The Voice of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Caregiver Speaks

Posted on April 28th, 2011 | Comments Off on The Voice of Alzheimer’s Disease: A Caregiver Speaks

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

Elder Connections is determined to support our commitment to eradicate Alzheimer’s Disease.  We want to share your story — The Voices of Alzheimer’s.  Our pledge is a donation in your   or your loved one’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Laurelle’s Personal Story

My husband is 90 years old and living in an Alzheimer’s Unit of a Nursing Home.  My life has been in a state of shock — never did I imagine the horror of this world of Alzheimer’s.

Once a darling Scottish man, a servant leader for our church and in the Royal Air Force, who enjoyed gardening is now lost in his memory and dependent upon the care of a nursing home.

The journey began in 2008, when I noticed his symptoms of dementia and challenges associated with daily living.  The emotional pain of watching my husband slip away continues to cause my heartache.  I wish for more information — from medical advice, caregiver support and directives in planning for what lies ahead.  And yet, this experience teaches me extreme compassion with a desire to help others facing similar problems.  If we all give with our hearts and contribute to the Alzheimer’s Association in search for a cure.  Imagine the difference in the lives of many Alzheimer patients and their families.

Our hearts go out to Laurelle and her husband.

Caring for an Aging Parent or Spouse suffering with Alzheimer’s disease?

Elder Connections is ready to help!  Download your Better Senior Care Planning Kit and let’s talk!

The Legacy of Better Senior Care

Posted on April 19th, 2011 | Comments Off on The Legacy of Better Senior Care

Remembering Ella

Woman’s Legacy Impacts Elder Connections

William Howard Taft was president.  The Titanic had not yet sunk.  It would still be eight more years until women were allowed to vote, and in 1911 Ella Reiter was born in New Jersey.

It seems that only yesterday, Elder Connections was celebrating the 100th birthday of Ella Reiter. Now, sadly, we remember her life and the wisdom that she imparted.

Being around Ella was always an encouraging and uplifting experience.  Throughout her life she volunteered in the name of basic human goodness.  She treated people with true kindness and respect.

Senior’s Zest for Life

Ella’s amazing zest for life was evident in her many interests including music, literature, writing poetry and making friends.  During meal times at her retirement communty you could find Ella in the dining room sitting with her friends – and she had many.

She was a rare combination of competence and compassion.  Her pride and joy were her two children — a son and a daughter.

Ella stayed active, ate well and always looked forward to the future.  When interviewed on her 100th birthday, Ella said, “Turning 100 only means thankfulness to me, that my brain still works the way it should,” and it did.

Ella Reiter made the world a better place and will remain a role model for aging gracefully.

Lois Young-Tulin, PhD
Assistant Geriartic Care Manager, Elder Connections

Better Senior Care Tip for Order in the House

Posted on April 13th, 2011 | Comments Off on Better Senior Care Tip for Order in the House

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

Order In the House

Before Here to Home

There are many things that we do to support Peter in his life in the community.  Some are the tangibles of health care, good nutrition, and psychological support.  Yet in the years, it has occurred to both me and his sister, Abby that Peter’s home environment begged to be improved.

For most people, this task seems to be simple.  For an individual with Asperger’s Disorder, it is another matter.  Peter’s enviornment is his sacred space and tampering with it in anyway could spell disaster.  But, on the other hand, Peter deserves a clean, functional home that is safe and satisfying.  What were we to do?

Senior Move Management

The National Association of Senior Move Managers is a professional organization of those who provide assistance to the 55+ market.  These businesses help with downsizing, relocating or modifying homes.  This organization promotes the education and a standard of practice for those working within the senior community as Senior Move Managers.

Here to Home

When we called Jennie Zehmer, of Here to Home, she appeared on the scene to assess the situation.  We knew immediately that we had found the perfect person for the job.  With her skill, insight, and compassion, Jennie created a proposal that reflected her profound understanding of Peter and what would work for him.  Peter was consulted on every step of his home project — it was a true Extreme Home Makeover.

After Here to Home

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Now Peter’s home reflects his unique personality with order and precision.  Caring for our loved ones is not always easy, but creating order in the home enviornment is one step closer to better senior care.  Do you know someone who would benefit from a home enviornmental miracle?

Better Senior Care Takes A Village

Posted on April 6th, 2011 | Comments Off on Better Senior Care Takes A Village

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

An Introduction to Peter

Part I

While Elder Connections focuses on issues related to aging, a part of our practice involves younger people who arechallenged by chronic conditions.  It was about six years ago, that we met Peter.

Living with Asperger’s Disorder

Peter is a man diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder.  When Peter was born 63 years ago, this diagnosis was not yet defined.  Asperger’s Disorder is a type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that involves delays in development, particularly social development. These individuals have normal intelligence and usually normal language skills.  But, it is in the area of relating to others, that this disorder expresses itself.  The symptoms include: problems with social skills, eccentric or repetitive behaviors, rituals, communication difficulties, a limited range of interests, and coordination problems.  Many children with this disorder exhibit exceptional talent and skill in a particular area.

A Team of Caregivers

Childhood was challenging for Peter.  He was often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.  So, when his sister, Abby contacted Elder Connections, she was anxious to seek some kind of help to make Peter’s life turn around.  She knew that she could not go it alone. And, that’s when we created a team around Peter.  Peter’s team consists of me, a nurse, a nutritionist, a chef, excellent health care practitioners and an amazing sister.  There are also specialists who are called upon at various times for a specific purpose (more on that later).  Our goal is to support Peter in living the life he deserves in the community.

As his “quarterback”, I have brought the people to him to provide the support and expertise he requires.  It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.  I have watched all the contributors help Peter emerge as an individual with a life worth living.  I am proud to be on Peter’s team!

Who is on your team for better senior care or for a special needs individual?  Call us for a free consultation.  We can help!

A Geriatric Care Manager’s Quest for Better Senior Care

Posted on March 10th, 2011 | Comments Off on A Geriatric Care Manager’s Quest for Better Senior Care

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS CMC
Elder Connections

Prescription Plan Spells Predicament

It happens every year.  My husband’s company starts the year with either a new health insurance plan or a new prescription plan.  This year, it was a new prescription plan.

One of the many things I do as a Professional Geriatric Care Manager includes advocating for our clients’ needs by accessing their insurance when there is a problem.  But, this time, it got very personal.  This time, it was about me!

I am still stunned by my experience and thought it was best to share how events unfolded when I tried to obtain my medication.  It is a lesson to all of us and one most of us already know to well.  Here is what happened:

January 17th — I sent my new drug information form to my primary care physician to keep in my file for the future

February 10th — I called my primary physician’s office to order 5 prescriptions (I have high blood pressure, Asthma, and Osteopenia)

February 12th – I left for a vacation out of the country

February 21st — Upon returning home from vacation, received a message from the doctor’s office.   They were unable to identify my insurance provider and yet previously I provided them with the information.   My prescriptions were ordered through Express Scripts the following day.

February 28th — Contacted the insurance company because I still had not received my medication.  Apparently the Asthma medication was not on the approved list.  But, this denial was overturned and expected to receive the medication in 5 – 10 business days.

March 4th – Still no medications.   Called the insurance company  again.  Now the medication for Osteroporosis was not approved and needed to be appealed by the doctor.  I requested passionately that I needed my other medication.  They promised to send it in 3 – 5 business days

March 7th — Another call to the doctor’s office requesting the appeal for the declined medication.  They said that they would handle this appeal immediately.  I still did not receive all other medication. Called the insurance company to ask “why?”    They apologized and stated all would be shipped in 3 – 5 business days, but because of the delay they would send it overnight at their expense.  Total time equals another week.  They also said that I was approved for my Osteoporosis medication.  Also, they would approve 3 of the medications to be picked up at my local pharmacy rather than by mail for my convenience.

March 8th – Called the pharmacy to pick up the medications.  Now only one of them was not approved.  I called the insurance company to find out what happened.  They apologized and said that they would fix this problem.  I called the pharmacy back and was told that it was approved.

Here’s What I Learned

Based upon my personal experience, I have thought the insurance and health care system challenges our seniors face.  How many of them could sustain this quest for better senior care?

Each company has their own formulary or list of “approved” medications to save money for the company and possibly the consumer.  When someone’s insurance is changed, the medication that has been sustaining them is up for grabs.  In my case, neither my doctor nor I was informed until I reacted to the fact that nothing came in the mail.  My doctor did not know to appeal because no one told her that an appeal was necessary.

Tips For Facing Prescription Providers and Living To Tell About It

When helping a senior or yourself, here is what I have learned:

  • Understand your company’s formulary
  • Anticipate problems when a drug you are using is not on the list
  • Develop a deep and lasting relationship with those who work in your primary care physician’s office.  Be on the best of terms.  You will need their support.
  • Be proactive and never take anything for granted
  • Be a “gnat”.  Never let go of the goal at hand
  • Use any leverage that you may have to achieve your goal.  For example, I will discuss my situation with my husband’s Human Resource Department.  Also, writing this blog is helpful in working through my experience.
  • Ask for a supervisor when the person you are speaking with is not helping
  • Understand this:  You can not change the system, but you can learn to work within it.

Our seniors face many challenges. Compliance with medication management is a key component in sustaining people in their homes.  When they have challenges in receiving the medications necessary to manage chronic and potentially dangerous conditions, we must advocate on their behalf.  Elder Connections fights this “good fight” every day.  Would you like our help?

Adult Day Services Partners for Better Senior Care

Posted on February 12th, 2011 | Comments Off on Adult Day Services Partners for Better Senior Care

Artist Studio, Adult Day Care

Adult Day Care Helps Seniors Stay Active

As we age, our need for daily activity does not decrease.  In fact, it becomes more important. Adult Day Services recognize this need and have created a center where older adults living at home can come and enjoy social and therapeutic activities.

A Special Place for Aging Seniors

Adult Day Services is the destination of choice for adults seeking a caring, stimulating and safe environment to spend their day. Like anyone else, seniors need and deserve an environment that supports their capacity for self-care and encourages positive feelings of dignity, love and self-worth. Caregivers also benefit by having time to work, run the family household or even just relax while their loved one is attending an Adult Day Center.

A Senior’s Personal Story

Sometimes, seniors may be turned off about attending an Adult Day Care Center, and my client, Sally, was no exception. In the beginning, she was reluctant to try something new. The first two weeks she complained that it was “boring.”

Imagine my delight several weeks later when I picked up Sally at the Center, and she was beaming with pride and excitement. She felt like a social butterfly, saying goodbye to her new friends by name and proud of the paint under her fingernails, proof of her art work — a valentine.

Experiences Love and a Social Community

Sally now looks forward to participating in various activities, and socializing with her new friends at the Center. She comes home from a day at the Center energized, satisfied from a hot, nutritious lunch, and chatting about all the fun activities she enjoyed.  “I can’t wait until Thursday when I can go back to the Center,” Sally said the last time I drove her home.  That’s another step for better senior care!

Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager with Elder Connections.  She also has a PhD in literature, previously taught at Montgomery County Community College, written four published books and is currently working on a new novel.

Elder Connections Senior Celebrates Centennial Birthday

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 | Comments Off on Elder Connections Senior Celebrates Centennial Birthday

Elder Connections Senior Celebrates 100

Ella Celebrates 100 years

Each birthday is a milestone, and some deserve special attention.   For Ella Reiter, 100 is only a number.  Ella was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey on February 2, 1911, where she raised her two children, David and Judy, until moving to The Watermark, a senior retirement living community, in Philadelphia fourteen years ago.

Active Lifestyle Extends Senior Years

At 100, Ella is still active, friendly, and full of energy.  At one time she was in charge of welcoming new residents to the Watermark community.  She is a member of the poetry club and had a poem published in the “Spotlight.”  She is an avid reader, as evidenced by the pile of books next to her bed.

“I never just sat around.  That’s why I’m still strong.  I’ve had a great time my whole life and was an athlete.  I was even on a gymnastics team,” Ellas said.  Her active life in Atlantic City included starting a library in her synagoue, serving as the president of the PTA, Secretary and Treasurer of New Jersey Sisterhoods, and recipient of the Woman of Valor Award.  In addition, Ella ran and worked in her husband’s dental office until she retired at age 75.  To mark her 100th birthday, members of her Atlantic City synagogue, where she is still a member, donated money in her honor.

Aging Refines Better Senior Care

A centennial birthday is a momentous event, one that should be recognized by family and friends, and Ella is blessed with many loving family members and her “new” friends at the Watermark.  Ella celebrated her birthday with close family memmbers — about 16 people.  A favorite with her many nieces and nephews, she is their role model for aging gracefully.

Someone on a road trip looking for the Fountain of Youth may want to stop and ask Ella for directions.  Ella’s zest for life is amazing.  Happy Birthday, Ella!

Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager with Elder Connections.  She also has a PhD in literature, previously taught at Montgomery County Community College, written four published books and is currently working on a new novel.   Lois enjoyed her visit with Ella on her 100th birthday.

IRS Deductions for Better Senior Care

Posted on January 24th, 2011 | Comments Off on IRS Deductions for Better Senior Care


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

 IRS Deductions for Better Senior Care

Tax Help for Your Aging Parents

It’s that time of year to start your tax planning.   Be certain to file for the allowable deductions for the personal care of a senior.  There are numerous deductions to explore that can provide you with significant tax benefit.

5 Categories of Deductible Senior Care Services

  1. Qualified Long-Term Care Insurance – premiums are deductible based upon the age of the insured. 
  2. Qualified Long-Term Care Services that are necessary, diagnostic, preventive, and  involve maintenance and personal care services. 
  3. Maintenance and Personal Care Services.  These are considered those which provide for care of a chronically ill individual with needed assistance.
  4. Medical services from licensed health care providers and medications that are prescribed.
  5. Nursing Homes

Tax Resources to Help Seniors

Elder Connections advises you to consult with your tax preparer and investigate the IRS publications addressing this issue.  The rules need to be understood thoroughly before you proceed because there are many factors affecting the eligibility for deductions.   The IRS code is 7702B.

As we know, the cost of care for seniors is a challenge for most families.  Let’s protect our resources armed with the knowledge of a thorough planning strategy Better senior care relies upon a team of specialists who can provide you with this knowledge. 

When the time comes to help your aging parents with their care, seek the expertise of  Geriatric Care Managers your partners in providing quality better senior care.

New Year’s Resolutions for Better Senior Care

Posted on January 12th, 2011 | Comments Off on New Year’s Resolutions for Better Senior Care

Beverly Bernstein Joie, Certified Care Manager

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

New Year's Resolution

After the holidays I confronted my resistance to that dreaded activity – I got on the scale.  It wasn’t pretty!  But, there comes a time when it is necessary to stare boldly at the reality at hand.  It is one thing to assume something, and it is another thing to face it.

New Year’s Resolutions are something that many of us make.  It may be the diet thing or a commitment to make this year a fresh start and to explore those things which are difficult to face.  It is a new beginning.  And, as caregivers, we can use this time as an opportunity to really address our parents’ issues.  After all, seeing what is before us can give us the control to avoid mistakes and to point us towards what needs to happen.

11 New Year’s Caregiver Resolutions for 2011

  1. Review your parents’ power of attorney, living will, and advanced directives.  If there are none in place, discuss this need with your parent
  2. Hire an elder law attorney to review legal matters and assure all documents are up to date
  3. Do a safety inspection of your parent’s home observing area rugs, lighting, steps, grab bars in the bathroom, and other obvious fall risks
  4. Make sure that you understand your parents’ physical and mental status through both observations and visits or conversations with their primary physician
  5. Discuss their perspective of their status with them and gain an understanding of their view of the future
  6. Review their financial situation with them and/or their financial planner
  7. Hold family meetings to discuss their current status, their short and long-term wishes.  Support family members to volunteer to do what they can for parents and to consider themselves a “team” to address parental needs.  Each person can elect to do different things that support the common goal.
  8. Put your care team in place – by learning about appropriate physician specialists, resources, and geriatric care management
  9. If a move is being considered, familiarize yourself with the retirement communities in your area
  10. Name the “elephant” in the room – let’s talk about a “what if” scenario.   Begin with something like:  “Did you hear about Aunt Katherine?  She had a stroke and the family needs to make some decisions.  What do YOU think they should do?”  It’s always easier to discuss when its happening to someone else.
  11. Make a plan to care for yourself!  This should be your #1 resolution.  As caregiving demands increase, the burden goes unnoticed.  But, your body knows the truth.  The greatest love of all is learning to love and care for yourself!!

Holiday Giving for the Caregivers in Your Life

Posted on December 9th, 2010 | Comments Off on Holiday Giving for the Caregivers in Your Life

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

The Perfect Caregivers Gift

The holidays are a perfect time to give the caregivers in your life the most precious gift.  The gift card of time for providing better senior care to those you love.

We know that caregivers are a breed of individuals who give of themselves tirelessly and often put themselves last.  But, caregivers deserve to be at the top of  your holiday gift list.  Caregivers need time for personal self care and rejuvenation.   Taking time to recharge may mean taking in a movie, going out with friends, or essential time off for their personal needs.

A Caregiver’s Gift Card

For only $79,  the Better Senior Care Gift Card provides four hours of free time to your caregiver.  Elder Connections will do the rest —  sending a qualified caregiver to your home while your caregiver appreciates the gift that truly gives.

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