I was young when Granny T died. Granny T loved grilled cheese sandwiches, she loved porch swings, and she gave us grandkids MadLibs at Christmas. Granny T told me one time that she was the valedictorian of her high school class and that I was smart, just like her. Granny T had issues with her brain that were largely misdiagnosed and improperly treated. The night she died, the nursing home called and told my mother to come right away. She left immediately. She and her two sisters drove the hours it took to get to Granny as quickly as any child would after getting such a call.
But Granny T died alone in the nursing home at 66 years of age. None of her daughters made it to her in time. She was too far away from her family in a nursing home assigned by the state under the Medicaid program. It was one of the few times in life I saw my mother truly sad and broken.
My MeeMaw is still alive. She is 94. I introduced her to Taco Bell and the Gap, and she taught me the joy of soap operas and clipping coupons. MeeMaw regularly mailed me the most delicious homemade blackberry jelly when I was in college, much to the delight of all of my friends and dorm mates. MeeMaw always wrote notes with the jelly telling me that I could do anything that I put my mind to and that she was so proud to have a granddaughter with such a fine education. MeeMaw has diagnosed dementia, for which she is monitored by a geriatric physician. She forgets our names, she forgets we came to see her just minutes after we leave, and leaving her home environment is so disheveling and confusing for her that we don’t take her out any more.
There is no cure for dementia. MeeMaw will die from the physical ailments that come with it. She will likely pass not remembering where she is or how she got there. But MeeMaw is comfortable, clean, and close to her family. She lives in a lovely assisted living, afforded through proper early planning, not far from any of her three children, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. She will pass having led a much fuller life than Granny T, our memories of her will be stronger, and we will all make it there when the time comes.
Now you know my purpose story. It is the story of why I have practiced in Elder Law for 13 years. It is why I love helping attorneys across the country, through the best program on the market, to provide the most comfort possible to families in very difficult times. It is also why I am passionate and committed as an advocate and ambassador for the National Alzheimer’s Association. And, it is why I would like to ask each of you as legal advocates for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia to join the Lawyers with Purpose team in the fight to find a cure. June 20, 2016 is the summer solstice and the longest day of the year. We will honor those family members, friends and clients who have joined us for planned events at the Practice With Purpose retreat and at firms across the country. We ask that each of you consider joining our team, either in person or virtually, as the LWP elder law community shows our support of our personal communities.
We hope you, and your firm, may join our team during the Tri-Annual Practice Enhancement Retreat on June 20th. We'll be participating live from the event, and hope you can join us, if not, please join our group virtually at http://act.alz.org/site/TR?fr_id=8480&pg=team&team_id=327995. Throw on your purple shirt, send us pictures to post - and help raise awareness!
If you haven't registered for the Tri-Annual Practice Enhancement Retreat, grab your seat before early bird pricing ends May 13th: http://retreat.lawyerswithpurpose.com/
Together we can help find a cure and improve the lives of millions of families.
Kimberly M. Brannon, Esq., Legal Technical & Software Trainer for Lawyers With Purpose