Beauty and pleasure of growing old with a positive attitude

New York Times writer John Leland wrote a marvellous, lengthy article that was published by the Times on December 31st. Three years ago, he began following the life activity of six New Yorkers who are in their 90’s. I just loved the article and wanted to give it a “shout-out” here. Click HERE for link to read the piece for yourself. One woman told him, “What keeps me going is when you’re lively. You’ve got to be lively.You can’t be an old beckyhead.” I’m not sure what that word means, but she found a new romance at the nursing home where she must live — another resident who is also in his 90’s.

I wrote this song in honor of people like these. I call it “Two O’Clock.”

“This nursing home’s a lovely place, I walk the halls with style and grace. My sweaters match my pants and scarf. A nice red bracelet tops it off.

“They help me dress, they help me groom. I lose my way, can’t find my room. At dinnertime, they come for me. They bring me cookies with my tea.

“You think I’m just like her, or her. Aged body, mind a blur. But I’m still here, please don’t forget: I was a dancer. I’m not gone yet.

I once was up there on the stage, my name in lights on Style page. I leapt, I whirled, was caught mid-air, a bird in flight, such brilliant flair! And I performed in many halls, adored the thrill of curtain calls. I had such fans, they followed me, from town to town and big cities.

“Now every day is just the same. I can’t remember my last name. And sometimes when they look at me, I wonder what it is they see, BUT!! Two o’clock is time to dance! I’m in the limelight, it’s my chance,  to whirl, to reach, to take a bow, I was a dancer, I’m still here now. Yes two o’clock it’s time to dance, and I’m still here, it’s still my chance…  to whirl, to reach to take a bow, I AM a dancer, I’m still here now.”


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Great idea for older folks with brokerage and investment relationships

I have just learned that Morgan Stanley has instituted an optional opportunity that can be used by their aging customers. Maybe some other financial advisors or banks have a similar option.  It provides a form for account holders to designate someone who the Morgan Stanley personnel can contact and share confidential information with, because — as the form says — “situations and circumstances may arise where Morgan Stanley, in order to protect me and my investment interests, may have concerns about my whereabouts, financial affairs or health status and deem it beneficial in its reasonable discretion, to share information, orally or in writing, about my account(s) with the contact person(s) I have listed below.” The option can be withdrawn, rescinded or cancelled by the customer at any time. The authorization is not the same thing as a trading authorization or power of attorney.

I think this is forward-thinking and really great. I have often blogged about the many ways people can plan ahead for a good old age, and that careful planning can prevent a crisis. This is another example of a sensible step people can take. You build your team, provide them with the tools they will need, and then head gracefully towards the future.

Call us about planning for a good old age ………. 732-382-6070

More on planning for a good old age

There comes a time in everyone’s life that they are slowing down in one way or another. Even the baby boomers are starting to face this. You may be working less — driving less — going out at night less often due to visual problems — avoiding large stores and shopping malls and shifting to smaller venues that are easier to navigate — and reducing the amount of high-energy recreation. It may be taking you longer to get through your monthly bills, balance your checkbook, and wade through your insurance statements. This is the time to be thinking about putting together your post-retirement lifestyle plan so that you have a blueprint for dealing with issues such as your place of residence, your healthcare, and the handling of your finances. The goal is to have an arrangement which you can trust and that will keep you secure.

Here are some practical tips for this planning project.

1.  With the help and advice of someone who knows you very well who can be candid, start identifying the real areas of need or deficit. Are you developing physical limitations that affect your ability to continue living the same way you have been? Are you developing memory impairment or a low threshold for becoming confused or overwhelmed?

2. If you live alone, is it time to downsize or to share a residence? Will that be with a child, grandchild, long-time friend, or a general retirement community with supports?

3.  Who should make your health care decisions if you become incompetent or incapacitated?

4. Who should oversee the management of your assets, income, insurance, taxes, and property? Who should take over those fiscal responsibilities if you become incompetent or incapacitated?

5. Build in checks and balances. It may not be a good idea to give all of the legal authority over your affairs to one person. It may be advisable to divide up the responsibilities for fiscal decisions, medical decisions, and day to day caregiving among several people who actually can talk to each other. You may want to mandate certain reporting requirements. A Power of Attorney should be custom-designed for you.

6.  Understand the limited role of government programs such as Medicaid. It may be very useful for certain settings – such as if you must move to a nursing home — but less useful if you want to remain in your home. Think about whether you want to include Medicaid eligibility in your long-range plans.

Here are a few interesting items on these subjects:

As you work on these issues, keep in mind that “handshake agreements” and mere spoken promises can be more easily breached and ignored than written contracts and agreements. The planning should be all about you. As your elder law attorney we can prepare all of the documentation that would be important to protect your interests.

Call us for legal advice on post-retirement planning for a good old age … 732-382-6070

Advance Directives for Your Lifestyle: An Idea Whose Time has Come

Most people have heard of “advance directives,” “living wills” or “the 5 wishes.” The law allows us to write down and sign our instructions concerning life support medical treatment that we do or do not want should we ever become “incompetent.” We can also appoint someone as our proxy decision-maker to carry out our wishes. These deal only with medical issues.

Why not prepare written advance instructions for lifestyle management that your proxy can carry out later for you should you ever become dependent on others? What activities give you enjoyment in life? Think about your vision of a good old age. What would your preferences be on issues such as place of residence, social activity, recreation, social drinking, smoking, companionship, travel, movies, music, and who you do or don’t want to spend time with? Who are your trusted professionals – your doctors, lawyer, accountant or financial advisor — who you still want on your team? Do you love the beach but dislike parks? Do you love to be surrounded by classical music or by rock and roll? Do you love going to concerts or the theater? Do you prefer opera, hate westerns and enjoy TV spy thrillers? Do you like to go to baseball games and watch sports networks on cable tv?  Do you never miss voting in an election? Do you love seeing your friends at the local Y or senior center? Do you need to get outdoors on every sunny day?

These advance directives can be fashioned into a plan for supported decision-making as you age. You identify who will be your helper or coach and who will be your proxy decision–maker. It’s like a “power of Attorney Plus.” You make them part of the discussion and even have them sign onto your plan. Doing this can give you the comfort of knowing that as you age and become more dependent on your children or other trusted  person, the life you live will be yours and not someone else’s.  For me,  keep the radio tuned to rock and roll, but please, no opera …!

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