Highlights of Tierra’s Summer Series Workshops
Estate & Late Life Planning – June 15th
Preserving your assets to ensure your wishes are fulfilled after you’re gone is something each of us should do, sooner rather than later,” stated Angela Wethor, attorney, CPA, and Corporate VP with New York Life’s Advanced Planning Group. “Establishing a will, living trust, and medical directives, as well as assigning an informed and willing executor/trustee, are essential to the process. By having an estate plan, you can avoid having your assets go to probate, which in California, can be an expensive and drawn-out process, often taking up to two years.” When addressing Special Needs Trusts, Angela noted that these are important for family members with disabilities so that their inheritance is protected, while preserving their eligibility to receive Social Security and Medicaid benefits. Reviewing these plans every few years and addressing changes that can result from disability, death, discord, divorce, or distress, as well as changing tax laws, were also key takeaways.
“Failing to prepare… is preparing to fail” — Benjamin Franklin
“The last couple of years have certainly taught us that we do not know what tomorrow brings,” shared Julie Snyder, who asked the poignant question, “Have you thought of a plan to care for your loved one with a disability, after you’re gone?” As Tierra’s Life Planning Navigator, Julie has worked with numerous families to help them begin the process of developing a plan for all aspects of future caregiving. She emphasized the importance of answering simple questions such as creating a “Letter of Intent” to document how their loved ones will be cared for as they both age and change. Answering simple questions such as: What is their daily routine? Who are their friends outside of their home? and identifying likes and dislikes, are all important in creating the Letter of Intent.
Citing that this is the first generation of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities who are living normal life spans and will most likely outlive their parents, Julie noted that communicating with siblings and family members to put a plan in place is key to avoiding disruptive changes in all parties’ lives. Because the aging process for people with disabilities is so new, systems and services are currently underprepared to assist families with identifying their needs and creating an in-depth plan. Tierra is prepared to help with this process by assisting in creating a Letter of Intent that serves as a roadmap for families to translate their dreams for the future into specific goals and an action plan.
Understanding Alzheimers in Individuals with Down Syndrome – July 12th
Eric Doran, Manager of UC Irvine’s Down Syndrome MIND Program and Sharon Trocki-Miller, family advocate, were the featured speakers at Tierra’s 2nd Summer Series workshop. For families with a loved one with Down syndrome, the information presented by Eric Doran was of tremendous value, particularly with this population’s lifespan tripling from what it was 50 years ago. Eric’s 20 years of research shed new light on the fact that 25% of people with DS are over age 40 and will live another twenty years; yet, Alzheimer’s continues to be their leading cause of death. And, while signs of the disease are most commonly seen between ages 50-53, it can often develop five to ten years prior. Eric addressed the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in people with DS stating, “Promising research is being done to develop testing to identify the early onset of the disease and reduce its symptoms. Certain medications and identifying good health habits, (diet, exercise and sleep) have also proven helpful in combating this debilitating disease.” Sharon shared the personal side of growing up and caring for her younger sister, Robin, a twin with Down syndrome, who developed Alzheimer’s dementia. Her touching story resonated with many families on the call and provided insight to the love and care that a person with DS needs, particularly as they age.
Parent Focus Group – August 17th
As a Regional Trainer for the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia practices and a Certified Late Life Planner who has assisted hundreds of Tierra families in planning for the future, Julie Snyder hosted a Parent Focus Group as Part III of Tierra’s Summer Series Workshops. Eric Doran joined Julie to provide key resources and field candid questions from parents whose loved ones have intellectual and developmental disabilities. “Many parents have been asking for this kind of support group for some time and we look forward to hosting more in the coming months,” shares Julie.
For future Parent Focus Groups and questions regarding person-centered life planning, please watch your email or contact Julie at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-415-2331.