Leaders in Elder Care: Karen Love, Master Collaborator for Excellence in Assisted Living (Podcast)

In this Leaders in Elder Care interview, I am proud to introduce Karen Love.  Karen is the founder of the Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living and the managing director for the National Center for Excellence in Assisted Living.  I’ve followed Karen’s work for over 6 months since we first met and I have been so impressed by her vision for a better assisted living.  She is also active in the Pioneer Network and has committed her career to improves the lives of assisted living residents and their families.

What stands out about Karen is her laser focus on the belief that collaboration is one of the most effective tools for solving problems.  She has applied this line of thinking to elder care and her accomplishments all well deserving of the recognition. Whether you are a family member or industry professional, you’ll enjoy this interview.

About Karen Love

Karen Love is a former speech pathologist and long-term care administrator with more than 25 years experience in aging services.  Through her company, Pathways to Care, Karen works as a consultant and educator.  Besides a commitment to identify and promote effective evidence-based practices to enhance practices in aging services, she has a passion for quality dementia care.  She innovated a nationally-recognized program utilizing Montessori-based principles to improve physical function and psychosocial well-being for elders and individuals with disabilities known as therapeutic engagement.

Karen serves as the managing director for the national Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL).  CEAL is a national organization of diverse assisted living stakeholder organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association, AARP, AAHSA, the National Center for Assisted Living, and the Pioneer Network among others that champions the belief that better outcomes can be achieved through true collaboration.

Contact Information

Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living

Center for Excellence in Assisted Living

Leaders in Elder Care: Phil Parker Tells the Story of Grandpa Does Grandma – The ABCs of Senior Sex [Podcast]

My Leaders in Elder Care interview with Phil Parker, author of the recently published “Grandpa Does Grandma – the ABCs of Senior Sex“, was a lot of fun.  While the title of the book is racey by design, the book gets to the heart of what calls a major problem – the loss of intimacy among seniors.

Phil (Grandpa) and his wife Bonnie (Grandma) are really warm people, and you can tell they have a wonderful relationship.  Having read the book, despite some odd looks at a few restaurants, I think you’ll enjoy the interview.

Phil Tells Us About Grandpa

He’s been hired, fired, acquired, merged, purged, downsized, rightsized but never capsized  and suddenly he’s a sexy senior!

Phil served his country as a Naval Officer, has socialized at the White House and has been called a world-class photographer. He was a Golden Gloves boxer, a collegiate golfer, and has coached soccer, basketball and Little League baseball. In his spare time he was a volunteer fireman.

Grandpa is an energizing speaker and author who, through his own experiences, shares with his audiences how to discover the possibilities before them and the potential within them.

His first book, Kiss Yourself Hello! ~ A Journey From A Life of Business to the Business of Life, encourages individuals to evaluate where they are in their personal and professional lives.

In addition to enjoying life with Grandma, Phil pursues his love of photography through his company “Cheap Shots,” aspires to become an accomplished drummer and loves to travel whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Phil is a former member of the National Speakers Association and the National Speakers Association of Georgia. He served as a business consultant and fundraiser for the Atlanta Para Olympic Organizing Committee.

He shares his life with Grandma in Atlanta, Georgia.

Grandpa Does Grandma Book Cover

Phil Tells Us About Grandma

She is a speaker/author and a multi-dimensional entrepreneur with a background in education, publishing, franchise development, mentorship and community development.

Her articles on owning your own business and entrepreneurship have appeared in publications including: Wealth Building, Home Business Magazine, Business to Business and Entrepreneur’s Start Ups”.

Bonnie is the CEO/Founder of The Joy of Connecting®, a national women’s organization that supports entrepreneurs, professionals and female business owners.

The author of “Walk In My Boots~The Joy of Connecting and Y.O.U.~Set a New Standard For Being Human“, Grandma invites her audiences to journey with her through her presentations and interactive workshops.

In 2002 Bonnie received The Athena Award ~ an honor designed to acknowledge women of leadership in cities throughout the United States.

In September 2005 she was honored by the Women’s Leadership Exchange, a New York based organization, as an Influential Woman of Georgia and currently serves on their advisory board.

She shares her life with Grandpa in Atlanta, GA.

Contact Information



Leaders in Elder Care: Sara Terry Drives the Vision of Optimum Life for Brookdale Senior Living [Podcast]

Sara’s Description of Optimum Life

The key to aging well is living well. That is the purpose of Optimum Life®. Available only at Brookdale Senior Living communities, the Optimum Life program helps residents balance their lives in key areas, or “dimensions of wellness.” It’s active senior living at its best.

Dimensions of Optimum Life

  • PURPOSEFUL, opportunities to make a difference by contributing to those around you
  • SPIRITUAL, nurture your soul through traditional religious services as well as non traditional programs that lift your spirit
  • EMOTIONAL, find joy in each day through fun and lively Celebrations events that bring new possibilities to each day
  • SOCIAL, enjoy the company of neighbors and friends to stimulate the heart and mind and bring better health
  • INTELLECTUAL, new things to learn are abundant through classes, book discussions, new hobbies and much, much more
  • PHYSICAL, join in the Movement is Medicine class to enjoy the benefits of daily exercise. Innovative Senior Care provides proactive help to prevent physical decline

As a Brookdale resident, the choice is yours to take advantage of any of the wide range of opportunities available to you. Each area of Optimum Life contributes to optimal health, wholeness and life fulfillment.

Through Optimum Life, Brookdale provides the mechanism for exceptional senior living. By pursuing Optimum Life with vigor and purpose, our residents can live balanced and fulfilling lives in the comfort of a Brookdale Senior Living community. It’s optimal senior living at its very finest.

About Sara Terry

Sara is the Vice President of Optimum Life® for Brookdale Senior Living. Brookdale Senior Living owns and operates over 550 senior living communities through out the United States. Optimum Life® is Brookdales’ trademarked health and wellness program for their residents and associates. The communities offer independent and assisted living as well as Alzheimer’s/Dementia, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation services through their therapy program, Innovative Senior Care. Sara has served in this role since 2003. She has had a long career in senior living-starting in 1985 and has served in operational and health care roles. She oversees all programming and health and wellness programs for the residents and associates of BSL. Brookdale is known for leading the industry in creative, dynamic, and award-winning programs including Celebrations, MyTIME Clubs, Movement is Medicine, and Cross Train Your Brain.

Sara reports directly to John P. Rijos, Chief Operating Officer and Co-President. She serves on the Executive Board of Glamour Gals, a non-profit organization that provides make-overs to residents in senior living communities. Sara has a degree in Health/Physical Education from University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Her outside interests include sailing, public speaking, and swimming. She is married to Dave Terry; they have three children, Patrick Mahoney, Deanna Terry, and Rachel Terry.

Contact Information

Sara can be reached by visiting the Brookdale website or by email at sterry@brookdaleliving.com.  You can learn more about Brookdale’s Optimum Life program by visiting the Brookdale web site.

Getting Started with DIY Universal Design and Aging in Place

Sure you’re an “active adult,” but are you proactive or reactive?

In the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey focuses on the importance of character when defining effectiveness stating that the first habit for developing character is Be Proactive. Covey explains it this way:

“Reactive people are driven by feelings, circumstances, conditions, and the environment. Proactive people are driven by carefully considered, selected and internalized values. Taking the initiative …. means recognizing our responsibility to make things happen.”

This means that for many of us there are two ways to choose to live: either we are intentional and proactive or we can be habitual and reactive.  We can either consciously strive for a life that we really want or we can live in a default setting, unconsciously reacting to whatever life throws at us.How does this apply to universal design and aging in place you ask? Or why would I even choose to start this blog post with such a quote?

I have been asked by many to start discussing specific enhancement one can do to their home and make it more a home for a lifetime.  This will be the main area of blogging for the next few postings.  Before we get to what modifications we can do, I wanted to take a moment and explain why we should do them.

The Why…

We should all be considering including aging in place options into any remodeling – even in this economy – so that we can be proactive in securing our, and our family’s future. As we live longer, the chance of experiencing an unfortunate accident or other mobility or sensory impairment increases.  Given that it isn’t a matter of “if” but “when,” wouldn’t we rather go through those circumstances in our own homes while saving thousands of dollars as well?
Changes in ability can make our daily routines increasingly difficult.  Our homes can change to meet our new needs rather than us having to adjust our behavior to make up for its shortcomings.

True independent living is achieved only through proactive universal design that complements our individual life styles and protects our quality of life. Being Proactive means freedom and specifically a freedom and willingness to embrace change assertively!

The What…

So now that we have an understanding of “why,” let’s start exploring “what” we should look for when performing a home accessibility check. The main areas that Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) look at are:

  • Entry ways
  • Hallways
  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Garages
  • Stairways
  • Windows
  • Lighting
  • Exterior of the home

The solutions and suggestions that are developed after such a check are focused primarily on greatly increasing the comfort, safety and accessibility of the home.

Below are some questions you should ask about your home.  I consider it a “quick check” for universal design.  Let’s look at the hallways, bathrooms and kitchen.

Some questions to consider:

  • Are your entries barrier-free and allow for the use of a wheelchair, walker or scooter?
  • How about your hallways are they wide enough to allow the same?
  • Do they have adequate night-lights?
  • How about at the top and bottom of stairways?


  • Do they have enough maneuverability for a wheelchair or a walker?
  • Do you have enough behind the wall support in case you need to install grab bars in the future?
  • Is there at least one no curb shower in the home with a hand held adjustable showerhead?


  • Are there any countertops at a height conducive for someone using a walker or in a wheelchair with enough clearance below?
  • How about the sink area, cooking surfaces, or storage?
  • How accessible are those areas or the appliances?
  • For example in some cases dishwashers need to be raised to allow accessibility an idea that is beneficial for everyone since it reduces the distance even disabled persons have to bend down and up when loading and unloading it.

As you can see, we have just started to scratch the surface.  There is a lot to cover in the area of modifications and options and this will be our focus in upcoming articles.

We will strive to discuss these important areas in our homes in depth and provide both no-cost / low-cost modification options anyone can do over the course of a few weekends.  We’ll also outline larger scale modifications that may require some outside help to make your home more livable and accessible.

About the Author: Raad Ghantous is the principal of Raad Ghantous & Associates and is an expert in luxury hospitality, wellness centers, and medical & day spa developments.  He is also the owner of Your Home For A Lifetime, an A.D.A/ Barrier-free/ Universal design/Aging in place, full service design/build firm with over 15 years of experience  specializing in developing integrating elegant and seamless designs/modifications to new or existing structures.

Podcast: Leaders in Elder Care – Dr. Richard Taylor on Alzheimer’s- The Farthest Thing From the Long Goodbye

UPDATE: Thank you everyone for your support for promotion of the Leaders in Elder Care Series. I had many, many requests to integrate the series into Inside Elder Care.  I’m kicking it off with on my my favorites, so enjoy!

Once in a while, you have the unique pleasure of meeting someone that just stuns you.  While it is certainly their words that enter your ears, it is their demeanor that ignites their message.  For me, Richard Taylor is one of the people.  For me, Richard Taylor is nothing short of a hero.

There are volumes written about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but I’ve yet to find one that delivers its message with the character and courage that Richard does.  In our interview, Richard conveys such courage and leadership in his battle with Alzheimer’s that it has fundamentally changed the way I think about the disease.

This interview is a bit longer than our others (45 mins), but I highly recommend it for families grappling with dementia.  I also consider it a “must list” for people who have yet to spend much time with people affected dementia.  Enjoy!

How Richard Describes Himself

Richard Taylor, a retired Psychologist, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s-type dementia in 2001 at the age of 58. Now 65, he is a champion for individuals with early-stage and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and author of the book Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out (Health Professions Press, 2006). He serves on the board of the Houston and Southeast Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and has started over 50 chat rooms worldwide for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones.

Richard lives in Cypress, Texas, with his spouse Linda, and his Bouvier des Flandres (dog), Annie. His son and family live across the street from him. He now spends his days playing with his two grandchildren, gardening, and writing. Originally, he started to write to better understand for himself what was going on inside of him. When he isn’t out speaking, he writes for two or three hours every day. Even as the disease progresses, he thus far has maintained his ability to look at and attempt to understand himself.

Richard is a passionate advocate for several issues concerning the involvement of people living with a diagnosis of one of the diseases of dementia. He was a moving force in the establishment of the Dementia Advisory Committee of the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association, looking at how to better integrate individuals living with the diagnosis in the leadership, program development, and delivery functions of the Association and its local chapters. He now serves as the chair of a similar committee he helped to establish for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. He continues to be a sought-after speaker at various professional conferences, assisted living and memory care communities, and public programs. He is constantly looking for new audiences, especially of professionals who work in the field of dementia, to help them with getting to know the people they serve.

Richard is an articulate, thoughtful, and thought-filled speaker to caregivers. Hundreds of them have used his insights as the basis for conversations and insights into what might be going through their loved one’s minds. Many Alzheimer’s chat rooms, across the United States and worldwide, were created in large or small part with his support. He publishes his own newsletter of, by, and for people with dementia, which you can sign up to receive.

While Richard still leads a vibrant life, control of his concentration is sometimes elusive. His language facility is still mostly intact, although he increasingly searches for the right word. His granddaughter Christina is learning to read and sometimes reads to him. His garden becomes smaller and smaller each year; he plays bridge (with a cheat sheet) once a week and is halfway through editing another book of his writings.

Contact Information

Richard’s website
Richard’s book – Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out

Kudos to the New Jersey Nets and NETsational Seniors

Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to people who have great ideas.  The National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets have created the first NBA dance team whose members are all over the age of 60.  The documentary file “Gotta Dance” chronicles the formation of the dance group from auditions through training to performances in front of the Nets faithful.

Paul Span of the New York Times wrote a great piece on the firm.  You can read the article here.

Finances and Dreamers and Dementia Care, Oh My (Podcasts)

What a great week we’ve had over at Leaders in Elder Care!

For those of you who don’t know what it is, Leaders in Elder Care is a podcast-based interview series that seeks to share the great things individuals are doing to change the face of elder care.  These are the entrepreneurs, politicians, advocates and caregivers who put it long days to make things better for seniors.   Through Leaders in Elder Care, we give them a chance to brag a little bit about what they are doing.

Each podcast is about 20 minutes and enables our Leaders to share their vision, method, results and futures with you via an intimate, no-frills conversation.

Below is a summary of some of the great interviews we’ve had in the last week.

I would love to hear what you think.  Be sure to leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

The Financier – Senior Lines of Credit

Elias Papasavvas came to the United States with nothing.  His parents were robbed at gunpoint.  As his parents aged, he saw the immense pressure families are put under when they need access to money for elder care and residential care.  That pressure often forces people to liquidate assets at times when their value is the lowest.  He combined his finance experience with a clear market need to create Elderlife Financial and invented the “senior line of credit.”

Read more about Elias and listen to the podcast.

The Dreamer – Ageless Dreamer

What if you could give an elder friend or family member the dream they always wish they had?  A ride on a Harley?  A college diploma?  A sailboat ride?  Laurie Widmark and Ageless Dreamer (a non-profit) have done just that.  Laurie and her team diligently review each Dream request and work hard to put smiles on faces that say “dream fufilled.”  When I first heard Laurie’s story, I said to myself “This is what it is all about!” It was such an amazing interview and Ageless Dreamer is such an amazing idea.

Read more about Ageless Dreamer and listen to the podcast.

Dementia Care – Sollievo

Ellen Dunnigan saw a critical gap missing in the market for dementia-focused home care.  And boy did she fill it.  Sollievo means “relief” in Italian and the mission of Sollievo is to provide just this.  Sollievo is one of many alternative care models sprouting up around the country.  Ellen’s view of a 360-degree care philosophy designed specifically around those who have or are impacted by dementia is really unique.

Read more about Sollievo and listen to the podcast.