Home for the Holidays Check List for Better Senior Care

Posted on December 9th, 2010 | Comments Off on Home for the Holidays Check List for Better Senior Care

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

Across America, families are gathering together to celebrate the holidays.   It’s a time of great expectations, intimacy, and love.  As family’s come together at this joyous time, it is an opportunity to assess how the seniors in your family are managing. Perhaps you’ve experienced that all seems well on the phone but then when you visit things are not quite the way as seemed.

Taking Stock for Better Senior Care

Coming home is the perfect opportunity to make an assessment of your seniors’ current status.   While there may be some sad surprises, whatever may be true, it’s important to take proactive steps for the future.

Better Senior Care Holiday Check-List

1. Name the Elephant in the Room by approaching the topic of advanced heath planning.   One easy way into this topic is to discuss other family members or friends who are facing a change in their status and asking them to weigh-in about what they would want if they were in their place.

2. Keep records of all medications, medical records and doctors’ information

3. Review or establish a durable power of attorney, current will, and advance directives

4. Keep a record of where all important documents are stored

5. Audit finances and understand investments and financial transactions

6. Make a copy of medical insurance information

7. Assess the physical environment including stored medications and expiration dates, the refrigerator and its contents, and the general order of things.

The holidays provide you with special moments for connection.   Use your time to pave the way for a future that’s more managed by laying the groundwork for better senior care.

May all your holidays be filled with family, love, and joy!

No Easy Answers: Better Senior Care at the End of Life

Posted on November 21st, 2010 | Comments Off on No Easy Answers: Better Senior Care at the End of Life

Dr. Lewis M. Cohen

Linda Fodrini-Johnson, Nat'l Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, Dr. Lewis M. Cohen & Beverly Bernstein Joie, Elder Connections

End of Life Issues

At no other time in history have the issues related to end of life presented us with such challenges.  We are being confronted as human beings with some of the most perplexing issues about how we choose to interface with our mortality and that of the people we love.

Care Management Leads the Way

Last week I attended The Mid Atlantic Chapter Conference of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers in Fairfax VA.  The conference was entitled “Care Management Leads The Way: Navigating Through the Healthcare Continuum”.  Among the presenters was Dr. Lewis M. Cohen, an internationally known psychiatrist from Tufts University School of Medicine.

Real Search at End of Life

In his newly published book, No Good Deed, Dr. Cohen’s account of two nurses reads like a murder mystery.  But, while death does occur in this rendering, the circumstances of death compel us to pay attention to the issues before us.  His powerful story is based upon real people who as professionals were caring for terminally ill patients.  Accused of the death of their charges, Dr. Cohen reveals what happens in these examples and others when end-of-life decisions are played out in hospitals, courtrooms and in the church.  He explores all sides of the controversy while examining a modern health system with the technical ability to prolong life while keeping in mind the real life issues of those who are suffering and dying.

Compassion in Health Care

We were all moved by Dr. Cohen’s tale of end-of –life issues and the human beings who attempt to serve this population with compassion in a health care climate that does not always support them.  The presentation came to life to those present when both Linda Fodrini-Johnson, President of The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and I were selected to portray the nurses in the book.  The book and the issues portrayed came to life as we lived the nurses’ experiences.  For all those caring for others as either professionals or family members, this is a must read!

Nancy’s House the Light for Better Senior Care

Posted on November 11th, 2010 | Comments Off on Nancy’s House the Light for Better Senior Care

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

Nancy's House Fine Art & Craft Show Benefit

Beverly Bernstein Joie, Elder Connections & Elissa Lewin, Nancy's House

Nancy’s House: A Beacon For Better Senior Care

It’s always heartening to get to know an individual working tirelessly in the interest of better senior care.  We celebrate Elissa Lewin, the founder of Nancy’s House.

Bed & Breakfast Comforts for Caregivers

Nancy’s House is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing care to caregivers. Nancy’s House provides a “B and B” experience to caregivers.  They receive a weekend retreat in a beautiful setting — designed to promote comfort, compassion, education, and support to their immediate and long-term needs as  caregivers.

Nancy’s House Vision

Elissa Lewin, the founder of Nancy’s House, identified the needs of caregivers through her experiences as a licensed psychologist and family caregiver.  Out of her wisdom and desire to make a difference, Nancy’s House was born.

The Heart of Senior Care

Elder Connections is delighted to support Nancy’s House by donating our services to their efforts.  This past weekend we were honored to participate in Nancy’s House Fine Art and Craft Show.  It was a wonderful event in which the public had the opportunity to avail themselves of wonderfully creative items while supporting a dynamic organization beginning to make its mark on supporting senior care with heart and creativity.

Honoring Family Caregivers Providing Better Senior Care

Posted on November 9th, 2010 | Comments Off on Honoring Family Caregivers Providing Better Senior Care

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections



National Family Caregivers Month

National Family Caregivers Month

Caregivers — The Heros in Service for Better Senior Care

Elder Connections is in awe of those caring for their elderly parent.  These caregivers are the unsung heroes whose mission and intention is in service for better senior care.  These family members who tend to their aging loved ones often do not realize the toll it takes on their physical, emotional, and financial health, but continue on in their caregiving role.

In my last post, The Shriver Report — Elder Connections announced our dedication to helping caregivers.  Our Planning Kit provides you tools to care for your aging loved one effectively.  It’s the first step towards supporting and instructing caregivers.  Email me — BBJoie@ElderConnections.net or call 888-433-0040 to receive more resources and support.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

In honor of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Family Caregivers Month, Elder Connections wants to recognize those caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, and will contribute $50 in their name to the Alzheimer’s Association. (Limited to the first 10 responses)  Because to us, there is no acknowledgment big enough to celebrate and honor these heroes who serve in the care of seniors.  Their love and devotion exemplify the true spirit of America — don’t you agree?

A Women’s Call To Action: Eradicate Alzheimer’s Disease for Better Senior Care

Posted on October 28th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

TimeMagazine Understanding Alzheimer's Disease


BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie,  MS, CMC
President Elder Connections


Women Caregivers Carry the Burden for Alzheimer’s Disease

The recent Shriver Report published by Maria Shriver is a call to action particularly for women.  According to The Shriver Report, 66% of Alzheimer’s patients and over 60% of Alzheimer’s caregivers are women.  The toll on women is astonishing and particularly for those in the workplace.  Getting to work late, leaving early, and managing their children and family equates to high emotional and physical stress.

Of particular concern is the amount of dollars set aside for the upcoming epidemic that will cost us an estimated 1 trillion dollars if we don’t do something about it NOW!  According to the report, the federal government spends $6 billion for cancer research, $4 billion for cardiovascular disease, and $3 billion for HIV/AIDS research.  The total allocated for finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease is just almost $500 million.

Elder Connections Takes A Stand Against Alzheimer’s Disease

At Elder Connections, we are always overwhelmed by the experiences of our clients and their families as they deal with Alzheimer’s Disease and related Dementias every day.  We accompany them through the process and provide the services and expertise to manage their care.   But, we are helpless in mitigating the loss of someone they love as they slip away from themselves and those who love them.

Elder Connections Contributes Funds to Alzheimer’s Association

We are ready to take a stand to do something about Alzheimer’s and we need you.  Tell us YOUR story about living with Alzheimer’s or other Dementias.  Inform us about your experience and share it with others caring for their own family member. We will contribute $20 (for the first 25 stories) to the Alzheimer’s Association in their name just for sharing your story.  Hopefully, it will help others and raise our consciousness to unite against a future we can change – together.

An Elder Connections Invitation

JOIN US!!  Your stories will be posted on our site with your permission.  
Email your story to:  bbjoie@elderconnections.net

A Shoulder to Lean On for Better Senior Care

Posted on October 21st, 2010 | Comments Off on A Shoulder to Lean On for Better Senior Care

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections


Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder

Osteoarthritis is a major reason that people consider shoulder replacement surgery.  So, when my business partner and geriatric care manager, Dolores T. Magid made the decision to have surgery, it was not without considerable reflection, research, and anxiety. 

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, about 700,000 people receive knee and hip replacement surgery each year.  About 23,000 people have shoulder replacement surgery.  Osteoarthritis is the most common factor in shoulder deterioration.  The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that enables us to move our shoulder in all directions.  The joint surfaces are normally covered by smooth cartilage that allows adequate shoulder rotation.  The surrounding muscles and tendons provide stability and support.  When Osteoarthritis strikes, this system is compromised and the individual is often met with significant pain affecting their ability to live their life.

Dolores’ Story

Having tried less invasive procedures and physical therapy, Dolores never knew when she would experience the ball of her shoulder socket displace from itself even when seated at her desk.  The pain was excruciating and was something she lived with for quite awhile before making her decision.  It’s a sad state of affairs when your husband has to do your hair every day. 

Dolores’ surgery took place on October 7, 2010.  She chose The Rothman Institute which is a recognized leader in joint replacement surgery.  Back at the office, we were all holding our breath.  But, Dolores was in the driver’s seat.  She was certain about the surgeon she chose and she had completely prepared for this event.  She selected one of Elder Connections’ caregivers who stayed with her for the two nights that she was in the hospital. She reported that this made an enormous difference for her just knowing that she was not alone and with a trusted caregiver. Her pain medication kept her comfortable post surgery.  Her exercises began. And, she alerted all but her immediate family that she was off limits until she returned home.  Everything has gone flawlessly so far.

My own initial fear about her surgery has evaporated upon visiting her and seeing my friend and business partner on the healing side of things.  It taught me about the opportunities we all have to take care of our health and to take the steps toward a successful outcome.  Better Senior Care is an attainable goal!

Steps to Selecting The Joint Replacement Option  

  • Understand the cause of your joint pain

Arthritis is a major cause of the problem, but it could be Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Post-traumatic Arthritis.  It could also be Avascular Necrosis or something else. 

  • Obtain a Quality Medical Diagnosis

Seek an evaluation from a qualified Orthopedic Surgeon and get more than one opinion.

  • Explore Your Treatment Options

Consider the least invasive options first.

  • When All Options Are Exhausted, Consider Joint Replacement Surgery

Select a surgeon with the most experience with your specific joint problem and a hospital that performs many of these procedures.

  • Preparing For Joint Replacement Surgery

Begin exercising under a doctor’s supervision

Have a complete physical and clearance from specialists familiar with your history

Have a dental examination

Stop taking specific medications (consult with your doctor about which ones)

Consider lifestyle changes – stop smoking, lose weight

Complete all lab work – x-rays, blood tests, etc.

  • Evaluate Post Surgical Needs for At Home Care

Following surgery, you will require assistance with your activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing.  Make sure a family member stays with you or hire a company that can provide this home care.

  • Arrange Physical Therapy and Post Operative Exercise

The key to successful surgery is the rehab following the surgery.

Better Senior Care Means Staying Out of the Hospital

Posted on October 14th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

Beverly Bernstein Joie

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

Elderly and hospital care

Medical Revolving Doors

It is often said that hospitals can be dangerous to our health!  Actually, according to The Institute of Medicine report, between 44,000 and 98,000 hospitalized Americans die each year as a result of preventable medical errors. Certainly, there are circumstances that demand hospitalization and a hospital visit can be a life saving and necessary event.  But, the problem of remaining at home after discharge has become a hot issue.  Many elderly people with chronic conditions find the move from home to hospital to rehab reminiscent of a revolving door.  Actually, avoidable hospital readmissions affect one in five patients and account for $17.4 billion of the current $102.6 billion Medicare budget.

Recently, Elder Connections was invited to provide an inservice training at the Montgomery Rehab Center to discuss this alarming statistic and share solutions with the staff.  On November 3, 2010, we will be presenting: Tips For Stopping The Revolving Door of Hospital (and Rehab) Readmittance.  Hospitals and Rehab centers are paying increasing attention to this phenomenon due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act .  Starting in 2013, hospitals with “excess” readmissions will incur financial penalties based upon their rates of readmittance.  It’s no wonder that this problem is high on their list of concerns.

What can we do to keep ourselves and loved ones from being readmitted?

Tips To Avoid Rehospitalizations:

Maintain a Personal Health record.  This record is something all of us should maintain and take with us to all doctor’s appointments but especially relevant for hospital discharge purposes.  It should contain your personal information, primary physician information and directions about contacting caregivers and family members.  You should also place into this folder, all your recent hospitalization information, the reason for this hospitalization, copies of tests, medical records, and doctor’s notes.  Most importantly, record the “red flags” and those potential difficulties that will demand immediate doctor contact.  Also, record your concerns and questions in a clear concise way to have on hand when you meet with your doctor following the hospitalization

Discharge Preparation Checklist.  Speak to the doctors, nurses, and social workers about what is going to happen next and be clear about their expectations.  Find out who to call for problems with your transfer, and understand your medications.  Make sure your questions are answered before you leave, your family and/or caregivers are in place and understand your needs, and that a follow-up appointment is scheduled along with the transportation to that appointment.

Medication One of the most important factors to staying away from readmissions is how well you know and understand your new medication regimen.  Invariable medications change during a hospitalization.  Make sure you write them down and take this list with you to every appointment.  Update this list as it changes.  Share all questions and concerns about medications with your doctor. 

 Successful Hospital and Rehabilitation Discharges

 The new health care changes on the horizon has created a call to action.  Some hospitals such as The University of Pennsylvania have utilized a new breed of Physician-Administrator, called a Hospitalist, one of the fastest growing medical specialties.  This specialist is now following the care of patients through their hospitalization to discharge to address this need.  For those being discharged, the family’s participation is critical.  Luckily for families who do not live close by,  the services of a Geriatric Care Manager can be obtained to implement a success discharge plan and follow-through.

Better Senior Care Resources Help Caregivers

Posted on October 11th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

adult child caring for elderly parent

Caregiving and Your Wellness

I had the opportunity to participate in a presentation by The Mature Market Institute, a division of Met Life at the East Coast Society of Aging Conference. What I learned was perplexing and precipitated much thought about the care of an aging relative.

Caregiver Stress
While family care giving can be a very satisfying job, those who become primary caregivers for their aging parent must understand that doing so will impact many aspects of their lives — including work, home and family.  This data was developed from the responses of more than 8,000 family caregivers.  The results demonstrate the impact stress can have on family caregivers and they illustrate why it’s important to tap into resources that can provide help or support for better senior care.


Caregiver Survey Results

  •  82% Say the amount of care their aging parent or relative requires is very demanding
  •  76% Agree that their loved one’s needs are overwhelming
  • 56% Seem to be getting ill more frequently
  • 73% Have disturbed sleep patterns
  • 72% Believe their family and friends think they are getting too stressed out
  • 63% Say caregiving is taking a toll on their family life
  • 53% Say caregiving is taking a toll on their job
  • 76% Resent (at least occasionally) having to care for this relative

Caregiver Resources

Whether balancing the requirements of a child or a senior, caring pulls us away from the other tasks in life and creates anxiety and tension.  How we manage our families, our jobs, and maintain our health can often determine how we can optimally keep all the balls up in the air.   Your solution is only a click away with the Better Senior Care Resource Guide. Resources, tips, and solutions to help you achieve better senior care.


Better Senior Care On Her Own Terms

Posted on September 30th, 2010 | Comments Off on Better Senior Care On Her Own Terms

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

Aging Mother defines Better Senior Care with a High Tea Life Celebration

Recurrent Cancer is defined as cancer that has recurred usually after a period of time during which the cancer remained undetected.  It may come back to the same place as the original tumor or elsewhere in the body. 

Such was the case with Sarah Glavin.  At age 51, she was diagnosed with renal cancer and then at 71 it had reoccurred with a vengeance.  The matriarch of a family of seven children and a multitude of grandchildren, she confronted her reality boldly.  She gave audience to all her progeny conveying lessons to live their lives by.  Cajoling her children and grandchildren to continue living their lives and carry on she remains a formidable voice in a family that adores her.  But, one of her most inspiring  creations was the High Tea that she orchestrated for her family.  Having immigrated from Ireland, the Tea idea was intrinsically “her”. 

The linens were ironed, the china was cleaned, and the food was prepared for a grand event.  Surrounded by her family and devoted Elder Connections caregiver, Margaret, the tea was a monumental celebration that the family will remember for a lifetime.  And did I mention that one of her daughters, Ellen Glavin, is The Director of Nursing Services for Elder Connections.  Although she is balancing the needs of her clients and her mom’s care, Ellen’s reports about her mother’s journey have had an impact upon how we all manage our lives each day.

Facing Advanced Cancer

Incurable does not mean untreatable.  Elizabeth Edwards is an example of an individual with such a diagnosis who continues living her life.  She does not define herself by her diagnosis and still realistically acknowledges her situation.  While this type of cancer can not be eradicated it does not mean that it can not be treated.  Each person needs to decide what path to take based upon how they define those things that matter in their own life.

4 Tips for Talking to Your Doctor and Health Care Team

  • Remember that you are a consumer.

Educate yourself!  Also, you are in the driver’s seat and your physician works for you.

  • Attend doctor’s appointment with someone you trust

Individuals engaged with challenging situations can not always depend upon themselves to hear the information communicated accurately.  A trusted family member or friend can be another set of ears and help to ask relevant questions.

  • Prepare a list of questions and concerns before the appointment

Write down your concerns in a concise clear manner.   Ask your most pressing question first.

  • Write down your doctor’s answers

Taking notes gives you the opportunity to review and return to the responses after the appointment.  It will also help if you wish to research this information.

Define Your Own Terms for Better Senior Care

If you are the caregiver for your aging parent — learn to celebrate life’s moments and create your own terms of better senior care.  Need more help, then download your free Planning Kit.

Caregivers and The Workplace Affecting Better Senior Care

Posted on September 22nd, 2010 | Comments Off on Caregivers and The Workplace Affecting Better Senior Care

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

ElderCare Support is Critical

A recent study conducted at The University of Pittsburgh found that caregivers generate an increase of 8% in excess medical costs as compared to those who are not caring for their elderly parents.  The results of this study suggest that caregiving an older relative is an important factor in the health, medical care expense, and productivity of employees across all age groups.

While caregivers have increased health issues reporting depression, diabetes, hypertension and pulmonary disease regardless of their age, they are not likely to identify themselves as caregivers in the workplace.  One survey reported that of those companies providing eldercare support, only 2% of employees utilized these services!  What gives?

Reduce Fears, Perceptions and Costs

We know that caregiving is dangerous to our health and costs employers an estimated $17.1 – $33.6 billion annually attributable to caregiving.  But, what we also know is that difficult economic times generate anxious employees, fearful of the perception that there is anything in the way of their company loyalty and focus of attention.  Can caregiving be a dirty little secret?

Create Caregiver and Workplace Partnership

Meeting at the East Coast Conference on Aging from the American Society of Aging Conference in Philadelphia, Dolores T Magid and Beverly Bernstein Joie met with other professionals in aging to dialogue about this dilemma.  How can we help caregivers in the workplace?

What do you think?  If you could get help at work, would you sign on?  How can better senior care become accessible the workplace without giving employees one more thing to worry about?

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