42 THE QUEENS COURIER • HEALTH • FEBRUARY 7, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Elder Law Minute TM
Smart Planning For Older Parents
Hardiness/Frailty and Aging
Th e elderly are oft en
less vulnerable than they
appear. Th ey may attribute
their health to exercise,
religion and a positive
attitude. It is well
known that genetics,
good health practices
and a certain degree
of luck are involved. Th e
very process of enduring
beyond the average life
span indicates personal survival capacities
beyond those of the ordinary person.
In our era, however, this is complicated
by the fact that many would have died of
various disorders, having now been kept
alive through sophisticated medical technology.
Th erefore, among the oldest-old
we fi nd two distinct groups: those hardy
souls genetically meant to endure for a
century, and the extreme frail who walk
a “tightrope” between survival and death.
Investigators, for several decades, have
studied the concept of “hardiness” as
it relates to survival and
coping among the oldest
old with chronic illness
and multiple stressors.
Hardiness is defi ned as
a personality style characterized
by three elements:
(1) feelings of
control, (2) deep commitment
to something or
someone, and (3) enjoyment
of a challenge.
Researchers propose investigation of
this concept and a clearer understanding
as “hardiness”, increasingly becoming a
way of explaining survival capacity of the
frail and vulnerable.
However, one of the issues that can
adversely aff ect the oldest-old, and that
may lead to frailty, is identifi ed as “energy
allotment” (i.e. a decreased energy
level). An elderly individual may be able
to walk but prefers to use a wheelchair
in order to travel great distances in less
time and have more energy remaining.
Although the ability to walk should be
maintained, the desire to be more mobile
should be respected and a wheelchair
provided to permit a wider range of
Th e opportunity for choice in energy
expenditure may be ignored if we have
an “all” – or “more” approach to the
dependencies of the aged.
From my perspective, the goal of maximizing
function and delaying decline
while using and building on personal
strengths and desires is the goal of a wellness
oriented rehabilitation .
Working with older adults, however,
who are having serious diffi culty coping
with their lives, demands a great deal
from their caregiver. Sensitivity is needed
to research out the exact diffi culty.
Older people, because of reasons of
pride or because of mental impairments,
may not always state their problems
directly. Tolerance and patience may
be required by “teasing out” the issues.
Oft en a great deal of trust must be present
before a frail elder will confi de to a
caretaker who is working with this individual
and may require more time.
Th e old person may also be acting hostile
and aggressive as a way of feeling less
dependent and needy in an attempt to
still have control over a situation.
It is important to remember always
that these older adults are survivors –
people who have lived through major
world wars, social upheavals and numerous
Sheldon Ornstein Ed.D, RN, LNHA
Dr. Sheldon Ornstein is a registered
professional nurse with a doctoral degree
in nursing organization. He has specialized
in the care of older adults and has
published many articles on the subject.
He has done post-graduate work in gerontology
and has taught at several universities.
In 2013, he was inducted into
the Nursing Hall of Fame at Teachers
College, Columbia University.
BY RONALD FATOULLAH, ESQ.
Over the last twenty years it has become
increasingly common for couples and
single parents to delay having their fi rst
child. Due to advances in infertility treatment,
career responsibilities and changing
cultural mores, it is not uncommon
to see people in their 40’s, 50’s and even
60’s becoming parents for the fi rst time.
Actor and comedian Steve Martin had
his fi rst child at age 67 and Janet Jackson
became a mother at age 50.
Older fathers and mothers tend to be
more fi nancially and emotionally secure,
and are likely to invest greater emotional
energy in their children’s upbringing,
according to psychologists. However,
when these children reach young adulthood,
they can be faced with emotional,
medical and fi nancial responsibilities
for their parents at a much earlier age
than other children, giving them a feeling
that their youth has been diminished.
Later-in-life parents need to be cognizant
of these potential issues and should help
their children by ensuring they have an
up-to-date estate plan as well as sound
fi nancial planning for retirement savings.
One of the most important functions of
an estate plan is to name a legal guardian
for one’s children in one’s will, and this is
crucial for a parent having children later
in life. If an individual fails to appoint a
guardian, the court will have the responsibility
to choose a guardian for any child
under the age of 18 should his parents
die. Th is court-appointed guardian may
not be the person one would choose and
could even be a stranger with no familial
or personal relationship with the child.
It is also important to establish and
fund a trust for one’s children so that
assets are set aside to provide for their
needs and education. A trust is even
more critical if one has a child from a
second or third marriage. Th e trust will
give the trustee the power to manage the
property and other trust assets and protect
them for the next generation. In the
case of a blended family with older adult
children as well as children under the age
of 18, a trust can provide for the younger
child’s college expenses while protecting
remaining assets for the other children
In addition, planning for retirement
savings as well as possible long-term care
needs for you and your spouse is imperative.
Being an older parent can mean you
are more fi nancially stable and therefore
have the ability to save for your children’s
college education and your own
retirement simultaneously. However,
some fi nancial advisors recommend saving
for your own retirement over saving
for college because students have the
ability to borrow money for their education.
If you are retired when your children
go to college, they may even qualify
for additional fi nancial aid.
Older parents should ensure they have
suffi cient life insurance, and possibly
purchase long-term care insurance or
new hybrid policies that are available.
Children under the age of 18 or those
who became mentally or physically disabled
prior to the age of 22 can also be
eligible to receive their parents’ Social
Security benefi ts if necessary.
Finally, it is important for all individuals,
especially older parents, to ensure
that their estate plans and all necessary
documents are in place so that they will
be protected in case of death or disability.
A Power of Attorney with a Statutory
Gift s Rider, Health Care Proxy, Living
Will, and Last Will and Testament are
critical documents for every individual,
with appropriate agents appointed to act
on one’s behalf if needed.
Th e above outlines some of the key
documents and planning that all parents,
especially older parents with young children,
should consider in order to protect
their families. Of course, one should
certainly consult with a knowledgeable
and experienced elder care attorney and
fi nancial planner who is a fi duciary in
order to create the best possible plan.
Ronald Fatoullah, Esq. is the principal
of Ronald Fatoullah & Associates,
a law fi rm that concentrates in elder
law, estate planning, Medicaid planning,
guardianships, estate administration,
estate litigation, trusts, wills, and real
estate. Th e fi rm can be reached at: 718-
261-1700, 516-466-4422, or toll free at:
1-877-ELDER-LAW or 1-877-ESTATES.
Mr. Fatoullah is also a partner with
Advice Period, a wealth management
fi rm, and he can be reached at 424-256-