Finding eldercare and disability resources can sometimes seem impossible. The needs are usually urgent, but where do you begin to look? If you are seeking assistance for seniors living at home and have ever wondered where to find a source for community senior and disability resources and services near you, keep reading!
My guest for this episode is Charlotte McHenry, President and CEO of Senor Connection Center, which is the Area Agency on Aging for Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee Highlands, and Hardy counties in Florida. Charlotte has served 3 different AAAs over the span of her career and is very well versed in the aging and disability services space. I appreciate that she took some time to chat with me and uncover the mystery of locating local resources!
The Older American’s Act
Created in 1965, The Older Americans Act (OAA) funds critical services that keep older adults healthy and independent. Specific programs and services vary slightly from agency to agency, but in general, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) fund and/or provides services like delivered meals, job training, insurance navigation assistance, wellness programs/education, benefits enrollment assistance, caregiver support, transportation, and more. The act established Area Agencies on Aging for every community in the US. See the Links section below to access more information.
Meeting Needs Locally
The great thing about AAAs is that each agency serves its local community, so services and programs are tailored to the specific needs of the community. Funded by federal, state, grant, and private dollars, AAAs are not just a place to find resources, but they are funders of many local programs, their local provider network, in your community. They are highly collaborative with local community partners and work closely with the state unit on aging.
Listen or Read
My conversation with Charlotte is jam-packed with information. Listen to the full interview here or keep scrolling for the full transcript.
Resources & Links Mentioned
- About/Contact Charlotte McHenry
- Older American’s Act Overview
- Eldercare Locator – Find your Area Agency on Aging
- Florida Department of Elder Affairs
- Senior Connection Center Elder Helpline – 1-800-96-Elder
- Florida Shine program – Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders
- National SHIP program – find free local Medicare help
- Sage Aging Episode 2 – Social Isolation (Dr. Kathy Black – USF)
- National Council on Aging
Finding Elder Care & Disability Resources
Sage Aging Episode 21
Recorded July 2020
Guest Charlotte McHenry – Host Liz Craven
Liz Craven 00:00
Thank you for listening to the Sage Aging podcast. This episode is brought to you by Polk elder care guide, your guide to all things senior care and resources available in both English and Spanish. You can find the guide at PolkElderCare.com
Liz Craven 00:25
Welcome to the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven. The mission of Sage Aging is to help you connect to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you great conversations with industry professionals and others to shed some light on topics of aging and to empower you to take charge of your journey. So grab a cup of coffee, or maybe a cool glass of lemonade, and sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.
Liz Craven 01:03
I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me today. The mission of sage aging is to guide people to the aging care resources they need to provide the best care possible with the least stress possible. Now that’s a pretty tall order, but we are so fortunate to be able to tap into a fantastic network of professionals to help us do that. Navigating the aging care industry can be so confusing and frustrating. From choosing the right Medicare plan to finding local transportation to a medical appointment or simply the grocery store, Or even just help choosing the right kind of care. You have questions? And you know, there must be resources out there that can help but you have no idea how to find them. Have you ever felt that way? I already know the answer to that the answer is a big Yes! And if you’re an older adult or caregiver or a person with a disability seeking information and the right places to find it, you’ll find some help here today. My guest today is Charlotte McHenry, President and CEO of Senor Connection Center, which is the Area Agency on Aging for Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee Highlands and Hardy counties in Florida. Serving the Senior Connection Center since 1994, Charlotte holds a degree in healthcare administration and a Master of Public Health. Forward Thinking collaborative, compassionate and advocator are all great words to describe Charlotte. Welcome to the show, Charlotte, and thank you for taking the time to join me today.
Charlotte McHenry 02:43
Thank you, Liz. So pleasure to be here. We talked earlier and this is my first podcast, so I’m really excited about it. And very grateful that you asked me,
Liz Craven 02:54
Oh, gosh, you have so many resources and so much insight into the world of eldercare, and I’m really excited to have you here today to tap into that and I’m sure our listeners are as well. But before we get there, I would love it if you would just tell us a little bit about yourself.
Charlotte McHenry 03:14
Okay, well, I grew up in Tennessee, and all of my family is still there. And I try to go up and visit as often as I can usually make it up about twice a year. So I grew up there and I’ve worked in the field of aging for 35 years. As you mentioned, my formal education is in Healthcare Management, also nonprofit management, and then I have a Master’s in Public Health. I have worked at three different Area Agencies on Aging Senior Connection Center, the one here in Tampa that covers that service area you mentioned, I’ve worked here since 94. But I also worked at an area agency on aging in Illinois and one in my home. State of Tennessee.
Liz Craven 04:02
Wow, you’ve been around! That is fantastic. And, you know, I think that one thing people are so unaware of is that they have an area agency on aging in their own community. Most just don’t really know what it is, what its purpose is, and that it even exists.
Charlotte McHenry 04:19
That’s very true, but there are Area Agencies on Aging across the country. There’s a little over 620 nationwide. We are one of 11 in Florida. So we are all branded a little differently. We rebranded here to senior connection center several years ago to have a little bit more name recognition in the community, especially with those that we serve. Prior to that we were referred to as the West Central Florida area agency on aging. That’s a mouthful. And it’s also, you know, very bureaucratic sounding, for lack of a better way of saying it. All Area Agencies on Aging came about as part of the piece of federal legislation that was enacted back in 1965. It was a very visionary piece of legislation called the Older Americans Act. And that was the same year 65 when Medicare came to be as an amendment to the Social Security Act from 1935. So the Older Americans Act called for in each area, there would be an agency on aging. I don’t know if it was the intent of the lawmakers for us to be referred to as an area agency on aging, but I think the system took it very literally and you will still see quite a few agencies refer to themselves in their name as an area agency on aging.
Liz Craven 05:50
That’s so interesting
Charlotte McHenry 05:51
It is but, it created the safety net, the Older Americans Act as well as Medicare in 1965. Its created that safety net for older adults. And that piece of legislation, they have modernized it in some respects, but the original intent is still there. And it still rings true today as what we do as an area agency on aging. Our mission here at Senior Connection Center is to help older adults and persons with disabilities live with independence and dignity. And the disability piece, many older adults have disabilities. But we also serve as an Aging and Disability Resource Center. I always like to refer to Area Agencies on Aging as the Area Agency on Aging part is the umbrella and under that umbrella, we serve many functions and one of the ones that we also serve as an Aging and Disability Resource Center, which pretty much streamlined access into the service delivery system.
Liz Craven 07:00
Which is such an important piece? Because I know for me, from my perspective, if there is one question that I get more than any other, it is where do I start? Where do I find resources? How do I find my way through this, and I love what you all do because it’s very easy to refer someone to your helpline and have a trained specialist from your end, walk through all of that with the person and really help to identify what their needs are. So I guess that’s a great segue into the next piece of this conversation, which is, what types of services does an area agency on aging offer how does that work? Walk us through what happens when a client contacts you.
Charlotte McHenry 07:51
Okay. Well, let me start by saying that as an area agency on aging, and this is national, we are a funder. That’s one thing that a lot of people are not aware of. And our purpose from an Older Americans Act perspective is to develop a coordinated system of service delivery. So we have many partners throughout each of our communities, and we have a provider network. So part of our role is funding that provider network. And in each of our counties, we have providers and lead agencies that carry out a lot of the direct services that we do. Area Agencies on Aging in other states can do a lot more direct services than those here in Florida. And I’ll clarify that to you, but in terms of our service delivery system, we will fund services such as transportation, homemaker, personal care, home delivered meals, adult daycare, caregiver, respite, all with the focus of carrying out that mission to keep Older adults in their own homes and in their own communities. I mentioned I’ve been in this field since 1985. And I have yet to meet an older adult to say place me in a nursing home. We recognize and we work closely with nursing homes, but they have their place and important place in the continuum of care. But most people age well in their own home and in their own communities. So those types of services help to do that. There has been a lot of focus in recent years on reducing hospital readmissions among the older population. And our services can clearly help to do that, especially the services around nutrition. Case Management is one of the services we fund as well. We get both federal and state funding or federal funding comes down through the Older Americans Act. And then the state funding flows through each state has a state unit on aging. Ours is the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. So the Florida Legislature appropriates funding to the aging network as well. And so we operate about a $23 to 24 million budget annually with a majority of those funds going out into our communities. As an area agency on aging in Florida, we do offer some direct services. We are considered, in many respects that gateway into the service delivery system, especially the Medicaid Long Term Care Service Delivery System. We are that entry point that even if it’s not a Medicaid Long Term Care Service, we are that gateway, or can be that gateway, into the service delivery system. We like to say that there’s no wrong door because, Liz, I know you get calls through your organization, our providers get calls, but they will refer them to our Elder Helpline, which is that foundational service that we offer, and our Elder Helpline specialists will talk with the individual, somewhat assess what is going on with them. Many times the older person or the caregiver may call saying, well, we really want to get home delivered meals, can you help us do that, and we absolutely can help do that, but as the Elder Helpline Specialists, because they’re very well trained, and we have to adhere to high standards of service delivery, they will probe and many times after the end of that call, there’s a lot more going on with that individual than just the need for a home delivered meal. So that’s the importance of that Elder Helpline service. And then another department here is solely focused on long term care and helping those individuals who are in need of home and community based services, to get them screened for those services and help them walk through This system, because we have to work with the Department of Children and Families, as well as the Department of Elder Affairs on determining eligibility for individuals.
Liz Craven 12:11
So you could help people walk through the process of actually signing up for the things that they’re eligible for.
Charlotte McHenry 12:19
We can. If someone is able to do it themselves, we absolutely want them to and empower them to. And the information we provide provides that empowerment. But you know, the Medicaid process can be complicated. So we provide assistance there. Medicare is complicated as well, and we’ve got a whole program that I know you’re very familiar with called Shine. And that stands for serving health insurance needs of elders in other states is called SHIP. But here in Florida is Shine and we will help older adults, Medicare beneficiaries help navigate the complexities. That program is an award winning program statewide and it’s a volunteer based program. I do have staff that helped manage it, but we have a host of volunteers that are so dedicated, so knowledgeable the training that they have to go through for this program is daunting because Medicare is daunting, and there are changes to it all the time. So, you know, many times our child volunteers has helped save thousands of dollars for older adults who may have a prescription assistance issue. So that’s an extremely valuable program. We also have here evidence based health care programming. Again, these programs are focused on keeping people independent. Now that the pandemic is happening, unfortunately, it’s causing constraints. You know, everywhere we’re all adjusting to a new normal, and we’re pivoting and as an agency, we had to pivot during this time and develop new business models and offering virtual classes through our health and wellness programming is wonderful. And those programs help individuals to manage their balance where they are less likely to fall because falls are one of the main reasons of hospitalizations and nursing home placement. We also have programs that help people manage their chronic diseases. So again, all of that helps people stay out of being readmitted to hospitals and it helps them live independently in their own community where they desire to
Liz Craven 14:49
and how do people access those programs, do they go to your website?
Charlotte McHenry 14:53
They can and I would highly recommend our website. We also have 1-800-96-elder. That’s a number that we encourage people to call. And we take thousands of calls each year from individuals seeking our services. Last year, you know, I think we had close to 100,000 calls coming into our elder helpline and around Aging and Disability Resource Center. So that service if no one remembers anything else today from this podcast, is the access number is one 1-800-96-elder, and then our website. They can Google Senor Connection Center, and it will take them to our website.
Liz Craven 15:36
And we’ll also make those bits of information available in both the blog post which you’ll find at Sageaging.us. Also available in the show notes. So all of these links, phone numbers, any resources we mentioned today, we’ll make those easily accessible to you. I’m also going to include an Eldercare Locator link, so if you live outside of the state of Florida, you’ll be able to find your area agency on aging and connect with them directly to see what is offered in your area specifically.
Charlotte McHenry 16:12
Yes, those are all easy ways to reach us. And like I said, during this pandemic, we may be working remotely, predominantly. But we are fully functioning and assisting older adults and their caregivers each and every day.
Liz Craven 16:28
What do you think you’ve seen as the biggest challenge during this pandemic for the folks who’ve been calling into your helpline?
Charlotte McHenry 16:37
Well, I think you know, initially and we were very fortunate to receive both Families First Act as well as Cares Act dollars to help support our older adults. You know, the immediate needs, we wanted older adults to stay home and limit their exposure of going out to the grocery store or and doing other types of shopping and things like that. So the nutrition meeting their nutrition needs was one of the biggest, I wouldn’t say a big challenge, but that was our focus. That was our focus and our providers’ focus of getting food out and having it delivered more often. And, you know, we have vendors through our provider network, and we have, you know, very strong food vendors. But because of the demand at this time, again, pivoting and changing business model, started working with local restaurants to help support the feeding program as well. And this was something that was launched through the governor’s office in association with the Department of Elder Affairs, the Department of Business and Professional Regulations and the Florida Association for Lodging and Restaurants. And that has worked well in some counties. It has been more robust than in others, but our focus was nutrition and keeping everyone safe and in their own home, you know, prior to this pandemic, social isolation and loneliness among the older adult population. And it’s a growing issue of all ages, but particularly for older adults, it was something very troubling in this pandemic, as you know, made it even worse. And I think that’s one of the biggest challenges. Not having our older adults, our most vulnerable population, even more isolated and lonely. So there’s been some innovative things that have been taking place across the state. For example, those individuals with dementia, they have had access through the Department of Elder Affairs to robotic pets. And it has been amazing what some something like that that you think would not have that great of an impact. It truly does. And these robotic pets look like a real dog and cat. It’s amazing.
Liz Craven 18:58
Oh, I’ve seen pictures of those and I wondered about that, how that was working.
Charlotte McHenry 19:03
It’s worked very well. Another website to go to is the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. That’s our state unit on aging. And they have handled the distribution of those robotic pads and the requests for those through their office. The state, the federal government, as well as their state unit on aging, has been incredibly supportive and flexible. During these times, some of the services that we haven’t been able to provide by not being able to go out on home visits and things like that, but offering telephone reassurance, giving that daily call to an older adult can mean everything and making that connection. So that is something that we’re now doing. Also shopping assistance. And this is happening in all five of our counties. We’re not only doing this as senior connection center, but our provider network is doing it as well. And that’s been exciting. Extremely positive. And then, we are starting, and this is a new service, because it’s been called the second pandemic. And that’s the mental health issues that are coming from this, all the stress and, and then that social isolation and loneliness is just compounding it. So we’re going to be starting gerontological counseling, mental health counseling and all five of our counties. Very soon we’ve got the contracts signed, fully executed. And so that is something that is being funded through Cares Act dollars and we think that the demand will be greater than our resources, but we’re anxious to get this service started.
Liz Craven 20:45
That is so important and if people will go back to Episode Three of Sage Aging, we spoke with Dr. Cathy black from USF about social isolation and especially social isolation during The pandemic and boys she had some great insights and some great information. So I’d encourage people to go back and re listen to that one or listen to it if you missed it on the first time around.
Charlotte McHenry 21:12
Liz Craven 21:13
She’s a very involved and very educated woman who has such a passion for sharing it with others, and I sure appreciate her. But you, I put in the same category. The things that you and your team do…no, absolutely. It’s true. You have a very skilled and passionate and committed team in your office, and I see you all out in the community providing all kinds of wonderful things all the time. And I love the fact that you are so innovative in your thinking and always on the front end of what the community might need, even before the community really realizes that they need it. So thank you for being that.
Charlotte McHenry 21:56
I appreciate you saying that.
Liz Craven 21:57
Oh, of course. So Aside from the social isolation and the mental health, which I’m so excited to hear about the mental health programming that’s coming forward, and we might have to do an episode on that alone down the road, because that is a very, very real issue and access is very, very limited, especially as it relates to the geriatric population, but how are people handling on the caregiver side, you know, caregivers, we talk about older adults and their isolation. We talk about older adults and the services and the things that they need. What about their caregivers?
Charlotte McHenry 22:41
Well, you know, there’s a lot of stress. Absolutely a lot of stress and things have been compounded because, you know, the Sandwich Generation people are taking care of their young kids who have been home and they’re having to be their school teachers and then taking care of their older loved one and what we see a lot of times here in Florida, you know, their sons daughters, their caregivers live up north, and they’re here by themselves. I know, and this is a personal thing, I just sold my house and not quite sure why I went down this path during a pandemic, but I did. And the people I sold it to, because I lived in a villa and they wanted it for their, for her, 84 year old mother that they wanted to move down from Pennsylvania as a result of wanting her closer. Not only for making it easier caregiving wise, but because of this pandemic too. And not to have her be even more isolated up north without family. So you hear personal stories like that. We have, you know, respite care and daycare as always. I know in Polk County, we don’t have daycare anymore, but the In Home respite services are invaluable But the counties where we do have daycare, those are closed right now just like our congregate meal sites are closed because of the pandemic. So that has created added stressors in the home, but those dollars that would have gone into adult daycare are now going into those in home respite care services. But again, the demand for those services far outweighs the amount of funding that we have to provide. I think support groups, you know, I think they are shifting to be more virtual. But sometimes, you know, the caregivers even though we do have services specifically for caregivers, I think they can get lost in the shuffle sometimes and those added stressors right now are just creating more of a situation. You know, what has started to see trending not only in the younger population, but in the older population to domestic violence. That is on the upswing and indicators are telling us that that’s due to the pandemic and you know, everybody being in closer quarters these days. So that is a trend that is happening in. We fund legal services to which is absolutely critical. And you know, people losing their jobs during this and housing is such an issue. I know landlords are not evicting right now as long as there’s that executive order in place, that emergency order from the governor but when all of that lifts, you know, there’s going to be some troubling things, you know, evictions and things like that that most likely will severely impact our vulnerable older adults.
Liz Craven 25:50
I agree with that. That is a very scary outcome of this whole situation. One I think that most people just aren’t looking forward to you. They recognize it’s there, I think, but I think people are trying to survive in the moment and aren’t planning for that time.
Charlotte McHenry 26:08
Exactly. And we are trying to forecast and I know our legal services providers are on the cutting edge with some of this stuff. And of course, the Department of Children and Families with their Adult Protective Services Program. We’re fortunate to have them but again, you know, there’s limited dollars, and the issues are great. The needs are great. And you’re well aware of this, Liz that through our fundraising efforts, we put those dollars into crisis to meet crisis needs, unmet needs. throughout the community. We do many grants to organizations to help shore up services for seniors so we can reach as many people as possible. And we have seen an increased demand for our crisis bonds. We’ve been very fortunate. Florida Blue, for example, provided us a grant A $25,000 grant around crisis needs in the pandemic. So a lot of businesses corporations are seeing that need and are reaching out to us and other nonprofits. I know feeding Tampa Bay has been a recipient of a lot of corporate support during this time and all of us know each other in the nonprofit world and work to help each other as much as we can. But in the aging world in the eldercare world, we are that go to entity in our five County area and along with our provider network, and we have done a lot during this pandemic, but it is worrisome what’s on the other side. Can’t wait to get to the other side of it. But yes, but you know, we’ve got to anticipate and forecast some of the the issues that will be at hand.
Liz Craven 27:53
Yes, you know, I’m a silver lining kind of person. I always look for them, and every situation and it has been more difficult over the last few months to find those. However, having said that I am seeing and it sounds like you’re seeing to the spirit of collaboration and the spirit of togetherness and in organizations, linking arms to make sure that we’re providing for and taking care of those that need us.
Charlotte McHenry 28:25
Liz Craven 28:26
So I so appreciate the fact that you all are leaders in that space. I think that it makes a big difference in the community and for the people who are out here just trying to make it day to day so thank you for everything that you do.
Charlotte McHenry 28:41
Well, I appreciate you too. And all the work that you have done all the advocacy work, you know, all of our partners like you and others throughout our five County area. You know, we have an advisory council we’re governed by a board of directors, you know, those those individuals are ambassadors into the community or Shine volunteers, but it takes all of us to be the eyes and ears. Because we’re like Polk County that is such a large geographical County. And there are pockets of people that may not know about us, even though we do outreach all the time. You know, it’s amazing to me that people will tell me over and over again, I wish I had known about you when I was taking care of my mom and dad. Yes. And I hear that and I’m puzzled by it because I know how much we are out in the community. But you know, I go back to and you probably, I’ve done a podcast or planning to do a podcast on ageism, have always said ageism is alive and well in this country. And we’re seeing it during this pandemic. We’re seeing it during this pandemic of how some of the views are on various precautions to take and, you know, a lot of this is to protect those that are so vulnerable that are so frail, you know, you may get the virus and and you might be a lucky one that you’re asymptomatic, but you can spread it. So ageism is a very big issue that impacts everything we do. And my point being that people don’t hear about us, you know, aging issues, caring for older adults, caregiving, and all of its varied aspects. We tend to want to sweep things under the rug in this country. I mean, we’re a very youth oriented society. And I think that has come to hurt us in many, many ways. So people don’t reach out. A lot of times I think people are trying to be stoic, and I think the population that we serve the age generation that currently we’re, we’re serving, you know, you didn’t ask for help. And you just, you just found your Yeah, you found your way. And I think that has been a barrier for people finding us.
Liz Craven 31:03
You know, I would agree with that. But I would also say that there are a lot of people trying to change that.
Charlotte McHenry 31:09
Liz Craven 31:12
I have a lot of encouragement and hope and even some fellow podcasters, I have guested on multiple other podcasts whose audiences are Generation X, the Sandwich Generation, younger people who are beginning to experience caregiving issues, because that baby boomer generation is very rapidly aging and always are ours.
Charlotte McHenry 31:39
I am one of those.
Liz Craven 31:41
I’m Generation X. I’m right behind you, but it’s been so interesting. You know, it’s it’s this new awakening and they’re saying, holy cow, ‘What is this situation I find myself in’ and I love that the messaging is beginning to get stronger and that more people are talking about it and it’s not a taboo subject and families are learning to communicate with one another and talk about these things before they become their reality, which is so important.
Charlotte McHenry 32:11
It is so important and, and I appreciate you being that one of the change agents that’s going to help that along. We still get a lot of calls where that has not taken place yet. So that is the reality. But I do know that we try to be a change agent in that as well and help people plan. You know, it’s rare that we get that phone call when my mom is fine now, but I’m thinking 10 years down the road, there will be some issues and it’s very, very rare that we get those kind of calls. But you know, we’re here. We’re here, our messages. We’re here we want to help. And we want to help people navigate through those difficult times and help them to enjoy their loved ones. Take some of the worry off when people find out that there are resources, you know, that can be a big burden lifted.
Liz Craven 33:09
Absolutely. That is a message that I’m always trying to send is, this time in your life should be the time that you spend loving on that person. That person needs you to just be there to be their daughter, not just their caregiver, but somebody that they love. And you should be able to enjoy and cherish every one of those moments, but without the right tools and resources, that will not be the experience that you have. educating yourself before you get there is such a good idea because that can help to smooth some of the transitions into these phases of life that, you know, we don’t necessarily want to be there, but we can’t stop that from happening. Aging happens. That’s an element that we cannot change, but we can change how we prepare for it and how we respond to it.
Charlotte McHenry 34:05
Liz Craven 34:05
Well, Charlotte, do you think that there’s any thing that we’ve left out that needs to be said today?
Charlotte McHenry 34:11
I did want to share, you know, we have our website, the National Council on Aging has an excellent website, as well. And there’s something called a benefits checkup. And, you know, I would encourage listeners to to check that out. It can screen for various things. I mean, clearly, we do that here. But the National Council on Aging is a very respected national organization that I wanted to share that resource.
Liz Craven 34:40
Thank you for sharing that. And again, all of those resources you’re going to find in the blog post and in the show notes at your favorite podcast app, so don’t worry about trying to scribble those notes down while you’re listening. We’ll have all of those available for you. Well, Charlotte, thank you for joining me today. I so appreciate it. You know, it’s people like you and organizations like yours that bring peace and comfort to people who are feeling so frustrated by this time of life. And you and I both know that equipped with the right tools and good information and resources, older adults and their caregivers, they can feel empowered to embrace this time of life. And thank all of you for listening in. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to spend with me. And actually, it’s my favorite part of the week and I hope that you feel that way too. If you haven’t already. I hope you’ll take a moment to subscribe to Sage aging and maybe leave us a positive review. Reviews are really important because it helps us to know what we’re doing well and what we can do better. And it also helps us to spread the word about this show to others who need it. Do you have questions? Or do you have topic ideas you want to share? Well, I’d love to hear from you. drop me a line at info@SageAgeing.us. Thank you so much, Charlotte.
Charlotte McHenry 36:04
Oh, you’re very welcome. And I enjoyed it. Thank you.
Liz Craven 36:07
All right, everybody. Until next time, make it a fabulous day!
As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.
Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.
The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.
Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.
Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.