family

Steps to Leaving a Family Legacy
 Leaving something behind for your loved ones, like a family legacy, will not only help them in life but will help them down the road.

A family legacy is a great way to have loved ones remember you and all that you have done.

May was National Leave a Legacy month, a public awareness campaign that encourages people to leave a gift to a favorite charity when they die. The idea was to support a cause that was near and dear to your heart with money as a lasting family legacy, kind of a footprint to be remembered by those in your community.

Most people hope that their life matters. Maybe you don’t have the money to leave to a charity. A financial gift can do a lot, but according to Billy Graham, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” Although no one likes to consider their death, the best way to leave a legacy is to consider it now. Here are five things to think about when planning your legacy:

  1. What’s most important to you in your life?

Think about what you want to leave as your legacy. If your family were to think of you 10 years after you die, what would you want them to remember?

  1. Where did you find inspiration or transformation in your life’s journey?

Maybe you had a life-changing moment in a college class. Were you touched by cancer? What has made you who you are today?

  1. What blessings have you been given that you want to share with others?

These blessings could be tangible, for example, a set of chinaware given to you by your grandmother, or intangible, such as peace or kindness. If you have tangible items that your family doesn’t appreciate, think about who might use the objects. Check with local museums or charities.

  1. What causes are important to you?

Most people support at least one organization in some way. It could be a church or synagogue. Maybe you have a favorite 5K run you do each year. Your passion is your legacy.

  1. Who do you mentor?

Mentoring isn’t always a formal relationship. You can mentor people in your family, your church or your community just by being available. These relationships can last a lifetime, even after the period of mentorship is over. These people are your legacy.

Planning a Family Legacy

Your will is not a legacy, but it can be part of it. A written memorial can help your family know what you want after your death, but your legacy encompasses so much more. Whether you plan to leave a legacy or not, you will have a legacy. You may not ever think about how people will remember you, but they will remember who you were and what your passions were. You can’t really tell people how to think of you after you die, but you can leave ideas on how you want to be remembered.

Think about the people in your life who have passed on. Maybe you remember your grandpa smoking a pipe and telling stories. For some, it might be the smell of fresh apple pie coming from Aunt Mabel’s kitchen. Those are the legacies of your loved ones. It’s likely that Aunt Mabel never told you to remember her apple pie, but you did. Your children and grandchildren are likely to be the same way.

Those activities and character traits you pursue will be your legacy. What you’ve been dedicated to throughout your life is what you will be honored for. If you don’t like the legacy you are leaving, then it’s time to change your life. Maybe you will want to give money to a charity or leave a note to your family about something special to you. More importantly, think about relationships, faith and character. Are you living the way you want to be remembered?

Holding a Holiday Wedding – Pros and Cons
Holiday Wedding Ceremony

Some people think that a Holiday Wedding will be easier due to family being in town, however it can cause more harm than good.

All of your family will be home for Christmas, which might make you think holding a Holiday wedding on that weekend would be good. But will it? Christmas and Thanksgiving aren’t the only holidays that are wedding favorites; Valentine’s Day or Easter weekend are other special events where people consider marrying. Before planning your celebration of vows on a three-day weekend, consider the advantages and disadvantages.

The Benefits of a Holiday Weekend

  • If you’re having a destination weekend, more of your family and friends might have time off to travel.
  • Even if you’re staying at home, you probably get more vacation time around certain holidays. This lets you steal a few extra days to get ready for the ceremony or to go on the honeymoon.
  • You can work more themes into your wedding if you’re holding it over a holiday weekend.
  • It’s just one more holiday party for guests to have when they’re taking time off work.
  • Celebrating future anniversaries is easier, because you can always remember the date. And if it’s around a holiday, you’ll know you’ll be able to get an extra day off.

The Disadvantages of Holding Your Wedding on a Holiday

  • Guests may have other standing plans with family or other holiday obligations.
  • You can’t assume people have vacation days around the holidays. People who work retail may be required to work extra shifts during the Christmas season. Healthcare workers may not be able to apply for time off.
  • December is already expensive for many people. Adding the extra expense of a wedding may be prohibitive. While you’re not having the wedding to get gifts, you certainly don’t want to make it harder for those who want to give you a present.
  • Airfare can be higher during holidays because the demand is higher.

Etiquette for a Holiday Wedding

If you’ve had your heart set on a wedding held on New Year’s Day or Valentine’s Day, then go for it. Be understanding when guests decline the invitation. After all, it’s a request for their presence, not a command. Here are some tips to help your guests make decisions about whether they can attend your wedding over a holiday weekend.

  1. Give your guests a lot of notice. Send save-the-date cards a little earlier. Remember, if you send someone a save-the-date card, you should send them an invitation. Make your guest list first. Don’t send out save-the-date cards indiscriminately. One wedding website recommends at least a year in advance with a holiday wedding.
  2. Give more RSVP time. You should also plan time to follow up with RSVPs.
  3. Use the holiday as a starting point. Don’t play Christmas music at your Christmas wedding. You want people to remember your day, not the holiday.
  4. Incorporate touches of decorations from the holiday, but don’t overdo. You can make the party theme-driven and unique.
  5. Have a signature cocktail and appetizers to get the reception started.
  6. Remember to book vendors early. You may need to remember to budget a little more than you would if it were on another weekend. Vendors may have to charge more for a holiday event.
  7. Plan to give servers who are working on Christmas a larger tip. They’re not with their family because they’re serving yours. Be kind and considerate to those who are working.
  8. Make hotel reservations early too. Get a room block to get a reduced rate and save rooms for those who need it.
  9. Advertise on your wedding website which amenities you are providing. Make it easy for guests to find accommodations and local information.

Before setting the date for your wedding, discuss any plans thoroughly. This way you understand the pitfalls and can overcome the disadvantages before you spend a lot of money.

Raising Awareness of Elder Abuse
An elderly man who may have suffered elder abuse.

It is up to family members and relatives to report cases of elder abuse.

In 2011, CBCNews estimated that by 2031, almost one-quarter of the population in Canada would be aged 65 or older. Today, about seven percent of older adults have reported elder abuse, either emotional or financial, by their caregivers. Even worse, the rate of police-reported violence is increasing. It’s not just friends or family who take advantage of these vulnerable individuals; professional caregivers have been involved in elder abuse, too.

June 15, 2016, marked the 10th anniversary of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day was sponsored by the United Nations, World Health Organization and International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. It’s not just a problem in our country, but internationally. However, there are some things that you can do to protect your family and friends, and even yourself, from being a victim.

Abuse takes many forms. Here are some of the red flags that indicate a senior might be experiencing abuse:

  • Lack of hygiene, food, drink or clothing
  • Not having medical aids such as glasses or a walker
  • Untreated injuries
  • Inadequate facilities in the home
  • A vulnerable adult signs a new will or other legal document
  • Unexplained fractures, bruises, sores or welts
  • An unexplained sexually transmitted disease
  • Elder adult is isolated
  • Elderly adult changes behavior suddenly

Sometimes, with elderly adults, it’s difficult to know if they’re experiencing abuse or are simply experiencing more problems of aging. Abuse victims of all ages already find it hard to tell people that they are in a bad situation. This is why it’s important to go see your family members and friends who are older. Talk to them on a regular basis and listen to them.

7 Things You Can Do to Prevent Elder Abuse

  1. Know the signs of elder abuse and neglect.
  2. Visit your elderly loved ones and ask them how they are doing.
  3. Give caregivers a respite to keep them from being stressed.
  4. Contact the seniors’ helpline in your province or territory if you see an at-risk elder who needs help that is beyond your authority.
  5. Do your part to bring awareness to the problem. Write letters to the editor of your newspaper or TV station to ask for coverage.
  6. Talk to your family about elder abuse.
  7. Fund-raise for elder services in your community.

Elder abuse isn’t limited to individuals who live in a nursing home. It happens everywhere. People who live in their own home can be victims, as can those who are in the hospital or in assisted living. It’s thought that abuse of elders is more often perpetuated by the victim’s own family members. Some of the research suggests that elder abuse is not reported or not identified, which means it never comes to the attention of the authorities.

Impact of Elder Abuse

When a person is a victim of elder abuse, it often compounds health problems they may already have. Abuse also increases the decline in mental health, which is often a significant problem with older adults who are dealing with dementia. In the United States, the cost of financial abuse is estimated at more than $2.6 billion dollars each year. Physical and emotional abuse increase healthcare costs.

When a person experiences elder abuse, he or she becomes more dependent on other caregivers. This puts more stress on those caregivers, who will also experience a decline in physical and mental health as they take on the burden of caring for another person. Elder abuse doesn’t just affect one or two people in the family; it affects society. Everyone should be aware of elder abuse and protect their loved ones who are vulnerable. One of the most beneficial intervention and prevention methods against elder abuse is social support from the community. We can’t rely on the police or social services to take care of our elders.

The Connection Between Marriage, Happiness and Health
Getting married and having children can increase happiness in middle age

Getting married and having children can increase happiness in middle age

Over the years, numerous researchers have concluded that happiness often follows a U-shaped curve in people’s lives. In youth and the golden years, happiness is generally elevated while individuals tend to be unhappy in middle age. This phenomenon is often referred to as the “mid-life crisis.” Factors believed to exacerbate the situation include career and childrearing stresses typically peaking during middle age. However, according to a study published in December 2014 by Canadian economists Shawn Grover and John Helliwell, being married can help improve happiness in middle age and the benefit is often strongest during that period as well. Other studies have found improved health to be another potential side effect of a strong marriage.

Marry Your Best Friend

Individuals who have tied the knot are consistently found to be happier than single people. Yet, as reported by Helliwell and Grover, marrying anyone available is not the answer. They concluded people who realize the most benefit from marriage are those who marry their best friends. The study found this group receives the most social support from their spouses, which can assist in shielding them from the stresses of middle age, when help is often most needed. Those who named their spouses as their best friends experienced almost double the benefits of those who did not. Helliwell stated, “Marriages are forms of super friendships.”

Studies on Health and Marriage

In addition to potentially improving your chances for happiness, good marriages are also believed to bolster physical well-being. Over the years, a lot of research has been done on the connection between health and marital status. Here are examples of three studies.

  1. 19th Century Research of William Farr

William Farr was a British epidemiologist and one of the first scholars to propose a link between longevity and marriage. His ground breaking work was one of the first relationship studies of its kind and assisted in creating the field of medical statistics. Farr’s research involved French adults who he separated into three separate categories: married couples, never-married bachelors and spinsters, and individuals who have been widowed. He used birth, death and marriage records to help analyze the mortality rates of the groups at different ages. Farr found that never-married people were more likely to die of disease than married couples, and widows and widowers fared worst of all.

  1. 2013 Duke University Study

In a study on 4,802 individuals born in the 1940s, Dr. Ilene Siegler and colleagues identified some important correlations between marital status and life expectancy. They found individuals who were unmarried or did not have a permanent partner during middle age where much more likely to die during that period.

  1. 2013 Brigham Young University and Penn State Study

The results of the most extensive study ever on the correlation between physical well-being and marital happiness were published in 2013. Researchers followed 1,681 individuals for more than two decades. Authors Richard Miller, Cody Hollist, Joseph Olsen and David Law found couples involved in good marriages were much more likely to be physically healthy over the course of their lives, and marriage duration was not a factor in the equation.

Unhappy Marriages

Despite all the positive ways marriage can impact one’s life, research has shown troubled marriages can be harmful and even lethal to people’s physical and emotional well-being. A bad marriage can wreak havoc on one’s life, in which case staying single may turn out to be a healthier option. A recent study also concluded strained marriages may actually be worse for the heart than habitual smoking. Merely being married doesn’t protect your health. The quality of the relationship is what really matters.

Marriage is not for everyone and unhappy marriages can be very detrimental. However, there are some consistent positive links that connect happiness, health and marriage.

And, thanks to the Universal Life Church, getting married has never been easier. Have a friend or family member get ordained online to perform your wedding – it could just save your life!