Law Office of Paul Black - February 2019


February 2019

The Lessons Age Brings LOVE AND CARE

A s we get ready to celebrate the most romantic day of the year, I find myself reflecting on the unique perspective on love my work has given me. Serving elders as they build their estate plans, I’ve had many amazing conversations with couples whose relationships have stood the test of time. Meeting with spouses who have been married more than 50 years certainly puts that particular four-letter word in a whole new light. There’s a lot to be learned from such long-standing relationships. Just seeing the ways affection can still burn so strongly between two people who have spent the majority of their lives together is inspiring. But what really puts love into perspective is witnessing how these couples face their new challenges. Because of the nature of my work, I usually meet couples in a time of transition, when health challenges are beginning to cause spouses to ask hard questions. The decision to become a primary caregiver is a weighty one, and few put much thought into it before the need becomes apparent. Often, it’s not until old age when we find out what our marriage vows really mean.

Ask a young person what they think it means to love someone and you’ll probably get something like, “Being there for that person no matter what.” After all, when we marry someone the traditional promise is to be there in sickness and in health. But what does it really mean to “be

People often assume they have a binary choice: stay in their home or go to a nursing home. But this isn’t the case. There are a spectrum of services available, including in-home care and short-term assisted living — sometimes referred to as respite care. While the types of services will vary depending Counseling can lighten the burden of being a care provider. Mindful Transitions in the Atlanta area brings clinical social work services to you. This home care style of therapy can provide some much-needed emotional support in an extremely difficult time. Best of all, these kinds of services are often covered by Medicare. The health challenges life throws at us can be some of the most difficult things a couple might face. This Valentine’s Day on where you live, it’s worth exploring what’s available.

there?” How much stress and sacrifice do we take on in the name of love? The answer really depends on you. Some people are natural caregivers, able to accept the added physical and emotional

responsibilities in stride. Others struggle with this unglamorous task and are afraid to ask for help. Some spouses take on all the responsibility of being a caregiver at great personal cost when they don’t have to: Nowhere in those wedding vows do you say you’re going to care for one another alone . How a couple decides to confront new health challenges is your sole purview. No amount of education or elder law experience would qualify me to make those life decisions for you or your spouse. But as someone who has been a caregiver to loved ones, I would urge you to consider the options that exist today.

let’s remind ourselves that while we should always love and care for our spouse, we don’t have to do it alone.

-Paul Black

Do you have estate planning or elder law-related questions? Write to me at with Asked and Answered in the subject line. Your identity will be kept confidential. The opinions offered in this column are not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. | 1

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