Lessons from Celebrities: The Tragic Case of Casey Kasem

On Father’s Day 2014, legendary radio host Casey Kasem passed away at the age of 82 after a long battle with a progressive brain disorder called Lewy body dementia. This disease causes confusion, memory loss, hallucinations, and problems with movement. However, what made things even more tragic for Casey Kasem and his family was their very public battle over how to handle the issues surrounding his care. His wife and children disagreed on everything from which facility was best suited to his needs to what to do with his body after he passed away. Although Kasem was a celebrity with an estate worth millions, his overall situation represents a fairly common case among older Americans who fail to make their wishes known about end-of-life issues.

Each day, 10,000 people turn 65 – a trend that is expected to continue for the next 16 years. In fact, by 2050, 1 in 5 Americans will be senior citizens, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. Because people are starting to live so much longer, it is not uncommon for a 60-year-old who is approaching retirement to be in the role of a caregiver for a parent in their 80s or 90s. This sort of stress can weigh on family relationships and cause undue stress to your loved ones. For these reasons, it is important to designate a health care agent who can act on your behalf to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself. You should write down specific instructions about your wishes for long-term care, including whether you would want hospice care, if you want life-prolonging measures taken if you were in a terminal state with no hope of recovery, and how you would like your body to be taken care of after you pass away.

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It is also important to work with your family, your loved ones, and an experienced elder law attorney to come up with a plan in the event that you need long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Making sure that your assets are in order and that there is a plan in place before there is a crisis situation can save a great deal of heartache and money when the time comes.

While these decisions are never pleasant to think about, making your wishes known and having a plan in place before it is too late can be the ultimate gift to your family members. It eliminates all doubt about what you would have wanted while preventing family sensitivities and power struggles from getting in the way of what is truly important. It can also give you the ultimate gift – peace of mind in knowing that you will pass away peacefully, the way you want, without family arguments taking the forefront.

Ask Jolene: Animals and Mental Health

Hook Law Center: Jolene, I know watching videos of cute animals makes me feel better, but can it actually reduce stress and anxiety?

Jolene: Well first, let me introduce myself. My name is Jolene and I am Emily’s tortoiseshell cat.

According to a study conducted by the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, there is evidence to suggest that watching videos of cute animals can contribute to a reduction in stress and anxiety. In the study, subjects watched videos of cute animals for 30 minutes as their blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels were tested. The study involved kittens, puppies, and infant gorillas, as well as quokkas, A quokka is an animal found in Western Australia, and is often called the “world’s happiest animal.” During the study, subjects’ blood pressure went down significantly, average heart rates went down 6.5%, and anxiety rates went down 35%. So the next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, search for videos of cute animals – you could be feeling better within a few minutes!

Posted in Senior Law News