Category Archives: Elder Law

Supporting Your Sibling Who Is a Caregiver

A lot of my clients are caregivers. They are adult children of parents whose health is failing, whose house may be falling apart, whose mind is fading and whose world is dwindling. They are the sibling of a person who has and will be dependent upon someone due to intellectual disabilities or severe mental health issues.  They are also individuals in their own right, with lives of their own – families, jobs, friends, hobbies and a household of their own to run.  They are trying to meet the emotional and physical needs of their parent or sibling all the while trying to manage their own life.

And then there are the caregivers other siblings. The ones who are far too busy to stop by to visit their parents, but have no problem calling and leaving messages for the caregiver about how they are doing something wrong.  The ones who somehow couldn’t make it to their parents house to help clean it out before it was sold but then  wail about how their treasured childhood toy got tossed in the dumpster.  The ones who didn’t help sort through the mess of bills and financial papers to make sure there was enough money to pay for the parents care, but are the first in line with their hand out when their parent dies and are suddenly interested in the financial decisions that were made.

Whether these people are lazy or bad or misguided or just unable to handle their feelings of grief over their parents situation doesn’t really matter to me. What matters is when these people make life difficult for my clients. When they pile on additional stressors and make themselves one more phone call to be returned, one more person to say “you’re doing it wrong” (as if my clients didn’t already think that about themselves half the time.)

If you are a caregiver dealing with this situation, it can be helpful to remember that not everything requires a response and that you are not responsible for other people’s feelings. You get to choose how and if you respond to a voicemail or a text from someone who is adding to your burden.

And what if you recognize yourself as the sibling in this situation? Stop. Stop bothering the person who is doing all the work. Start doing something helpful like asking how you can assist, or refraining from offering unsolicited advice, or getting yourself into therapy to figure out why  you are doing what you are doing.

Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do it be quiet and get out of the way.

Moving An Out of State Guardianship To Massachusetts

Here is a scenario that happens everyday: Sue Jones lives with her daughter Mary Jones in Georgia. Mary has intellectual disabilities and Sue was appointed as her guardian by a court in Virginia. Sue and Mary move to Massachusetts. Sue visits with an attorney to make sure everything is in order and asks “does myContinue Reading

Happy Health Care Decisions Day!

April 16th is National Health Care Decisions Day.  While some of the seemingly fake holidays can make one roll their eyes, others, like Health Care Decisions Day (and Be Kind To Lawyers Day) are valuable reminders to pause and take care of important business. We are all in charge of our own health care decisionsContinue Reading

When Should I Write My Will? A Lesson from House, M.D.

I was watching a rerun of House, MD last night. One of the main character doctors became severely ill over the span of a couple of days. Finally, in severe pain, he was going to be put into a medically induced coma with the chance he might not survive. At this point he feebly tellsContinue Reading

Plymouth County Tracking For People With Alzheimer’s

There have been several local incidents over the past couple of months of people with Alzheimer’s who have wandered off. While most of them were found unharmed, in one of these cases, the man was found deceased a few days later. Even if the family has someone with the individual at all times, there isContinue Reading

Nursing Home? Rest Home? Assisted Living? Making Sense of Housing Options

There are several types of housing available to older and frail people in Massachusetts. Sometimes the different names can be confusing. I have outlined below three of the most common types. Nursing Home: A nursing home is licensed by the Department of Public Health. It provides 24 hour care for people – either those receivingContinue Reading

Avoiding Telephone Scams

It seems like every other week there are reports from the Hingham police or Massachusetts attorney general about telephone scams targeting seniors. While it is impossible to keep track of all of the variations, there are some themes that should make you suspicious.  These warning signs can also be applied to email scams. Beware ofContinue Reading

Gifts for Aging Parents (and other people who don’t need more stuff)

I remember when I was little trying to figure out a gift for my nana at Christmas. My mother used to to tell me that my grandmother didn’t want more stuff, but rather something from our heart.  A picture, a sleepover (where she let me cheat at go-fish and eat chocolate chips) or some helpContinue Reading

How To Talk About Your Wishes With Your Family

I encourage my clients to speak with their families about their estate plans and end of life wishes to make things easier on everyone during a crisis. I sometimes suggest that far flung families do this during get-togethers over the the holiday season. There are even services like Death Over Dinner that can help youContinue Reading

I’m Retired, Now What?

Clients often come to me when they are nearing retirement, or shortly after, to update their estate plans. They find themselves with enormous amounts of paperwork from their former job about their various retirement benefits, have started getting mail from organizations who want their money or time and may find themselves dealing with confusing insuranceContinue Reading