Elder Care: The Road to Growing Old Is Not Paved

Buckley Fricker, J.D., GCM, CSA. Elder Care: The Road to Growing Old Is Not Paved. Bellview Publishing. 2012. 109 pages. $18.99 on Amazon.

Not only is the road to growing old not paved, but there is often no road at all and travelers need help to keep from falling into the chasms of financial loss and unnecessary dependency.  It is rare to find a guidebook to this path that covers virtually all the legal, financial, housing and health care considerations of aging.  It is rarer still for such a book to do so in barely more than 100 engagingly-written pages, but this is the case with Elder Care: The Road to Growing Old Is Not Paved.

This is perhaps no surprise because its author has remarkably wide-ranging training and experience in the elder care field.  A former elder law attorney, Buckley Fricker is also a geriatric care manager, a Certified Senior Advisor, a college teacher who lectures on elder care topics, and the operator of a concierge service for seniors in the Washington, D.C., area.  The book grew out of her work as a teacher; her students wondered why all the great stuff she was teaching them wasn’t available between two covers.

Like many books of its kind, Elder Care explains the three major programs that affect the lives of the elderly -- Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- and also includes the customary chapters on estate planning and long-term care insurance.  But it explains them with unusual clarity and then goes far beyond, discussing useful topics such as how to get senior services at home, the different pension benefits available to veterans, how to fund old age other than with Social Security, locating realtors who specialize in the needs of seniors, and identifying the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease.  The book also offers a user’s guide to the growing panoply of professionals available to help with the health care needs of the elderly. 

Although the book is intended as a reference manual to be dipped into as questions or problems arise, it is highly readable thanks to Fricker’s clear writing style and the many examples she provides.  The confusing patchwork of programs, services and facilities that confront the aged in our society are succinctly explained. Fricker emphasizes that her discussions are only the tip of the iceberg and that consultation with qualified professionals, especially elder law attorneys if legal work is involved, is often required.  Elder Care can be a great way to prepare for an informed discussion with an attorney, but it also gives consumers and professionals alike the kind of invaluable, smart overview that can warn them of the muddy sections and steep drop-offs that lie ahead on the road to growing old.