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Elder Abuse: Shattering Myths and Taking Action

Elder Abuse Awareness: Shattering Myths and Taking Action

//// By: Jullie Gray, DSW, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member   ////

Respecting Our Elders - Common Myths About Elder Abuse

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the abuse and neglect of older adults. This global event aims to foster a better understanding of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic factors that contribute to elder abuse and neglect. By shining a light on these issues, we can work towards creating a safer environment for our aging population.

 

Understanding Elder Abuse

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines elder abuse as an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult aged 60 or older. Shockingly, 1 in 10 adults in this age group experienced some form of abuse in the past year. Unfortunately, many misconceptions surround elder abuse, hindering our ability to recognize and address it effectively.

Common Myths About Elder Abuse

Let’s debunk some of the most common myths about elder abuse and explore the facts:

Myth #1 – Elder abuse occurs mostly in nursing homes.

While elder abuse does happen in nursing homes, it more frequently occurs at home, behind closed doors, and in every community, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Myth #2 – Strangers and paid caregivers are the ones preying on older people.

It’s heartbreaking, but most vulnerable adults are abused by a known, trusted person—usually a family member or friend. Abuse is often shrouded in family secrecy, making detection challenging.

Myth #3 – The bad guys always get caught.

Criminal prosecutions of abusers are the exception rather than the rule because most victims don’t report the abuse. They may be afraid, embarrassed, or unable to report wrongdoing to authorities.

Myth #4 – If there are no bruises or physical signs of abuse, there is nothing to worry about.

Abuse isn’t limited to physical harm. Neglect and self-neglect are common types of abuse, along with emotional abuse and financial exploitation. None of these forms of abuse necessarily result in obvious outward signs, so focusing solely on physical indicators means missing the majority of cases.

Myth #5 – Caregiver stress causes elder abuse.

While caregiving can be stressful, stress alone does not cause elder abuse. Most stressed caregivers do not harm the person they care for. Focusing on caregiver stress as an explanation can tacitly excuse inexcusable behavior and shift the focus away from the victim.

Myth #6 – Elder abuse happens to men and women equally.

Elder abuse happens more often to women, though men are also victims. Those with cognitive impairments, such as dementia, are at the greatest risk of being abused.

Myth #7 – It’s not that big of a deal.

Elder abuse is a significant public health issue in the United States. Victims of abuse are three times more likely to die prematurely compared to those who aren’t mistreated. Astonishingly, for every reported case of elder abuse, it is estimated that twenty-four cases go unreported. This alarming statistic highlights the urgent need for increased awareness, vigilance, and intervention.

types and definitions of abuse

Recognizing the Signs of Elder Abuse

Victims of elder abuse may not be able or willing to report their situation, so it’s up to others to observe the signs and intervene. Here are some indicators that abuse may be occurring:

Physical Indicators:
  • Injuries inconsistent with the explanation for their cause
  • Bruises, welts, cuts, burns
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause
Behavioral Signs in Victims:
  • Fear, anxiety, agitation, anger, depression
  • Contradictory statements or implausible explanations for injuries
  • Hesitation to talk openly
Patterns in Caretakers Who Abuse:
  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence
  • Anger, indifference, or aggressive behavior toward the victim
  • Preventing the victim from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents
Signs of Financial Exploitation:
  • Frequent expensive gifts from the victim to a caretaker or “new best friend”
  • Drafting a new will or power of attorney when the victim seems incapable of drafting legal documents
  • The caretaker’s name added to the bank account
  • Frequent checks made out to “cash”
  • Unusual activity in the bank account
  • Sudden changes in spending patterns

What to do if you identify someone at risk

If you suspect someone is at risk of elder abuse, take action. Call 911 or your local adult protective services agency if you have concerns about a vulnerable adult.

Many families also contact Aging Life Care Professionals™ for an unbiased assessment. These professionals can facilitate family meetings to discuss concerns, provide information about care options, and help navigate complicated bureaucracies. They work hand in hand with adult protective service caseworkers, police departments, and elder law attorneys to ensure the older person’s safety and coordinate appropriate services.

Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

It’s human nature to want to avoid unpleasant topics, but we must face elder abuse head-on to stop the cycle and protect our most vulnerable elders. By identifying and reporting abuse when it occurs, we can take a significant step toward creating a safer world for older adults. Remember, elder abuse is a community issue, and everyone has a role to play in preventing it.

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, let’s commit to being vigilant, informed, and proactive in protecting older adults. Together, we can make a difference.

About the author: Jullie Gray, DSW, MSW, LICSW, CMC, is a Fellow of the Leadership Academy of the Aging Life Care Association. With over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging, she participates on the King County Elder Abuse Council in Seattle, WA, and is the past president of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Aging Life Care Association.


Brandl, B. & Raymond, JA. Generations. American Society on Aging. Fall 2012. Vol 36. No.

Centers for Disease Control About Abuse of Older Persons | Abuse of Older Persons | CDC

National Center on Elder Abuse http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/

US Department of Justice  https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/research/

USC Center for Elder Justice World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

LGBTQIA Care Managers in Care Management

lgbtq older adults empowermentWhile Aging Life Care Managers come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise, they all have high qualifications, certifications, and uphold ALCA’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

Founded in 1985 by a handful of geriatric care social workers in New York City, the organization has grown to be nationwide and includes educated professionals experienced in any of several fields related to Aging Life Care management, including, but not limited to counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, or social work with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and eldercare.

ALCA also aims to diversify membership by highlighting members not only in background, but in race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Here is one member’s account of her life as an active LGBTQIA advocate, and her journey to Aging Life Care Management.

Personal Account

I grew up in a bi-racial household in the Washington D.C. area and I’ve been out as a lesbian since I was in my early twenties.

In my twenties, I was active in volunteer work in recreation for the handicapped. I was joined by Gallaudet students who were deaf helping blind children play beat ball. We also went to Tracks together to play volleyball and enjoyed really loud music (they could feel the vibrations). I would try to sign the words of the songs.

I also went to Act Out marches and had the pleasure of working at a Dupont Circle store.

After Hurricane Andrew I moved to St. Petersburg, FL in 1992. Here I worked hard to build friendships and community within my LGBTQIA community.

I founded and ran a restaurant with a former partner. We served the LGBTQIA community offering live music and drag shows on the weekends. We used the space when we were closed for P-FLAG meetings and LGBTQIA youth meetings. We only lasted a couple years, lost more money than we made, but had so much fun. We ended our relationship as a couple, but we would both do it all again, no regrets.

I sang and played in duos and trios in coffee houses and a few LGBTQIA bars. During the day I found myself working in healthcare because they were plentiful. I entered a new relationship with my now wife. We went to Tallahassee to protest the law against LGBTQIA adoption in Florida and speak with state representatives.

After 5 years working in Oncology, I went to Massage school and became an LMT working for Chiropractors and Spa owners. Then back to school for nursing. A year out of school I landed my dream job as an LPN with hospice, I started part-time on call.

ALCA 2020 Board President Liz Barlowe was just starting her own care management company and was looking for part-time help. She put out feelers that reached me and, after repeated reminders, I reached back. I continued to work two other jobs: one in massage and for Hospice.

As I gained knowledge through Liz’s training and as her business grew, I had to make a choice. I gave up hospice but continued to work as a massage therapist while gaining experience as a care manager associate.

The time came where my services were needed full time in care management. I’ve worked for Barlowe & Associates for almost twelve years. My wife and I have been together for 25 years. She works for the city, which offered same-sex partner benefits before our marriage was legal. St. Petersburg provides great affordable benefits for us both.

Advocating Experiences

Cindy also writes about her experiences in advocating for LGBTQIA Seniors in St. Petersburg:

A few years ago, I started attending our local Better Living for Seniors (BLS) committee meeting for LGBTQIA elder issues. We met in the conference room of Pinellas County Area Agency on Aging. There were other care managers attending as well as an owner of a home care agency, an elder law attorney, an owner of a senior home fitness company, a representative from a local crematorium, and a marketer from a senior living community.

Some of us identified as part of the LGBTQIA community, and some friends of the community. Working with our local Senior Center they organized a health and wellness fair held at the Senior center with free food and drinks, many health-related vendors with lots of swag to give away, free living-will legal assistance, speakers, and a trailer running on the big screen that showed still photos of historic moments and activists in the LGBTQIA awareness movement.

Image Pride and Equality Flag Image March Aging Life Care

Afterward, I volunteered at the Pride BLS tent providing handouts (The LGBTQIA Elder Initiative Resource Guide), printed for us by AAoA, some of which went to friends as many of them are older than me.

The next year I was asked to serve on an advisory board that had split from the BLS committee due to a group desire to provide direct services, which BLS was prohibited from doing. This group began meeting at Empath Health offices, which had a direct services division called Epic, and which provided services to our HIV+ community and those living with AIDS.

The plan was to develop a division under Epic to provide direct services to LGBTQ elders — all under the umbrella of Empath Health — which encompasses our Suncoast Hospice. There were grants to apply for as funding was needed.

One of the first big projects was a showing of the film Gen Silent, for which we had to gain permission and pay. There were screenings in St. Petersburg as well as Gulfport FL in 2019. A volunteer call program was started to call and check in with LGBTQ seniors. This has remained and been a main source of outreach during the pandemic. I am no longer active in Epic Generations as my work in care management extends into after-hours and weekends.

I will say – it is amazing to look back and see ideas become tangible organizations that serve an underserved population. I am proud of my efforts and our work and I hope more people will be inspired to recognize, and take care of, our LGBTQ older adults.

About the Author: Cindy Hillman, Aging Life Care™ Associate at Barlowe & Associates has over two decades of experience navigating the resources and choices for seniors living in Pinellas County. Since 2000 Cindy has been working in healthcare primarily with older adults. She is a nurse and massage therapist and worked with specialists in the fields of Cancer, Blood disorders, Lung disease, and Chiropractic. Cindy has volunteered for CASA, The American Cancer Society, the Federal Prison at Coleman (Women’s Education Department) and Hospice of the FL Suncoast. She sits on the Advisory Board for Epic Generations.

Solos: They Are Looking For You

Those who serve older adults periodically come across individuals with no children or children who live at a distance from them. Historically, most adults aged 65 and above seemed to have at least one family member who could provide some measure of care and support. That situation is now changing, however, in a big way, and will continue to change long into the future.

A growing portion of the “Baby Boom” generation is composed of “solos.” These are individuals who cannot or do not rely on family to help navigate life events and make health decisions. Having no children or children at a distance continue to be important reasons. But other common risks for “solo-ness” include having a dysfunctional family or being estranged from them, along with extreme independence, lack of social skills, and/or reclusiveness.

Recent research is beginning to reveal still another factor in solo-ness, however. Many are electing to limit the involvement of family when support is needed or not to involve them at all, even when relationships are solid. For example, a 2016 study from the Center for Public Affairs Research found that 22% of respondents would prefer to receive “living assistance” from a professional home health aide rather than family. An additional 6% said they didn’t know who they would choose to provide support. No one knows how many solos age 55+ there are now or will be in the future, though preliminary estimates suggest this definition could apply to 23% to 30% of older adults.

Because of improved health and greater longevity, demographers believe that most people today can look forward to a “long middle” of good functioning. Still, during these years, older adults may experience unexpected health events, short-term illnesses, or other well-being issues that require decisions and action. With the historical focus on the frail elderly, it is easy to overlook the fact that even adults with physical and mental capacity may need assistance in choosing providers or services, navigating health care systems, planning for care after a procedure, and/or advocating on their own behalf, among other such tasks.

When family are not in the picture, there is a huge decision support gap for solos. This gap offers a good opportunity for those with relevant skills, such as individuals in Aging Life Care professions, to step in. Solos are often on the lookout for individuals who can be part of their personal safety net and help with the small, but common health and well being decisions likely to arise during the long middle.

Solos don’t always know where to look for such assistance, though, so it is important to keep solos in mind when designing outreach efforts. If you are able to offer services to solos, make sure you speak to them directly in your promotional materials and web sites. Indicate that you serve solos and people with families alike. Be specific about the services you offer, such as supporter, health advocate, emergency contact, navigator, etc. Highlight your services to solos at senior resource fairs and presentations.

About the Author: Linda J. Camp is an independent consultant, writer, and researcher. Her work focuses on strategic planning, systems analysis, and change management for non-profits and local government. From 2017-2019 she served as Project Manager for a Bush Foundation funded project on health decision making by/for solo older adults. You can reach her at: mnscribbler@gmail.com

This article originally appeared in the ALCA Midwest Chapter member newsletter – Issue. No. 69 – Summer 2021.

ALCA Member Spotlight—Ann Burke, Cincinnati, Ohio

Ann Sutton BurkeThis week we are spotlighting one of our members and recipient of the ALCA Midwest Chapter Outstanding Member Award for 2020 – Ann Sutton Burke.

Tell us about your current practice?
The practice I manage is CareLink, Your Experts in Aging based in Cincinnati Ohio. It is part of a non-profit agency, Jewish Family Service (JFS) of the Cincinnati area. At JFS I also wear the hat of Vice President, Client Services. Not only do we offer care management in our private practice but also to clients who have financial hardship via funding from grants, contracts and donations. Very rewarding work!

How long have you been a member of the ALCA? What is your best experience thus far?
I have been a member since 2010 and by far my best experience is meeting other Aging Life Care Professionals. If you know me, you have probably heard me say when I went to my first national conference I had found my people. I also served on the Board of the Midwest Chapter. I encourage others to consider doing so, as it was a great way to get to know other ALCA members at a more personal level and give back. Currently I chair the national public policy committee and again have had amazing experiences working alongside other members on important issues to our work. I also have to give a shout out to my local unit with whose members I have had great camaraderie and support.

Tell us about something you do in your business that really helps you get you results? What is an area of running your practice where you want to grow your expertise?
One of strategic planning pillars we have is “Everyone’s a VIP”. I believe in the goal of exceptional customer service, which begins by listening to your clients and families.
As a nonprofit, I must deal with a higher overhead so I always value business acumen particularly in how others run their successful practices. Any ideas to make our practice as efficient as possible in how we do business is useful to me.

Tell us about a best clinical practice used in your business? What do you want to learn more about from a clinical perspective?
We also offer counseling or therapy to our clients. I feel care management and counseling are good complimentary services.

My particular interest is ageism. I want to be sure I continually learn how to allow older adults to retain as much decision making power over their circumstances as possible. Besides, we are all going to be old one day ourselves, right?

Marketing, sales, and branding are so important to a successful practice. What is your best tip? What is something you thought would work but just did not get the results you wanted?
Relationship building is the most important to getting new business in my opinion. As an introvert by nature, I often channel the ‘relating to others’ strength I have into doing marketing. Again, the word listen is important here as well as what problem you can solve of that referral source.

I recall a meeting some other ALCA members and I had with the head of a local aging organization. I thought it would be an easy meeting and this executive would understand what we did right out of the gate. She did not. It taught me never assume people will understand what we do. Communicate a clear compelling vison.

Conferences both the Midwest and National are important opportunities for members. What is your favorite conference take away or memory?
My favorite conference was my first national in Philly. I was amazed at how warm and welcoming everyone was but even more so how eager ALCA members were to share about what worked or did not in their business practices.

What is the dream for your practice?
Well, I am closer to retirement than not, so setting up our practice to be successful after I retire is important to me. I still feel I have much to accomplish with ALCA and with the practice so I’m not going anywhere soon!

What’s your favorite moment of your running your practice so far?
Honestly, it is when I have talked to a family and know I have helped them. They are often so grateful. It really makes my day, month, and year!

How did you get into Aging Life Care™?
The former manager of our practice was a member so when she moved out of state, I thought it was important to join. So glad I did.

And for fun what is your “guilty pleasure” in life: What can you not live without?
Well, I might deny it but reality competition shows: cooking, dancing, singing etc. That is my way to escape.

Anything else you’d like the Midwest Chapter or membership at large to know about you, your practice or our association?
I want to thank the Chapter for the award for Outstanding Member. It was quite a shock and very humbling. Normally it is awarded at the National conference but with the pandemic, it was virtual. It was a beautiful day and so I had stopped at a park on the way home to listen to the presentation. I’m sure the folks in the park were wondering why I was choked up! It means a lot as the Board and Chapter members are folks I admire and look up to.

This article originally appeared in the ALCA Midwest Chapter Member newsletter Issue No. 69 – Summer 2021.

Quality of Life – What Really Matters

Helen is 93 years old and has lived at an assisted living community since she was 90. She has a one-room suite with her own bathroom. It is decorated with her favorite things and whatever furniture that would fit. She has one window that overlooks some trees and a strategically placed bird feeder.

Tom is 84 years old and is living in a long-term care facility as the result of fall and several other medical issues, requiring 24-hour care and support. Due to his finances, he shares a room. He does not mind having a roommate, even though they do not have much in common or converse often. His side of the room has a bed, dresser, small closet, nightstand and a shared bathroom. 

In the healthcare arena, we often hear the phrase “quality of life.” Quality of life is viewed as multidimensional, encompassing emotional, physical, material and social well-being. Quality of life varies from person to person and changes throughout a lifetime. The term or concept is used often with older adults.  

What makes the difference in Helen and Tom’s quality of life? If we listen, really listen, they share the secrets to what makes a good day, regardless of health, finances or their current life circumstances — including long periods of isolation. Whether in a long-term care facility or a brand-new assisted living facility, their answers may surprise you. I rarely hear someone say, “My life would be better today if only: I were  younger, I did not have this disease or condition, my room were bigger/brighter/had more windows, or even if my spouse were alive or family would visit more often.”

What makes the difference in the quality of their days are the interactions with the staff — meaning caregivers, aides, care helpers or whatever name a facility uses for the individuals providing the direct care services and support.

Helen and Tom, like so many older adults residing in various senior communities, often express the same five key factors that, if observed by staff members, would truly make a difference in their day:

  1. Introduce yourself, looking the person in the eyes. Re-introduce yourself every time. Living in a facility with 24-hour care, there are many different faces coming and going each day; add in face masks and often older adults have no idea who may be trying to assist them. It takes a long time to get to know someone, recognize their voice, their face and finally, their name. Most staff are in and out of an older adult’s room or apartment within a matter of minutes. Often, staff will wear name tags, but unless the tag is showing directly in front the older adult with the staff person holding still, and the font size is readable, a name tag is not the answer. Example: Helen was looking out her window when she heard a slight knock on her apartment door and then a voice saying something, but she could not make it out. By the time she turned her wheelchair around to look at the door, it was closing. Helen had no idea who or why someone was just in her room. Later that evening, Helen saw mail on her bed. She had no idea how or when it arrived. The staff caregiver could have turned this quick task into a positive, appreciative interaction that built Helen’s trust, and over time, a sense of belonging. When the caregiver entered the room, she could have waited a moment for Helen to turn around and see her. Then the caregiver would have had the opportunity to look at Helen and say, “Hello Helen, it’s Jennifer. I am stopping by to bring you your mail. Would you like me to give it to you or should I leave it on your bed?” 
  2. Slow down. We live in a fast-paced world where we often multi-task. Older adults dealing with co-morbidities from hearing loss, mobility issues and a range of diseases and conditions move and respond at a much slower pace. Rattling off five commands in a row can be overwhelming. “Dolores, dinner is ready, do you want chicken or fish? Go wash your hands, don’t forget your walker and it is your laundry night.” 
  1. It’s not what you say but how you say it. Tone of voice and the way something is phrased matters; asking versus telling. For example: “Helen, today is Tuesday and you are scheduled for a shower, how does that sound to you?  Instead of, “Come on, you have to take a shower now; it’s on the schedule.” 
  1. Let the individual know what you are doing. The staff caregiver should always tell someone what they are going to do before they do it. Never put hands on someone without letting them know. Example: “John, before they bring your dinner, I am going to help get you ready. I am going to move your walker in front of you, and help you get to the edge of your chair so you can get ready to stand up.” 
  1. Slow Down! Slow Down. Slow Down. Trying to rush older adults to get to the shower, to an appointment, or to dinner can be difficult and counterproductive on the older adult. Example: pushing an older adult quickly in their wheelchair, not realizing how terrifying and out of control the older person feels. We need to respect the pace at which each person functions best and adjust care and supports accordingly. 

What seems like simple common sense often is not so common or simple.  Whether the issue is staff shortages, a need for increased training and/or understanding how fast we move through our day, we need to listen to Helen, Tom and all of our older adults. If we and senior communities care about the quality of life for older adults, we need to focus on the quality of each day and what makes a quality day. 

This post originally appeared here.

About the Author: Jennifer Beach, LSW, MA, C-SWCM established Advocate for Elders in Rocky River in 2010. Jennifer has 25 years of experience in working with and advocating for older adults and their families. Jennifer is a licensed, insured Social Worker and an Advanced Aging Life Care® Professional. She has served as the Midwest Chapter President of the Aging Life Care Association and additionally served 7 years on the Board of Directors. In 2018, Jennifer was honored as the recipient of the ALCA Midwest Chapter Outstanding Member of the Year Award. Learn more at advocate4elders.com.

Jennifer is also a monthly contributor and author of Caregiver Corner for Northeast Ohio Boomer and Beyond blog and magazine.

Older Adults Admit New Technology is More Stressful Than Going to the Dentist

Older Adults Admit High Anxiety and Fear About New Technology: Candoo Tech Surveys Shows 53% of Seniors Say Learning a New Device is More Stressful Than Going to the Dentist

The results of a recent survey of technology-enabled older adults show that for 53% of them, learning new tech devices such as a computer or cellphone, produced more anxiety and fear than going to the dentist, to the doctor and hearing a strange noise at night – combined!

The results of a survey of adults age 60+ conducted by Candoo Tech (www.candootech.com) shows that older adults feel learning a new tech device is more frightening than hearing a strange noise at night, going to the dentist and going to the doctor – combined! Fifty-seven percent of seniors fear internet scams, hacks and computer viruses. When giving the grandparents a gift, skip the books and slippers, older folks really want a personal tech coach.

The informal poll taken by Candoo Tech, a technology training and support service specifically for older adults, also asked participants to rank their frustration level with learning something new on an electronic device. Respondents ranked it right up there with waiting in line at the motor vehicle bureau, and more frustrating that being stuck in traffic.

Despite their fear and frustration, seniors want to be connected. Forty-six percent (46%)  of respondents picked “personal tech coach” as the number one item on their wish list. That’s more than twice the number who want a new tech device, the second choice (21%); which interestingly beat out the “old school” gift, a book, by only one percentage point.

With COVID-19 travel and visitation restrictions, grandparents are more likely to spend time with family and friends online. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of respondents said they will be visiting virtually through video calls.

While 44% of seniors shopped online for the holidays, 57% are concerned about risks of internet scams, account hacks or computer viruses, and with good reason. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), received more than 68,000 complaints in 2019 from victims over age 60 who experienced losses of more than $835 million. Only 8% of Candoo Tech survey respondents think they are too smart to fall for a scam.

“Unfortunately, older adults are often prime targets for cyber-criminals,  because they are perceived not to be tech savvy,” said Liz Hamburg, founder and CEO of Candoo Tech. “One client answered a call from someone posing as a Microsoft technician and let him into her computer remotely. She finally caught on when he demanded to be paid with gift cards, but by then, the damage was done. Helping seniors stay safe online is a priority for Candoo Tech.”

Candoo Tech provides tech support and training specifically designed for older adults to help them stay safe, independent and connected.  Candoo’s services are provided remotely nationwide by U.S. based Tech Concierges who are specially-trained by a New York City geriatric health institution, cognitive enrichment specialists and other geriatric experts to work with older adults, including those with disabilities. Candoo Tech offers three service options: a one-hour remote session for $50; an annual membership for $180 which includes two, 90-minute training or support sessions and unlimited quick help; and a new device set-up and training package for $180.  The company offers free how-to guides and internet safety tips to help seniors connect, shop and engage safely through technology.

The company was founded by entrepreneur Liz Hamburg in 2019 and has been working with older adults and their families directly as well as with senior living facilities and other organizations. Candoo has seen that with the proper training and support, older adults realize that they  ‘candoo it’.” Candoo Tech is a proud member of the inaugural class of Techstars Future of Longevity Accelerator in partnership with Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates.

This blog originally appeared here.

About the Author: Liz Hamburg, Candoo Founder. Liz is a high-energy, entrepreneurial executive who is passionate about making an impact in the world. She has over 20 years of experience starting up and growing innovative organizations both in the U.S. and international markets.

Are You Prepared for a Loved One’s Care Transition?

Without a doubt, one of the hardest things for families to do is help an aging loved one transition back home from a hospital or rehab center stay – and the stakes are huge. Many older adults who leave the hospital will be readmitted within 30 days for a variety of reasons, such as falls, non-adherence to medication regimens, or a lack of follow-up care.

The good news is that most readmissions are preventable. I always recommend families begin coordinating the transition to home as soon as their loved one is admitted to the hospital.

Here are the top 5 things families need to know about transitions:

  1. It takes a lot of appointments, emails and phone calls to coordinate care. For families that are reeling from a loved one’s sudden health event, the load can be too much to bear. Aging Life Care Professionals® can make all the difference. They help families navigate every detail of medical care, food, transportation, home modifications for safety and filling medications to get home ready for the patient after discharge. They also act as a quarterback of the entire Care Team to ensure everyone is on the same page for a seamless transition.
  2. Home may not be “home,” at least initially. Don’t assume your mom or dad will go right home after a hospital stay. It’s common for older adults to go to a rehabilitation center, “step-down unit”, or nursing home before they can return safely to their homes. About 25% of people admitted to these facilities stay only a short time (3 months or less), according to HealthinAging.org, but 90 days can feel like a long time if your loved one is isolated from family and friends. If you live far away, consider hiring a private-duty caregiver to check-in on your loved one so they have a reliable, friendly face to keep them engaged and working toward recovery.
  3. Exceptional in-home care means more than simply assisting with activities of daily living. Help with bathing, dressing, and eating are just the baseline of care. Excellent caregivers will get to know your family member’s likes and dislikes and understand how to spark their interest in hobbies, exercise, conversation and other activities that bring joy and meaning to their lives.
  4. You might not have the right caregiver fit the first time around. There may be relationship tension, just like on a first date, so you must give it time. As time goes on, if the caregiver doesn’t work out, speak up and ask your agency to find another caregiver. This is where an Aging Life Care Professional® can be a great quarterback to assist in finding a qualified caregiver. A high-quality agency will be happy to have this conversation with you and will work with you to find the right fit.
  5. It takes time to adjust to the new normal – for everyone. Give yourself grace and space to accept your family member’s physical or cognitive loss. Give them time to do the same. If you or your loved one would benefit from mental health resources, ask an Aging Life Care Professional for recommendations.

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to plan a home transition by yourself. Every community has resources to help you. Find Aging Life Care Professionals near you.

About the Author: Nancy Gillette is Chief Growth Officer for the HouseWorks companies, one of the largest independent in-home care companies in the nation. She has more than 20 years of experience in the home care and post-acute fields growing revenue, building strategic relationships and diversifying product offerings. View Nancy’s LinkedIn profile. Nancy spoke at the ALCA 37th Annual Conference in 2021.

Dealing with Delta

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading with alarming speed among the unvaccinated. As a protection to yourself, and your community,  unvaccinated individuals should get the shot as soon as possible. Immunity can take up to 6 weeks to develop, and we must all do our part in stopping the spread of this virus. In order to remain safe and help prevent the spread while waiting for immunity, the CDC recommends avoiding all public indoor settings and limiting outdoor gatherings where it is difficult to socially distance outdoors or consider mask-wearing in outdoor situations where social distancing is not possible. Wear a mask when congregating in public places indoors, because there is a higher risk for contracting the virus if masks are removed to dine or drink. Monitor symptoms closely, test often, contact trace, and isolate if infected.

What about the vaccinated?  In light of recent breakthrough infections, should vaccinated individuals also be masking up?  In making this decision, a few important questions should be considered:

What is your personal health and risk tolerance?

What are the infection and vaccination rates in your community?

Do you know the vaccinated status of people you are congregating with?

Are you caring for an elderly or immunocompromised individual?

Are there unvaccinated people in your household?

The current consensus among the medical experts is that fully vaccinated people should resume wearing masks indoors in community settings where there are high infectivity rates. This is because the Delta variant is a thousand times more infectious than the original Covid-19 strain and while the vaccine will protect against serious disease and illness, there is a small risk of breakthrough infections because of the increased disease spread happening all over the US right now. Once we can get our vaccination rates up to 80% across the nation, infectivity rates should decrease dramatically, and we will be able to relax the mask guidelines and resume a normal life providing no future more lethal variants emerge.

So, let’s help each other out and do our best to deal with Delta and stop the spread of COVID. If you are vaccinated, be a positive role model and continue to listen to and encourage unvaccinated friends and family to get the jab. Share your positive experiences, help dispel fears and let them know you care for their well-being. If you are not yet vaccinated, examine your reasons for not getting the shot. Is your decision based on unbiased scientific information or the biased views and posts of similar folks who are also hesitant? For example, if you broke your arm tomorrow, you would seek the advice of medical professionals–not your newest Facebook friend. Remember, that your decision on getting vaccinated does not just affect your own health and well-being, it affects the health of everyone around you but most especially children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine and who are extremely vulnerable to the Delta variant. They are counting on the adults around them to keep them safe and protect them by making a choice that is bigger than themselves – a choice to get vaccinated.

This article originally appeared here.

About the Author: Anne C. Sansevero, RN, MA, GNP, CCM is the founder and CEO of HealthSense LLC, an Aging Life Care management consulting practice. She is a master’s prepared geriatric nurse practitioner, and a seasoned nursing professional with over 30 years of experience in the field. Anne has a sub-specialty in neurological disorders and is well versed in all aspects of geriatric nursing. She has particular expertise with communication disorders relating to stroke and dementia and has developed a number of innovative nursing assessment tools and standards to improve the nursing care for frail elders. Anne is a member of the Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA) and Fellow of the Aging Life Care Leadership Academy. She is currently serving on the board of the ALCA, and is Vice President of the New York Chapter. In addition, Anne is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the Nurse Practitioners of New York. Anne is a registered nurse, certified care manager, and a master’s prepared geriatric nurse practitioner.

“Born in Ireland, I come from a strong medical family of physicians and nurses. I was naturally drawn to a career in health care where you can make a real difference in the lives of others. In the 1980s, I was recruited for a nursing career opportunity in the United States and fell in love with the energy and optimism that is part of this country’s cultural DNA. In the acute care work setting, I became very attuned to how stressful hospitalization can be for older, frail adults. I found my calling as a nurse practitioner and Aging Life Care Professional while advocating for the elderly and working to improve their quality of life and to avoid hospitalizations. I have a deep appreciation for the wisdom and resilience that I see in my older clients and feel grateful to be able to contribute to helping them and their families lead happier lives.” “

A Daughter’s Plea, A Mother’s Rebuttal

Like in the childhood game, “telephone,” the first call came from the neighbor across the street, who called the son in Pennsylvania who, in turn, called his sister in Maine, who, in turn, called me, the eldercare consultant in New Rochelle, New York. The town their mother, and I, called home.

It seems the neighbor across the street observed their ninety-two-year-old mother taking her garbage to the curb. How, she inquired of the son, could he and his sister be so neglectful? While it wasn’t her words exactly, it was more the tone of her voice, that spurred this action. I imagine the neighbor was trying to be helpful. Given the adult children’s geographic distance, perhaps she thought they were not aware of what was taking place during these thrice-weekly jaunts to the curb.  The truth be known, the son and daughter had been trying, unsuccessfully, for years to persuade their mother to just give a companion a try.

Despite hints of early dementia, the mother was readily able to reiterate to her children all the reasons for not wanting anyone coming to her house. To start, she was not having difficulty managing on her own. Regarding her shopping needs, what she was not able to pick up in the supermarket, there was a “COVID Volunteer” from her local synagogue she could count on. A companion would interfere with her privacy. Hinging on that, she had her sentimental belongings throughout the house and was certain they would disappear within a week of the companion’s arrival.  And so, it was with this background that a daughter, undaunted by her mother’s past rebuttals, called this eldercare consultant, confident that what she and her brother were unable to do, I could accomplish.

With the expectations of the adult children and the neighbor on my shoulders, I met with the mother. She was welcoming and showed me around her home. I was slightly suspicious. Tours usually come after a client gets to know me. Perhaps the unsolicited tour was to make a point about her capabilities or maybe she was just being hospitable. With the sightseeing out of the way, we got down to the reason for my visit. Mom was well-rehearsed.  She conveyed to me all the same reasons she had shared with her children.

This type of resistance is not unusual. As Aging Life Care Managers® we come across this kind of struggle frequently. The mother recognized that accepting help brings with it relinquishing privacy and adjusting to a new routine. She saw it as a sign of weakness to acquiesce. The daughter declared sheer frustration. Her mother failed to recognize that a little bit of help could go a long way to ensuring her continued safety and longevity in her home.

While empathizing with each of the mother’s reasons for refusing help, we Aging Life Care Professionals® have many strategies that we can choose from to try to resolve a particular issue. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, high expectations do not bring the hoped-for results.  (Miracle worker does not appear in our job description or websites.) And so it was with this Aging Life Care Professional, me.

I used one of my tried and true strategies.  “Give it a try, just for a few weeks” Not a budge. “How about if you think about it?” I asked. Affirmative. And with that, I said I would give her a call in a few weeks.

“I’m happy you didn’t forget about me,” she said two weeks later. And in the same breath, said she would be in touch with me when the time was right. Will the time ever be right I thought to myself?  Or will the next call be from the daughter, all her mother’s excuses banished, replaced with an urgent appeal for help.

Wherever you are in your aging care management process, Aging Life Care Professionals are available and eager to help families of older adults. While it’s ideal for us to become a part of the solution before a crisis arises, we are full of resources to help in the event of an emergency too. Don’t delay and find one who can help you and your family.

About the Author: Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM, is the founder of Directions in Aging, based in New Rochelle, New York, Westchester County.  As an Aging Life Care consultant with over two decades of experience, she has helped families find strategies to deal with the challenges of aging, while maintaining the stability of the family and the dignity of the senior.

In conjunction with the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging, of Hunter College, she helped to develop the Certificate Program in Geriatric Care Management where she served as a faculty instructor. She currently serves on the board of New Rochelle Cares, an aging-in-place program focused on helping seniors remain safely in their homes.