Weekly Feature

2014-12-04 / Local News

‘Embracing Elderhood’ helps families plan ahead


Menzies Menzies Laurie Menzies is fluent in the nuances and complexities of elder care.

She has practiced elder law for the past 15 years, including the most recent decade as a partner at Pfalzgraf, Beinhauer & Menzies, the only law firm in Western New York solely devoted to age-related planning. On a more intimate level, Menzies spent years caring for her parents, Bill and Dorothy, before they passed at the respective ages of 96 and 90.

Drawing from her years of personal and professional experience, Menzies recently completed her book, “Embracing Elderhood: Planning for the Next Stage of Life,” which speaks of the legal, financial and long-term care plans necessary for aging individuals.

The book was edited in part by Orchard Park resident Bill Even, owner of The Coming Wave LLC.

“It reads like a practical guide,” said Menzies, whose book includes information on how assets are transferred, how trusts work, different levels of care and how to pay for one’s long-term care.

She was careful not to clutter the book with legal jargon. “I wrote it like a daughter instead of a lawyer,” said Menzies, adding that it includes anecdotes from clients’ experiences, as well as her personal trials and successes in caring for her parents.

Menzies stressed that prepping for elderhood should be taken seriously, and done sooner rather than later.

“You want to make your own plans for that stage of life. We don’t want to end a really good life by default,” she said.

However, she acknowledged that while the information on elder planning is out there, it can be overwhelming and hard to find. She recommends using her book as a starting point and then finding a professional, like herself, who is devoted to elder law.

Menzies said that Pfalzgraf, Beinhauer & Menzies has a different approach to law, in that the firm “embraces the whole person” instead of just handling legal documents. She tries to work alongside a client’s financial consultant and other related professionals to deliver a coordinated, comprehensive plan.

In Menzies’ experience, she believes a lot of people associate long-term care with nursing homes. However, she said that is just one option among many.

“Most people worry or they don’t ask for help because they don’t want to pay. They don’t even check to see if there might be benefits that they are already eligible for,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know that you can get home care under Medicaid.”

There are also continuing care options, such as Fox Run at Orchard Park, where independent residents can move in and transition to assisted living or skilled nursing care when needed, at no extra cost.

Though Menzies devoted her career to elder law, even she struggled at times when it came to caring for her own parents. Menzies said that her problem was not knowing when it was time to ask for outside help with her parents. Looking back, she feels she may have let her mother remain her father’s caregiver after it was no longer safe to do so.

She recommends bringing in an outside party to assess the situation and help determine whether additional assistance is needed.

“Having professional help instead of just family members all voicing opinions is invaluable,” she said.

More information, as well as copies of Menzies book for sale, can be found at www.embracing elderhood.com. The book is also available for purchase at www.amazon.com.

email: catherinec@beenews.com

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