps.
  • A "paid in advance" certificate for lawn mowings or snow removal by a neighborhood youngster.
  • A  "certificate" for a service you can perform that is difficult  for  them-a thorough house cleaning, a month's laundry, a handyman visit  for  home safety inspection and minor repairs.
  • An  offer to rewrite their address book in larger, more legible  print, or  better yet, to put it on Rolodex cards so updating is almost  effortless  and much neater.
  • A month of Sunday drives to church, or to the country, the museum or the park.
  • A subscription to their favorite magazine or the daily newspaper.
  • A basket of goodies assembled especially for them-cans of
      ham, tuna, chicken, hearty soups, chili and stew, instant
      coffee and tea bags, crackers, instant soup mixes.
  • A selection of their treasured, tattered photos retouched
      and placed into a new album, with captions.
  • Large print calendars with family birthdays, anniversaries,
      etc., marked and personalized with family photos
  • Payment of utilities for a month or two can be sent directly
      to the utility-then let the recipients know they have "extra"
      money to spend as they wish.
  • A cordless phone or answering machine or service
  • Membership in a gym
  • Anything they won't have to dust!