Giving Back to Caregivers

As a blogger, most people will tell you, “stay on message.  Don’t deviate, or you’ll lose readers.”  They are right.  On rare occassion it is justified, however.  That occasion is today.

I received an email today from Gladys Broxton, the executive director at Regency Park Oak Knoll in Pasadena.  Gladys was one of the first people who brought me in to give my “Assisted Living Saved My Mom” talk.  She is also an enromously compassionate woman who runs a wonderul assisted living.  Great staff.  Long tenure.  All the things you look for when you evaluate assisted living communities.

At Inside Elder Care, we’ve always spoken about the very difficult job that caregivers undertake.  Many times it is thankless.  All of the time, it is very tough work.  In this light and with Glady’s permission, I am reposting the email she sent me below.  Help if you can.  And if you can’t — think some good thoughts.

Dear Friends, Family, Staff and Colleagues:

I come to you with a heavy heart requesting for your financial support to help one of my staff members who is in great need of financial assistance for burial.

Rosario Rodriquez has been working for me 6 years as an exceptional caregiver.   She is a young, kind, and caring individual who works extremely hard to provide the best care for my residents.  She and her husband, Eduardo has been married for only 2 years.  Her husband is gravely ill with liver cancer.  His battle with this rare cancer is almost over.  Rosario and her husband have no life insurance and no medical insurance.  Her husband was being treated at USC because he was part of a research project.  However, he is losing his battle, and doctors are telling them that they can’t do anymore to help him.  This burden is insurmountable and I am amazed by Rosario’s strength and love for her husband.

At this point her husband has no more strength left.  The cancer has caused his skin to leak fluids, the doctors have now put him on hospice, and Rosario is faced with the obvious and inevitable circumstance of him passing.

I come to you all asking for you’re help by donating any amount that comes from your heart.  I hope to collect enough to at least ease the financial burden for Rosario in some way. She is not aware that I’m asking for donation’s she has so much pride I admire her so much for her strength, love and faith for the past two years.

Please keep her and her husband in your prayers.  If you can help, please contact me as soon as possible

Sincerely yours,

GLADYS BROXTON
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
REGENCY PARK OAK KNOLL
255 SO OAK KNOLL
PASADENA CA 91101
626-578-1551

There is No Place Like Home

What is the definition of “home”?  Well, in most dictionaries home is where you live at a particular time, a dwelling, an environment offering affection, safety and security, a haven.  But it also goes beyond the confines of four walls and a roof over our heads.  Home is also used in a broader sense relating to or being where one lives or where one’s roots are; as in “my home town,” a place where something began and flourished and even possibly the country or state or city where you live.  So when we talk about Aging-in-Place, eventually we need to also address the importance and impacts of the built environments beyond our houses.  We need to evaluate if our neighborhoods and communities will enable successful aging and livability; You see, “our homes” contribute to the basis of our individual and common identities. They hold our memories and they give us a sense of place.

The year 2011 is seen by many as the beginning of the “Changing Face of Aging” in America.  It is when the first wave of baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) will start to turn 65; that is less than 2 years from now! How well will our communities as they are currently configured deal with this paradigm shift based on age? Their ability to adapt to the changing needs of an aging nation should factor into every planning decision that the community is considering.  How projects, developments and urban planning might impact older active adults can no longer be an afterthought if our communities are to retain their appeal and remain not only habitable but also profitable in every meaning of the word.

AARP has done extensive research on the baby boomers in recent years and has found that “Boomers” are:

  • More ethnically diverse than prior generations.
  • Tend to be more highly educated than prior generations.
  • Do not plan to retire  in the traditional sense.
  • Plan to continue to work during their “retirement years.”
  • Live in the same State…a state of denial!
  • Wanting to remain in their own homes as they age or as long as possible.

In fact when asked where they want to live as they age, 90 percent of Boomers say, “in my home.”  They do not want to live with relatives, in a nursing home, or at an assisted care facility. They want to live at home independently and without loss of comfort, security and the freedom to continue to engage in community life.

But given the nature and configuration of most communities across the United States, can Boomers realize those expectations?

Unfortunately most of the country, if not the world, is likely to find itself unprepared for the coming tidal wave of Boomers known as the Silver Tsunami. As we look ahead, we find that the 65+ population is projected to grow faster than the population at-large in all 50 states, with some states finding themselves in the challenging situation of having more Medicare-eligible seniors than school-age children. It is expected too that this population will double over the next 30 years, to over 70 million; a third of America’s current population!

As you can imagine, these age-based population changes will come with many challenges including how to make our communities more “livable.”

Often people, local governments and even States don’t think about this until they suddenly find themselves trapped in towns with poor public transportation and not enough medical services. Simple services like grocery or drug stores, may become too hard to reach without the help of a neighbor or friend – especially as seniors give up their driver’s licenses for safety reasons.  Even walking, if there are no sidewalks, become a major challenge. Without addressing some of these basics we risk ending up with an aging population prone to isolation, social disconnect and despair.

What are Livable Communities?

In AARP’s study, A Report to the Nation on Livable Communities: Creating Environments for Successful Aging, livable communities are defined as those with “affordable and appropriate housing, supportive community features and services, and adequate mobility options, which together facilitate personal independence and the engagement of residents in civic and social life.”

Livability under those parameters means asking questions such as, does your home town have one-story dwellings? Or are most homes built to accommodate the raising of families? Is there a Visit-ability initiative in place that encourages or insists on no-step entries, sidewalks you can actually walk on, bus stops with benches and overhead shading or shelters, libraries and parks that are easily if not even universally accessible and much more.  Most communities these days find themselves blindsided by the changing needs based on aging and playing catch up or even in some cases don’t even realize what’s hit or about to hit them until it’s too late!

We’re all responsible, as individuals, members of local government, city planners, or simply as voters to think about these issues in the days to come so that we can not only safeguard ourselves but also to increase our chances to age well in the future by making the right decisions now.

Livability is not just an aging and elderly issue.  Striving and insisting on nothing short of livable communities is not an impossible goal and in fact in many ways is the right thing to do to continue to empower people as they age and to prolong their quality of life. Such communities make life more comfortable and convenient for active and able citizens regardless of age as well as those with disabilities.

Yet in order to meet theses most obvious of things we will need a wholesale overhaul in the way we think about our homes and our built environments. After all, embracing the principles of livable communities honors those core foundations of American life: dignity, equality, independence, and the freedom and right to choose….and we will need to start doing so now!

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

Orange County Speaking Dates for “Assisted Living Saved My Mom”

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone had a great holiday and is excited for a fun and positive 2010.

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be presenting “Assisted Living Saved My Mom” at Brookdale Senior Living in Irvine, California.  Irvine is in the middle of Orange County, about 35 minutes south of Los Angeles.

A Unique Presentation

Designed for families and industry professionals, “Assisted Living Saved My Mom” is a unique and interactive presentation that shares how families can make a positive experience out of assisted living.  I share  tips for families that you will not hear in other places and can only be said because my family lived it.  In fact, there are a few parts that make the assisted living provider a bit uncomfortable.  Why? Because you’ll learn the tough questions to ask!

Peace of Mind

You’ll leave this presentation confident in your ability to (a) decide whether assisted living is right for your family, and (b) if it is, how you can take the bull by the horns and make it a good thing.

Brookdale will be providing at no cost autographed copies of my book series “The By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living” to all who attend.

Here’s the info – I really hope to see you there:

Wednesday, January 13th @ 6pm
Brookdale – Inn at the Park
10 Marquette
Irvine, CA
(located across from the UC Irvine Campus)

(949) 854-3766

For RSVPs, please email Beth Otterbein – botterbein@brookdaleliving.com