Talking about Money

December 17, 2013

This is an article from a monthly newsletter Jay and I write for BirkeConsulting.com that I thought might be helpful for adult children with ADD (or any adult child dealing with money-related issues with parents) or parents wishing or needing to talk with their adult children.

Failure to talk about money while your parent is cogent can be very costly-both financially and emotionally. Before I worked as a financial behavior specialist and family wealth consultant, it didn’t occur to me to help pave the way for my clients to talk with their parents. Unfortunately, many of my clients had compromised emotional and financial well-being because they never had “the talk”.
Having the “Talk”

I admire adults who have the courage to talk with their parents, and parents who have the foresight and willingness to talk with their adult children about money. These sometimes difficult conversations are crucial to reduce stress in the parent’s later years and to smooth the inevitable transitions, as well as the passing of assets to the children.
Here are some tips:
• If you wait too long, your parent may become incapacitated-Unforeseen emotional burdens and financial stresses may be thrust upon on you because you don’t know enough about their financial situation. Questions to pursue include whether there’s a financial planner, a will, enough money to fund their post-retirement years.
• Prepare ahead because the conversation can be awkward-Money is a tough topic to broach. Many of my clients need a meeting or two with me or another professional to figure out how to prepare for the conversation.
• Have a professional present for the discussion-A financial behavior specialist, wealth counselor, attorney or coach who is versed in money and psychology can help give a reason for the conversation.
• Be transparent with your family-“I’ve been reading about how important it is for us to talk about money together. I feel awkward because I know this has been private, but I’d like to try. Would that be okay with you?”
• Start slowly and don’t spring a big conversation out of the blue-Start while your parent is cognizant and can tell you what s/he wants. Some soft openings might be:
o “My financial planner suggested I get long term care. Do you guys have that?”
o “My attorney said we needed to update our wills. I’ve never asked: Do you have a will?”
o “I know you’re worried about running out of money, can I help research some options?”
• Ask vs.Tell-Respect and more respect sets the right tone. The goal is help your parent keep as much control as they want/are capable of.
o “How would you like this bill paid?”
o “Would you like me to call the attorney or would you like to do that?”

My clients are relieved to finally be able to have these conversations. One of them said it best, “I was so worried about seeming greedy, intrusive, or having my parents think I was materialistic and all about their money, that I kept procrastinating so I could avoid their judgment and the overall awkwardness. After you and I practiced, I felt ready. The kicker: My parents thanked me because they said they wanted to bring this up but didn’t know how and didn’t want to burden me.”
What a great outcome.
If you’re having trouble getting started, call or email so we can help you craft a conversation that fits you and your situation. Whether it’s about inheritance, health, staying at home, talking about legacy or family business concerns, a liquidity event or retirement, we’re experienced in helping people talk about money. We can help make these awkward conversations and transitions more comfortable.

Call 978-446-9600 or email us to begin the conversation.

Gifts of ADD

November 7, 2013

People used to think ADD was a childhood issue. We know now that a large percentage of adults who had ADD as kids will continue to deal with it to greater and lesser degrees. On my cable TV show, I did a segment on Adult ADD which I’ve been told has been very helpful to many people with ADD and for their families.

Having works with hundreds of folks with AD/HD in the past 30 years, I know that ADD is not a one-size fits all label. And, in addition to difficulties posed by having AD/HD, let’s keep in mind that many of our greatest minds, successful CEO’s and entrepreneurs, artists and others have ADD. Einstein, DaVinci and many other talented inventors, writers, artists, CEOs, athletes had ADD. A good coach helps the person find their strengths and talents.

To watch this show, just click: http://www.chelmsfordtv.org/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=70&Itemid=314


Quotient ADHD Test Meets Major League Baseball

June 23, 2012

As a neuropsychiatrist specializing in ADHD, I meet many talented clients who have succeeded and exceled using their positive ADHD traits such as high energy and creativity. Recently I had the privilege of performing ADHD evaluations for a group of such clients – the MLB. Yes, major and minor league professional baseball players can have ADHD too! There are approximately 50 of us certified in the U.S. to perform these extensive diagnostic assessments for professional baseball. In order to qualify for medication treatment for their ADHD, professional athletes must be approved for a “Therapeutic Use Exemption”, more commonly known as a TUE. The players undergo a diagnostic evaluation including a medical and psychiatric history, lengthy rating scale questionnaires, family interviews, and screening for co-existing conditions. Faced with the ultimate challenge of recommending TUE’s for only the appropriate professional players, I decided to add a step to this already involved diagnostic process – the Quotient ADHD test.

Why objective testing? Simply stated, it adds data; measurable, quantitative, and qualitative data. In such an important decision tree for professional baseball medication exemption status, I was relieved to have the additional computerized information. Indeed the Quotient is not a stand-alone diagnostic tool, but its’ adjunctive use in ADHD assessments can be invaluable to the clinician and client alike. And with the demanding travel schedule in professional sports, the portable version of the Quotient can easily rack up frequent flier miles in an overhead compartment to meet the athletes when and where they need to be.

As for the professional baseball players, they showed great sportsmanship, true to their profession, in doing the testing with me. They strapped on the Quotient head and leg sensors with initial apprehension, but for most this evolved into a healthy curiosity by the end of our session. The players benefitted from immediate feedback via the Quotient testing report, available minutes after completing the test. In user friendly color and graphics, we reviewed their own unique pattern of attention and impulse control.

As a specialist in ADHD, I do not need the Quotient ADHD test to make a diagnosis. I’m capable and confident without it. However, I appreciate the added value of an objective piece of data for myself and the players to share in the assessment process, raise awareness, educate clients, and assist in treatment planning. I’m grateful the Quotient made the trip to Spring training with me this year and hope the professional players were too.

Fish Oil- Omega 3’s- and AD/HD

February 20, 2012

Many people with AD/HD benefit from taking omega-3 fish oil. There are many brands, including some specialized ones that your doctor may recommend because he or she wants you to have the right EPA/DHA dosage for brain health vs. heart health.

Just read an interesting piece in Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine, January 2012 issue. If you are taking, or thinking of taking, a more standard omega-3, this could be helpful for you.

They tested for:
Do they show the listed amount of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA?
Do they properly disintegrate, show sign of spoilage, or contain contaminants such as lead, mercury, dioxins, or PCBs?

Even brands they recommend contained detectable levels of most contaminants, even though many claim they’re free of them. Consumer’s still recommends them because they don’t exceed USP and other regulatory limits.

Check with your physician before taking fish-oil supplements because they can interfere with some medications. Dr. Cerulli generally suggests high grade fish oil for her AD/HD patients. She tailors the dosage to at least 2,000mg combined EPA+DHA for adults and 1,000mg for children. Some patients need to increase in order to target specific clinical symptoms such as depression. Talk with her if you are taking omega 3 or have questions about your dosage.

Jay and I have taken other more expensive ones to get the EPA/DHA ratio we were looking for…

Here are the 9 that passed all their tests listed in order of price based on cost of taking 1000 milligrams of EPA and DHA daily-the dose they say is recommended for heart health. Check with your doctor to tailor this for you.

1. Spring Valley Omega 3 Walmart
2. Finest Natural Walgreens
3. Walgreens Omega 3 Concentrate
4. Barlean’s Organic
5. Nature Made 1200 mg
6. Vitamin Shoppe Meg 3
7. Carlson Super omega3 gems
8. Norweigian Gold Ultimate Fish Oil’s Critical Omega
9. Nature’s Way

1. Kirkland Signature Omega 3 Costco
2. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
3. CVS Natural
4. GNC Triple Strength
5. Nature’s Bounty Odorless
6. Sundown Naturals

I hope this is helpful for you.

Best to you,


P.S. The article suggests keeping them in the freezer or eat with meals for reduced fish burps…

Choosing a Coach for Adults with ADHD

January 7, 2012

If you have ADHD or similar brain wiring, then in order to get the most out of your coaching experience you will need a coach who is experienced working with individuals with ADHD and understands the challenges you face. What specifically would I suggest you look for?

•  Your coach needs to help you continually return your focus to the work throughout a coaching session. Perhaps you will also need shorter sessions. If this feels  inconvenient  to a coach, they shouldn’t be working with clients with ADHD.

•  Chances are that you may fidget and squirm if you try to sit still for an hour. It’s not very helpful to fight it; save your mental energy for better things. Look for a coach  who isn’t distracted by it. Taking a walk during your session may help – are they ok with that?

• You will need and want to work towards getting to your appointments on time. If your coach feels upset by your lateness or takes it personally, understand that that’s their  issue.

• Trying to do tasks alone at home or work may not be a tactic that works well for you. Be sure your coach is flexible and will adjust their “normal” process to make things  work for you. If projects take longer than is usual with their other clients, that’s a fact of life that they must be comfortable with.

• I’d be surprised if you haven’t gotten into a life-long habit of “adjusting the truth” to sidestep criticism. This is very common for individuals with ADHD. A coach has to  understand this, help you take the time to give the most truthful answer and never take it personally.

• It is typical to forget, get distracted, go off on tangents, to get caught by an interesting idea or get bored. When your neurobiology is a certain way, you need to have  coaching that doesn’t ignore the facts.

It may not be obvious whether a coach has the experience and understanding you want until you’ve worked with them for a while. But these “issues” are an everyday part of life for many people with ADHD and your coach must not only accept these behaviors as a typical starting point, but must patiently address them as fundamental aspects of your work together.

Jay Livingston can be reached at LivingstonServices.com. Just use Jay@

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