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Celebrities ... They're Just Like Us

Whenever I fly I have to resist the urge to stop in one of those airport gift shops to pick up at least one of the latest celeb magazines. People, Us, Life & Style – you name it and I’m on board. There’s just something about reading of the trials and tribulations of the rich and famous that makes me feel better about the trials and tribulations in my own life. Great escapism! But, at $6 a pop, a huge budget buster.

So, how does the latest and greatest celeb news relate to elderly caregiving, other than to serve as a source of escapism for those of us who do it? Well, it seems many of the rich and famous are dealing with their own issues surrounding the caregiving of elderly loved ones. Sadly, the focus seems to be on family disputes centered around money (of course!) but also access (visitation) and treatment.

My friend Denise pointed out a USA Today article (link below) centered on the latest family dispute related to a celebrity with dementia – comedian Tim Conway. His wife and daughter are in court battling it out, just as family members of other celebs like Casey Kasem and Glen Campbell have done. What a waste of time and energy for anyone – celebrity or not. But sometimes that’s what it comes down to when family members are genuinely concerned about the health and well-being of an elderly loved one with dementia.

Of course, as any attorney or financial planner worth his or her salt would say, “This all could have been avoided if the proper documents had been in place.” Easier said than done, especially when the person you’re trying to get to sign off on the proper documents is an elderly loved one with a “challenging” personality.

Families are supposed to be that great unit that loves and supports each other no matter what and rallies around to do the right thing when the going gets tough, right? Unfortunately, dysfunctional families abound, and the prospect of a future windfall can bring out the worst in everyone.

In my case the proper documents are in place. I am the sole decision maker for my elderly mom. A huge responsibility I wish I didn’t have but at least one that doesn’t involve a tug-of-war with one or more less than stellar relatives.

In step 2 of my “10 Things You Can Do TODAY to Improve Your Caregiving Life” I reference handling these legal matters for your elderly loved ones and…FOR YOURSELF: “If you’re old enough to be working and supporting yourself, you’re old enough to have these documents in place, whether or not you have kids.” But so many people don’t.

I admit it: When I read People or Us or Life & Style I take secret pleasure in knowing that people think Kaley Cuoco looks pregnant even though she’s not and that Ellen Pompeo and Brooke Shields were both out and about with no makeup and that it appears that Kim and Kanye are headed for divorce court. I take no pleasure in stories like that of the Conway family. However, I do take comfort in the hope that these particular celebrity dramas help raise awareness of the needs of a largely invisible elderly population and those who care for them.

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