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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Meet Our April CSA Spotlight - Gordon Corn

I started my work career parking cars at the age of 15 at Harrah’s Club at Lake Tahoe. That job continued thru graduation from the University of Nevada in Reno in 1965. In the next few years I would complete my professional education and certifications as a CLU, registered rep of the NASD and student of numerous real estate endeavors. I have never had a job, you know the one that is 8 to 5 and payday is Friday. In addition to my real estate development activities I have recently completed my 30th year as a Franchisee of a very large organization and have sold my business interests to employees.

I have been richly blessed with good health, a beautiful wife of 45 years, a great son, daughter-in-law and wonderful grandson. I know that “it is not what I am looking at but rather what I see”. I see beauty in every aspect of my life. I know that every door that closes presents an opportunity for that door that opens ahead. I like most people. I have had both failures and successes. I know that I can make a difference in our world.

Within a few months of Uncle Don’s death in May of 2009, my wife Linda received a call from Don’s older brother who had been had been nominated as executor under Don’s will and some family trusts and who said he could not handle the task. My loving wife, Linda, was next in line and agreed to accept the job. After all, Linda had spent many summers with Aunt Catherine and Uncle Don in Longbeach as a high school girl. Aunt Kay, as we know her, was Linda’s only surviving relative and Linda felt strongly compelled to help.

Little did Linda know, nor did I, as an experienced small business person, the magnitude of the responsibility she was about to assume and how additional changes in the lives of our senior relatives would change.

Then in January it happened. Kay who is a bright and head strong ninety-six year old woman chose to climb a ladder in her kitchen to take down some dishes and fell. The resulting broken hip put Kay in the hospital. At this point, I must confess, that this “broken hip syndrome” (although the second most common reason for seniors being admitted to hospital) initiated the “end of life” syndrome as described by several of our doctor friends. Broken hip, loss of weight, pneumonia and death.

However Kay, not being one to give up, went thru the first three steps and then recovered sufficiently to be discharged from hospital. Since Linda and I live in the Denver area, assisting in the discharge sequence was a bit of an inconvenience. Never-the-less, Linda dutifully went to Long Beach and assisted.

We knew the travel routine from Denver to Long Beach route since Linda had been to the hospital on several previous occasions, first to visit Don and then to visit Kay, including being a witness to the performance of her “last rites” with the hope that she would nurse back to health. Although Linda was familiar with the day long travel from Denver to Long Beach, to Kay’s home and over to the hospital, what she was not familiar with was the events of discharge.

The kind and helpful social workers and hospital staff said to Linda…its time for Kay to leave and presented Linda with a stack of paper slightly larger than the Denver phone books. At the time, that meant about 4” of paper and about as much paper work to follow over the coming months. Linda was able to continue to work thru Don’s estate, received and documented her status as executrix, took charge of Kay’s affairs pursuant to a power of attorney, hired 24 hour care givers and arranged for hospice care.

As the weeks and months have passed, Linda now has five 3” binders of paper work, has traveled thousands and thousands of miles (exhausting for that wonderful seventy year young wife of mine) and spent hundreds of hours on the phone with Kay, her care givers, doctors, attorneys and accountants.

It has become quite clear to me that a very large section of our population is rapidly entering the “senior” stage of their life (data shows about 10,000 individuals turn 65 every day). My experience bears out and is equally supported by talking to many, many of my peers (most of whom are well educated professionals) that there is no one single source for help, information and guidance for seniors and their families.

We know that there are numerous and very large governmental agencies, many caring and dedicated non-profits and more than 40,000 assisted living facilities and tens of thousands of caregivers. We also know that 85% of all caregivers are like Linda, loving family members that have no professional background in this area and to whom the challenge of walking the maze of senior care is thrust upon them suddenly.

I decided that I wanted to help, to make a difference, to use my skills and background to make a tool available to any person who wanted it to assist them in navigating the maze that is the system now in place for assisting seniors and their families.

By comparison, even though I have been a small business person, this task is obviously overwhelming, complex, and confusing. I know, along with hundreds of others who are so generously offering support, direction and guidance, that our enterprise, will make a difference and I am humbled to be a founder and full time volunteer for that enterprise. Becoming a CSA has become a great benefit, a wealth of knowledge and an association I truly appreciate.

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