“Don’t worry!” (What not to tell a sick friend)

When it comes to caring for a sick friend, sometimes our best intentions can go awry.  For example, how many times have you tried to cheer someone up by minimizing their pain, illness or accident with a more devastating experience of your own?  “I am so sorry that you broke your leg.  I broke my leg skiing once and had to crawl to the first aid station!”  Or perhaps your offer to do something on their behalf was met with, “I’m not an invalid, I can take care of myself!”  The latter instance has happened to me.  That is, by offering to help my sick friend without first asking if he wanted my help, I was actually making him feel more incompetent than he already felt from his illness.

If you are transitioning into becoming a caregiver or simply visiting a sick friend, you might want to brush up on caregiving etiquette by reading, “For Sick Friend: First Do No Harm,” WSJ April 13-14, 2013, C3.  The article gives “10 Commandments for Conversing With A Sick Friend” that might help you avoid a very common illness known as ”foot in mouth syndrome.”


The Hidden Costs of Dementia Affect the Next Generation

Dementia is the gradual detoriation of mental functioning that affects memory,  thinking, language, judgment, behavior, and a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.  According to a study by the RAND Corporation published in the Wall Street Journal, “Dementia is one of the country’s most expensive medical conditions, costing the  U.S. between $157 billion and $215 billion a year in medical care and other costs, such as lost wages for caregivers..”  click here to read, “Dementia’s Cost to Nation Piles Up.”

More often than not, people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (a form of dementia) are often cared for by spouses and children.  The emotional, physical and financial effects of caregiving can be devistating on the caregiver and add to significant costs and demands on our health-care system.  As one caregiver noted,  ”These are hidden issues that…are wiping out families.  It doesn’t stop at just the person with Alzheimer’s and their spouse. It’s going to the next generation.”



7 Unexpected Retirement Expenses

Congratulations!  You are ready to retire.  You have develop a solid plan with your finanical adviser, your estate is in order, you have long-term care plan,  but wait!  People are living much longer thanks to advances in medicine.  What if you need extended long-term care insurance?   What if your children still need help?  What if the tax code changes?

No one has a crystal ball but retirement is a long journey and you are likely to run into these and other unexpected expenses in your Golden Years.  Make sure you have the right guidance to assist you and enough money in your budget to manage unforeseen expenses.  Click on this U.S. News article to learn more: 7 Unexpected Retirement Expenses.


Getting an “A” in Successful Aging

Can you learn how to age more gracefully? Are there ways to become a more active participant in the aging process? Are there things you can learn to stay healthier longer?

The latest data says yes to all those questions. Good news for us all!

Those questions and more are addressed in the Successful Aging program of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine housed at Mass General in Boston. The nine-week course, designed for those 65 and over, equips participants with tools to help them use the latest advances in our understanding of the aging process. Among the topics covered are stress reduction using the Relaxation Response; how stress contributes to conditions like hypertension, insomnia, chronic pain and cognitive decline; mood enhancement methods to remain positive and ten tips on aging well.

For more information, download a Successful Aging program factsheet (PDF) or visit the MGH Benson-Henry Institute site.

Do you have a resource you would like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.

LPX Resources – Books

Explore these books related to life planning.

RELAXATION REVOLUTION: Enhancing Your Personal Health Through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing

Relaxation Revolution by Herbert Benson, MD, and William Proctor, JD, (Scribner, 2010) is the first disease-by-disease guide to treating illness through therapies based on the science and genetics of mind body healing. The strategies described in this book – which are supported by Dr. Benson’s extensive published research at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital – show you how to “switch off” or “switch on” gene activity associated with health and disease.  The Benson-Henry Protocol, introduced to the general public in Relaxation Revolution, can be used to treat various medical problems, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • infertility
  • insomnia
  • menopausal hot flashes
  • many pains, including backaches and headaches
  • phobias
  • and many other conditions


Have some suggestions we should add? Please comment below. 



What should I have in my estate plan?

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the two things in life that are certain are death and taxes.  Well, here’s a third.  If you own assets and do not have a private estate plan, then you still have a state estate plan.  This means that if you do not have an estate plan in place, upon your death your assets will be distributed in accordance with state law.  The court’s decisions may or may not be to your liking, or in the best interest of your loved ones but hey, you’ll be gone anyway!

On a more serious note, creating an estate plan need not be complicated if you have professional assistance.  If you are serious about planning for your loved ones after you pass then you should get an estate planning attorney to help you sort through the legal and financial issues. For example, should you establish a will, a trust or both?  Who will take care of your children if both parents die?  Should you involve your heirs in your planning process?  These issues can be emotionally charged and are best sorted out with the assistance of a professional estate planning attorney.  Further, be sure to review your plan regularly, as lives tend to take many twists and turns and estate laws vary by state.

Here is an interesting article to get you started, Twelve Estate Planning Questions That Might Make You Squirm.  I don’t particularly care for the title but the author makes some interesting points.  Do you have any advice or articles you’d like to share about estate planning?  Your comments are welcomed.


The Life Planning Exchange and Holistic Estate Planning

In June, I was part of a panel of speakers at the Life Planning Exchange (LPX) launch party in Boston. LPX, founded by Lisa A. Maini, is designed to help Baby Boomers & Gen X transition successfully through life changing events by exchanging knowledge, experiences and inspiration with industry professionals and peers in a casual, friendly atmosphere. The launch was a great success and reminded me yet again of the powerful need for holistic planning within the elder law sphere

… Read the rest of this article by by Matthew Karr, Esq., an LPX speaker, on his blog on MassHealth Planning and Elder Law.

What is the best way to care for aging parents?

This is a great question as it involves many aspects of transition, and options and solutions are as unique as the individuals and circumstances involved.  From preparing meals and administering medications to managing finances and paying bills, there are multiple options to consider and solutions cannot be universally applied.  Should you try to keep your parents in their own home for as long as possible or move them to a professionally managed facility while they are still able to care for themselves?  What are the costs involved?  How can you be sure that they are getting the best medical care and insurance coverage?  In 10 Tips for Aging Parents , the author discusses the financial aspects of elder care and how to avoid some of the pitfalls.  In addition to financial issues, legal issues for long-term care are discussed in How to Care for an Aging Parent.  In The Dilemma of Taking Care of Elderly Parents, the author talks openly about the emotional aspects of taking care of parents while balancing your own needs, your job and your family. 

Have you read any interesting articles about parental caregiving that you’d like to share?  Your articles and comments are welcomed.