The Rev. Dr. Leigh Spruill wrote “Roughly twenty-five hundred years ago, the early Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “all is flux; nothing is stationary.” Heraclitus compared life to a flowing river, noting that a person never steps into the same river twice. One may place a foot in a river and feel the water flowing around one’s feet. However, if one steps out of the river and then back in a second time, the foot stands in a new water. The water from the original experience has flowed downstream. Nothing is stationary.”

It was like a small shock went through my body, when I read Rev. Spruill’s message. Looking at someone living with a disability, whether it be physical, mental or intellectual and no matter what age, the person is still there. Yet, there are so many changes that take place while living with a disability.

A child can be functioning on an age-appropriate level and then without warning something changes. The child is diagnosed with autism. Every day will be different, yet the child, the one you love, is still there.

An adult can be working and enjoying life. Yet, within an instant, the adult can be injured on the job or involved in an automobile accident. Without any fault of his or her own, the adult is now disabled for life. The person is still there but changed. Every day will be different, yet the adult, the one you love, is still there.

A senior citizen is in the prime of life. All is well. Then it happens – a slip on the ice, hitting the head; a fall down the stairs; a stroke; or an amputation related to diabetes. This once-lively senior is now permanently disabled. This is not what he or she planned. What has happened to the independence once known? The senior citizen is still there but changed. Every day will be different, yet the senior, the one you love is still there.

What can be gleaned from these examples is the analogy that people are much like the river and the water Heraclitus described. They remain people, like the river. Yet they also change like the water. This change does not mean a person is better or worse, just changed.

People of any age, who are living with a physical, mental or intellectual disability can benefit from learning more about special needs trusts. These types of trusts allow a person to preserve assets while qualifying or maintaining government benefits, to take care of daily healthcare needs. To live a good quality of life, no matter what the reason or cause of the disability, is paramount.

I am committed to creating awareness about the benefits of special needs trusts and what can be lost without using this financial instrument to help someone living with a disability. May you begin 2020, thinking of your loved one and how a special needs trust may make a positive difference.

Happy New Year!

*Darlene A. Kemp, MPH, MBA-HCM, Executive Director, Vista Points Special Needs Trusts & Resource Center. 615-758-4660