Updated: May 9, 2022
Did you know that there's an entire month devoted to recognizing and celebrating how Elder Law helps older adults and their family caregivers? There is, and it's this month!
May is National Elder Law Month. It's also Older Americans Month. It's the time of year when I reflect on my choice to offer Elder Law services.
Earlier this month, I came across a video from Valerie Peterson, an elder law attorney and fellow Nebraskan. In this video, Valerie talks about the personal experiences that propelled her to begin practicing elder law. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I would want to share it during National Elder Law Month.
What resonates with me the most in this video is the way Valerie describes her experience. I can relate when she talks about the sense of helplessness caregivers feel. I can relate when she talks about the doubt and regret caregivers feel when they're not sure they are doing the right thing by their loved one.
Valerie is an attorney, and attorneys are problem-solvers by nature. Yet, Valerie felt helpless when faced with an elderly relative's Alzheimer's disease. She felt ill-equipped to use those problem-solving skills to help her family meet the needs of her grandmother, who lived with dementia for 15 years.
I’ve heard Valerie tell this story before. The same emotion and passion you saw in this video comes through every time she tells it. Valerie's story drives home the point that even though family caregivers are very well-intentioned when they set out to care for their loved ones, most don't realize just how hard it will be. Most people need help along the way, but not everyone feels like it's okay to ask for help. And, as Valerie points out, even if a family is aware they need help, most have no idea where to find it.
Elder Law chose Valerie, and it chose me, too. It is my goal this month (and every month) to help older adults and their families get the help they need to make the elder care journey less difficult. I consider it a privilege to do so.