For Knights of Columbus insurance counselor Bill Weber, there was an "aha moment" when he started talking end-of-life planning with local Rivercross Hospice liaison Leslie Sweasy.
Though Weber has spoken on the subject himself (pertaining to long-term care insurance) in multiple presentations, speaking with Sweasy was an experience that opened his eyes to other focuses in that planning process — and how cross-promotion of that could be beneficial to everyone involved.
"When she started to explain what hospice really did beyond end-of-life care, I realized that it'd be good to get this out into the public a little more," Weber said.
Just like that, the seed was planted for a seminar on end-of-life planing ("It's not just about you!") that will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 in the St. Mary Catholic School gym at the corner of Ninth and Main streets. Both Weber and Sweasy will be presenting, as well as Cindy Wiens and Tom Adrian of Adrian & Pankratz, Harvey County Department of Aging Director Robert Carlton and ComfortCare Homes community liaison Sharon Erwin.
Giving a broad view of the services that may be needed in an end-of-life care situation is the intent of the seminar, focusing on topics that will range from memory care to government programs and assistance to annuities, pensions and retirement income.
"The purpose of the event is to help inform people about what resources are available to them and, at the same time, how to avoid certain legal pitfalls or difficulties and, in addition, preparing financially," Weber said. "The problem of having to care for someone is big enough; having to pay for it or having to take time off can really add to the problem. What we want to do is help people understand and prevent a lot of frustrations."
Sweasy, like Weber, saw the benefit of an all-encompassing educational approach when it comes to end-of-life planning — though for her there is an intentional purpose for trying to get out and speak to those in need of hospice service.
"For me, specifically, it is to debunk the myths of hospice that people come onto hospice that are a week or less from dying — and that is not the case," Sweasy said.
With the misinformation that is floating around, Sweasy wanted the chance to explain about what hospice services can actually provide to Newton residents.
No target demographic exists, per se, for the seminar, but Weber did note it could be of help to both elderly residents in need of the specific services that will be addressed as well as the children (late 50s/60s) acting as their caregivers — as statistics show 72 percent of retirees will end up needing long-term care.
"It really does involve the entire community because I believe at some point in our lives we will either need care or be a caregiver. I think that's 100 percent," Weber said.
Along with Sweasy, the rest of the presenters were eager to get involved as well. While Weber admitted each could lead at least an hour-long presentation of their respective topics, that information will be boiled down into 20-minute doses on Oct. 16.
Beyond that, though, Weber said the goal of this seminar is to form a multi-faceted, team approach for Newton residents and create a network of representatives who can help people with end-of-life planning needs no matter their situation.
"Everyone's gonna get something different out of it and that's why we wanted to provide a lot of different subjects — the main purpose kind of being so that people could pick and choose who they need to talk to first depending on what stage of the process they find themselves in," Weber said. "This doesn't have to be something you need to be afraid of. Like any other emergency, it's smart to have a plan."
"You shop for insurance, you shop for cars, you shop for a house," Sweasy said. "You should really shop for what you want your end of life to look like."
Admission to the event is free, with speakers starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 in the St. Mary gym.