Holidays offer opportunity to ask elder care questions

The holidays are the chance to catch up with loved ones, and they can also open the door to discuss the future, including aging issues, said a University of Wyoming Extension specialist.

“For generations we’ve relied on family members to keep aging loved ones in their homes, but many people are now growing old without a strong financial base and without anyone nearby,” said Cole Ehmke, personal finance specialist.

“Elder care is a complex issue, and it can drain financial, emotional and time resources, even for those who are prepared,” he said.

Cole Ehmke

Ehmke suggested five questions to help prepare for a conversation.

  1. Have you noticed loved ones needing help with daily activities?
  2. When visiting parents, have you noticed bills starting to pile up?
  3. Have you had a conversation about long-term care with your parents and the ability to pay for it?
  4. Do you have all of the information needed to act on behalf of your parent/spouse if there were an emergency?
  5. Are you able to take on the time and emotional commitments of caring for a parent/spouse or both?

“A conversation about aging can be difficult to start and may be met with resistance or, potentially, hostility,” said Ehmke. “But you need the information to help them with their own decisions and for your own planning.”

A good way to begin a conversation is to ask your loved one some questions, said Ehmke.

  • How would you like to spend the last years of retirement? Where?
  • If you weren’t able to live at home, where would you like to be?
  • If you had a medical emergency, where would we find important papers, like advance directives and power of attorney?
  • If you needed help, who would you want to act as caregivers?

Ehmke stressed to pick a moment when you and your family members can spend time together in a calm, comfortable and private environment.

“It’s best if parents bring up the subject themselves, but they often don’t, or won’t, even as they face cognitive and physical decline,” he said. “Delaying the conversation just reduces options and makes organizing the process more difficult.”

New extension short course helps start estate planning

Picture of course web pageCreating a valid will in Wyoming, making health care decisions and setting up trusts is explained in a new online course from the University of Wyoming Extension.

According to a new survey, only 42 percent of U.S. adults have estate planning documents, such as a will or living trust. For those with children under age 18, the figure is even lower, with just 36 percent having a plan in place.

The extension publication series “Planning Ahead, Difficult Decisions” (available at provides a start with the estate planning process. The first entry in the series, “Introduction to Estate Planning,” is available as a free interactive short course through extension’s online course catalog. The course takes 30-40 minutes and can be accessed at

Cole Ehmke, one of the series authors, said, “Estate planning can be confusing and time consuming, and people tend to say, ‘If I die…’ but serious injuries – after which you can’t make your own decisions – and unexpected death do happen.”

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Conference offers beginning farmers, ranchers business succession information

Cole Ehmke

Information to help beginning farmers and ranchers acquire land from retiring agricultural producers is being offered during a conference in Riverton hosted by the Rural Law Center in the University of Wyoming College of Law.

The free event is 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, in the Intertribal Center at Central Wyoming College. Lunch is provided. One-on-one advising sessions with guest speakers are available after the conference.

Information about the legal, financial and human issues related to estate and transition planning will be provided, said organizers.

“Succession can be a tricky area for ag businesses,” said Cole Ehmke, UW Extension ag entrepreneurship and personal financial management specialist and a conference presenter. “The conference aims to increase the odds of success.”

In addition to Ehmke, featured speakers are Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association; Josh Johnson, ANB Bank; Jenna Keller, Keller Law, LLC; and Frank Kelly, Mountain West Farm Bureau.

Registration is requested by going to and to view the conference schedule.

Contact Christine Reed in the UW College of Law at 307-766-6562 or at for more information.

Financial opportunities still available as eclipse draws near, says extension specialist

The days until the sun and moon do their dramatic dance across Wyoming are lessening but that doesn’t mean economic opportunities are dwindling for Cowboy State residents, according to the agricultural entrepreneurship specialist with University of Wyoming Extension.

“This is a rare economic opportunity even if you aren’t in the hospitality or tourism industry,” said Cole Ehmke.

The moon will pass directly in front of the sun Monday, Aug. 21, providing a two-minute blackout in a 70-mile wide beltline from Oregon to South Carolina. Ehmke said the crowds provide financial opportunities for anyone in prime viewing territories.

“If you’re in the band of totality or near a travel route, I’d sit everyone down and have a talk about what you or your business could do, then I’d get moving since there isn’t much time left to prepare,” said Ehmke.

Those opportunities could be:
*Providing places to stay prior to Aug. 21, including camper and tent spaces as well as housing.
*Providing places to watch the eclipse for those arriving Aug. 21.
*Providing services to travelers, such as bottled water and snacks.
*Selling solar eclipse souvenirs, such as t-shirts, provided they could be made in time.
*Organizing anything that could benefit from increased road traffic, including farm stands, garage sales and recreational offerings.

Ehmke said potential eclipse viewers have heard negative publicity about sold-out hotels and potential traffic jams.

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UW hosts researcher known for international trade issue studies


Ian Sheldon

An agricultural economist known for his research on international trade issues pertaining to the food industry is speaking at the University of Wyoming Friday, April 21.

Professor Ian Sheldon will discuss his paper “Eco-labeling and the gains from agricultural and food trade: A Ricardian Approach” at 3:30 p.m. in Room 137 in the Agriculture Building, said Mariah Ehmke, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Sheldon is the Andersons Chair of Agricultural Marketing, Trade, and Policy in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at The Ohio State University.

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