Prepare to be well and live well

The ins and outs of holistic elder care law, part I

Living 50-Plus

 By Liz Johnson, Staff Writer

This month’s Living 50-Plus will focus on the issue of elder care, caregiving, what to expect, services available and more. Today’s edition will provide information from the point of view of holistic elder law attorney Glen Smith.

No matter what age a person is, anyone can find him or herself in a family crisis situation. Perhaps you are caring for a parent, a sibling or a spouse. Not only are you feeling overwhelmed at times as well as exhausted, but there are decisions that have to be made that affect someone for whom you are responsible.

Finances, healthcare, assisted living, home health care, dispensation of property and heirlooms and paying the loved one’s bills can leave a caregiver or executor feeling lost unless he/she knows what your wishes are.

Caregiving can be a complicated process, like filling in the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, but there are a number of services and programs available to make the process a smooth transition for you as well as your loved one.

Glen Smith

“Today, we are living longer and are in better health, overall, during our retirement years than previous generations,” said Attorney Glen Smith, of Smith Elder & Business Law, LLC.

“In 1950, the average American who was 65 could expect to live another 14 years in retirement with roughly 50 percent of that time in good health. Today, once people reach age 65, they can expect to live another 19 years with roughly 66 percent of that time in good health. As a result, we can expect to have the greatest amount of free time in history.”

Free time after retirement should mean that one is able to enjoy that time with good health, energy and plenty of activities to keep one busy.

Handling the new life changes

Motivational speaker and author Dale Carnegie said, “Keep on raging to stop the aging.”

Part of the aging process, post-work years and getting your estate in order is to realize that life is changing as we age. Situations change, perhaps due to a disease or simply because of the aging process itself.

“Let go of those assumptions of your ‘life is supposed to be like this’ and realize you have a new phase,” said Smith. “You have to look at life in terms of that to the best of your ability.”

We spend our entire adult lives up until retirement working, enjoying hobbies, perhaps serving others by volunteering – just living our lives. Retirement is a new situation altogether.

Sometimes a person retires, becomes ill or loses a spouse and begins to withdraw from family, friends and activities. Family begins to worry about the state of mind of their loved one and doesn’t know what to do or where to turn.

“You need to have this dialogue ahead of time,” said Smith. “You’ve worked all your life and had this identity for decades and then you are retiring. What’s next? Can you still do your hobbies or has a health situation changed what you can do. Let go of those assumptions that your life has to look a specific way.

“Life is not over,” added Smith.

The complete story is in the Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 Richmond News.

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