ParentCare » Vol. 17

Caregiving Now! Research, Trends, and Products

By Erin Hansen


An epitaph is a brief literary composition in honor of someone who is dead, or a carving of such a composition onto a headstone. Epitaphs in cemeteries around the world are frequent sources of comment and discussion, as they run the gamut from humorous to somber. A well composed or chosen epitaph conveys some sense of the spirit of the deceased, hopefully leaving visitors with food for thought.

The practice of carving epitaphs is quite ancient. Archaeological evidence shows that both the Greeks and the Romans regularly included epitaphs on their tombs, and even older cultures probably did so as well. The term “epitaph” is of Greek origin, being derived from epi- for “at or over” and taphos, for “tomb or funeral rites.” The concept of the epitaph has persisted through numerous generations and cultures, with various trends in epitaph styling waxing and waning.

Either verse or prose is suitable for an epitaph. If an epitaph is in verse, people commonly choose to quote famous verse, often including only a segment, with the understanding that visitors will know the context and infer a deeper meaning. It is also, of course, possible to compose new verse for a headstone. Some people may choose verse from the Bible or another religious text, in some cases simply referencing a famous passage, as in “Psalm XXV, 10,” assuming that people are familiar with the text.

Some epitaphs are meant to be somber, reminding guests of the inevitability of death. Others celebrate the decedent, either seriously or lightheartedly, and they sometimes provide details about a person’s life, such as whether or not the decedent was a parent. In some cases, epitaphs also detail the manner of death, especially if it is considered heroic. An epitaph can provide interesting clues into how someone lived, and what people thought of him or her.

Choosing an epitaph is quite a challenge. Some decedents make it easier for their survivors by picking out an epitaph ahead of time, especially if they want epitaphs with a humorous intent, like “just let me finish this row” for the tombstone of a knitter. Survivors may also choose to take an epitaph from the writing of a decedent, if he or she was an author, or they may choose quotes from books or poems which were loved by the decedent.

A visit to any cemetery will yield a rich crop of epitaphs, some of which are quite touching. Some people belong to organizations which collect interesting or noteworthy epitaphs, posting them on websites for others to enjoy; you can probably uncover a few with your favorite search engine.

The Clapper

Remember the commercial in the late 1980s for the novelty gadget The Clapper, a hands free device that allows a user to turn on a light and/or lamp with just a clap?  Well, turns out The Clapper really is a great solution for turning on lights and, when combined with additional Clappers, for activating additional lights or appliances, including TVs. Its ease of use ~ it now comes with RF Technology for silent, wireless activation ~ makes it perfect for the elderly or bedridden.  The updated Clapper also allows you to press a button (rather than clap, which, don’t forget, is at times difficult for a senior) to turn things on and off.

The Clapper can be found on, at hardware stores, and at

How to Find Home Improvement Grants for the Elderly

Some states offer senior citizens opportunities to repair their homes with grant funds earmarked for the elderly. These grants often carry restrictions such as the applicant must be a specific age or maintain a certain income level. Find home improvement grants for the elderly by contacting agencies that historically give to senior citizens.

1. Tap into funding organizations that are located in the city or region where the grant seeker lives. Contact grant-makers who list “elderly,” “senior citizens” or similar wording in their funding area.

2. Find out if the funding agency makes grants to individuals. Carefully consider this step because some grant-makers give to organizations that serve individuals rather than directly funding individuals.

3. Contact non-traditional funding sources. For example, contemplate seeking money from churches, hospitals or other organizations that serve senior citizens. Additionally, tap into agencies that host home improvement projects on a regular basis.

4. Search the library and electronic sources for funding agencies that make grants in various places across the country. Pinpoint grant makers including governmental agencies that show a history of funding in the grant seeker’s geographic area.

5. Study the application requirements, deadlines and proposal submission process. Know whom to address all correspondence and whether or not staff members are available to respond to questions or comments.

6. Complete reporting requirements after receiving the funds. Grant makers generally want detailed reports that outline the use of funds. Sometimes these reports serve as springboards for future money

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