Me and Kerri Kasem in the halls of the Arkansas State Capitol after testifying before a subcommittee on aging. A special thank you to my good friend Shannon Lynn for introducing me to Kerri and her cause.
Imagine you have a physically and/or mentally incapacitated family member and you were not able to see or even talk to them. This can only compound the grief on both sides. Through the Kasem Cares Foundation Kerri Kasem, daughter of radio legend Casey Kasem, is on a mission to reduce grief for incapacitated people and their families. An incapacitated person is vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous people who become their legal guardian and then isolate them from the rest of the family. This was the much publicized situation in which Kerri and her siblings found themselves in 2014 as Jean Kasem, his second wife, moved Casey from one facility to another so they couldn’t see their father. When he passed away Jean kept his body from the family and took him to Norway for burial without them, none of which was Casey’s wish. This sounds like a bizarre Hollywood story but it happens everywhere, everyday. In fact, something very similar happened to my family.
About the same time as the Kasem’s struggle was happening in LA, here in Arkansas the mother of my late wife became physically and mentally weakened because of a series of strokes. A woman who was a repeat drug offender worked her way into way into my mother-in-law’s life as her caretaker, against our will. She was then able to get power of attorney (POA) over her affairs and became the executor of her estate. Both the POA and the executorship were later proven to be fraudulent. Before legal action could be completed, however, the caretaker spent a very large amount of my mother-in-law’s money on drugs, and entered her into a hospital without telling us. My mother-in-law passed away and we did not know until we read about her funeral arrangements in the newspaper. The caretaker falsely presented herself as the granddaughter and got away with it for the most part.
I became acquainted with Kerri Kasem through a good friend as she came to our state to lobby for a visitation bill before a subcommittee of the Arkansas State Legislature. She asked me to testify for the bill that was introduced by Representative Rick Beck. When I posted the experience on social media, many people began to tell me their experiences. This is all too common. Kerri was able to get a visitation rights bill passed in California, then chose to campion the cause for all us. Through Kasem Cares, Kerri is going from state to state addressing the legislature. You can help Kerri, the people of your state, and even yourself by going to kasemcares.org and supporting the bills locally. This may very likely protect you some day as you grow older. Ten years ago I would never have predicted that my wife would die at the age of 40 and I would be fighting for my children’s grandmother without her. If I ever become incapacitated, I want my children to see me. Kerri has a simple proactive suggestion that will help if that time comes: Make a video of yourself now, stating that if you should become incapacitated, you will want your specific family members to have access to you under any circumstances. The path of grief is difficult enough, don’t let your loved ones suffer even more because they were not able to see you in your last days. Also protect yourself by insuring those you trust and love have access to you.
Below is a video link to local station KATV on Kerri’s efforts in Arkansas.