About Jan

My mother was forgetful. My father had cancer. They called me for help and asked their lawyer to draw up some papers. I’d like to say that I thought carefully about my decision to offer support and that I fully understood what this decision would entail, but in truth, I was clueless.

At the time, my children were three and six years old. My parents, 78 and 77.  A working mother, I became  my parents’ care partner: a juggler of medical appointments and Girl Scouts, Little League and cardiac labs, home care and school plays. After my father passed away, one of my sisters—along with her three teenagers and 5 year old, two dogs and a ferret—joined forces with me and invited our mother to live with her family. These years were bittersweet,  often chaotic, and tiring, yet, in the end, deeply beneficial to our families and an ongoing source of hilarious stories around our dinner table. After both parents were gone, I decided to share our story and the lessons we learned; I encourage you to share yours.

I had the good fortune to be born into a large Scots-Irish family: my four siblings and I are the grandchildren of, as my father often joked, a “poor, unfortunate Irish immigrant”  and the first generation to attend college. Professionally, I have worked as a scientist, educator, pharmaceutical executive, and management consultant—none of which, by the way, adequately prepared me for this journey with my parents. I founded Circle of Life Partners, as a trustworthy resource to help families successfully support aging loved ones and maintain their financial health.

Tell me what you need to know, and we’ll research it for you. I do not have a financial arrangement with any of the organizations that I write about; I simply want to provide you with knowledge or ideas that might help save time, energy or missteps. I was clueless when I began supporting my parents, but you don’t have to be; you are not alone. Together, let’s help your parents and older family members enjoy their last years to the fullest!

9 thoughts on “About Jan

  1. Hi Jan,

    I applaud you for this. I just recently ( in the last year) took over my parents healthcare management and it was a bear. My situation involved moving them from FL back to MA, so I needed to get them on a new plan. The challenge, my father needed surgery. It was unbelievable what I had to do in order to get everything done within/by open enrollment. Literally, I put my job aside and spent full-time hours to get it all done. All I could think was, “how would an elderly person – or anyone who was not well – who had no one to advocate for them, be able to handle this on their own”. The answer was simple. They wouldn’t. Couldn’t. It’s sad, but many go without the care they need simply because they just don’t have the strength or know-how to handle all the red tape that is required.

    Fantastic site, I’ll share it with others.


  2. jsimpson on said:

    Hi Sarah,
    Your parents are fortunate to have you advocate for them. It is unsettling to see how older people fare without support and how much time it takes to find services or handle the red tape. Thanks for sharing the site!

  3. Hello Jan,

    You have been referred to me by Barbara Piette, whom I have known for a number of years in a working capacity and along the way, friendship too! You and I share similar names and professional interests. My website will give you the info. Fitness has been my passion for over 20 years – and in 2001 I became part of the Beacon Hill Village organization, which is an innovative non-profit providing a la carte services to it’s members. (see AARP ‘s April 2011 Bulletin article or aarp.org/elderhousing) (beaconhillvillage.org)

    As a Fitness Specialist consultant to BHV I provide in-home personal training/PT Rehab assessments and then create & implement the fitness programs. I love the work and see how much services like this are so needed for this “baby boomer” population – and others! Prevention is key, yet so is rehab compliance at home.

    My husband died of cancer last year. I’m ready to make a change. Where can I be of the greatest service and give the greatest value? What direction do I take? This is what I’ve been talking to Barbara about recently. And she suggested I contact you.

    I would welcome the opportunity to meet and talk to you. Please contact me if you would like to.

    All my best
    Jan Burgess

  4. Kirk Hill on said:


    i was blessed by your text given to me by a client as we share stories of aging parents and in-laws. As president of the Indpls Estate Planning Council, I am compelled to inquire about your speaking schedule and fees. So often our entire focus, whether from a legal, trust, tax, or insurance viewpoint, leaves a void in the area of practical application of care. Parents are people . . . who have hopes and dreams and desires . . . even at age 80, 90 or 100. Too often we relegate this phase of life into a category tagged as “planning” when “people” ought remain at the forefront. Your text “Dont Give Up on Me” was a stirring reminder of the human element of the planning process, helpful for both the aging party and the caregivers alike. Thank you for this wonderful contribution to thought, conviction and preparedness!


  5. Sandra Bean on said:

    Dear Jan,
    I found your book on a shelf while at a temporary job and just have to tell you how timely your story is for our family. I very much appreciate you sharing your story. Your insight and advice will surely help when it is time to make decisions.
    It amazes me , how many people refuse to educate themselves about the process of death and dying.
    THANK YOU, you and your family are very lucky to have such a close knit group.


  6. jsimpson on said:

    Sandra, Your note made me smile – I never know where my book lands and I’m just delighted that you found it useful. All families have “history” and the stresses from eldercare can amplify issues and hurt relationships. We all just do the best we can.

  7. Federico on said:

    Does your book exist in French ?
    I could not find any reference of it.
    Thank you in advance.

  8. Mimi Lally on said:

    Dear Jan,
    I cant tell you how much your book helped me put things in perspective in my own life. There are many parallels between your story and mine. Mother with dementia living with me, 5 siblings; 2 very active in her care, the later stages of the disease, medical experiences, behaviors/symptoms, etc.. I feel even more empathy for my sweet mother and keeping her at home with her family. Not everyone is able to make that choice, but I feel fortunate that we can at least do that for her. Your words were comforting and also reaffirmed that we are doing right by my mother as her advocate.

  9. jsimpson on said:

    No, the book has not been translated into French.

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