The popular New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast has created a graphic memoir of coping with her parents’ final years, titled Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? The book has received widespread attention and critical praise.

At one point in the book Chast, an only child, takes her parents to see an elder law attorney (presumably a New York practitioner) who specializes “in the two things that my parents and I found it most difficult to discuss: DEATH and MONEY.”  Her parents need basic estate planning documents — a will, an advance directive, and a power of attorney.  (The latter triggers a great deal of anxiety and “trust issues” as her mother recounts the story of friends who gave their daughter all their money and the daughter quickly turned around and placed the couple in a nursing home.)

In recent public radio interviews, Chast has had nothing but praise for the elder law attorney she and her parents saw and for the profession in general.

“This person was really good,” Chast told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.  “And I think he was able to . . . somehow make them trust him enough that they could open up a little bit about things that they really never wanted to open up about, like money and talking about the future.  I was there with them when he came over and we talked about things like health care proxy forms.  Things I had never thought about, had never heard of.  It was very, very helpful.”

And on WYNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, the host asks Chast “How did you finally get them to put their affairs in order?  Was it when you hired an elder lawyer?”

Chast replies, “Yes! That was really a wonderful thing.  I didn’t know that this profession existed, [that] there were people who specialized in this sort of thing. . . There were so many things that I learned in this process. I learned about elder lawyers.  I learned what a health care proxy was, or a power of attorney.  All these were phrases that I didn’t even know.  Maybe I had heard power of attorney but it didn’t mean anything to me.”

 

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