Muddling Through Is Stressful With Post Covid Changes


For several months now at least it has come to my attention that the stresses people are subject to post-COVID are very different from the stressors most of us experienced before. This is important to my law practice partially because, as an elder law attorney, my office is dealing with clients often under stress either due to health conditions or financial pressure and uncertainty. Wealthy people also become ill and search for solutions. Those already stressed by economic conditions experience additional burdens as they navigate the healthcare system. Even estate planning itself raises new issues with multiple changes to laws and regulations. We deal not only with the person needing results himself/herself but with their family members and others.

I finally arrived at the conclusion that we have largely been pretending that the COVID world experience is over and conditions have returned to normal. They have not. Some of the changes might have come about anyway although not as quickly but the pronounced changes forced on us by COVID accelerated the process. This may account for some of the extreme reactions we see daily. The world and many of the small things we accepted for granted are not what they were before March, 2020 and probably will not be. Even what might seem like minor adjustments can result in delays, confusion and frustration. Here are some examples and things that might be done to combat the stressors.

  • Workplace confusion. Personnel and retirements. You might still be working at the job you held before COVID at the same location. Even so you knew, before COVID, that Mary in accounting always knew the answer to your questions on the latest regulations and forms. Mary retired or moved to another state or was promoted to another job or is working remotely and cannot be reached on a regular basis. There is no Mary to answer your questions. This is not limited to work. On a personal level you may have relied on your family physician, accountant, attorney or financial planner. One or many of them may have moved, retired or decided to enter a new line of work. His or her company may have been acquired by a larger entity and you might not be able to reach them by phone or by email, fax or any reliable means of communication. You may need to form new relationships with strange persons or entities you never knew and you do  not know whether they will handle the engagement in the same way.
  • Technology. Do you answer or pose questions and send documents by email, fax, U.S. Mail (rarely), UPS, Federal Express? Do you communicate through your cell phone, office phone, computer, conference call, zoom or other means? When one method does not work such as trying to schedule a conference call with five people on a system than can only handle three at a time, what is your backup? Suppose one or more of the intended participants in an important zoom conversation is unable to log in?
  • Payment Methods. Do you pay by check still? Or do you pay by debit or credit card? Do you use PayPal, Venmo or on-line payment? Did your most recent bill request payment through a QR Code?
  • Short Cuts. When a process takes too long such as completing long forms or trying to supply information that is difficult to obtain do you resort to short cuts or sometimes give up the effort entirely? You know that is not the way to react. A habit of taking shortcuts when complete answers are necessary can interfere with the ability to arrive at results. Are you impatient or frustrated that some activities take longer for your provider to complete than you think should be necessary? Information needs to be accurate and sometimes it takes longer than you believe should be necessary – but it may be required.

All of the above and more can be viewed as recent developments in a rapidly changing world. While there are no “solutions” the following are some considerations.

  • Patience. It is easy to say although not so easy to follow to counsel patience when confronted by change. Learning from others, analyzing and evaluating new techniques, keeping up in your field can help to release some of the unavoidable frustration. In generations past I was told an active sense of humor definitely helped.

About the Author Janet Colliton

Esquire, Colliton Law Associates, P.C. Janet Colliton has practiced law for over 38 years, 37 of them in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her practice, Colliton Law Associates, PC, is limited to elder law, Medicaid, including advice, applications and appeals, and other benefits planning including Veterans benefits, life care and special needs planning, guardianships, retirement, and estate planning and administration.

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