August 2023

Friday, August 4th, 2023 by Catherine Read

*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (which may be abbreviated “CELA” or “CELA®”) by the National Elder Law Foundation.
I am thrilled to share that I have earned the designation of Certified Elder Law Attorney from the National Elder Law Foundation! This a major accomplishment requiring Herculean study over the course of six months, taking me away from my family, a grueling day-long exam in March that felt more painful (is that possible?) than the State of Delaware Bar Exam I took 23 years ago, waiting months to learn if I passed the exam, finding out I passed (hooray!), and then completing and submitting a daunting application in early July, which required me to show I completed at least 60 elder law matters across 12 substantive areas in the last three years, 45 hours of continuing legal education, and more than 5 peer references from esteemed elder law and other attorneys familiar with my work. The last week of July I received the word: I made it! I am now a Certified Elder Law Attorney!

To those who lived and worked with me for the last year, or for that matter, for the last six years, you KNOW what this process took and how important it was to me - and to my law firm team – not only that I study for and take the test – but that I pass.
In recent years the pass rate has hovered below 50%.
Ever since I first met Bill Erhart, I knew that becoming a CELA was what I wanted to do.
The story of how I came to work with Bill is special to me. For 15 years I practiced and/or taught Delaware corporate law at several major, well respected Delaware law firms with attorneys who set the standards for Delaware corporate excellence. I was so lucky to be a part of that. And I taught corporate and business law to undergraduate students at Wilmington University, Goldey-Beacom College, and Widener University, which I enjoyed tremendously. But I also was a member of a close family, losing someone dearer than words, in that time frame, all the while having young children of my own. I learned firsthand, as we all do, what families go through when their loved ones age or have difficulties. After taking a short time off to help with family matters, I decided to change paths completely and dedicate myself to learning and practicing elder law. This is where Bill comes in. I approached Bill, asking to volunteer to learn the field while I went back to school. Instead of taking me on as a volunteer, Bill hired me, taking a chance, and teaching me every day since then. 

Bill is and has been the only CELA in Delaware.

I am now the second.

We are the only CELAs in Delaware.

With Bill’s tutelage and my dedication, the CELA designation represents what we have been working towards – together – for these years.

But more importantly, I wanted to engage in deep study of the 12 subjects needed for the CELA exam – and pass the exam and meet all of the grueling practice requirements – to achieve the level of competence I knew I needed to serve our clients well. When you choose a doctor, you need to KNOW he or she is competent. One cannot help if one is not competent. All those months of study and pain were a tried and true process for me to achieve that level of competence, and to be recognized as having that level of competence by the proper governing body, the National Elder Law Foundation (“NELF”) who is accredited by the American Bar Association, as one of the over 500 CELAs in the entire country.

Those who know me, know, I am committed to the populations we serve. I care deeply about the elderly, the aging, and their families – and all they are going through. I care about persons with special needs, whether young or aging, and their families, and all they are going through, too. I know that families do not know where to go, or what they need. I am grateful to fill that gap. Families need a competent, experienced, relevant professional to identify what they need and provide it.

I am lucky to spend my days working to help families. By earning this credential, I now have more abilities to share with families than I did before. And those higher abilities compound over time, like interest.

If you would like to learn more about the CELA credential, see the NELF website at:
  • Friday, Sept 1st - Closed for Labor Day
  • Monday, Sept. 4th - Closed for Labor Day
  • Thursday, Oct 19th - PPP Members Workshop @5:30pm
By Megan Edwards
Forks Over Knives
August 22, 2023

In the United States, the average life expectancy recently dropped to 76 years—the lowest it’s been in the past two decades. Extensive research has been conducted on America’s high mortality rates, and experts point to an inadequate health care system, poor city planning, and easy access to firearms among myriad other factors that contribute to this dismal statistic. But instead of looking at what’s killing us, what if we studied what makes us live?

Cue Dan Buettner, one of the world’s leading experts on how we can create longer, healthier lives. Nearly 20 years ago Buettner set out with a team from National Geographic to document specific populations around the world that have a higher concentration of centenarians (people who live to 100) than anywhere else. These pockets of good health are called Blue Zones, and Buettner has dedicated his life to understanding—and sharing—the common denominators among these diverse populations that all experience unusually long lives.

With the state of American life expectancy, it seems as if there’s no better time for Netflix to debut its new docuseries that takes an in-depth exploration of the Blue Zones. The four-part series, Secrets of the Blue Zones, which premieres on August 30, follows Buettner from California to Japan as he talks with the people who have uncovered the secret formula for living to 100. In addition to the series, Buettner is releasing a new book, The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer, which distills the wisdom of the Blue Zones and serves as a how-to manual to help you create your own mini Blue Zone no matter your ZIP code.

“The book brings up-to-date insights on all the five Blue Zones…and identifies a Blue Zone 2.0, Singapore, which is an intentionally engineered Blue Zone instead of one that just occurs naturally,” Buettner told FOK. “Sixty years ago Singapore was an unhealthy island. It’s now become one of the healthiest, longest-lived places on Earth. They’ve done it because of good policies. It’s a proof of concept that if you create the right environment, people live measurably longer with a fraction of the rate of the diseases that cost us trillions of dollars a year in America.”


Upon first learning about Blue Zone populations, it can be easy to write off these niche pockets of good health as the result of a small group of people who’ve won the genetic lottery. Buettner says this is not the case.
“I would argue that 20% of it is genes, 10% of it is personal choices, 10% of it is the health care system, and the remaining 60% is your environment,” says Buettner. “There are areas in Kentucky where life expectancy is 20 years less than Boulder, Colorado. In both cases you have a diverse set of genes and a spectrum of people who take responsibility for their health. The only thing that’s different is that it’s much easier to walk or bike across town in Boulder than it is to drive your car. It’s a food environment where you can get delicious plant-based meals much easier than you can in Kentucky. It’s easier to socialize, it’s easier to get out in nature, and the air is cleaner. These are all environmental factors which we vastly underestimate in the formula for longevity.”

So, what do these centenarian-saturated populations do so differently from the rest of us?
Surprisingly, it isn’t anything revolutionary; rather, it’s an accumulation of small daily habits, a supportive living environment, and social policies and attitudes that reinforce every person’s value, dignity, and health. While there are much more detailed insights revealed in the docuseries and the new book, here are four key factors that all Blue Zones share:

“Overwhelmingly, they eat a plant-based diet that’s somewhere between 90 to 100% whole-food, plant-based—more or less a Forks Over Knives diet,” says Buettner. Apart from what they eat, Blue Zone inhabitants also have strategies for not overeating throughout the day, and they tend to keep electronics away from the dining table to keep their full attention on sharing meals with loved ones.
It turns out that our current understanding of exercise—performing concentrated bursts of activity that meet our fitness goals each day—may be completely misguided. “[People in the Blue Zones] don’t exercise, but they live in environments where they’re nudged to move naturally every 20 minutes,” Buettner says. Between their work, household chores, social activities, and walkable towns, movement is a built-in part of their day, instead of an extracurricular activity.
Social isolation has been found to be as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, and the longevity of Blue Zone inhabitants provides further evidence that strong social ties keep you alive for longer. “They put their families first and keep aging parents nearby,” explains Buettner. “They tend to belong to a faith-based community, and they surround themselves with people who reinforce [healthy] behaviors.”
Buettner emphasizes that these long-lived populations “know their purpose and live by it.” As one of the more abstract characteristics of Blue Zones communities, he defines living with purpose as “being clear on your values, knowing what you’re good at, and finding an outlet that provides some good for the rest of the world or helps other people.”