Aging Life Care Manager Helps “Bill” to Age Well

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Windward’s Aging Life Care Managers help clients to make positive life changes that result in better health and quality of life. Here is one example of a client, “Bill,” whom Care Manager Heather Arsenault has had the honor to work with for the past year and a half.

Bill was referred to Windward Life Care® by his estate planning attorney. Bill has required help most of his life due to the effects of a brain aneurysm he suffered as a teenager. After a lengthy recovery, Bill was able to go back to school and graduated in the mid-1960’s. He worked on and off, including several years as a cashier at a local convenience store. Bill is now 73. He has a heart of gold and loves a good conversation.

One of the challenges Bill has faced in his life is social isolation. To help with companionship and incorporating meaningful activity into Bill’s life, Heather introduced a home care aide, Zahrina. With the dependable structure that a daily home care aide provides, Bill now fills his days with activities that further his physical and mental health and bring joy to his life.

Each morning Bill and Zahrina play Windward Life Care’s “Memory Match Game” with cards that have personal photos of people, pets, and places in his life. Other activities they enjoy are: going to Padres games, walking at Seaport Village, walking at Spanish Landing, and eating out. Bill has a personal trainer and a therapist who both come to the house weekly. Heather also worked with Bill’s Power of Attorney to get him started in swim therapy classes this summer. As a teenager, Bill was an avid swimmer so he was excited to return to this favorite pastime.

Aging Life Care® Manager Heather Arsenault visits Bill monthly at his home, or out at one of Bill’s favorite restaurants.  Heather has weekly contact with Zahrina to share information and ideas for helping Bill. Heather determined that Bill would benefit from safety upgrades at his home. She arranged for a company to initiate bathroom improvements, upgrade flooring, and remove floor rugs to make his environment safer.

Heather has also facilitated Bill’s visits with his health care providers to ensure that his chronic conditions are well-managed and that crises are averted.

Bill’s consistent routine including in-home caregivers, engaging activities, and taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle have led to an “aging well” story.

 

Windward Life Care’s interdisciplinary team of Aging Life Care® Managers has certification and professional training in a number of areas related to healthy aging, including nursing, geriatric care management, and social work. If you would like us to create a personalized plan for yourself or someone you care about, please contact us at (619) 450-4300 or agingwell@windward lifecare.com.

*Out of respect of our clients’ privacy, some names have been altered. 

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What You Need to Know About Preventing Elder Abuse in La Jolla, CA

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Contributed by Chris Jaccard, CFP®, CFA

It is a sad fact of life that often those who are close to us are the ones who have the ability to hurt us the most, even trusted caregivers or family members. Members of the La Jolla community may recall the chilling case of Robert Stella, an elderly man who was tied to his bed, starved, and forced to live in squalor by his ex-wife (NBC, 2014). Elder abuse can happen to any older adult in any community, but the subject of our story today is how our community members in La Jolla, CA may defend themselves and their loved ones from elder abuse.

Elder Abuse: The Silent Perpetrator

Elder abuse takes many forms. In some cases the crime is overt and violent, but most of the time the unsuspecting victim is silently preyed upon for a period of time by a familiar person.

  • It can be as surreptitious as the plumber who “cases” the house on routine visits, only to return back through an unsecured window at a time when he knows that the victim is asleep or habitually out of the house. He pillages as much money and jewelry as he can from the places where he knows the victim keeps her valuables, and then leaves.
  • Elder abuse can happen over the phone. Let’s say an older adult suffering from dementia receives a solicitation from someone pretending to be a relative, saying that they have an immediate need to wire over some money to get them out of a pinch.
  • We’ve even heard of Medicaid facilities partaking of the monies awarded to the facilities’ patients to use for themselves while the patients starve or go malnourished.
  • Sadly, elder abuse even happens within families. Ex-spouses, children, siblings, cousins, etc., acting out of desperation, can act as perpetrators of this crime to their own family members.

Americans who are financially abused lose an average of $140,500, according to a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards study (CFP Board, 2012).

Finally, the Industry Reacts

Over the past few years, several states have enacted regulations to protect vulnerable adults from exploitation and abuse and now the financial services industry is catching up – enacting the first uniform, national standard to protect vulnerable adults.

Advisors must now attempt to document the contact information for someone you trust – your Trusted Contact. If there is a suspicious withdrawal attempted on your account, advisors/custodians can now place a temporary hold on that transaction and further authorize the transaction via your Trusted Contact or notify authorities.

The Trusted Contact

A trusted contact is a new option you may elect on your account, and we encourage all our clients to do so. This person will be called upon in the event that the account custodian or advisor believes that there is financial exploitation going on. The trusted contact may also be called upon to confirm your health status or the identity of other important people who may be involved with your account such as executor, guardian, etc.

It’s important to understand that the trusted contact will not have the ability to view account information or initiate transactions. In fact, we think you should consider having a trusted contact be someone who is not authorized to do so – and more of a neutral third-party.

6 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Being a Victim of Financial Abuse of Older Adults

There are several basic steps you can take to help protect yourself:

  1. Have your durable power of attorney easily accessible by you and other trusted people. New state laws may require adult protective services to be called which can strip your ability to handle things alone.
  2. Communicate more financial information with people you trust. If there is abuse, it’s more likely these people will notice and say something.
  3. Consider opting out of Marketing Solicitations by electing to do so on websites such as https://www.DoNotCall.gov or https://www.beenverified.com/optout.
  4. Carefully consider who your trusted contact persons (primary and secondary) should be and share that information with your financial advisor or your trusted advisor.
  5. Use a third party, such as a financial advisor, as a “check and balance”. As financial exploitation may be perpetrated by a family member, you may want to have a third party you can consult with to determine if any behavior is concerning.
  6. Be aware of situations that encourage desperation. There are certain times when you are more vulnerable, for example, during the holiday season when people are more desperate for money.

What to do If You Suspect Financial Elder Abuse of a Loved One

We interviewed Windward Life Care, a provider of aging life care management services, to get a better sense of what to do if you suspect financial elder abuse of a loved one.

Financial Alternatives: In your experience, when you’ve seen an elderly person be taken advantage of financially, what were the warning signs that his or her caretakers may have missed?

Windward Life: There are several warning signs of financial elder abuse. Often the perpetrator tries to isolate the victim from friends, family, former associates. They do so by creating distrust between the aging person and those they are close to.

Example: An aging mother is encouraged into a dependency on perpetrator. She becomes accustomed to deferring to the perpetrator for decisions that are inconsistent with perpetrator’s role in victim’s life.

Example: “I need to ask Paul before I decide to go on vacation”, or “Paul says I need to see a new attorney and go over some estate planning options that my old one may not have had me consider.”

You should also pay attention when you see someone close to the aging person engaging in behavior that is beyond his or her means, such as buying a new car or going on a luxury vacation. Any secretive, elusive behavior is suspect.

It’s fairly common to see the perpetrator interjecting him or herself into financial matters that are not his responsibility. For example, you may find checks written for work that has not been authorized.

Financial Alternatives: How do you recommend caregivers begin the conversation with an aging person if they suspect risk of financial abuse?

Windward Life: That’s a good question. Sometimes this can be a touchy subject to initiate conversation about. You’ve got to be very emotionally aware when entering into these conversations.

Use Distancing Anecdotes

The best thing to do is start off the conversation with a story about how someone else has been taken advantage of.

Example: You will have greater success if you generalize the risk.  “This could happen to anyone.  Have you ever experienced or felt you were at risk for something like this happening, Mom?”

Keep Communication Positive

Elder abuse is not a subject to take lightly but the conversation generally goes better the more positive you keep the dialogue. Here are some pointers.

  • Remind Mom that she took care of you for many years. Now it’s your turn to offer some assistance.  You consider it an honor to be able to reciprocate.
  • Show your sensitivity by pointing out that con artists are professionals at fooling everyone and there is no shame.  Recognize that embarrassment about possibly being victimized is more horrifying to the elder than the actual loss of money.
  • For the same reason, don’t point out past failings.  Stay focused on the specific concern in a caring, helpful, non-judgmental way. Older people are afraid of their own vulnerability and don’t want their family to see them declining.  Having an open-door policy of good, non-accusatory communication is the best plan.
  • Approach the dialogue from a calm, information gathering perspective.  Use facts, not accusations.  Ask Dad to review bank accounts with you to identify discrepancies.  Do this in a relaxed environment with no time constraints.  The process will be upsetting as it is; so try to minimize emotional distress as much as possible.

Realize That Third Party Resources May Be Necessary

As much as you may want to solve the problem yourself, realize that some issues are too deeply entrenched to resolve without the help of a professional.

For example, it is often a family member who lives in the home who preys on the elder.  This is the most difficult abuse to stop because codependency is not a quick fix.  A licensed mental health professional may be needed.

If abuse is suspected, Dad may be embarrassed and double down to keep the information from being revealed to the family.  The family may be able to persuade him to speak with a professional financial advisor.

Example: “I can see you are worried about something Dad, would it help you to talk with Sally (the financial advisor) to help sort this out?”

This approach may work because Dad may feel more comfortable talking with a third party who will not reveal the abuse to the family.

Financial Alternatives: If someone were in the market for a caregiver for their aging relative, how can they reduce the risk of working with someone who may take advantage of them financially?

Windward Life: The good news is that there are several things you can do and by exercising proper diligence you can reduce many of the risks of an aging relative being taken advantage of financially.

For starters, hire a certified care manager who is a member of the national Aging Life Care Association. The Aging Life Care® Manager will only hire thoroughly screened caregivers. In general, you should only do business with caregivers that follow the State requirements on background checks and training. State regulations vary by state, of course. There are several such licensed providers who can help you prevent elder abuse in La Jolla, CA.

In our organization we advocate for aging people to utilize trackable expenses through a True Link card and have only limited cash on hand. We also suggest that bill paying responsibilities be assigned to a fiduciary or other responsible family member. These individuals should conduct regular monitoring to assure the highest physical/mental health and awareness.

Summary on Elder Abuse in La Jolla, CA

Elder abuse in La Jolla, CA doesn’t have to be a fact of life. With the proper awareness and strategies, you can put mechanisms in place to prevent it, help your loved ones who are at risk, facilitate open communication, and if by ill fortune this does befall your loved one you can take actions to resolve the situation. In all cases, calling on the proper resources is key. For more information about how to protect your loved ones from financial elder abuse in La Jolla, CA please get in touch with us.

Sources

Summers, Dave. (30 May, 2014). Elder Abuse Suspect Dons Disguise to Get Close to Victim. NBC Universal Media; NBC 7. Retrieved from https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/La-Jolla-Elder-Abuse-Robert-Stella-Victoria-Turner-Disguise-Visit-261292301.html

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. (August 2012). Senior Financial Exploitation Study. Retrieved from https://www.cfp.net/docs/news-events—supporting-documents/senior-americans-financial-exploitation-survey.pdf?sfvrsn=0

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The Link Between Caregiver Retention and Regular Performance Evaluations

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Written by Renee Dills, Human Resources Manager at Windward Life Care.

The turnover rates for paid, professional caregivers are uncomfortably high nationwide and continue to rise each year. According to Home Care Benchmarking Study, national median caregiver turnover rates stood at 66.7% in 2017, up from 53.2% in 2013. Studies also show that the pool of available professional caregivers has continued to shrink over the past five years. Couple those statistics with the boom we are experiencing in the aging population, and it becomes clear why stable care options for your aging loved one may feel like they are hard to come by.

So how do we make sure our hardworking caregivers remain engaged and happy in their employment with Windward Life Care? It should come as no surprise that retention rates remain higher at companies where caregivers feel valued and know that their work is appreciated. At Windward, we believe taking the time to schedule regular performance evaluations with each of our caregivers is an important part of this process. The evaluations serve not only as opportunities to discuss performance feedback, but also as a valuable “check in” time for the caregiver to talk over any outstanding concerns they might have. It doesn’t hurt that each evaluation comes with the opportunity for a performance-based raise and/or bonus, making sure another well-documented piece of the retention puzzle – competitive wages – falls into place.

During these evaluations, our caregivers often share with us how thankful they are that the challenging work they do is noticed and appreciated. “I have been in this industry for years, and this is the first performance evaluation I’ve ever had. Thank you for taking the time,” a caregiver told us at her recent evaluation. We are grateful that so many of our caregivers feel this way about working with us. We are also proud that Windward’s caregiver turnover rate sat nearly 20 points below the national average in 2017 – and we feel we’ve only begun to scratch the surface on our retention goal. We are continually looking for new ways to ensure your favorite caregiver will be proud to remain a Windward employee for years to come.

As part of our continuous rigorous recruitment program, we’re always looking for people who are committed to our mission to improve the lives of our clients through services that center on the goals of the individual, and which foster a lifelong sense of purpose. We invite you to find out more about us by visiting the Careers Page on our website. Interested caregivers are able to apply online.

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Aging Life Care Association® to Celebrate Aging Life Care™ Month in May

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Note: Thank you to the Aging Life Care Association® for contributing this post.

The Aging Life Care Association is celebrating its 7th annual year of Aging Life Care Month, highlighting the Aging Life Care profession.

The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) – the nonprofit association representing 2,000 leaders in Aging Life Care™ / care management – will celebrate the 7th annual Aging Life Care Month, which highlights the Aging Life Care profession during the month of May. The Association will begin its celebration with the 34th Annual Aging Life Care Association Conference in Chicago, IL, May 9-12, 2018.

While the practice and profession of Aging Life Care is not new, the field has been growing and is more crucial now than it ever has been. According to the 2017 Profile of Older Americans, “the 85 and over population is projected to more than double from 6.4 million in 2016 to 14.6 million in 2040 (a 129% increase).” In addition, about one in every seven Americans is an older American. As we age, our caregiving needs increase. Aging Life Care Professionals® play a significant role, as they are prepared to help aging adults plan for and face age-related challenges.

Aging Life Care is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing health challenges. The Aging Life Care Professional is a health and human services specialist who is a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for an older relative or disabled adult. Working with families, these experts provide the answers at a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off work for family caregivers.

They have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities. As members of ALCA, Aging Life Care Professionals must meet stringent education, experience, and certification requirements of the organization, and all members are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and standards of practice. Members may be trained in any of number of fields related to long-term care. These include counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, social work, and other allied health professions, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging.

Aging Life Care Professionals throughout the country will celebrate National Aging Life Care Month by providing seminars, webinars, special events, open houses, and other educational activities for the public. For more information, and to find an Aging Life Care Professional near you, visit ALCA’s website aginglifecare.org.

ABOUT the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)
ALCA (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) was formed in 1985 to advance dignified care for older adults and their families in the United States. Aging Life Care Professionals® have extensive training and experience working with older adults, people with disabilities, and families who need assistance with caregiving issues. They assist families in the search for a suitable nursing home placement or extended care if the need occurs. The practice of Aging Life Care™ and the role of care providers have captured a national spotlight, as generations of Baby Boomers age in the United States and abroad. For more information or to access a nationwide directory of Aging Life Care Professionals, please visit aginglifecare.org.

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Care Services for Individuals in San Diego with Multiple Sclerosis

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Windward Life Care is proud to partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to provide care management services for individuals in San Diego living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The National MS Society provides telephone case management for the majority of individuals needing assistance via their MS Navigator program, but some clients who require in-person help are referred to the Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program of the National MS Society. Through this generous program, care management services are provided at no cost to the client to help him or her achieve specific goals geared toward maximum independence.

Multiple Sclerosis: The Benefits of Care Management

How can a person living with Multiple Sclerosis benefit from care management? Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a progressive, degenerative disease that affects people of many ages and backgrounds with symptoms that can vary from person to person.  The symptoms range in both severity and onset, and can vary from week to week — even from day to day — making it difficult to predict the trajectory of the disease in a person’s life. People with MS frequently experience fatigue, as well as symptoms like vision difficulties, sensitivity to heat and cold, muscle pain and spasms, and cognitive changes. These symptoms can get in the way of a person with MS being able to organize their own affairs and advocate for themselves.

For these reasons, a Care Manager (CM) can be a valuable partner and advocate for a person living with Multiple Sclerosis. Care Managers can help by first listening to the client’s goals for their care and then creating a care plan to match the wishes and needs of the client. Care plan goals can address symptom management; social support; mental and emotional health; caregiving assistance; and government benefits and entitlements, among other goals. Although the client is the expert in their own lives, the CM is knowledgeable in community services which can support the client in achieving his or her goals with dignity and the utmost quality of life.

The Role of a Care Manager

One role a Care Manager can play in helping a person with Multiple Sclerosis it to be a healthcare advocate. A person with MS may find herself receiving health care in multiple settings including the hospital (acute care), rehabilitation center or nursing facility, and at home. When the person with MS is in a facility setting, the Care Manager can provide immediate support and advocacy, including confirming medical history, relaying medical treatment wishes to healthcare providers, as well as providing emotional support to the client and their family.

The Care Manager can also assist the person living with MS to evaluate different options for symptom management, as well as different healthcare providers, so he or she can make informed decisions about care.

As the care needs of a person with Multiple Sclerosis can increase over time, he or she may require additional in-home care, housing resources, or alternative placement options.  The Care Manager helps the client with MS navigate the sometimes overwhelming number of options available and  guides the client through the selection process, taking into account the available resources and support.

In addition to the “practical” supports offered by care management, people with MS benefit from the ongoing emotional support that Care Managers can provide. The unrelenting physiological changes caused by the disease, the hardships related to daily care, and the fear of the unknown can weigh heavily on the mind of the person living with Multiple Sclerosis.  A Care Manager provides support to the client and family and normalize their experience of coping with MS. If the client would benefit from more intensive support, the Care Manager can refer to a community mental health provider as needed for psychological and/or psychiatric services.

Should you or someone you know have a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, or for further information, you can contact Windward Life Care, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Navigators at 1-800-344-4867 or https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Helpful-Links/Contact-Us

Written by

Penelope Pongun, BSW

Aging Life Care Manager

Windward Life Care

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How Can Occupational Therapy Help Me?

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The month of April is known as “Occupational Therapy Month,” designated as an opportunity to shine a light on the benefits that are available from these services. Occupational therapy can be helpful for people of all ages, particularly aging adults.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Age or disabilities can limit a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks. Occupational therapy practitioners enable patients by helping them function despite a disability, illness, or injury. Sometimes these services are used for children with disabilities or people recovering from accidents. Other times, practitioners help older adults who are working through cognitive and physical changes.

Occupational therapy services start with an evaluation to determine the person’s goals. A physician order is required for health insurance to cover the assessment and ongoing OT services. After the assessment, a custom treatment plan is put together to assist the person in reaching those goals. Ongoing therapy is adjusted based on outcome evaluation, with the practitioner making changes as needed. Finally, cooperation with family members, caregivers, and other professionals is necessary to ensure the long-term support to help the person as needed.

Maintain Independence in Retirement

If you are planning to remain in your home in the later years of life, then occupational therapy might be a good solution. The normal aging process can make it challenging to keep up with personal care, housekeeping, and yard work. An occupational therapist can support your goals by designing a plan that increases independence while maintaining safety at home.

There are times when family members might need to encourage support of aging parents. If you can see that your parents are finding it difficult to keep up with tasks in the home, then it is time to start the conversation about options that are available. Occupational therapy services are always customized to the person’s environment, skills, needs, wants, and budget.

Many times, families don’t know where to turn when these life changes are occurring. Instead of navigating the challenges without assistance, consider the support of our team. At Windward Life Care, we are experienced in helping individuals and families find the care and services that are needed. Our team is here to help you find an occupational therapist or other supportive professionals based on your situation. Call to learn more about the ways that we can help.

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