Why Savvy Aging

When my mother was fighting her losing battle with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases she would often say “Aging is not for sissies.”

Care for elderly parentsShe was right. There are many aspects of aging and care for elderly parents that are difficult and scary for both seniors and the adult children of aging parents. Sadly, this causes many families to avoid having early and detailed conversations about their parents’ “legacy plans.” This includes their feelings, goals and action steps to achieve a quality of life in their later years consistent with their values, circumstances and financial means. Typically this conversation includes health care and housing preferences, estate planning, end of life issues, family business succession and more.

A lack of discussion leads to a lack of planning which, in turn, leads to emergency decision making when for example, Mom falls and breaks a hip or when Dad is having cognitive difficulties that now appear to go beyond forgetfulness. These are just two of many common, sad scenarios that I have witnessed and helped the children of aging parents  navigate  with their Mom or Dad. Although aging and a decline in health is inevitable, advance discussion and planning can diminish many of the challenges of care for elderly parents. Dementia, fall risk, medication mismanagement and depression do not typically just go away or resolve themselves.

Studies by famous aging theorist, Ken Dychtwald, as well as common experience validate that a high percentage of families, regardless of education or affluence, avoid having “The Talk.” In recent years Volunteers of America featured comedienne, Joan Rivers and her daughter in a public service announcement urging families to have this “taboo” talk. After recently completing the successful turnaround of a retirement community, I thought long and hard about how I could now best help seniors. After much reflection and research, I decided that providing families with a barrys-mom2family-facilitated GPS (Guided Plan for Seniors) to navigate through the aging maze was a desperately needed service and ideally matched my training and experience.

One of the reasons families do not plan is that they are unsure where to start. The internet can be intimidating with an overwhelming amount of self-help information that cannot always substitute for personalized, professional guidance. Families often realize they need a lawyer, health care provider or other consultant but are unsure how to best select one.

Savvy Aging is not the whole solution but it a great place to start. I cannot make aging easy, only easier. It begins with a commitment to respectful dialogue about how to navigate your personal aging maze. My ability to help families depends on their good faith commitment to allow my help. My goal is to replace the inertia and confusion often felt by the children of aging parents with confident empowerment. We do this by exploring options and co-creating an action plan that is in the parent’s  best interests. The client decides if and when to implement the plan. If the services of certain other professionals are needed or selection of a long term care facility required as part of a plan of care for elderly parents, I offer screened referrals.

Here is why I think you and your loved ones will be comfortable and confident talking to me:

barry-momI have been on this journey with my own mother.

This is a new approach based on my past experience helping numerous other families over the years.

I am a senior care and housing industry expert having spent decades in various capacities including as an executive director, consultant, educator, real estate specialist and attorney.

I am a professional mediator.

I am grounded in counseling psychology and have a personal comfort and ability level dealing with the emotional terrain of aging issues.

I am caring, competent and collaborative.