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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Three Months and Counting: What We’ve Learned During the COVID Lockdown


It’s been three months since we began sheltering in place. We assumed we’d be back to our happy little routines within a few weeks. How na├»ve we were. We now know that our happy little routines will be disrupted for a long time to come.

Along the way we’ve learned that:


There’s a deep well of generosity and a strong sense of community among us

  • LVMH shut down perfume production and began producing hand sanitizer. Cable companies offered free wifi for homebound students.
  • In my own community, volunteers organized grocery runs for those who couldn’t drive or get to the stores.
  • Wellness checks included neighbors dropping off care packages and casseroles. For the elderly, this virus quickly could become dangerous and isolating.
  • In Ohio, the Cleveland Clinic was struggling to find protective face masks for its 55,000 employees. A call to Abe Troyer, a local Amish community leader, resulted in 60 home seamstresses teaming to sew 12 thousand masks in two days. “If there is a need, people just show up,” said Mr. Troyer.

We really are all in this together

This disease freely roams the globe. It won’t be over until everyone is vaccinated. Our government talks about a vaccine by year’s end, but this virus mutates. Will the virus we develop today work on the virus that evolves tomorrow? No one knows, though the government has committed $1.2B to drug company AstraZeneca to develop a vaccine.

Expertise and government matter

There’s a reason why we have government and policies. It’s important to hire smart, experienced people, to build teams who know how to execute in a crisis. We really can’t underestimate the importance of strong leadership, experience and expertise. We’ve learned an important lesson: Crisis is inevitable, it’s how you deal with it that matters.

We can learn from others

What if we took a page from New Zealand, a tiny country whose population is less than that of the Bay Area? New Zealand is cautiously COVID-free, thanks to smart leadership. They’re all over renewable energy–79% of their electricity comes from renewable, and their goal is to be 90% renewable by 2025. Think about that. An entire country working toward an environmentally conscious goal. What if we did that? What if America’s collective creativity were directed toward renewable energy? We could own this and lead the world.

Some amazing things are emerging from this crisis

We’ve learned about our own resilience, resourcefulness and ingenuity. We’ve:
  • Gotten to know our families again and hopelessly spoiled our pets.
  • Reduced pollution. We can do this. Venice’s canals are clearer than they’ve been in 20 years.
  • Learned new languages. My neighbor can’t stop baking. It’s endless–gardening, knitting, sewing, painting and canning. These close-to-the-earth kinds of activities are somehow life-affirming.
  • Rediscovered our creativity and inventiveness. Skype book clubs, Periscope jam sessions, live-streamed yoga classes and worship services. We’ve Zoomed everything imaginable—from art classes, happy hours and dinner parties to weddings and memorial services.
  • Gone back to using the internet as it was meant to be used. A way to connect, share information and come up with creative solutions to pressing problems. There’s a kind of pioneer spirt about this—the kind of thing that surfaces when the power goes off for an extended period.

We’ve found inventive new ways to transact business, but something is missing

Many of these activities represent positive change that will transcend COVID. But we all want our lives back. We want to be around people again. To be in a crowded restaurant or bar, to go to movies, concerts and events. To have the freedom to hop on an airplane and travel. To meet new people, to be free to reach out and shake hands. To connect. We want to hug our friends again! Despite our agility and reliance on our online channels, we’ve learned that the need for human connection remains a powerful, driving force.

And that’s one of the good things to emerge from our lockdown. We’ll get through this. Stay safe.

The uncertainty of this disease leaves many people scheduling appointments to create or update their Living Trusts 

Our Trust includes a Power of Attorney, an Advanced Healthcare Directive and a Pour Over Will. For those with children under 18, it provides the opportunity to name a Guardian. For most of our services, we charge one flat fee. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable. Schedule an appointment today at one of our three Bay Area offices in Dublin, Walnut Creek or Oakland.

Working with California Document Preparers

The safety and wellbeing of our own team and our clients are important to us. For many of our clients, we are working completely virtually using ZOOM and phones. We’ve instituted stringent sanitation procedures in our offices, so our clients can feel comfortable about meeting with us. Everyone is wearing masks and gloves; hand sanitizers are distributed throughout the space. We limit the number of people in the office so that we can maintain proper social distancing.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Why is Grandma Twice as Likely to have Dementia as Grandpa?


Eight out of every ten of us will have some form of dementia before we die. Here’s another stat that most of us likely don’t know. Two-thirds of the 5.8 million people in the U.S. who have Alzheimer’s disease are women.
By 2050, that number will zoom to nearly 14 million—and 9 million of those will be women. This according to a new report from AARP. “People just don’t think about the fact that women are disproportionately affected by dementia,” says Kristine Yaffe, M.D., professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at UCSF.

Dementia: Not a disease so much as a group of symptoms

Dementia’s symptoms show a decline in memory and social abilities so that they interfere with the ability to function on a daily basis. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. But there are other forms of dementia. Women shoulder a wildly disproportionate burden in every single one of these diseases, robbing them of independence, memories, and in many cases, their self-identity.
  • Women’s lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is twice that of men’s.
  • They are more likely to be caregivers for loved ones with dementia, which takes a toll on their own financial, physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Women make up more than 60% of dementia caregivers.

Why are women at greater risk for dementia? 

Experts assumed it was a consequence of women living longer than men—and of course it’s a factor, but not a reason. “The social and environmental influences on health play a huge role in brain health for women,” notes Sarah Lenz Lock, senior vice president for policy and brain health at AARP. “Women face more challenges due to lower educational levels. They have fewer economic resources, they provide more caregiving for their families and they experience more stress. All of these factors affect the risk of cognitive decline.”

Reproductive history plays a role

The age at which women get their first menstrual periods, how many successful pregnancies they have, childbearing and the decline in estrogen at menopause—all may be contributors, along with genetic factors, depression and anxiety.

Racial and ethnic disparities

Racial and ethnic disparities place women at a greater risk. Older African Americans are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s as older whites; and older Hispanics have a 1.5 times higher risk than non-Hispanic whites. While there is little research to understand this disparity, lack of access to health care stands out as a contributing cause. Conditions such as heart disease, stress, hypertension, diabetes and obesity that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities increase the risk of dementia.

What can women do to reduce their risk for dementia?

A mounting body of research suggests that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of dementia by more than 33%.

Here are the key components of a brain-protective lifestyle:

  • Exercise regularly. Cardio or aerobic exercise increases blood flow, reduces inflammation and stimulates the release of growth factors, stimulating brain health.
  • Stimulate your brain. Puzzles, word games and challenging reading material help keep your brain in shape.
  • Stay socially connected. Besides helping prevent isolation and loneliness, staying connected to people you care about provides a sense of purpose and support.
  • Relieve stress. It’s women who juggle careers and family obligations. That’s a problem for brain health because ongoing stress and anxiety cause depression and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Work on decompressing through exercise, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, therapy, time with friends or whatever helps you relieve the pressure.
  • Get plenty of good sleep. It’s remarkable what a good night’s sleep can do. The toxins, get cleared out.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Fads come and go. A heart-healthy/Mediterranean-style diet still makes sense.
  • Protect your head from injury. Traumatic brain injuries are an important risk factor for dementia, so be sure to wear helmets for biking or skiing.
Control chronic health conditions. “There’s a connection between heart health and brain health,” Yaffe says, “and hypertension, diabetes and obesity have big effects on the brain because of the vascular effects and other effects.” Take steps to prevent these health problems or keep them under tight control. “Taking care of themselves with short-term investments in their health and wellbeing will pay long-term benefits for women,” Lock says.

Many of CDP’s clients are retired or they’re thinking about retiring

Healthcare issues, particularly Alzheimer’s, are frequent topics—especially for those who may be caring for aging family members. If someone you love has been diagnosed with some form of dementia, it’s important to create a Trust while that person still has testamentary capacity.

During this health crisis, many are feeling an urgency to create a Living Trust 

Our Trust package includes a Will, Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directive and Incapacity Planning. We guide you through the process and prepare the legal documents. At California Document Preparers, for most of our services, we charge one flat fee. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable. Schedule an appointment today at one of our three Bay Area offices in Dublin, Walnut Creek or Oakland
Note that our offices are open and we’ve instituted stringent sanitation procedures. We can also provide our services virtually.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.
This story is based on a story from the AARPDementia’s Gender Disparity: Report Uncovers Unique Challenges Facing Women, by Stacey Colino.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Looking for the Perfect Place to Grow Old? Try Washington D.C.!


Martha Baron, 79, has found the ideal place to grow old. Her happy place is just half a block from her Washington D.C. condominium—the Newark Street Community Garden. During the growing season, Ms. Baron visits her two organic garden plots where she tends to her flowers, tomatoes, zucchini and herbs on a daily basis. But it’s more than growing and harvesting her crops. “It’s a wonderful place to meet others of all ages from all different walks of life with similar interests, and it gives me a purpose,” said Ms. Baron.

Such opportunities are helping make Washington an ideal place to grow old

After her husband died, Ms. Baron moved to Washington to be near her children and grandchildren. Like many seniors, she found it difficult to meet new people and make friends. That’s all changed. She joined the garden and became a member of Cleveland & Woodley Park Village, an organization of volunteers that provides services like shopping trips and transportation to doctor appointments and plans social outings for older adults.

87% of adults 65 and older want to stay in their own communities as they age

These statistics are consistent across the U.S. as cities grapple with the needs of older adults. The nonprofit Milken Institute’s Best Cities for Successful Living report found several cities to be ahead of the curve–smaller cities like Iowa City, and Sioux Falls, S.D., and larger ones like Washington, Boston and New York.

Washington’s success may be due to the growth of a concept called “Villages”

Ms. Baron’s Village, at $500 a year, has 100 members, aged 57 to 95, and 160 volunteers. It’s one of 15 Villages across the district and more than 50 throughout the Washington metro area. These Villages are part of an international effort supported by the WHO as part of an effort it launched in 2007 for cities that serve aging populations.
For the development of a Village program, WHO recommends a rigorous five-year process in which city leaders, businesses and government agencies focus on improving the elements that affect seniors’ quality of life. These include:
  • Affordable housing. The ability to downsize and find smaller, low-cost housing.
  • Availability of public transportation—busses and ridesharing. Safe paths for walking and biking.
  • Grocery stores with healthy food options.
  • Opportunities to participate in civic and cultural events.
  • Access to a retail sector with drugstores, banks and a library.
  • Houses of worship, safe parks and open spaces.

Ensuring that seniors can participate in the life of a community

As part of the Age-Friendly Cities program, Washington has increased the number of parks and open spaces, equipping them with seating, drinking fountains and restrooms. They’ve developed neighborhood walks, tai chi and the community gardens like Ms. Baron’s that provide opportunities to stay active and meet new people.

Washington D.C. has developed other programs that help seniors age in place

  • East Capitol Urban Farm, a vacant three-acre plot in Ward 7 is being turned into a new urban farm.
  • Safe at Home provides grants of up to $10,000 for homeowners to make their houses safer and more livable—such as adding grab bars or wheelchair access.
  • Genesis, aGenerations of Hope residence, is a 27-unit affordable community that brings together residents 60 and older with young families and single mothers transitioning from the foster care system.
  • Affordable housing for grandfamilies. Plans call for a 12-story affordable-housing development that will offer subsidized housing and services for grandparents raising grandchildren. Fifty of the 223 apartments for low-income residents will be set aside for such “grandfamilies.”

Cities will look to Washington, D.C. as a model for senior services

Many of our clients are seniors who come in to our offices to create their Living Trusts, so health care issues and retirement planning are frequent topics. This inspiring article about Washington D.C.’s work to create innovative programs can serve as a model for other cities as they strive to provide safe, affordable services for their senior populations.

During this health crisis, many are feeling an urgency to create a Living Trust 

Our Trust package includes a Will, Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directiveand Incapacity Planning. We guide you through the process and prepare the legal documents. At California Document Preparers, for most of our services, we charge one flat fee. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable. Schedule an appointment todayat one of our three Bay Area offices in Dublin, Walnut Creek or Oakland

Note that our offices are open and we’ve instituted stringent sanitation procedures. We can also provide our services virtually.

We service the entire East Bay and North Bay areas

Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.
This story is based on a story in The New York Times by Kerry Hannon.