I remember the surprise I felt several years ago when I met someone my age who was grieving the death of a close family member for the first time. I was born into a large extended family—ten children on the paternal side and six children on the maternal side. Because my parents enjoyed their young adult years, they did not get around to starting a family until Mom was in her late 30’s and Dad was in his late 40’s.
A large family + being born to older parents = lots of deaths to mourn.
Dying and all of the cultural traditions that go along with it has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. However, I didn’t realize that my personal and emotional response toward dying is a bit different from others until I started working as a social worker for the Hospice of Central Kentucky. I was hired to coordinate the agency’s standard bereavement policies. I spent a good deal of time setting up a computerized system that tracked the appropriate time to send letters to families after their family member died. I enjoyed this work very much. But it did not take long until I started getting called by the hospice nurses to come be with the family when death was imminent. I remember asking a nurse once why I was always getting this call when there were others available to give this type of support. She responded, “We call you because you are so good with death.”
While “enjoy” isn’t the right word to describe how I feel when I am around people dying, it is fair to say that I am comfortable and helpful in these situations (as well as in conversations about death). I think this is because of my deep sense of privilege in joining others in such an intimate and profound transition.
As an Elder Law Attorney, I can assist with legal issues that include all aspects of planning for aging, illness and incapacity such as:
- Health and personal care planning, which include the following topics: powers of attorney and living wills; lifetime planning; family issues;
- Fiduciary (financial) representation; financial planning; housing opportunities and financing; income, estate, and gift tax matters;
- Planning for a well spouse when the other spouse requires long term care; asset protection; public benefits such as Medicaid and insurance; Veterans’ benefits;
- Capacity; guardianship and guardianship avoidance;
- Resident rights in long term care facilities; nursing home claims;
- Employment and retirement matters; age or disability discrimination and grandparents’ rights.
- Will and trust planning; planning for minor or adult special needs children; probate.