Light of Gray

Elder Care Expertise

What is Grand Family Planning?

Grand Family Planning Logo

A new way for families to ensure their well-being.


Every family has needs that are constantly changing. The more members, the more complex. And today’s family often consists of grandparents, parents and grandchildren. As children grow and leave home, they sometimes return. Parents age, living much longer than ever before, and start needing help from their adult children. No family exists in a vacuum.

Love and necessity connect us. But law and finance can present us with obstacles. When the time comes, will you be able to advocate for family members who can’t speak for themselves? Who takes responsibility for what? How will expenses be managed? Where is everything? How can you begin to prepare? Can’t this all wait?

Grand Family Planning helps to answer these questions and more. By working with a team of professionals, you will understand what questions need to be asked. Priorities will be set, recommendations will be made, and introductions to all the right strategic partners will bring you a seamless and highly productive experience. Membership in Grand Family Planning will help you to achieve peace of mind through ongoing advice and support, offering integrated services at significant discounts, providing stress relief and direction for your entire family, from grandparents to grandchildren.

If this resonates with you, visit Grand Family Planning to sign up now for notification when we launch in the Fall of 2014 in northern New Jersey. Call 973-962-1880 or email For more ideas, visit

Leave a comment »

Avoiding Shark Bite

If you look at this clip, you may move the playhead to 32 seconds. This scene has been resonating with me a in big way lately, because I have been running into a lot of people who are like the Mayor of Amityville. The difference is, these folks don’t have a shark problem. They have a family problem.

As we get older, things change. Parents start needing more help. Often, they try to hide their problems from us, not wishing to be a burden. Or they just don’t want to acknowledge their issues. They may be frightened, too. No one wants to be vulnerable. Denial is an extremely powerful defense mechanism.

Adult children tend to minimize the issues, too. They have their own lives. Mom and Dad aren’t complaining, not exactly, but you feel it in your gut. You know something’s not quite right. But you’re focused on what’s going on right in front of you, and that’s a lot. Maybe it was just an aberration. Everyone has bad days, right?

Then something definitive happens. A fall. Evidence of confusion. Wandering. You can’t ignore it anymore. And it could be too late. The shark may already have your cheek in its mouth.

Then there are those who become caregivers to their folks, by design or by accident. They become so involved in their parents’ issues, they ignore their own: their health, their children’s needs and the fact that they, someday, may need the kind of help they are furnishing to their parents for themselves.

So what’s the answer? “Grand Family Planning.” Start talking to a professional today. You can’t start soon enough. Because if you see a fin in the distance, you can get away in time. You can get a bigger boat. You can prepare for what’s coming. But if you wait until the shark is hanging from your butt, you have a much bigger problem that’s a lot harder to solve. Contact Light of Gray today and keep the sharks at bay.


Another Grown-Up in the Room

Respect for authority must sometimes be hired

Respect for authority must sometimes be hired

At a recent talk I gave for adult children of aging parents, a woman who was struggling with her cantankerous father asked me what subjects were “worth bleeding over.” What battles do you fight until your stubborn parent relents?

I thought for a moment and told her that was very subjective and based on the family in question. However, one piece of advice I did offer is this: have another grown-up in the room.

Wait a minute, you may be thinking; I’m an adult. My parent is an adult. Why can’t we just work this out for ourselves?

Well, no one is saying YOU can’t. But if you can, you’re in a very rare and blessed position.

Simply put, no matter how old you become, you will ALWAYS be a child to your parents. No matter how capable you are, no matter how much they may respect you and revel in your achievements, the family dynamic established in your childhood is extremely difficult to overcome. When a parent becomes less able, and they are frightened of what will become of them as they continue to lose ground, and they are unlikely to discuss that fear with their children. If you were The Baby as a child, you continue to be The Baby as an adult, even if you’re a successful captain of industry.

So what can a child do to gain some leverage in this most difficult and contentious of situations? Bring in a pro. It could be an elder law attorney, a financial advisor, a psychologist, a trusted physician or any combination. The idea is to bring in someone with authority in a field related to the situation in which your family now finds itself to be part of your team.

Bringing to bear certain expertise can ease the anxiety inherent in addressing the need to act. After all, your parent has been around for a long time. Everything that needs to be done now is counter-intuitive to everything they’ve done up until this point. So not only do you seem like an upstart, you disrespectful, tactless ingrate, you’re forcing them to confront ideas that scare the hell out of them. It’s much better for everyone concerned if the bad news is delivered by a knowledgeable, caring and highly competent professional. Someone who can explain the situation and offer sensible plans to deal with what may be coming can be an invaluable ally.

This is an overlooked quality the right professionals bring to the conversation. They’ve seen it before, and perhaps been through it themselves (as I have). Delivered with sensitivity and authority, the actions required in planning can be accomplished more readily and effectively with their assistance.

So, as you come to the realization that your time has come, by all means, start the conversation. If you’re thinking about it, do it. Don’t wait. But don’t be surprised if you get push-back, and know that this is completely normal. Arm yourself with resources and allies, go back and get a plan in place. You’ll feel better, and once they’ve met the other grown-ups you bring to the proceedings, your parents will, too.

Please note: I will be giving a talk at Ringwood Public Library in Ringwood, NJ at 7pm on Wednesday, Feb. 19th, 2014. Bring your questions.


Not Guilty! February 19, 2014 at 7pm at Ringwood Public Library

Not Guilty!

Not Guilty!

Light of Gray presents the Fifth in a series on Elder Care talks at Ringwood Public Library

“Not Guilty! Coping with Emotional Upheaval Around Family Caregiving”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7pm

Aging isn’t for sissies, but most of us do it anyway. How we age is very individual and dependent on many factors. Few of us go through it in a vacuum. Family comes into play, and the residue of our early relationships tends to cling to us as we go through life. We redefine ourselves as we mature and our needs change, but family members don’t always grow and evolve along with us. Hilarity, hysteria and irrationality often ensue.

Who takes care of what? Who can speak for whom? How do siblings divide responsibility without killing each other? Who pays for what?

Tracey Lawrence, elder care expert, will take you through the process with humor, sensitivity and common sense advice for families in transition.

For more information, visit Light of Gray or Ringwood Public Library.

To register for this free seminar, please call 973-962-6256.

Leave a comment »

From Ringwood Public Library, April 25th, 2013 at 7pm

Tonight, Light of Gray presents: “I’m Worried About Mom” Turning Worry into Meaningful Action at 7 pm. Tracey Lawrence, elder care expert, will take you on her journey and reveal information that every family needs to consider. If you can’t be there, the event will be streamed live and available for replay here:

Leave a comment »

First Free Seminar in a Series at Ringwood Public Library

Presenting a Series of Free Seminars For Adult Children and Aging Parents

“I’m Worried About Mom”: Turning Worry into Meaningful Action

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 at 7 pm

No one likes to think about sad, difficult topics, especially when they have to do with people we love. Covered in this seminar will be ideas for helping families to open up discussions on these subjects and plan for an easier future.

Presented by Tracey Lawrence, an expert in elder care.

Leave a comment »

What’s YOUR Plan?

Too often, we go through our day to day lives on auto-pilot. Get up, go to work, do your job, come home, eat something, see your family, watch some television and go to bed. Start over again the next day until the weekend.

This may not be the full scope of your days, but for many of us, there is a repetitive nature to our lives that makes us feel secure. It may not be exciting, but there’s comfort in being able to take certain aspects of our lives for granted. And when things are going well, or at least comfortably, we don’t think things will change. Until they do.

If you’re the parent of younger children, you may be focused on how they’re doing in school. Maybe you’ve given some thought to college or professional training for your kids. Perhaps you’re planning a visit with your folks soon, or at least a phone call to see how they’re feeling, let them know you care.

Maybe you’re a little older. Retired or approaching retirement? Trying to get the hang of Facebook so you can see pictures of your grandkids? Have you thought about the future? Do you have a will? Do your children know what your wishes might be for your future?

It’s easy to go through our lives without facing these difficult ideas. No one wants to think “What if?” But the worst thing you can do is to neglect answering these important questions. In life, change is inevitable. And if we look at how we’d like to approach those changes before they occur, the transition will be much smoother for everyone in your family. And isn’t that better than leaving it all to chance?

If you haven’t had that all important “family talk” yet, I urge you to put it on your schedule. If you want a list of topics to consider, here’s a link to the 8 Things You Must Discuss.

And if you need help finding professionals to help you work out the details, visit Light of Gray.

Leave a comment »

On Dependency

lifesaverAs our parents become less able, we need to become creative in finding ways to help them. The first response to any kind of enabling technology is usually flat-out rejection. “I don’t need that!” “I’m not that sick!” “I’m not that old!” “What will other people think?” “I can’t afford that!”

This is completely natural. Most people hate change (except for babies, who cry out for it). So many potentially helpful devices frighten people; they’re afraid of developing “a dependency.” And no one wants to be thought of as “old.” There are strategies for dealing with these fears you may find effective.

Cite Meaningful Examples

I knew a woman who was strong and highly independent well into her eighties. A widow for years, she lived on her own with an adult son who had some developmental issues of his own. She had able children with families and grandchildren, a wonderful circle of friends with an active social life, and she retained her cognitive capabilities through the end of her life. At home after a visit from her daughter’s family, she was walking around her backyard in the late afternoon when she tripped and fell. She broke her leg and could not get up. Her screams for help brought neighbors to her aid. She was taken to the hospital for a lengthy interval followed by rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility.

When she got back home, this smart lady got an alert pendant system. So did all of her girlfriends. Because once an able person suffers an emergency like this, it really hits home. Before her accident, everyone thought of these devices as something laughable. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Ha ha! That only happens to other people. When it happens to someone close to you, a new perspective coalesces.

Minimize the Impact

With a little research, more palatable solutions to certain problems may be found. In many cases, the appearance of devices are off-putting to those who could derive their benefits. There are often smaller, more discreet and appealing versions available. While the alternatives may cost a little more, the likelihood that the item will actually be put to use is higher, so the added expense might well be worth it. And in the case of certain systems, like blood glucose monitors for diabetics, Medicare covers, or at least helps to defray a lot of the cost.

At the basis of most resistance is the fear of lost independence. No one wants to be “handicapped” or perceived as disabled, particularly when they’ve enjoyed being able and independent for most of their lives. The beauty of many of these devices is they RESTORE independence. By implementing some of the available tools, older folks can stay in their homes and take care of themselves longer, and more safely. Understanding this concept of “extending independence” will encourage your loved ones to be more accepting of these ideas. And you’ll have more peace of mind, knowing that your folks are struggling less, and hopefully maintaining contact with the outside world should they suffer an accident out of range of a phone or helping ears.

1 Comment »

See the Light of Gray Web Site

Light of Gray logoNow you have a place to go for resources, support, ideas, advice and events: The Light of Gray web site. Designed to work on desktops and smartphones, with appropriate links and navigation, this site is created to help you get the information and support you need. Please visit and share your thoughts. Light of Gray is here to show you the way to a better future for your family.

Leave a comment »

Long Term Care Insurance: Better Now Than Later

We are living longer than ever. The chances that at some point in your life, you will need some kind of assistance in getting through your days are very high. Will you have someone available to help you? Will you have the resources to pay someone? Do you have insurance to defray some of the cost?

If you don’t know the answer to these important questions, here’s a great resource I found thanks to another wonderful caregiver blogger, Ann Napoletan: LTC Facts.

Ann’s blog about her own personal caregiving journey is here.

She also has a caregiver support blog.

It’s important that you know that the field of providers continues to narrow. Getting approved for this important financial tool is becoming more difficult as expenses escalate and the likelihood that insured people will file claims in their life time increases. It’s a bad bet for insurers, and they are hedging. The longer you wait, the more expensive it becomes. And trust me, you don’t want to face a future without some kind of net! Here’s hoping you never need it, but if you do, it can save you from being wiped out and avail you of important support services. And learning about it is free!

Leave a comment »