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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Important Family Stories

By:  Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho

I inherited the oldest item I own, an Egyptian scarab.  It came with a story from my Cousin Kathie who died at age 99. 

A British soldier was in Egypt helping the English government empty (loot) the pyramid tomb.  He was told if he stole any items he would be severely punished.  Carrying items out of the tomb, he dropped a scarab.  His hands were full, so he just picked it up and put it in his pocket.  Later that day he found it in his pocket and was too frightened to report it.  The soldier ended up being a neighbor to my great grandfather.  The soldier had no family when he died.  My grandfather purchased the house and all its contents.  My great-grandfather had the scarab made into a man’s ring and gave it as a wedding present to his daughter’s husband. 

I received the ring with the story attached. 

What a difference it made to have the story.  The ring is worn, and would have had little meaning to me without the story.

Have you created a list of personal items you want to pass on when you die?  Have you added stories about each item?

A great example is reflected in the “Lighthouse Keeper” video that is on my website.  It is a 12-minute video showing the powerful effect of providing stories with the items you pass on.  To watch it, go to my website:  www.SeniorEdgeLegal.com.   Click on “Resources” and you will then find a button to select to watch the video.

Your stories are worth more than your money, so take the time to write them down now.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Over Age 18?

By Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho

When was the last time you were asked if you are over 18?[1]

Why do I ask?  Every adult, even young adults, should sign a financial and health power of attorney.  The law states that a person becomes an adult once they reach age 18.  If you have children or grandchildren who are going off to school, it is important that they sign a financial power of attorney, a health power of attorney and a living will so someone has the legal authority to help out in an emergency.  If there is an accident, or a serious health issue, and no power of attorney is signed indicating who is to make decisions, it will be necessary for a parent, or someone else, to file a petition at court.  The petition will ask for a court order giving them the right to act on behalf of the incapacitated person.  This court proceeding, called a Conservatorship or Guardianship, is expensive and time consuming.

An easy, common sense solution for everyone age 18 and older is for each person to just sign the powers of attorney forms.   

We have them available for free on our website.



[1] For me it was in the Chicago airport and I ordered a glass of wine.  They make everyone show identification.  How silly when you have grey hair and wrinkles!

 

 


Monday, January 30, 2012

Amazing Role Models - Shame on You

 

By:  Susan M. Graham, Attorney at Law, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho

Congress has done two things that are amazing.

1.  They voted to waive "insider trading" restrictions for themselves.  That means they can learn news about a   company before we do, and then buy or sell stocks to make a bundle of money.  For everyone else, including Martha Stewart who spent months in jail, this type of trading is illegal.  Congress plays by privileged rules.

2.  For the last six months, we have had a new law in the country that put in place a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  For it to work, that agency needs a director to exercise its full powers.  Congress will not approve the names submitted.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to regulate consumer products and practices at banks and non-banks, including pay-day lenders, mortgage brokers and student loan providers.  What could be better than having a protector for consumers?  The system we had before failed to provide the protection needed to avoid the huge financial mess we are in today.  Now that the President has appointed a Director, members of Congress are threatening to set aside the appointment.

 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving - A Time For Stories (Repeating what I share with you last year)

By:  Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho

 

    I remember as a child, sitting at the Thanksgiving table and listening to the adults share stories about their lives and the lives of their long dead family and friends.  I heard new stories and the same stories year after year and only slightly paid attention (because I was young and somewhat stupid).  Now the elders in my family are all gone and their stories are only vague memories, just like a vivid dream that fades when I awake.

    So this blog is to help you do a better job than I did.  I was delighted to learn about the “National Day of Listening” which is the day after Thanksgiving.  Story Corps, a non-profit, gives suggestions about how to collect and keep those stories.  Some great questions to ask are:

  • What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  • Who was the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did they teach you?
  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to me?
  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • When in life have you felt most alone?
  • How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What does your future hold?
  • Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
  • Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?

     For a “Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide” go to nationaldayoflistening.org.  You will find the Instruction Guide and lots of other good questions and suggestions.  

     My best wishes to you for an enjoyable Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's

By Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Boise, Idaho

Did you know September 21, 2011 was Alzheimer's Action Day?  Many companies have taken action by educating their employees and customers about the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's1 disease.  I want to share that information with you too so you can help others in your world.

1.  Memory loss that disrupts daily life.  One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information.  Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aids [e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices] or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

2.  Challenges in planning or solving problems.  Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers.  They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.  They have have difficulty concentrating and taking much longer to do things than they did before.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

3.  Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.  People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks.  Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Occasionally needing help to use the setting on a microwave or to record a television show.

4.  Confusion with time or place.  People with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time.  They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately.  Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5.  Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.  For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's.  They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast.  In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room.  They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Vision changes related to cataracts.

6.  New problems with words in speaking or writing.  People with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation.  They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves.  They may struggle with vocabulary, having problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name [e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock".]

     What's a typical age-related change?  Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7.  Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.  A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places.  They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again.  Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing.  This may occur more frequently over time.

     What's a typcical age-related change?  Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

8.  Decreased or poor judgment.  People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making.  For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers.  They may less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Making a bad decision once in a while.

9.  Withdrawal from work or social activities.  A person with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports.  They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby.  They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Sometimes feeling wary of work, family and social obligations.

10.  Changes in mood and personality.  The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change.  They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious.  They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

     What's a typical age-related change?  Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

_________________

1Source:  The Alzheimer's Association [alz.org]

 


Friday, September 23, 2011

Caregivers Reminder

By Anonymous and Susan Graham

When I spill some food on my nice clean dress or maybe forget to tie my shoe, please be patient and perhaps reminisce about the many hours I spent with you.  When I taught you how to eat with care, plus tying laces, dressing yourself and combing your hair.

Those were precious hours spent with you so when I forget what I was about to say, just give me a minute.  Or, maybe too it probably wasn't important anyway.  I would much rather you just listen if I tell a story once more even if you know the ending through and through.  Remember your first nursery rhymes when I rehearsed it a hundred times.

When my legs are tired and it's hard to stand or walk the steady pace that I would like to do, please take me carefully by my hand, and guide me now as I so often did for you.

I don't know who wrote this [I modified it some], but I love the sentiment to remind us of both the earlier and later steps in life's journey.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Are You Fed Up Yet? How About An Amendment to Make Congress More Accountable?

Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney

I received this suggestion from a friend today, and I thought it might resonate with some of you.

The 26th Amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months and 8 days to be ratified!  Why?  Simple!  The people demanded it.  That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

Here is a suggested amendment:

Title:  Congressional Reform Act of 2011.

1.  No Tenure/No Pension.  A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2.  Congress (past, present and future) participates in Social Security.  All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system and Congress participates with the American people.  It may not be used for any other purpose.

3.  Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4.  Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5.  Congress loses their current health care system and participate in the same health care system as the American people.

6.  Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7.  All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective January 1, 2012.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen.  Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.  Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Eleven (11) Things They Did Not and Will Not Learn in School

In a speech to high school students, Bill Gates passed on to them the following eleven (11) rules.  The rules come from Charles Sykes, author of "Dumbing Down Our Kids:  Why American Children Feel Good about Ourselves but Can't Read, Write or Add" (St. Martin's Press 1996).  It appears that the rules did not come directly from this book, but were the basis of his book "50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School:  Real World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education" (St. Martin's Press 2007).

Mr. Gates talked about how feel-good politically correct teaching has created a full generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1:  Life is not fair - get used to it.

Rule 2:  The world doesn't care about your self esteem.  The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3:  You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.  You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4:  If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.  He doesn't have tenure.

Rule 5:  Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.  Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping.  They called it opportunity.

Rule 6:  If you mess up, it's NOT your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes.  Learn from them.

Rule 7:  Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8:  Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not.  In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many tries as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9:  Life is NOT divided into semesters.  You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself.  Do that on your own time.

Rule 10:  Television is NOT real life.  In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11:  Be nice to nerds/people.  Chances are you'll end up working for one.

If you can read this ... Thank a Teacher.

If you can read this in English ... Thank a Soldier!

And for life and everything else you have ... Thank God!

Mr. Sykes had additional rules, three (3) of which are:

Rule 12:  Smoking does not make you look cool.  It makes you look moronic.  Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth.  That's what you look like to anyone over 20.  Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule 13:  You are not immortal.  (See Rule No. 12).  If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule 14:  Enjoy this while you can.  Sure parents are a pain, school's a bore, and life is depressing.  But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid.  Maybe you should start now.  You're welcome.

To read an excerpt of "50 Rules" go to:  http://us.macmillan.com/50ruleskidswontlearninschool.


Friday, June 10, 2011

I Called My Father "Papa"

Father's Day is June 19.  It took fathers a good deal longer than mothers to get their rightful national recognition.  It wasn't until President Johnson's proclamation, in 1966, that the holiday was officially recognized.  With Father's Day just around the corner, let's give our dads their due with this perspective on fathers and children:

4 years:  My Daddy can do anything!

7 years:  My Dad knows a lot...a whole lot!

8 years:  My father does not know quite everything.

12 years:  Oh well, naturally Father does not know that, either.

14 years:  Father?  He's hopelessly old-fashioned.

21 years:  The old man is so out of date.

25 years:  He knows a little bit about it, but not much.

30 years:  I must find out what Dad thinks about it.

35 years:  Before we decide, we will get Dad's idea first.

50 years:  What would Dad have thought about that?

60 years:  My Dad knew literally everything!

65 years:  I wish I could talk it over with Dad once more.

To every father, grandfather and great-grandfather:  Enjoy your day!


Friday, June 3, 2011

New Report Reveals Over-Use of Anti-Psychotics in Nursing Homes

This spring, a family reported to me that a loved one in a nursing home had trouble getting her medications in balance.  She was placed in a hospital to help sort the problem out and after her stay, she was even worse and never spoke again.  What a tragedy.

"When a loved one moves into a nursing hone, the support of family and friends is particularly important.  This is especially true when the nursing home patient has dementia and can't adequately advocate on his or her own behalf.  A newly released report from the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services makes clear just how crucial it is for families to monitor and ask questions about medications that such patients receive.

Source:  CNN Opinion (May 31, 2011) 

and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Full OIG Report


Friday, March 25, 2011

Idaho Legal Aid Services Funding

By Susan Graham

The Graham Law Office, P.A.

Idaho is last in line (again).  In supporting Idaho Legal Aid Services (ILAS.)

49 states provide financial support for Legal Aid Services to assist the poor and elderly access the legal system.  Idaho does not.

I am on the Board of Directors for Idaho Legal Aid.  I went to a meeting yesterday at the Idaho Statehouse where Legislators, Representatives of the Idaho Supreme Court and Idaho Legal Aid were present.     

Idaho Legal Aid had to cut back their services for seniors last year because they lost funding.  I am an advocate for seniors.  I want to protect their independence, families and assets.  Idaho Legal Aid provides services for seniors who cannot afford a private attorney.  They help them keep their home, get Medicaid benefits, or other services that allow them to live independently and safely.    

ILAS is out of money.  They have tapped their reserves, and currently, most of their staff, who are devoted to helping the disadvantaged, are working part-time.  

This is the letter I sent to Representatives of the Idaho House Committee

I am writing to request that you support House Bill 300.  The passage of this Bill will result in a $10 increase on certain civil court filings fees, which would be used to support Idaho Legal Aid Services (ILAS).

ILAS is the only state-wide non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal services to the poor and other vulnerable residents of Idaho.  Examples of the type of cases they handle include: exploited seniors, foreclosures, domestic violence, homeless veterans and neglected children. 

ILAS serves less than 20% of the demand for its services.  If this Bill is passed, it will allow ILAS to restore 15 part-time employees to full-time status.

The work of ILAS brings money into Idaho communities.  For example, in 2010 ILAS helped 298 victims of domestic violence obtain custody of their children and orders for child support, medical and day care costs.  The value of these awarded funds for a single year, is approximately $1,700,000.  As a result of these efforts and the resulting awards, there are 298 fewer individuals who need welfare, which has a positive impact on the state’s budget.

Currently, Idaho is the only state in the union that does not provide state funding support for their Legal Aid organization.  In 2006, 75% of the Idaho State Bar members passed a resolution supporting an appropriation or filing fee to support ILAS.   Without this additional funding for ILAS it will be impossible for them to continue to provide their current level of services, which is only 20% of the demand for its services.

I am an attorney with a practice that represents the elderly.   This past year ILAS had to put cutbacks in place that limit their ability to represent low-income elderly, which leaves them with nowhere to turn.

I request and encourage you to support House Bill 300 to fund Idaho Legal Aid Services.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Susan M. Graham

Attorney at Law

What can you do?  Contact your Legislator and ask that they support House Bill 300.  Time is short, so please do this today.  Please call the Legislative Information Center at 208-332-1000 or 1-800-626-047 and advise them you are supporting House Bill 300 in the Judiciary, Rules, and Administration Committee.  If you have to leave a message, please include your name, address, and Legislative District if you know it.

Thanks for your help.  Susan 

 



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