Richard Tizzano wants to take you on a journey. Perhaps a safari.
As an expert in elder law and finance, Tizzano knows the routes. And he knows the forks in the road.
“You’re going along just fine on your journey and all of the sudden something happens,” Tizzano said. “You fall and break a hip. Or you find that you have a serious medical condition.
“You find yourself in that ‘foreign country’ and you need a guide to keep from getting eaten by the lions and tigers.”
The safari metaphor is the theme of a book he is writing on how to keep on track in life, when things happen. He plans to release this book this summer.
The idea for the book came about after he realized that there are some people who will never attend one of the free seminars he gives on elder law and estate planning.
“It dawned on me that there are other ways to get this information into people’s hands,” he said. “And that’s what this book is about.”
Expected to have from eight to 10 chapters, Tizzano is about two-thirds of the way through writing “The Accidental Safari.” It will address the pitfalls of the aging journey and give information on how to get back on track.
“When you get ‘kidnapped’ in that ambulance and end up at the hospital, but after observation, you aren’t admitted, it’s important to know things,” he said. “If you aren’t admitted to the hospital before being transferred to a nursing or care facility, Medicare won’t pay. Just knowing that little tidbit could someday help you.”
The book will also address housing options.
“Can you add a ramp and stay in your home,” he asked. “Or do you need assisted living or nursing care? The book will show you ways to adjust your income to meet your needs.”
And it will offer other places to look for help.
“Do you qualify for veterans benefits, Medicaid, or other social services,” he asked.
Another subject in the book is elder orphans.
“These are the people who, for whatever reason, are older and alone,” Tizzano said. “Their spouse has died. Or they were never married. They never had kids. They are all by themselves.”
Because of their social skills or their desire to stay to themselves, they have no one to help them through the many roadblocks or aging.
“These are the vulnerable adults that the laws are written for,” he said. “There are cons out there who will fool them and they need someone to be watching out for them.”
As individuals, we can check on that elderly neighbor who lives alone. But Tizzano said there’s safety in numbers.
“Sometimes the person will have issues, and may have dementia, and not understand that you are trying to help,” he said. “Pretty soon the neighbor is accusing you of taking all his money. When you work with someone else by your side, it reduces the risk of this.”
He suggests that community organizations, nonprofits and church communities work at identifying elder orphans and helping them along their journey of aging.
Another idea he’s looking at is a television show like “those shows where they fix up the old houses,” Tizzano said.
“People will watch these shows, and if we had a elder housing show that followed a couple through downsizing, or through an illness or injury that caused havoc in their world, we could teach viewers ways to handle these situations.”
Viewers would become aware of these situations, and know what to do, when in real life, they won’t address the issues, he added.
The theme of his book – a safari -– was somewhat based on the need to navigate aging and an actual safari he took in 2008. As a part of a church organization, he and his daughter who was 10 at the time, did missionary work in Uganda. They helped build an orphanage for children and then went on a safari.
“I found the three-day trip into the wilderness to be stretching myself. There was so much to take in. But this journey was planned and I decided to be there. Can you imagine if someone just dropped you in the middle of the Mgahinga without a guide? We all need help when we are put in unfamiliar surroundings. We need help knowing what to do.”
Leslie Kelly is special sections editor for Kitsap Living and the Kitsap News Group. This story first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of Kitsap Living: The time of your life.