Elder Law, Estate Planning & Probate Keynote Speaker and Educator
Pamela D. Wilson is a speaker and educator on the topic of elder law issues who shares the struggles faced by family caregivers in probate and estate planning matters. Her experience as a professional fiduciary in the roles of court-appointed guardian, medical and financial power of attorney, the personal representative, and trustee, in addition to a care manager, provides insights for elder law, estate planning, and probate attorney who specializing in these areas.
Family Conflict and Elder Care Concerns
As a professional fiduciary, Pamela witnessed the family turmoil that arises when estate planning documents had not been initiated or when poorly drafted documents resulted in issues attempting to navigate care and manage financial projects. Family caregivers have no idea of the responsibilities of being designated a guardian or a power of attorney in fact. Most lack the skills to navigate the healthcare system and other care services.
The list of care issues and family conflicts can be never-ending. These include substandard quality of care, medical errors, dysfunctional family situations, family conflict, professional boundaries by healthcare and care providers, difficult elderly parents, entitled or dependent adult children, battles over guardianship or powers of attorney, and contested court hearings. Pamela served as an expert to gather information to act as an expert for court testimony about care needs and costs.
Elder Law Speaker and Educator Testimonials
Pamela speaks on-site, through online video conferencing programs, and creates pre-recorded educational sessions, webinars, and podcasts linking the experiences of family caregivers and the areas of elder law, probate, and estate planning. All programs are uniquely designed tailored to meet the needs of groups and organizations.
Read what professionals from the legal community have to say about Pamela here.
“Pamela D. Wilson provided a webinar for ElderLawAnswers Membership on family caregiving called “Trends in Family Caregiving: How Elderlaw Attorneys Can Support Caregiver Clients.”. The presentation that Pamela provided was informative and helpful for those practicing Elder Law and working with clients that provide care to family members. I highly recommend Pamela D. Wilson as a presenter with regard to this topic.”Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esquire, CELA for O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C.
“Thank you again for agreeing to serve as faculty for the Colorado Bar Association Elder Law Retreat Program. CLE received so many positive responses to the program. Our most sincere thanks for sharing your expertise.” Gary Abrams, Executive Director of Colorado Bar Association CLE
The Pressures of Family Caregiving
For many family caregivers, a caregiver’s role is a 24/7, never-ending responsibility that interrupts days, evenings, and weekends. Having a career and a personal life becomes blurred by caregiving responsibilities that interrupt working caregivers on the job. As caregiving and elder law speaker and educator, Wilson relates her professional experience being on call 24/7 to the challenges that caregivers face.
Multiple calls from elderly parents every day, calls made to doctor’s offices to manage medical care—there’s always more to do. Coordinating care for aging parents can quickly turn into a full-time job in addition to a full-time paying job. Frustrations exist with healthcare providers who don’t follow through.
Caregivers feel pressured to respond to the needs of parents promptly to avoid worsening situations. Many caregivers become hypervigilant, waiting for the next worrisome phone call or expectations of receiving bad news. Family disagreements about who should provide care divide families.
What Does Family Caregiving and Practicing Elder Law, Probate, and Estate Planning Law Have in Common?
Attorneys in all areas of practice experience similar feelings as caregivers—that practicing law can take over their lives. Giving up life to practice law or care for elderly parents is a concern, especially for inexperienced caregivers and attorneys during the first 10-15 years of practice.
Like family caregivers, attorneys experience anxiety, stress, and substance abuse. The emotional aspects of dealing with sick elderly parents or spouses benefit from Wilson’s experience as a speaker and educator. Many of these topics are discussed on podcast episodes of The Caring Generation.
Building an elder law, probate, or estate planning practice poses time pressures for client meetings and projects to meet billable hour requirements. Not to mention that practicing law can be an adversarial profession, with trial attorneys—called litigators—representing clients to solve disputes related to guardianship, power of attorney, will contests, and related matters.
Prevention is a High Priority
The level of attention to detail and heightened awareness to anticipate and prevent problems can be extreme for attorneys and family caregivers. Caregivers of elderly parents who have multiple health issues have to learn new skills and be attentive to medical care tasks like managing insulin that can have deadly consequences if done incorrectly. Many of the risks inherent in caregiving result from caregivers learning as they go.
Elder law, probate, or estate planning attorneys reading this article are aware of family caregivers’ stress and emotional ups and downs. This intersection of responsibility for the care of lives can be rewarding and burdensome. As a speaker and educator, Wilson shares common experiences to help family caregivers with the responsibilities related to elder care and elder law when they act as an agent for elderly parents or a spouse.
Loneliness and Isolation
Becoming a primary caregiver for an elderly parent or a spouse may be an isolating event. Family caregivers spend upwards of 80 hours a month plus hold down a full-time job to care for family members. Often an adult child or a spouse bears the majority of responsibility because other family members can’t or won’t commit to helping.
The idea of always being “on” is exhausting. There is a sense of having to perform and be professional working with others, whether related to healthcare or legal projects. It seems there is always a deadline or a time-sensitive event looming.
These time commitments steal attention from activities that contribute to physical health and well-being. Wellness activities like exercise, socialization, nutrition, and others are neglected because commitments and responsibilities are viewed as being more important.
Caregivers find it challenging to ask for help. Attorneys feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders.
According to Cigna and UCLA research, completed before COVID in 2018, Americans are experiencing loneliness and a lack of connection with others to a significant degree. For caregivers and attorneys, all work and no play results in emotional and physical burnout. Finding balance is critical for health and well-being.
The Intersection of Work and Life
The changes in workplace situations resulting from COVID with more employees—family caregivers and attorneys—working at home have further blurred the separation of work and family time. Having young children and elderly parents in the house makes it more difficult to focus mentally. The idea of returning to work at the office is becoming more attractive for many employees who don’t have a home area for a separate office to accommodate productive work.
Family caregivers and attorneys daydream of finding a quiet place to hide for a few hours or getting a full night’s rest with no interruptions. All of these pressures add up to physical and mental health concerns.
Making Responsible Decisions
Attorneys are held to high standards with severe repercussions for violating ethical standards and professional conduct. Lawyers have a duty to withdraw from a case if the ability to represent a client is in question.
Family caregivers have the option of walking away. Few choose to desert the care of an elderly parent or a spouse. Instead, caregivers become burned out and rely on coping skills, which increases the likelihood of care situations that result in harm.
When family caregivers accept the agent’s role under the power of attorney, guardian, or conservator, stress increases. Medical care mistakes or financial missteps can result in litigation. Potential litigation or family disagreements represent the point where elder law, probate, or estate planning intersects with family caregivers.
Solutions for Complex Elder Care Solutions
Caregiving speaker and educator, Pamela D Wilson served as a professional fiduciary from 2007 to 2018. From 2000 to 2007, she provided in-home care services for the elderly and disabled. These combined experiences led Pamela on a journey to educate family caregivers and work with elder law, probate, and estate planning attorneys to meet the needs of complex care situations.
If you are an elder law, probate, or estate planning firm seeking to educate staff or clients about elder care, contact Pamela D Wilson to learn more.
Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA, a National Certified Guardian, and Certified Senior Advisor, is a caregiving and elder care expert, advocate, and speaker. Pamela offers family caregivers programming and support to navigate the challenges of providing, navigating, and planning for care. She guides professionals practicing in estate planning, elder and probate law, and financial planning to create plans to address unexpected concerns identified in her past role as a professional fiduciary. Healthcare professionals are supported by Pamela’s expertise to increase responsiveness and sensitivity to the extensive range of care challenges faced by care recipients and caregivers.