May is an exciting month for the Aging Life Care Association. This month we recognize those who lend their minds and hearts to the ever-growing field of caring for the aging. As we welcome the immense generation of baby boomers into senior citizen status, we celebrate those who dedicate their careers to supporting the needs of the aging.
Aging Life Care®, also known as geriatric care management, is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. Aging Life Care Professionals® (also known as geriatric care managers) have varied educational and professional backgrounds with a specialized focus on issues associated with aging and disabilities. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Through consultation, assessment, care coordination and advocacy, an Aging Life Care Professional works with clients and families to address these challenges.
Aging Life Care Professionals® are experts in the field of aging and disability. They help seniors and their families navigate the challenges of the healthcare system and aging in general. They are strategic planners and have a holistic approach to aging with key knowledge areas that include crisis intervention, housing, health and disability, advocacy, family legal, financial, and local resources.
The expertise of an Aging Life Care Professional® provides 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 of work for family caregivers through:
- Assessment and monitoring
- Planning and problem solving
- Education and advocacy
- Family caregiver coaching
The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) is an engaging, supportive network of individuals upholding the highest ethical, educational and professional standards. Members are from diverse backgrounds including social work, occupational therapy, nursing, human services, and case management. These professionals elect to invest in this association for its substantial educational and social support. VISIT THEM HERE:
Melissa Swiontek is the owner of Passionate Healthcare Advocacy & Wellness in Portland, Oregon- www.passionatehcw.com. She is an Occupational Therapist, Senior Home Safety Specialist™ and Aging Life Care Manager®. Melissa is passionate about helping seniors age in place, prevent falls, and live their best life. As a care manager for seniors, she focuses on helping adult children and spouses identify the optimal care needs for their loved ones. She specializes in caregiver training, medical equipment and problem solving to help seniors stay independent, safe, and follow their aging goals.
Cheers to National Aging Life Care Month! Thank you to all of my peers out there in this heartwarming field.
Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. The theme for 2021 is “Communities of Strength.”
Older adults have built resilience and strength over their lives through successes, failures, joys, and difficulties. Their stories and contributions help to support and inspire others. This OAM, we will celebrate the strength of older adults and the Aging Network, with special emphasis on the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities.
There are many things we all can do to nurture ourselves, reinforce our strength, and continue to thrive. Connecting with others is one of the most important—it plays a vital role in our health and well-being, and in that of our communities. From finding joy in small things and sharing our stories, to looking at the big picture and giving to others, join us in promoting the ways we are connected and strong.
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Two years later, in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Older Americans Act of 1965 and formally declared May as Older Americans Month. But the act did much more than raise awareness or encourage community involvement – although it did both of these things well.
Johnson took Kennedy’s proclamation and intentions a step further by taking action that resulted in positive change, financial assistance and federal support for older Americans.
The Older Americans Act:
· established the Administration on Agency, the first federal agency designed to address the struggles of older Americans
· introduced nutrition programs, transportation assistance, federally funded adult day care, legal assistance and other services for seniors
· paved the way to passing the Medicare program to offer health care to seniors
The proclamation didn’t end with Johnson, either. Every president since has offered a formal proclamation declaring May as a time to remember and honor older Americans. Communities organize events, fairs, and fundraisers focusing on seniors.
Each year, the Administration on Aging (AOA) and the Administration of Community Living (ACL) establishes a theme for Older Americans Month and encourages communities to organize events based on the theme.
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
We invite everyone to celebrate Older Americans Month and build “Communities of Strength” this May! Here are some ways to share and connect with older adults in your community:
- Intergenerational Pen (or Keyboard) Pals: Encouraging intergenerational pen pals can reduce isolation and increase resilience in people of all ages. Here are some writing prompts to get the conversations started.
- Distanced Outdoor Event: Seeing other people in person—even with masks on and from a six-foot distance—can offer a richer sense of connection and community than virtual gatherings. The CDC says that outdoor gatherings with plenty of ventilation, masks, and social distancing pose less risk of spreading COVID-19. Check out our event tip sheet for a fun and safe event!
- Reach out to neighbors: Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores, or deliver a home cooked meal.
- Volunteer an hour of your time: There are many seniors in your community who could use an hour of your time. Find your local area agency on aging to learn about volunteer opportunities today. Volunteer to be an Ombudsman who advocates for residents in a nursing home or a Veteran in a VA home.
Activity Ideas: acl.gov/oam/2021/oam-2021-activity-ideas
Hashtags: #OAM2021 #OlderAmericansMonth
In 2009, I flew from New York to California to spend Mother’s Day with my mom. I was busy with a senior move management business at the time. I had learned from my senior clients that aging in place was often their first choice, not the move to assisted living for which they had hired me. So, with my mom’s low vision issues, a bit of vertigo but generally in good health, I knew that I should pay closer attention to her and her house on this trip.
Her master shower was about 3’ by 3’ (or at least, it felt that way) and did not have grab bars. I made a mental note and then, as vacations go, the time slipped away. I didn’t get that far from California, actually on the flight home, when I began to feel the guilt for not taking the action and getting grab bars installed. I could have had a professional or my brother, the contractor, do the work or I could have made the call and the appointment, at least.
Now, it’s July and I am back in California with mom. This trip I arranged for the grab bars to go into her shower. She was actually grateful and I was relieved. It was a small thing but I knew at the time, years before I was doing this as a professional, that it was the right thing and Mom would never have asked!
I offer this story as a reminder that when we take the action, it saves the angst and guilt and can save a fall, too!
By Fritzi Gros-Daillion, Director of Education for Age Safe America, LLC
Age Safe® America celebrates Occupational Therapy Month and the vital role played by occupational therapists in the lives of Americans of all ages. Their expertise and perspective bring important solutions to help people regain independence in their lives.
We don’t often consider just living and going about our daily routines that what we are doing is actually an occupation – the occupation of living. So the professionals who are trained to help us improve how we manage in our homes in all aspects from work or hobbies to activities of daily living such as getting dressed, cooking, eating and driving are occupational therapists.
Occupational therapists are trained to facilitate life skills for all ages. They can train workers to use the correct ergonomics, help people with low vision or other sensory challenges maintain their independence, make homes more safer and more accessible, evaluate and train older drivers and promote overall health and wellness. The assessment of the environment is baseline for recommendations and solutions. OTs work with older people in their homes or other settings such as nursing homes, to help them to recover from strokes or deal with Alzheimer’s disease. Others choose acute care or home settings to work with accident victims to regain needed skills or offer assistance to people with mental illness. They can work across the age spectrum to help children thrive in the occupation of childhood; they provide tools and skills to enhance learning, growing and play.
As an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, you are part of a vitally important profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Your holistic and customized approach to evaluations, interventions, and outcomes help a child with disabilities participate in school and in social situations, assist a person recovering from injuries to regain skills, aid an older adult to stay as independent as possible, and offer the specialized support and services to people of all ages and in all circumstances that only occupational therapy can provide. Occupational Therapy Month began in 1980. It is in April to correspond with AOTA’s Annual Conference & Expo.
Have you ever noticed how bland even spicy food can taste when your nose is stuffed up?
That’s because your senses of taste and smell are intertwined. Taste buds don’t only reside in your mouth and throat; they also line the passage leading from your mouth to your nose. When those taste buds become blocked or damaged, you can’t smell your food, and when you can’t smell your food, it’s harder to taste it, and you may lose your appetite. Losing your sense of smell can affect not only your quality of life, but your safety, as well. Taste, Smell and Safety go hand and hand.
Why do we lose our sense of smell?
As we age, our sense of smell becomes less sensitive, especially for people:
- With Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or kidney disease
- Who regularly and frequently smoke cigarettes
- Who regularly and frequently drink alcoholic beverages
Other events and conditions that can damage or otherwise interfere with our sense of smell include:
- Allergies, colds, and infections
- Nasal polyps (non-cancerous tumors in your nose or sinus cavities)
- Head or neck injury or other trauma
- Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis
- Side effects of some antibiotics, blood pressure drugs, and other medications
- Certain medical treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy
How can losing our sense of smell affect our safety?
A keen sense of smell is crucial for keeping you safe in a variety of way, by:
- Preventing you from overusing sugar, salt, and other potentially harmful flavorings
- Stimulating your appetite, reminding you to eat and nourish your body
- Alerting you to rotting or curdled food
- Signaling hygienic needs and changes that can affect your health
- Warns you of environmental danger, as with:
- gas from an oven
- smoke from a fire
- potentially dangerous chemical hazards
Why else is our sense of smell important?
While our sense of smell performs the critical function of protecting our physical safety, it also plays a starring role in helping to preserve memory. Smell is our most primitive sense, and it is powerful. Certain fragrances:
- Perfume or cologne
- Motor oil
- Pipe tobacco
- Cinnamon buns
can be attached to vivid memories that you carry with you throughout your life, and which can frequently be evoked by a stray whiff of a similar smell years later.
If you’re not smelling like you used to
If your favorite foods don’t smell the same and no longer excite you, you can try jazzing up your diet by appealing to your other senses. You could add:
- Brightly-colored foods, such as:
- carrots, corn, sweet potatoes,
- grapes, mangos, berries,
- broccoli, spinach, asparagus
- Foods in different shapes and textures, such as:
- Wagon-wheel pasta
- Crunchy peanut butter
- Crispy apple chips
- Flavorful spices and condiments that won’t raise your blood sugar or sodium, such as:
- Sage, rosemary, thyme, mint
- Garlic, ginger, onion, pepper
- Mustard, vinegar, flavored oils
If familiar foods and household items (e.g. soaps, shampoos) don’t smell the same to you, or if people around you are noticing smells that you don’t, speak with your healthcare provider.
*Shmerling, R. H. (2019, June 18). A poor sense of smell might matter more than you thought. Harvard Health Blog. Updated August 16, 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/a-poor-sense-of-smell-might-matter-more-than-you-thought-2019061816857
by Margalo Eden
The 2020 NAHB Designees and Educator of the Year awards honors housing professionals who have displayed notable professionalism as NAHB designation holders and those who have excelled in teaching NAHB education courses. This year two of those awarded are esteemed members of the Age Safe® America Advisory Team, and we are proud to be associated with industry leaders of this caliber. Congratulations to Steve Hoffacker and Chris Moore, along with all those who have earned this industry recognition!!
“We commend these industry professionals who have taken the time and effort toward continuing their education in their respective fields and who have chosen to become approved to instruct others in the industry,” said NAHB Education Committee Chair Curt Kiriu, CAPS, CGR. “These accomplished individuals have proven that they are dedicated to improving their own craft, and also encourage others in the industry to do the same.”
2020 Educator of the Year
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS is the founder of Steve Hoffacker & Associates, LLC in West Palm Beach, Florida. As a widely respected aging-in-place, universal design, and visibility advocate, instructor, author and consultant, he has more than 30 years of industry experience. In 2007, he launched the Remodelers Council at his local HBA and began teaching the CAPS designation courses. Since then, he has enjoyed helping a variety of professionals attain their credentials to work more effectively with their aging-in-place clientele. He has also served as a frequent resource on aging-in-place and universal design topics for journalists writing newspaper and magazine articles and for public presentations to both consumers and professionals. Visit: https://www.stevehoffacker.com/
Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) Designee of the Year
Chris Moore, CAPS, CGR founded Solid Rock Enterprises, Inc. in 2001, to provide quality building, remodeling, and consulting services in Roanoke Valley, Virginia. He is a believer in life-long learning and is passionate about education and improving his knowledge of the industry. With more than 34 years of industry experience, Moore believes that your house is your castle and when you make a choice to renovate; you should be able to choose a contractor who will have the experience to understand your unique needs and create the home of your dreams. Chris is also a well respected CAPS Instructor, teaching others the principles and techniques for creating lifetime homes. Visit: https://solidrockenterprises.com/
Builder Designee of the Year
Joseph Irons, CAPS, CGP, CGR, GMB, GMR is the President and General Manager of Irons Brothers Construction, Inc. a design-build firm in Shoreline, Washington. A 21-year industry veteran, Irons believes in giving back to the building industry and plays an active role at the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties. He is also active in the state, local and national building and remodeling councils and committees. Irons is committed to continuing education and enjoys training fellow builders, architects, designers, OT/PTs and other professionals. He is also a published author and accredited educator in the state of Washington.
Remodeler Designee of the Year
Leo Lantz, CAPS, CGP, CGR, GMB, GMR is the owner of Leo Lantz Construction, Inc. in Glen Allen, Virginia. A 25-year industry veteran with a passion for remodeling and an eye for detail, he takes pride in delivering a home to a completely satisfied customer. Involved in all aspects of the remodeling industry and his community, Lantz believes in giving back by playing an active role at the HBA of Richmond. He has attained multiple industry designations and was named 2018 NAHB National Remodeler of the Year, which recognizes superior business management, exemplary NAHB involvement at all levels and outstanding contributions to the remodeling industry.
Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP) Designee of the Year
Matthew Rayburn, HCCP is the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Real Estate Development Officer with Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHDCA) in Indianapolis. As part of the IHDCA’s executive team, he oversees the agency’s Real Estate Development department which handles allocations and compliance for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Housing Choice Vouchers and other programs as well as planning and training for the Indiana Supportive Housing Institute and other supportive housing initiatives. A recognized expert in the industry, Rayburn has years of experience in affordable housing management, auditing and training.