The Story of a Life Time, My Last Soundtrack

An E-Legacy

Today, you’d be hard-pressed not to find traces of someone on the internet.  People will share just about everything with the world allowing each of us a brief glimpse into their life. I’ve often wondered what happens to these pages if the person who owned them passes away. Would the last post or image they share reflect how they would want to be remembered?

What if there was a place that allowed us to record our own story? Not by the everyday musings of our social media pages, but rather by a space designed for us to share our e-legacy with our friends and loved ones our favorite songs, write our most meaningful memories, or display our precious photos. A place that we could feel confident that if we were to pass away the story of our time here on earth would be written by none other than ourselves.

My Last Soundtrack (MLS) has done just this.  Through their innovative and thoughtful lens, My Last Soundtrack has created a safe and welcoming space for anyone wanting to share their story, leave a legacy, or give the gift of collective memories to family and loved ones.

#Disrupters

Founders Carl Hammerdorfer and Joe Cannon began MLS as an opportunity to personalize the music played at our funerals or memorials. Since its conception, however, it has grown into so much more. And through a new lens of the dying process created an opportunity for family and loved ones to better prepare themselves for the end of life.

Last week I had the exciting opportunity to speak with Sue Kemple, the CEO of MLS, and Ally Cannon, Director of Marketing, to learn more about the site and the goals and solutions it seeks to offer the field of aging. Having already written a book on her own experience with grief and intrigued by the idea of applying digital solutions for individuals to cope with death and grieving, Sue saw an opportunity to expand the scope of MLS to individuals on Hospice. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.01.58 PM.pngA welcoming and customizable platform to share our story, MLS also becomes a tool, which will allow end of life conversations to occur more organically. MLS is committed to the idea of living well, dying better, and being remembered the right way. Their platform disrupts sterile conversations we have around the dying process and creates a gateway for people to better prepare for their advance directives in the comforts of home with close family and friends.

My Last Soundtrack

In addition to connecting with Sue and Ally, I was able to create my own Last Soundtrack!  I was pleasantly surprised about how easy the site was to use and customize. And the end result was a beautiful design, which I can continue to add and change as needed! The best part is I can also share with those closest to me who I think would appreciate such a personal gift.

 

 

As I was customizing my own site, I couldn’t help but think of what a great tool this could be for family caregivers caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  In Nursing Homes, the Activities Department is often required to conduct an assessment on a new resident’s likes and dislikes.  It becomes a helpful tool if and when the same resident is no longer able to express their interest we have a record and can quickly adapt activities to their past preferences.

An MLS site has the fantastic potential to allow families to collect their loved one’s favorite songs, their hobbies, or even memories and use them as reminiscing activities while providing future care.

Dying Better 

No matter what stage of life you are in My Last Soundtrack is a unique and fun way to tell your life story. However, through the lens of aging, MLS has created a space where we can forget about the concerns and fears we hold towards dying and refocus our attention on what matters: the life we have led, the music we loved, and the people we have been blessed with to share the journey.

To learn more about My Last Soundtrack and to create your own site check out www.mylastsoundtrack.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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Look for their logo Ed The Raven

 

3 Things to Consider as you Devise a Plan to Age in Place

age-in-place

Designing a Plan to Age in Place

The desire to stay in our homes as we age is more popular now than ever. However, there is a growing segment of our population that are being lost by systems due to no longer having access to transportation, a lack of family support, a recent loss of a spouse, or a recent decline in cognition.

Typically the most substantial issues found for this population while aging in place are; falls, lack of accessible transportation, and isolation. These are mostly non-medical matters, which makes it difficult to fully rely on the health care system to meet their largest needs.

The 65 and older community is the largest population receiving health services. But, even if a person is admitted to the hospital with a fall injury, this encounter with the system does not necessarily replace the carpet the person tripped on.

To sustainably age, in place, we should plan for in-home supports, identify resources in our community, and educate ourselves on what to look out for within our home.

Identifying Resources

Our neighbors, family, friends are our primary supports system.  Having conversations about how we would like to age in place, making a point to outline important aspects of our daily routine, and even creating an action plan in cases of an emergency should be priority conversations with those closest to us.

Having this type of support system and educating them on what signs to look for (i.e. mail piling up or overgrown grass) can help ensure we are checked in on at the first evidence of trouble.

We might not always have family or neighbors to count on, and in this case, it is also important to do a bit of research to see what type of resources are available to us in our community.

Partners in Care  in Maryland is a great organization who for over twenty years has supported older adults remaining in the homes they love and keeping them meaningfully engaged in their communities.  Finding a care team like theirs in our community is an excellent way of ensuring reliable transportation, that we receive general repairs when we need them, and even more importantly we can always count on them to brighten our days with a simple conversation.

A Safe and Secure Home Checklist

AGIS- Assist Guide Information Services provides us with an excellent tool to assess our homes safety and security.  The checklist ranges from the General living area to our personal safety as we navigate through our homes.

General Living Areas Yes No Action Taken
Is there adequate lighting throughout the house?
Are there night lights where needed?
Is home well ventilated?
Are all doorways accessible and easy to operate?

Assuring that the physical layout of our homes and the items within are placed in a way that creates a safe and secure living environment for our aging needs is critical to the ability to continue to live in our homes. This type of prevention could also decrease the risk of falls and subsequently trips to the emergency room.

Preparation is key

The aging process, at times, can be unpredictable and of course we cannot always anticipate for all of our future needs. However, we can create a plan and identify how and where we would like to spend our better years.  Spending time to research resources in our communities, having conversations with those closest to us, and assessing our homes ability to meet our future needs are all places we can begin the planning process towards our ability to age where we want.

 

 

How can we plan for the future? Designing for Older Adults, Livable Communities, and Aging in Place.

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The other day as I was out shopping a woman fell just outside of a department store. The step out front of the store was barely painted, and the store did very little to come to her aid. In conversation with an employee, she admitted that this isn’t the first time an older adult fell outside of their store, on the same step, and that they often drive away without seeking medical attention.

As for the woman, numerous passerby came to her aid, but she was noticeably (and rightfully) in a bit of shock from the event and although numerous attempts were made to have her seek help she ultimately got into her car and drove away.

Neglecting to incorporate age-friendly design can have a domino effect on the life of our older adults. 

Still, days later, I can’t help but think how this situation could have been avoided.

If we created our public spaces with the older adults needs in mind, this woman could have gone home only to worry about the beautiful blouse she neglected to buy. Instead, her independence was called into question as she stood there alone surrounded by so many strangers she murmured, “I will call my children to help.”

Falls have an emotionally scarring impact on all of us. After a tumble, we become more careful and timid while walking or during our regular routines. Although I can’t speak for this women, it is feasible that she will avoid shopping at this store…not for lack of interest in the products but rather out of fear she could fall again.

And let’s face it, falling as an older adult is much different than falling at any other age.

Yes, injuries can be much more severe and recovery time can be much longer but maybe even worse than the physical injuries themselves is the sudden ever cautious and watchful eyes of our loved ones. After a fall, statements like “be careful” when mentioning going out to the store, or, “Are you sure? Why don’t you let me do that for you instead” become a part of each conversation.

Age-friendly designs in the community 

Efficiently designing for older adults requires design thinking because it is crucial that thinking, empathy, and emotion are incorporated into the design. An efficient design will allow an older adult to continue to age independently and make them feel safe and secure in their surroundings.

Making the transition to an age-friendly community can be a process. However, there are relatively small-scale design features a community can implement to get the innovation process started. In the figures below, there are photographs of how small design fixes can offer big improvements.

Sidewalk Ramps

The first picture below depicts a sidewalk ramp slightly elevated from the street. The slight elevation creates a physical constraint for someone in a wheelchair or walking with a walker. As ramps allow us to regain access to the sidewalk, it becomes essential that bumps are removed so that wheelchairs and walkers can move smoothly back onto the sidewalk.

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The next picture demonstrates a level ramp between street and sidewalk.  A smooth ramp provides users with much easier accessibility to the sidewalk and will allow someone to move quickly out of the busy street.

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Creating an Age-friendly sidewalk ramp

Crosswalks 

The picture below shows a faded crosswalk at a busy intersection. The crosswalk is barely visible to drivers and pedestrians alike. A crosswalk is a symbol for the driver to slow down and to allow pedestrians to cross; however, if it is faded and indistinguishable to a driver, it no longer demonstrates a relationship between pedestrians crossing and need to slow down.

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Older adults depend on crosswalks to know when and where they can safely cross the street. Faded walks not only confuse drivers but can also be difficult for seniors attempting to pass.

The picture below, however, is good for both pedestrian and driver. The visible lines allow both parties to distinguish the space as a crosswalk, which provides feedback to the driver to slow down for the pedestrians who are crossing. And the best part is, it only takes a little paint!

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Creating an Age-friendly Crosswalk

 

When we create homes and communities with the older adult in mind, we are simulating an experience for all community members to not only be conscious of the needs of the older adult but also to show that with just a few adjustments, older adults can continue to live independently and contribute to their neighborhoods.

Image Sources:
International Federation on Aging Global Communities. (2013, April). Retrieved August 2016, from http://www.ifa-fiv.org/enews/april-2013/
Brookline Community Aging Network. (n.d.). Brookline Can. Retrieved August 6, 2016, from Pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and crossings: http://www.brooklinecan.org/livable_community.html