Appleton Education Event | Thirsty for Knowledge: Changing the Way We Think about Dementia

Appleton Education Event | Thirsty for Knowledge: Changing the Way We Think about Dementia

  • October 8, 2019

Catch Peter's latest conversation with WHBY's Josh Dukelow here.


Josh: Real local radio making sure you are taken care of all the way through your life, and that's why we are so lucky to be partnered up with Hooper Law Office. And I'm glad to welcome back to the Miron Construction Studio our friend, Peter Harbach, from Hooper Law Office. Hey Peter.

Peter: Good morning, Josh.

Josh: Well Peter, you and Sarah and the folks at Hooper Law Office are teaming up with the Professional Alliance Network of the Fox Cities for a special event this month here in October [...] actually coming up next week. What do you have planned?

Peter: Yeah, so October 10 actually, there's an event called Thirsty for Knowledge: Changing the Way We Think about Dementia. And what we're doing is we're bringing in a nationally known speaker from Teepa Snow's group who's a pretty famous dementia advocate and teacher. She's going to talk about the positive approach to dealing with dementia. Since there's not a cure for dementia, what we can attempt to cure is our own mindset and how we approach it and deal with it.

Josh: Yeah. And so we've talked quite often on this show about those who have loved ones who are showing symptoms and signs of dementia from an early stage all the way through to the later stages of that disease.  As you said, we know there is no cure, and so talking about this, helping provide information and resources for those who have loved ones showing those symptoms and finding sort of a different way of thinking about it.

Peter: Yeah absolutely.

Josh: That's the idea. You said you brought Teepa Snow to this area before?

Peter: Yeah a few years ago, we had an event and she came and was an absolutely fantastic speaker. And I understand that we're getting her right-hand gal who's coming in, and I've heard nothing but great things about her as well.

Josh: Yeah. Linn Possell is her name [...] from Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Care, teaching how to change our thinking on this. I love that title, Changing the Way We Think About Dementia. This is going to be happening Thursday, October 10, at the Capitol Centre. That's still September. We've got to change that calendar. Thursday, the 10 in the Capitol Centre in Appleton. And you can visit to register. That is the site for the Professional Alliance Network of the Fox Cities morning session and [...] I should say early afternoon and an evening session. Different topics, different audiences. You can get more information at And that event is the day after your free October seminar. We'll get to that in just a second.

But I want to stay on this topic of estate planning and thinking about the needs of our loved ones who may have experience with or are experiencing dementia. What are some of the challenges that are unique to that scenario when it comes to estate planning?

Peter: Sure. So obviously if somebody has a diagnosis of dementia, there might be capacity issues. And if it's an early diagnosis, the person likely still has capacity and still can make some decisions. So it's critical that in that window while they can still make some decisions, determine who they trust, and basically set up their support network through things like powers of attorney for finances, powers of attorney for healthcare. Then they have people that they trust that they can rely on if anything happens to them where they no longer have the capacity to interact appropriately with doctors and make determinations about how they want their care provided and handle their own finances. Because if somebody loses capacity and doesn't have that support network in place, the family has no natural, legal ability to help them and they're stuck in the guardianship court. And that's just not a situation that [...] no family ever wants to be there.

Josh: Yeah. So we talk often about getting a jump on your estate planning, about not waiting, about doing this as early as you can. Here's another reason to get your estate plan sorted out. Have these answers documented about who are the people you want making decisions for you if you do get to a point where you do have those questions about your own capacity to make decisions. So this really is just another reason to get these things taken care of early if you do believe there are symptoms or as you said, an early diagnosis that this may be coming, getting these things sorted out as quickly as possible is imperative.

Peter: Yeah absolutely. And also, it's very common that somebody who has dementia is eventually going to need to transition into a care facility to get their needs fulfilled. And you have to have a financial plan for doing that as well. And I've had a lot of instances where a family member comes in and, "Oh Mom's been diagnosed with dementia and we're looking for facilities and we had no idea what they cost. This is going to eat into her finances very quickly. Is there anything we can do?"

And I have to circle back to, "Does she have the powers of attorney in place?" And, "Does she have capacity?" Because if she doesn't have a power of attorney and she doesn't have capacity, there's not much you can do [...] financial planning [...] when it comes to the types of things elder law attorneys are able to help with, which is stretching out those finances and making sure the people can afford good care and a good quality of life for the rest of their life.

Josh: Again, that's one of the primary purposes of an estate plan is making sure that your resources last throughout your life as much as possible, making sure that they can cover the needs you have whatever they may be throughout whatever remains of your life. That's the whole point. And if that includes then additional challenges or need for care based on dementia, you want to know that and plan for it.

Peter: Exactly, exactly. And it's one of those ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure kind of situations.

Josh: So I'd imagine this is something that a lot of families aren't thinking about or they don't think about what this means. They might have all of their estate planning done, right. They might have done this a decade ago. They've got the plan. Now they're a little older and things are changing. Is there anything pro-actively that people could do? Say, "OK, I've got a family history of this. Nobody's been diagnosed yet. But we think there's a chance." Is there things that people can do to kind of get ahead of that?

Peter: Sure. I mean one thing outside of just the pure estate planning would be taking a look at long-term care insurance. Because once you have a diagnosis of dementia, you're not going to be qualified for long-term care insurance. So if you know you have a family history, getting on top of that well before you have a diagnosis and while you're still young enough, knowing what's out there. It's not that everybody who has a family history has to run out and buy the insurance necessarily. But you probably want to be more pro-active in at least seeing, "Hey is this something that's appropriate for me that I can afford that helps hedge my bets on if I do end up with this diagnosis?" Which maybe there's a greater likelihood, "My family already has some financial resources outside of just draining all of my accounts."

Josh: Sarah was here last month and we talked a little bit about long-term care insurance [...] some of the questions around that product that still exists. And so you do want to do your due diligence when it comes to long-term care insurance. We've heard that from Hooper Law Office before. And again, I really like what you said there is, "Go and check it out." It doesn't mean you have to get it. It doesn't mean it will be right for you. But knowing what's out there, what those options are, and how it might fit your scenario, you've got to do that due diligence.

Peter: Yeah. There's no excuse to just remain willfully ignorant. The resources are out there. If you have a financial planner or an insurance agent that you trust, talk to them about what options are available, and if they say, "Well this isn't something that I really handle," you can seek out a professional that handles consistent long-term care policies.

Josh: Right. Yeah. Because that's out there. That resource is available. You want to make sure you're exploring that and seeing to what extent that is appropriate for your situation. And if you've got unique situations that you want to try to check out, you can visit with the attorneys from Hooper Law Office. They've got their free monthly seminar on Wednesday, October 9, at the Riverside Campus in Oshkosh. They're going to be in Winnebago County this month, Oshkosh October 9 at the Fox Valley Tech Riverside Campus. And you can sign up [...] those seminars as always 2:00 or 6:00, free of charge. They do want you to register. Go to or call (920) 250-9959. That's the phone number. That's how they know you found out on Fresh Take. Let them know that you want to sign up and they can answer your questions there.

And also check out to register for the event the next day, October 10, at the Capitol Centre. There's a session at 12:45 and a session at 4:30 featuring Linn Possell from Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Care, teaching all about Changing the Way We Think About Dementia.

Peter: Yeah and in addition, the Professional Alliance, which is a group of people who provide services to seniors, they're each going to have tables there and be available to talk to people who have questions. The lawyers from our office will be there, and a lot of other great resources as well.

Josh: Fantastic. So check that out. The monthly Hooper seminar on October 9 at Fox Valley Tech Riverside Campus or the next day October 10 at the Capitol Centre in Appleton, a great chance to learn more about dementia and the resources that are out there for those dealing with that with their loved ones. Peter Harbach of Hooper Law Office, always great to talk to you. Thanks so much for the time.

Peter: Thanks, Josh.