SENIOR LIVING: Supporting Our Seniors
Writer / Cindy Argentine
One of the most significant transitions in life comes long after high school graduation or the start of a new career. It is the transition into senior adulthood. This may involve retiring from work, finding a new role in the community and moving to a smaller home. Several individuals in the Indianapolis area are finding personal and professional fulfillment by addressing the needs of this vital part of our population.
Selecting a New Home
Lona Newton found her niche when she started a business called Senior Living Advisor in 2015. As sales director for a senior living facility, Newton had encountered many clients who could benefit from a compassionate, informed advocate. She left her corporate position to personally guide these clients through the process of finding a new place to live. Whether they seek an independent living, assisted living or memory care, Newton helps clients narrow the list of possibilities based on budget, medical needs, location and personal desires. She goes with clients to visit facilities, and once a decision is made, she helps with the lease and admissions paperwork. When it’s time to move in, she is there.
Newton knows that transitioning to senior care is a sensitive process but believes it can also be freeing. With fewer household responsibilities, many seniors have more time for volunteering, mentoring and travel. Additional resources are available on her website at seniorlivingadvisorindy.com
Book Clubs and Library Services
Kay Martin, a librarian for 40 years, missed her work after she retired. To continue sharing her love of literature, she decided to organize a book club through Boone County Senior Services, Inc. (BCSSI). At the call-out meeting last April, 15 seniors shared book and movie recommendations and chose a time and place to continue meeting. Martin gave each attendee a copy of the first book as well as a blank journal for taking notes.
“I record some of the most beautiful thoughts and quotes in my journal,” she says. “Plus, it’s a real feeling of accomplishment to look back through the journals and see all that you’ve read!” She closed by saying that bibliophiles are doing themselves a big favor. Research reported by NextAvenue shows that people who read books for 30 minutes a day lived an average of almost two years longer than those who didn’t.
Other book clubs are available through local libraries. The Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville offers a book club called SOAR for adults 55 and older. It’s an open discussion of books from a variety of genres held every third Monday at 2:30 p.m. The next gathering will be July 17. No registration is required, so booklovers can just drop in.
There are also programs for those who can’t get to the library. Kate Schell, Zionsville’s Senior Outreach Coordinator (317-873-3149, ext. 12400), says “Books to Go” delivers books to people who are unable to get out because of limited mobility or extended illness. “Library to You” brings assorted print and audio books to assisted living centers. Schell and a couple volunteers keep track of what clients like and then deliver hand-selected materials through a friendly visit each month. Schell says it’s a wonderful job. “I’m the one privileged to serve them,” she says. “Even though the program is small in scale, it makes a huge impact on these people’s lives.”
The Carmel Clay Public Library has similar programs. Communications Director Beth Jenneman says a team of volunteers delivers to homebound individuals, and the mobile library makes regular stops at assisted living communities. Contact the Readers’ Advisory Librarian at 317- 814-3987 for more information.
When people lose their ability to drive, finding transportation can be a critical component of maintaining independence. BATS (Boone Area Transit System) offers transportation for local residents 60 years of age or older Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Riders should call ahead to request a ride. The suggested donation is $5 a day for unlimited stops inside city limits. For $15-$20, BATS provides round trip service to surrounding areas outside of Boone County.
Routes and times vary depending on requests. Demand is increasing, so BATS suggests calling two weeks in advance to schedule transportation to appointments. To learn more or request a ride, call 765-482-5220 or 317-873-8939.
Social Activities and Entertainment
Staying engaged socially is important, and many churches and agencies help seniors meet this need. Zionsville Presbyterian Church hosts a club called Second Half Adventurers that involves a guest speaker and luncheon each month. Boone County Senior Services, Inc. (BCSSI) offers “Theater Thursdays” – special showings of movies at 9:30 a.m. at the Lebanon 7 Cinema. On July 20, they are showing “Daddy’s Home.”
Every Thursday, BCSSI offers art classes at their main building in Lebanon, and on Tuesdays, the art instructor comes to BCSSI’s satellite location at Zionsville Town Hall. BCSSI also hosts craft classes, coffee hours, bridge, euchre and travel programs. On July 26, they are planning a Spirit of Chicago Boat Cruise.
More Services from BCSSI
Social programming is only a small part of what BCSSI offers. Twice a month, BCSSI hosts a Lunch & Learn seminar. There are legal assistance clinics, counseling sessions on nutrition and Social Security and “Tech Time Tuesdays” where participants get free assistance with electronics. In addition, BCSSI offers support groups for bereavement and for caregivers; in- home personal care such as bathing and hygiene; homemaking services such as light housekeeping; and respite care to relieve caregivers a few hours a week.
Director of Outreach Jessica Evans says the agency seeks to appeal to active older adults as well as those who are less mobile or shut-in. “When we say ‘senior,’ that’s a huge category,” says Evans, noting that many clients certainly don’t think of themselves as old. “We hope to build relationships with seniors before they ever need to use many of our services.” For more information, call 765-482-5220 or 317-873-8939.
Two years ago, Sharon Gall of Zionsville founded a company called My Billing Advocate (317- 344-0401). She initially focused on helping patients understand, reconcile and pay the correct amount for medical bills. “They say that up to 80 percent of medical bills have errors, and I can verify that based on our experience,” says Gall.
As Gall helped clients save money on medical bills, she found that many needed assistance managing other bills as well. To address that need, the company began offering daily money management services – everything from sorting mail and planning a budget to paying bills online and negotiating with creditors.
There are many reasons a person may need this assistance. Maybe they travel and don’t have time for paperwork. Maybe they lost a family member who managed the bills, or perhaps they have a condition that limits their abilities. Lisa Kellum, one of Gall’s associates, says she will sit down with a client, gather all important documents in one place and begin organizing the information. Kellum says a 95-year-old client felt a huge burden lifted once they began to meet. Another client said she was “finally able to sleep” once she had a budgeting plan in place.
Elder Care Attorneys
A growing area in the legal field is comprehensive care for elders. As Lisa Dillman of Dillman Law Group has written, “Elder Law considers key issues facing seniors: housing, financial well- being, health and long-term care and autonomy/quality of life.” In an article on her website, dillmanlawgroup.com, she explains that an elder law attorney “quarterbacks the seniors’ team of resources to address the seniors’ situation in a coordinated fashion. She makes sure the CPA is talking to the financial planner, and the caregiver is talking to the doctor and social worker.”
Anna Lakin, Marketing Director with Dillman Law Group, says an elder law attorney is “a hub of information.” The attorney can assist with Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, nursing care, wills and planning regarding assets like a family farm.
Many times, an adult child will contact the firm at the onset of a crisis, such as when a parent falls or receives a difficult diagnosis. Elder law attorneys can help at any stage of the process, but it’s always better to plan ahead. Lakin recommends that adult children, especially those 50 or older, begin a conversation with an elder care attorney before they really need one. “If you can preplan, then you may never be in crisis,” she says. Dillman has offices in Carmel and Indianapolis.
Staying in Touch with Technology
Older citizens have a deep desire to stay connected, but ever-changing ways to communicate can frustrate and isolate them. To bridge this divide, three Indianapolis men started a company in 2011 called LifeShare Technologies (lifesharetech.com). The founders (Steve Rusche, John Moore and Doug Stevens) had experience in software development and entrepreneurship. When their own loved ones were transitioning into senior communities, the men used their expertise to create an easy way to keep in touch.
They developed a product that works with something most seniors are already comfortable with – a television. Colton Priser, Account Executive with LifeShare, says their original product is a set box that attaches to a TV and allows seniors to read email and text messages right on their TV screens. The system has an easy-to-read menu bar and a simplified universal remote. From the home screen, users can select options like Watch TV, Messages, Pictures, Games or Music. As a bonus, any photos received via text or email are automatically saved to the Pictures collection, which can run as an ongoing slide show.
For the music feature, LifeShare partnered with CoroHealth to create therapeutic playlists. These are a primary attraction for memory care facilities. “Studies show that pictures and music spark memory,” Priser says. “A person with Alzheimer’s may have no problem remembering old things but have an issue with remembering new things. When we start showing pictures of when she was younger, like one of her husband on their wedding day, she may remember that and be comforted by it. When we pair the person’s photos with therapeutic music, such as songs they remember from the same time, it really, really changes the experience for those seniors.”
After developing the personal, in-room system described above, LifeShare created a Community Share system that displays information on all of a community’s TVs. Authorized staff members upload menus, activities, photos, and announcements, so everyone in a community can see them. A mobile app pairs with Community Share, so family members can see what’s being displayed in the senior community. “It helps family members see what their loved ones may be participating in and use that as a talking point to stay connected,” Priser explains.
Anita Bowen, Executive Director of BCSSI, encourages seniors to add variety to their lives by trying new and different things. But Bowen recognizes that routine can also be good. In BCSSI’s “Senior Sounds” newsletter, she shared this advice: “If you like the routine that you have, which encourages you to live life to the fullest each day, keep doing what you’re doing. If you have a plethora of friendships that bring out the best in you, fertilize them and keep them growing.”
The hope of the professionals cited in this article is that their businesses and volunteer programs will enable seniors to do just that.
A Simple Way to Help: Update Phone Contacts
Imagine you’re driving home alone from a meeting. You miss a turn and end up in an unfamiliar area. It’s getting dark, so you pull over to make a call. After several rings, you get a message saying the call cannot go through as dialed. Only when a police officer drives by and offers assistance are you able to make your way home.
Unfortunately, this scenario has actually happened to seniors in central Indiana over the last few months. What was the problem? The “317” area code had not been added to the contact numbers in the driver’s cell phone. Since October 2016, 10-digit numbers have been required for local calls in the 317 area code. If you think this could be a problem for someone in your life, take the time to sit down with that person, young or old, and help them update all the contacts on their phone to include the area code.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT VARICOSE VEIN DISEASE
Do you have leg heaviness, aching, swollen ankles, leg throbbing, itching or muscle cramping? Have you stopped walking, golfing or engaging in other activities because your legs hurt at the end of the day? If so, you may have chronic vein disease related to varicose veins.
Vein disorders are not always visible to the naked eye, especially if there is significant leg swelling. More than half of all women and 45 percent of men will suffer from varicose vein disease in their lifetime. But you don’t need to suffer.
The treatments to address varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency have improved dramatically in recent years. No longer do most patients need to endure painful surgical vein stripping and a visit to the operating room. These corrective treatments offer minimal downtime and no sedation, so patients are able to return to their daily activities immediately.
Some of the state-of-the-art treatments are:
• Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) eliminates the abnormal saphenous vein, which is the source of most varicose vein issues. Using ultrasound technology, a thin laser fiber is guided into the vein through a small opening to deliver energy to the diseased vein wall, causing the vein to close and eliminating backward blood flow.
• VenaSeal is an alternative treatment that is also intended for patients with superficial varicose veins of the legs that cause symptoms. With local anesthesia, an ultrasound-guided catheter is inserted through the skin into the diseased vein to allow injection of an adhesive that will permanently seal the abnormal saphenous vein.
• Sclerotherapy is an additional treatment in which a small needle is used to inject veins with a medication that irritates the inner lining of the vein and causes it to close. There are two types of sclerotherapy that can be used: ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy and surface sclerotherapy. For larger size, “ropey” varicose veins post-EVLT or VenaSeal treatment, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is often utilized. To address superficial, smaller size veins and even spider veins, surface sclerotherapy is another option. Surface Sclerotherapy can also be performed with a special light and magnifier that makes it easier to see the related branches. For some patients, a surface vascular laser may also help with the appearance and treatment of spider veins.
There is no way to completely prevent varicose veins, but improving your circulation and muscle tone through regular exercise can reduce your risk. Walking, biking, working out and even dancing are good for your leg health. For healthier veins, watch your weight, eat a diet high in fiber and low in salt and wear medical grade compression stockings.
Witham Health Services and Suburban Home Health: Options and expertise for your road to recovery.
In the journey of life, there’s no telling when an injury or illness will put up a roadblock. Luckily, there are new services designed to power you through your recovery while at the same time ensuring you maintain your independence.
Extended Care that helps you swing back into your life. No one wants to spend more time in the hospital. But what if your stay is over and you don’t feel strong enough to be on your own? The last thing you want to be is a burden on your family while you’re healing.
Today, you can turn to services like Witham Health Services’ Extended Care Unit. It’s in-hospital care that’s uniquely designed to help you make a smoother transition from hospital to home.
Witham Extended Care supports you with skilled nursing that provides you the expertise, experience, and the latest therapies to advance your healing. This is especially important to orthopaedic and another post- surgical patients who need more individualized attention to reach their full recovery potential. In addition, comprehensive rehabilitation therapy is easily accessible to increase your strength, endurance, and mobility. At Witham, everything is dedicated to helping you regain your strength and maximize your independence when recovering from a major surgery, traumatic injury or stroke.
The Witham Extended Care Unit is open to any adult who feels they could benefit from a smoother transition out of the hospital to returning home.
To learn about Witham Extended Care, please call 765.485.8300. Or ask your physician if extended care is the right option to help you better bridge the path home.
Powering your health and independence at home
There’s no place like home. And fact is, home is often the best place to recuperate from an illness, injury or medical procedure. But if you require medical and therapy services, even a helping hand, you can now take comfort that you can get everything you need to empower your recovery in the comfort of you own home.
Home healthcare is here for you.
Home Health Care is where medical care and treatments are delivered right in the privacy of your own home and surroundings.
Home health care providers such as Suburban Home Health, sponsored by Witham Health Services, are highly experienced in caring for health- related needs with minimal disruption to your home life. Whether you’re a patient or a caregiver, the Suburban Home Health Care team will work with your physician, your family and you in finding the right services, equipment, and medical supplies to help you chart a path to greater independence.
Suburban Home Health provides comprehensive physician-directed health services that are tailored to you and your schedule, all available 24/7. Our high quality, professional team of registered nurses, aides, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, even social workers, provide a wide range of services to meet your individualized needs. From skilled nursing to intravenous therapy, physical, speech and occupational therapy to home health aides, Suburban Home Health gives you the freedom to recover at home.
With Suburban Home Health, you can feel safe and secure. Their staff is made up of experienced healthcare professionals dedicated to making a difference in the lives of their patients.
Choosing a reputable, private agency like Suburban Home Health can save you the headache of coordinating care services on your own.
Suburban Home Health is Medicare and Medicaid approved and their team can help explain and navigate you through your insurance and financial options. To speak to a home care representative, call 800.464.6716. Or visit suburbanhomehealth.org to learn more.