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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

THE “LAST” TRANSITION

By: Dr. David Black, DDS, FICD, FACD

August 19, 2019

I had an accident at home in late spring, falling and landing awkwardly on my shoulder.  I did not break or chip a bone or tear any ligaments, but jammed it so badly I followed up with an orthopedic surgeon for all the right tests and images to be sure. 

He recommended 6-8 weeks of physical therapy and then a follow-up visit.  By late May, I decided I wasn’t progressing fast enough, so I also got some deep muscle massage.  On June 6th, my world changed.  I had severe pain from hips to neck. 

The doctor’s visit resulted in pain- killers to help me sleep and be able to get out of bed.  Many blood tests revealed nothing but the obvious increased inflammatory markers; no reason for the pain.  Even though I am a diabetic, we decided to give steroid shots to break the pain cycle.  It is now mid-July and my doctors and I still don’t have a definitive diagnosis. 

DENTIST RETIREMENT

The “Last” transition from dentist into retirement is the transition from being the strong, Alpha leader of my family to a person who is dependent on my wife and family to take care of some or even all of my needs.  I could not drive.  I could hardly walk across the bedroom and I needed a cane to help me get around.  I could not concentrate long enough to even write a blog, which is the reason you haven’t heard from me for weeks.

My hope is that this is a passing thing, but it seems there is an underlying systemic problem that remains to be found.  I am going to have to adapt to whatever life changes that come next.  The psychological impact that is a result of this change is something that we all will face.  It is not directly related to retiring, but more to the transition of aging.  As hard as it is for us to accept it, we are all mortal, and aging and becoming dependent is the last transition in our lives.

I was reflecting on some changes I was considering to make for one of my presentations to include this information. Then I realized we all need to do some planning for this part of life, too.  I never considered that I would become totally dependent on my family for normal everyday functions.  The truth is, we all will come to this point in our life, at some time.  The tricky part is that we do not know when that will happen, and in most cases it happens before we have planned for it.

I have a picture of me with a golf trophy from about 6 years ago, when I won my flight in a golf tournament.  That day I shot an 83, which is not a bad score when you have a 20  handicap, but today I cannot even think of swinging a club because of the pain.  Age,  pathology, and progressive deterioration of our bodies will slowly rob us of many of the things we consider to be normal functions. 

THE LIST TO CREATE YOUR FREEDOM

Below are a list of things I planned while making my transition from dentist & owner of a dental practice to FREEDOM to do what I want, when I want.

I worked and prepared for my retirement years and this included end of life care.  Usually this is something we will stay in denial about, until reality is thrust upon us.  I am going to discuss a couple of the things I have done to plan and possibly some insights into some things we will all need to do before this final transition sneaks up on us.

  1. Long-term care insurance
    Like all insurance, the younger you are when you buy this coverage, the cheaper it is.  With the average cost of nursing care at over $8000/ month, the more you can afford, the better.  You can often use in-home care with the better companies, but any of this type care is becoming increasingly expensive.  Without this, you can quickly drain your retirement funds.
  2.  
  3. Cancer and intensive care insurance
    This is a specialty add-on to other supplemental insurance coverage, but with my family history, it seemed like something that was inexpensively added to my coverages.
  4.  
  5. Handicap accessible design of home
    We designed and custom built our home to have large hallways and doors into our bedrooms and bathrooms.  All necessary rooms are on the ground floor and handicap accessible.  We also had a family room that accommodated my father-in-law when we had hospice care for his final days being comfortably spent in our home.
  6.  
  7. Will preparation and legal council
    Make sure you have everything you wish to happen when you are no longer here planned out and written down.  Also have a good estate lawyer help you make the proper plans, before you have health issues, and with enough time to structure your finances so your spouse will be taken care of when you are gone. Be sure that your spouse has signature rights on all bank and investment accounts.
  8.  
  9. Consideration about how you will spend your life and time post-dentistry
    If you are planning to continue doing everything you are doing today, with no limitations, either you are a really strong and healthy person, or delusional.  The vast majority of us will have physical limitations as we age. Even those who are healthy until their last illness are often surprised to suddenly die.   I had plans to continue to do a lot more physical work and travel, but as my condition changes, I have to reassess what I am going to do in the next year and years.  I spoke to a widow several years ago about my surprise at the news of her husband’s death.  She informed me that he also was surprised at his death.  When my father died several years ago, he had terminal cancer and we knew death was imminent, but the day of his death, we all seemed surprised.  I think it is human nature to think it will be “later”.
  10.  
  11. Family discussions about retirement plans and transitional care if disabled
    Nothing can be worse than a sudden, premature death of a spouse.  Possibly the next worst thing is long-term disability.  Even for young families, you should have discussions and plans in the case of the worst possible situations.  Insurance policies and wills are the bare minimum of planning all of us should do.

 

This final transition is not something most of us want to discuss or even consider, but ignoring this obvious life event will not eliminate the need to make a plan.  Doing these simple, but possibly hard things will help you to be proactive in your life, instead of having a very negative surprise when you least expect it.

Make your last transition from dentist and owner of your practice into FREEDOM – retirement, one of the best adventures in your life.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Black owned his own dental practice for over 30 yrs. There he developed an understanding of the critical importance in development of the owner-doctor’s leadership abilities, in addition to having great clinical skills.

Once he built a high-level of productivity in his dental practice, he was able to sell to a group practice; and the rest of his career as a dental practice owner is history.

In 2015, Dr. Black decided to share his knowledge to help other dentists duplicate his level of success, so he became a leadership coach and practice management consultant. His niche is treatment planning and case presentation.

Dr. Black is currently an associate coach and consultant, for Dental Practice Solutions, one of the leading consulting firms for nearly twenty years. As a seasoned practitioner, Dr. Black adds to the proven hygiene profitability coaching that Dental Practice Solutions is well-known for providing, to dental practices around the world.

Dr. Black’s expertise as an EQ and DISC trainer, makes him the best person to help more patients to say “YES!” to your patient care, as well as to enjoy working together as a team and loving what you do for your patients!

Grab Dr. Blacks Free eBook called Transition Now! here.