Neptune Society of Northern California Joins Oakland Healthy Living Festival

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Neptune Society of Northern California joins the celebration of seniors in the 12th Annual Healthy Living Festival to be held in the Oakland Zoo on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

This event is presented by United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County (USOAC). USOAC is a grassroots inter-generational organization dedicated to empowering older adults to address the issues that affect their quality of life. As a community based organization, USOAC has fought for the rights of older adults throughout Alameda County for more than 24 years. Headed by Nate Miley, USOAC has over 7,000 members, including individuals, chapter, and affiliates throughout the entire county.

Pre-registration is required for the event, with a free entrance to the zoo, free lunches, free parking for members, and $8.00 parking for non-members. The event will be held from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. For further inquiries, please contact Patricia Nance at 510-729-0852. The Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605.

Some of the highlights of the 12th Annual Healthy Living Festival involve resource information and interactive activity for older adults. Programs include Line Dancing, Tai Chi, Zumba, Bay Area Blues Band Society, and more. There are 100 exhibitors with Neptune Society of Northern California among them. Faviola Rodas and Leatta Poston will answer cremation questions and provide a gift basket raffle.

“This year,” said Patricia Nance, Administrative Assistant of the USOAC, “we will have on the grounds self-contained Health Screening Vans from community providers such as Tiburico Vasquez, Healthy Communities and Aids Project of the East Bay and Walgreens.”

Volunteers will help serve nutritious lunches to adults sixty and older who participate in the event. Moreover, the USOAC encourages seniors to bring unwanted or expired medicines for the Medication Take Back program to be properly disposed of by East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) staff.

The USOAC defines its goals as educating and assessing seniors regarding their risk factors for healthy living, improving wellness through physical activity and improving their quality of life by increasing health and fostering successful aging with events such as this annual festival.

In line with these goals, the Neptune Society of Northern California offers information on final arrangement options such as pre-planning cremation or memorialization services. The Neptune Society of Northern California has provided a simple and affordable option for more than 125,000 Californians who prefer cremation as the dignified and ecologically responsible alternative to traditional final arrangements. The Neptune Society of Northern California has 12 convenient locations in California.

The Neptune Society of Northern California offers pre-need services, cremation urns and products, as well as cremation memorialization services. California has a wealth of options when it comes to choosing how or where to celebrate our life –  whether it be in San Francisco Columbarium, an ocean scattering, a garden, or a house of worship. The staff at Neptune Society of Northern California will answer your questions regarding cremation and offer informative resources during the event.

To learn more about the Neptune Society of Northern California’s cremation and memorialization services, call 855-500-6706 or request information here.


Special Thanks to Faviola Rodas, Business Manager of Neptune Society of Northern California’s Oakland office, for her support and contributions to this post.



10 Ways to Celebrate the Life of Your Loved One

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Do you want to remember a loved one in a unique way? We’ve come up with some unique ideas:

  1. Create a personalized stamp. You can use this stamp when sending cards or letters to your family and friends. Visit photo.stamps.com for more ideas and information.
  2. Give a gift in your loved one’s memory. Buy a gift to be given away on your loved one’s birthday or any special occasion. Anonymously give this gift to someone in your community by leaving it on a doorstep or having someone you know deliver it.
  3. Donate books to a library in your loved one’s name each year. Think about your loved one’s favorite author or genre of books, and donate a book of your choice in your loved one’s name. Check with your local public or college library to see when they are accepting donations.
  4. Plant a tree, flowers or garden in memory of your loved one. You can do this at your home and create a quiet, private place to reflect or read a book. Choose something that reminds you of your loved one or plant his or her favorite flower.
  5. Adopt an animal at your local zoo or shelter in your loved one’s name. Check with your local zoo or shelter about doing this in your area. You can also donate your time or supplies to an animal shelter.
  6. Have a star in the sky named after your loved one. At night, you can look up to the sky and reflect on cherished memories of your loved one. Visit the International Star Registry’s Web site at www.starregistry.com.
  7. Start a journal. Write about all of the fun times you remember having with your loved one. Pass it around to family members and friends to recall and record their memories.
  8. Make or buy small gifts for nursing home residents. Give the gifts out to those patients who get no visitors or few visitors. Stay long enough to talk with the residents. They too have lost many loved ones and probably need a friend.
  9. Donate a memorial bench inscribed with your loved one’s name. Many parks contain memorial benches with donor plaques containing the name of person(s) to be remembered. If you have lost a child, you may consider asking if a bench or statue can be placed on the grounds of the school your child attended.
  10. Set up honorary scholarships. Check with the school your loved one attended or choose an area university. You can donate as little as a couple hundred dollars, which will help a student with books and supplies.

Keep these ideas in mind. If you would like to remembered in a certain way, record your wishes when you plan for a funeral.



Tips for sending flowers

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When someone has suffered a loss, it’s only natural to want to send them a message that you care. Many people do this with flowers. So, what should you send?

While a bright bouquet of flowers may seem an obvious choice, it might be a burden if the family is required to find a suitable vase. Consider sending a full arrangement already placed in a water-holding container.

Wondering what color to send?

While there is no right or wrong answer, here is a general guide of what the different colors mean:

  • Bright colors signal that you want to cheer someone up or make them smile.
  • White is a more traditional color that can be considered peaceful.
  • Pastel colors are a more subtle way to say you care.
  • A person’s favorite color – no matter what it is — sends a personal message that you care.

Want something that lasts longer than flowers?

Consider giving a living plant as a symbol of life – many plants flower for a beautiful display, too! Just make sure the plant you choose will work with the person’s lifestyle. If the person doesn’t have a green thumb, select something easy and that will grow anywhere. Does the person have a lot of space? If not, a smaller house plant would be ideal. Read below for some options.

  • African violets are among the easiest to grow flowering houseplants. They bloom year-round with little effort.
  • The Boston fern may look delicate, but it’s not. Its arching and lacy fronds make it suitable for hanging or displaying on a pedestal.
  • Calomondin orange trees can grow to about four feet tall and wide, so this one needs a little more space. This hybrid between mandarin orange and kumquat bears fragrant white blossoms in late winter or spring. The wonderfully fragrant flowers develop into showy 1-inch-diameter orange fruits on a shrubby plant with glossy green foliage.
  • Geraniums come in many different types and colors. Most are very easy to grow.
  • Guzmania are related to pineapples. A shoot with colorful bracts arises from the center of the vase. The bright blooms may remain attractive for up to six months.

Do you have a favorite flower or plant?

If you want your family members and friends to remember you in a special way, contact us today to begin the prearrangment process. This way, you can let them know if a certain flower or plant has special meaning for you; or if you’d prefer they donate to a certain charity or organization.



Living wills, durable power of attorney and advance directives…

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…what does it all mean?

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of planning your final arrangements in advance. Let’s take a step back and address some other important issues. For instance, if you were in an unexpected situation that affected your quality of living, what would happen?

Two types of documents allow you to legally determine how you would like your medical care handled if you are unable to speak for yourself: the living will and the durable power of attorney (DPOA) for health care. In some states, these documents are combined to form what are often called “advance directives” or “health care directives.” It is a good idea to prepare both.

To make a living will or designate a DPOA, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind.

What will my living will cover?

Your living will states which treatments you would like to receive (or not receive) if you become incapacitated due to an accident or illness. It is not the same as a will or living trust that deals with property after your death. Your living will is used only for your health care preferences, with specific regard to life-prolonging treatments, such as:

  • Use of a respirator
  • CPR
  • Blood transfusions
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Administration of drugs (other than those to provide comfort)
  • Intravenous food/water
  • What does the DPOA do?

A DPOA for health care appoints someone you trust to act as your health care representative and oversee your care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. This person may also be referred to as an attorney-in-fact for health care, a health care proxy, or a surrogate. You can specify how much authority your DPOA has.

Your DPOA can:

  • Ensure health care providers follow your wishes as stated in your living will
  • Consent to or refuse treatment
  • Hire or fire physicians or other providers
  • Decide which medical facilities are best for you
  • Request your medical records and personal information

When do advance directives take effect?

Typically, your physician will determine whether you have the mental capacity to make your own health care decisions, or if you aren’t able to communicate on your own. If the physician determines you are incapacitated, the documents take effect.

Should you make a living will or name a DPOA?

The most important thing you can do is share your wishes with a loved one. If you become incapacitated and do not have advance directives for health care, a family member may be responsible for making health care decisions on your behalf. Preparing these documents ahead of time may help ease the burden on your loved ones during a difficult time.



What happens if your loved one doesn’t leave a will?

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What happens if your loved one doesn’t leave a will?

Losing a loved one takes an emotional toll. It’s even tougher when the deceased leaves behind an estate without a will or legal documentation telling how that estate should be handled.

Fortunately, every state has laws that direct what will happen to property when someone dies without a valid will. If the deceased owns property greater than the sum of their enforceable debts and funeral expenses without any type of binding declaration, the estate is considered to be in intestacy.

In most cases, only spouses, registered domestic partners (in states where this is an option) and blood relatives inherit under what is called intestate succession laws. “Intestate” or “intestacy” applies to any portion of the deceased’s probate property not parceled out according to a will. Probate estate is considered property solely owned by the deceased at the time of death, and does not include property jointly owned with others or with rights of survivorship, including:

  • Proceeds from life insurance
  • Bank accounts, real estate and other assets held jointly or as community property with right of survivorship
  • Retirement plan funds in which a beneficiary was named, i.e., 401(k), IRA
  • Money in payable-on-death accounts
  • Stocks and securities held in a transfer-on-death account

Some or all of the deceased’s property may be considered intestate property, even if the person left a will. This happens when a will is declared invalid for any of the following reasons:

  • Will was never signed
  • Signed will was not properly witnessed
  • Will was made under the undue influence of another person
  • The deceased was not competent at the time the will was made.

How is intestate property handled?

If the deceased was married, the surviving spouse usually gets the largest share of property; and if there are no children, he or she is likely to receive the entire estate. More distant relatives inherit only if there is no surviving spouse or children. If no relatives can be found, the state takes control of the assets.

Plan ahead

One way to ensure your family doesn’t have to deal with intestate succession is to plan your own wishes in advance.



Ever thought about donating your organs?

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These five steps will help you give the gift of life

Organ donors save and improve thousands of lives each year. In fact, one donor can affect as many as 50 people.

More than 116,000 people currently need life-saving organ transplants, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ organ donor website. Thanks to the generosity of donors, 79 people receive a transplant each day. However, the number of people who need donations is far greater than the number of available organs. In fact, as many as 18 people die every day waiting for a transplant.

The good news is that you can help. It’s easy. Just follow these five steps:

  1. Register with your state registry, if available.
  2. Designate your decision on your driver’s license.
  3. Talk to your loved ones so they understand your decision and are willing to carry out your wishes. They may be asked to provide information to a transplant team.
  4. Tell your physician that you would like to be an organ donor.
  5. Include your decision in your final arrangements and legal documents in your will.

Still unsure?

Many myths surround organ donation, making some people hesitant to register as a donor. These facts may clear up common misconceptions:

  • Anyone can be a potential donor, regardless of age, race or medical history.
  • All major religions in the U.S. support organ, eye and tissue donation, and see it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.
  • If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after you are deceased.
  • Open casket funerals are possible for donors. The entire process is treated with care, respect and dignity.
  • Donors and their family members pay nothing for organ and tissue donation.
  • Donor recipients are placed on a waiting list based on severity of illness, time spent waiting for an organ, blood type and other important medical information. Financial and/or celebrity status is not taken into consideration.

If you’d like more information on organ donation, please visit the Department of Human Services’ organ donor website, or Donate Life America.



Tell the story of your life, starting with these 5 questions

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Do you ever wonder what people will think of you when you’re gone? You can have a say in how you are remembered by recording important moments in your life for future generations. Think of it as writing your own obituary. When you write about your life, you help others get a feel for who you are, or who you were. Your loved ones will cherish the memories – even more so because the stories come directly from you. The information can be used to tell the story of your life.

Write about the good times in life, the challenges and the goals you’ve achieved. Think about what you’d like to accomplish in the future. You can always update your story as your goals change and your experiences grow.

Where to start

Ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What accomplishments are you most proud of, both personally and professionally?
  3. What do you enjoy most? (hobbies, food, restaurants, etc.)
  4. Where have you lived, and what place do you consider home?
  5. How have you helped or inspired others?

Keep your answers in a safe place. At the end of your life, your loved ones will treasure your words, and will easily be able to share the information. Don’t forget to include important facts that future generations can use when researching their family history and genealogy. These facts should include your birth date, place of birth, age, residence and survivors.

The most important thing you can do is continue living your life. Set goals, enjoy every day. Live your life in the way you want to be remembered.



9 tips for handling holiday stress

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The holidays can be stressful for anyone. If you’re spending your first holiday season without a loved one, it can be even more difficult. Here are nine tips to help you make it through this hectic, emotional time.

  1. Be realistic about what you can comfortably handle this holiday season. It’s OK to ask someone else to host the family dinner, or allow friends to help with shopping and other chores.
  2. Are you up to talking about your lost loved one? Just let others know what you feel comfortable discussing.
  3. Feel free to change up your holiday routine. From when you open presents to what you eat for your holiday meal, how you choose to celebrate the holidays is up to you. There is no right or wrong way to do it, whether you continue old traditions or start a new one.
  4. Do something in honor of your loved one. Donate time or money to a cause with special meaning. Invite an elderly neighbor or friend to join you for a holiday meal.
  5. If you decide to go holiday shopping, make a list before you go. You can also shop online to avoid crowds altogether.
  6. Take time to rest. The holidays can be draining, both physically and emotionally. Get enough sleep and plan time to simply relax.
  7. Express your feelings. It is natural to feel sad. Talk to someone you trust about your concerns, be it a family member, friend or professional therapist.
  8. It may take time to feel “normal” during the holidays again. You may have a new normal. You may even find yourself looking forward to the next holiday season.
  9. Give yourself permission to have fun. It’s OK to laugh and enjoy yourself.


Six facts to know about veterans’ funeral and cemetery benefits

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Most veterans already know they’re entitled to receive the U.S. flag, regardless of whether they would be buried with military funeral honors.

What many do not know is that other benefits include a government-issued grave marker, Presidential Memorial Certificate, burial or inurnment in a national or state cemetery, $300 for burial and $300 for a funeral (for those who receive a pension), and $2,000 if their death is service-related.

Funeral arrangers usually collect information and request at-need families bring in discharge papers and other legal documents, and they or the facilities’ sales counselors help them collect benefits.

American flag

The U.S. flag is furnished to honor the memory of a military veteran’s service. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will provide at no cost the flag for memorialization that can drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably. When military funeral honors are part of the service, the flag is folded and presented to next of kin.

Presidential Memorial Certificate

The Presidential Memorial Certificate is an engraved document that bears the signature of the current U.S. president and honors the memory of honorably discharged, deceased veterans.

Military honors

“Honoring Those Who Served” is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to veterans who have defended our nation.

Every eligible veteran is entitled to a military funeral honors ceremony provided by the Department of Defense (DOD), to include folding and presenting the U.S. flag and the playing of “Taps.” Military funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the veteran’s parent service of the armed forces. Veterans’ organizations may assist in providing these services, and funeral arrangers can usually request military honors on behalf of the veteran’s family. At national cemetery’s, the VA’s cemetery administrative staff can assist with arranging the ceremonies.

Burial benefits

When veteran’s burial or inurnment takes place in a national cemetery, the VA provides services including the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, and a government-issued headstone or marker, all at no cost to the family. Benefits are also available for eligible spouses and dependents in national cemeteries, even if they die before the veteran.

Some veterans don’t choose this program because a space can’t be assigned until death. They may also want to be buried near other, nonmilitary family members. The VA will provide many of the same benefits at no cost to the veteran’s family, including a marker and vault. However, these benefits are not available to spouses and dependants.

Many private cemeteries feature designated gardens to honor those who have served our country, often providing special programs and discounts for veterans. The VA furnishes a headstone or marker for the unmarked burial space of any deceased, eligible veteran in any cemetery. For veterans who prefer cremation, the VA also offers bronze niche markers. If a family chooses to purchase their own (non-VA) marker, the VA will furnish a “mediallion memorial” that affixes to the marker.

Burial allowance

When the cause of the veteran’s death is not service-related, the VA reimbursement is generally described as two payments: up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot interment allowance, if the veteran was receiving a pension. The VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for service-related deaths.

Funeral allowances

All funeral expenses — body preparation, casket, transportation to the place of disposition, interment (if in a national cemetery) and marker – are paid for by the military when a solider is killed during active duty. In addition, as of July 2005, next of kin are entitled to a “death gratuity” of $100,000.

Additional information

If you’d like to know more about filing for veteran’s benefits, call the VA at 1-800-827-1000 or visit their website. If you need assistance obtaining discharge papers for yourself or your loved one, contact the National Personnel Records Center.



How to Write a Eulogy: 8 Tips to Deliver a Memorable Tribute

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Delivering a eulogy for a loved one is an honor. If you’ve never done it before, it’s ok. Just speak from the heart. Here are a few tips:

  1. Share a special story about the deceased. Eulogists often write about the person’s attributes, memories and times shared together.
  2. Keep the tone informal, and make it conversational. Humor is acceptable.
  3. Tell the audience what you will miss most about the person. Is it a special look or expression? A certain way of doing things?
  4. Include a favorite poem or passage from a beloved book. Whatever you select, it should reflect your loved one’s lifestyle.
  5. A eulogy doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing, objective summary of a person’s life. Talk about the person you knew and what made him or her important in your life.
  6. Be honest. Talk about the person’s positive qualities.
  7. Keep it brief – 5 to 10 minutes is standard for a eulogy.
  8. Write out a draft of what you’re going to say, even if it’s just in outline form.

It may seem like a challenge to find the right words. You want to get it right. The good news is there are no “rights” or “wrongs” when it comes to eulogies. If you need some inspiration, ask yourself these questions:

  • How did you and the deceased become close?
  • Do you have a funny or touching story about your loved one?
  • What did you admire most about the deceased?
  • What will you miss most about him or her?

Becoming emotional during the service is normal. The audience will understand. Take a moment to regain your composure, and then continue. Bring a copy of your eulogy in the event you are unable to finish.

Your words will help the memory of your loved one live on, and help others to say goodbye.



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