Professor Sharona Hoffman (CWRU Law) recently published a book on preparing for aging (Aging with a Plan, 2015) and I had the opportunity to interview her about her impetus for writing the book and how she tackled the writing process, bearing in mind that she wanted to make the book accessible to both lawyers and non-lawyers.
Here's what she had to say ...
Q: Preparing for aging is an unusual topic for a book. What led you to write about it?
A: The book grew out of a very difficult period in my life. During 18 months in 2013 and 2014 both my parents died, my mother-in-law died, and in October of 2013, my husband, Andy, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 55. As I went through these experiences, I learned a lot about the legal, social, financial, medical and other challenges of growing older, getting sick, and facing the end of life. As a Professor of Law and Bioethics, I already knew something about theories and doctrine related to many of these issues, but there is nothing like life experience to enliven your knowledge and imprint lessons on your mind.
I realized that I had a lot of knowledge to share, and I wanted to take my professional and personal experiences and put them to good use helping others. Writing this book seemed like a natural choice.
Q: Who is your intended audience? How accessible is the book for folks without a legal background?
A: The book is designed first and foremost for baby boomers, people in middle age who should be thinking ahead and planning for taking care of elderly loved ones and for their own aging. As I have learned the hard way, when you are in the midst of crisis, it is very difficult to make good decisions if you know nothing about the problems you are facing.
I believe the book is quite accessible to people without a legal background. I use an interdisciplinary approach that draws on my background in law and bioethics. However, I combine thorough scholarly research and analysis with a wealth of personal anecdotes to make the book engaging and a fairly easy read. I also provide a preparedness checklist at the end of each chapter that summarizes take-away messages and outlines practical next steps for readers.