HoffmanThe challenges can be immense when a busy middle-aged person must adapt to managing the care of an elderly family member or close friend, especially if one or more chronic illnesses are involved.

A new book by Case Western Reserve University School of Law Professor Sharona Hoffman details how people can make sure elderly parents or other relatives get the care they need to maintain fulfilling lifestyles and social ties. It’s also a book about how baby boomers can prepare for their own aging.

Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve Your Tomorrow (Praeger Publishers, 2015) is a new release as of May. Hoffman is the law school’s Edgar A. Hahn Professor of Law, a professor of bioethics and co-director of the Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve.

“My book identifies effective strategies that can minimize the potential pitfalls of aging,” Hoffman said. “It is a concise and comprehensive resource for a middle-aged audience planning for their later years and at times immersed in caring for elderly relatives, an often overwhelming task for which little in life has prepared us.”

Unlike many other books about aging that focus on a single topic, such as health, finances or law, Aging with a Plan explores a range of issues, providing practical and absorbing discussions of each. The book offers “one-stop shopping for those who seek to plan for their own old age or to anticipate the needs of aging relatives,” Hoffman said.

hoffmanChapters address topics such as retirement savings and expenses, residential settings, legal planning, the elderly and driving, coordinated medical care, long-term care and end-of-life decisions.

Hoffman was motivated to write the book because of her own experiences and worries. In an 18-month period beginning in May 2013, Hoffman lost both parents and her mother-in-law, and her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She came to learn, however, that she was not alone in grappling with such travails, as illustrated in a story that opens the book.

She recalls how a lunchtime conversation with a colleague drifted to the subject of eldercare:

“My husband and I had been immersed in caring for elderly relatives who were in their mid-eighties and beyond,” she writes. “My friend revealed that she too was coordinating care for her mother, who was in her nineties, had advanced dementia, and lived in another state.”

Hoffman expressed in that conversation that their parents “were lucky” because at least they had adult children to help them, and that she has begun to worry about eventually reaching old age, because she and her husband have no children to help them.

“Then, my friend surprised me and stated that she enjoys a very close relationship with her only son, but what she fears most about aging is that her son will come to dread visiting her and will consider contact with her to be an unwelcome obligation. Having a devoted child, therefore, was hardly a comfort when she contemplated her later years,” Hoffman writes.

The issues in her book are especially relevant today. It is expected that by 2030, 20 percent of Americans will be 65 and older. Moreover, about half of the nation’s seniors have been diagnosed with at least two chronic conditions.

Hoffman’s book has been endorsed by several prominent individuals. They write, in part, as follows:

“Driven by personal experience and a respected career in bioethics and law, Sharona Hoffman provides us a vibrant, very useable chapter by chapter guide, inclusive of actionable checklists to prepare for the next phases our lives as we experience the 40s to 80s.” —Jennie Chin Hansen, CEO, American Geriatrics Society; former president of AARP

“The book is particularly useful for Baby Boomers dealing with their own elderly parents. The author expertly uses case studies involving her own family to teach lessons relevant to any family.” —David English, professor of law, University of Missouri; chair, ABA Commission on Law and Aging

“Learning about these choices with this excellent reference beforehand will definitely make stressful events more manageable.” —Michael F. Roizen, MD, author of This is Your Do-Over