My wife and I were headed to Colorado. At the last minute (4 p.m.), we decided to take two sets of twin box springs and mattresses with us. I put them in the trailer and “tied down” everything, including two antiques. I checked the weather and saw that we had a clear weather forecast, as long as we stayed on track. At about 7 p.m., we started on our six-hour journey.

At mile 46 into the trip, I felt a vibration in the trailer. I looked in my rearview mirror just in time to see one of the box springs fly up and out of the trailer, in the middle of Highway 96. We quickly turned around, put the now-crunched box springs back on the trailer, and began searching along our way to try to find more rope to tie down the contents of the trailer. Finally, in Ness City, Kansas, a dispatcher from the sheriff’s department (obviously observing the helpless look on our faces), gave us some heavy-duty tie downs that would secure the load.

By now, it was getting late. We were a couple hours behind schedule, and we saw lightning ahead.

It started raining. The mattress and antiques were getting soaked. We started looking (after 10 p.m. on a Friday night along Highway 96) for someplace that might have tarps that we could use to cover our load. Finally, in Eads, Colorado, we came on a truck stop that had tarps and duct tape (very few men venture out in the world without duct tape, but apparently I am one of them that does). We covered everything in the trailer as best we could as the rain came down.

While sitting under an awning, soaking wet at midnight with three hours of driving time ahead of us, and contemplating whether we should continue or stay the night, my wife Barbara looked at me and said something I won’t soon forget: “Randy, we are too old to be this stupid.”

Why am I telling you this story? I suggest to you that many of us have been around long enough to have grown wiser, but not always use that wisdom. While our planning, or lack of planning, may have made sense a few years ago, today it may not make sense at all – and we need to realize that.

More especially, when we are facing a crisis, we may not realize that we are failing to explore all the options that may be available to us, or even understand that there are options. It’s the old “deer in the headlights” syndrome.

So many of my families I work with are older. I have come to greatly respect their wisdom and experiences they have acquired over the years.

However, we cannot always know everything. We need to have the wisdom to realize that; to realize when we need help; to realize when we are headed down a path that has too many risks for failure; and to realize we may be over our heads.

Dealing with aging and chronic illness issues, or planning for the eventuality, is complex, at the least. Use your wisdom to know when you need assistance. My advice: seek an experienced elder law attorney to help guide you through the journey.

Don’t expose yourself to a comment that “you are too old to be this stupid!”

 Randy Clinkscales founded Clinkscales Elder Law Practice in 1985.