How do I get there from here?

Handing over the keys

By Jennifer Kilgore, GCM Consultant

 

We Americans love our cars. We love the romance of the open road, the wind in our hair. We have a love affair with road trips, car camping and drive-in movies. And getting your driver’s license is a right of passage in most young Americans’ lives. It’s part of the American dream, part of who we are. But that’s because a car isn’t just a car to us. It represents something so much more significant; it represents our freedom and independence. For some, it’s even a part of their identity.

Maybe that’s why losing the ability to drive hits American seniors so hard. It isn’t merely about the loss of transportation. Losing the ability to drive represents a major life change. Unless you live in a densely populated urban city, giving up your driving rights essentially means giving away your independence. It means relying on others in a way that you haven’t before. It means you can’t just hop in the car and go – now you have to schedule and coordinate transportation ahead of time for your everyday activities. It can also affect one’s identity. Sometimes the type of car a person drives makes that person feel set apart. Living without a car, for some, means blending into the background.

“Driving a car is a symbol of independence and competence and is closely tied to an individual’s identity. It also represents freedom and control and allows older adults to gain easy access to social connections, health care, shopping, activities and even employment,” says Kristine Dwyer from caregiver.com.

Sometimes giving up driving comes in stages. Seniors might first begin driving only in a certain radius or only during certain hours. Then they may gradually begin to go out of the way to make only right hand turns–to avoid cutting across traffic. They might also find themselves not driving on the highway any longer, or not driving at night. Still, at some point, most Americans have to turn in their keys. And this transitional moment in an elderly person’s life can sometimes lead to isolation and depression.

What drives you?

Living in an assisted-living community with available transportation is helpful if you are unable to drive yourself around. However, after a lifetime of driving independence and spontaneity, it can be frustrating to be limited by someone else’s timetable and location list. And too often, seniors have to wait long periods of time to be dropped off and picked up. It can also be confusing, time consuming, and tedious to coordinate transportation to appointments, errands, and to attend social events. This may help to explain why elderly people sometimes stop making the effort to maintain vital social connections; it’s just too much work. But those social connections are essential to our emotional and mental health.

In fact, according to Harvard researcher Shari S. Bassuk, ScD, “Social disengagement is a risk factor for cognitive impairment among elderly persons.”  In other words, seniors need to maintain social interaction, even after they hand over the keys in order to maintain optimal brain health.

So what’s the solution? Taxis are expensive and may not be able to provide the care that an elderly person needs to safely attend appointments and social events. Cabs are also impersonal and drivers do not accommodate any extra needs. They show up, curbside, honk and wait. And on the return, even if you are carrying things, they drop you off, literally, curbside.  A personal driver would be great, but for most people that isn’t practical financially. What’s really needed is a driver with experience in elder care who can be scheduled according to your individual needs.

The Silver Runner solution

New transportation services are cropping up in our community to address the needs of seniors who require assistance and transportation. The Silver Runner Mobility Managers recognize the specific attention, compassion and reliability that is required when transporting our community’s aging adults.

Scheduling services in advance allows us to guarantee punctuality. Our highly trained Mobility Managers provide quality transportation and care with our “door-through-door” service. Mobility Managers ensure that needs are met and that the entire Silver Runner experience is pleasant and timely.

Putting independence back in your life is what The Silver Runner is all about.  You don’t have to depend on friends, family, or volunteers to take you to do the essentials – keep appointments, grocery shop, and do errands. You can now be in charge of arranging to go wherever you’d like, including scenic drives, taking a class at Oasis, going to a museum or concert, or heading up to Santa Fe for the day.

To help foster social connections among seniors in our area, we also offer regularly scheduled group outings each month. If you or someone you care for is learning to live without their car keys, please call us today at 505-872-0451, or visit our website www.TheSilverRunner.com for more information and a full list of our scheduled outings. You can also create your own individual or group outings.

The GCM/SR Newsletter Feed

Geriatric Care Management News and Caregiver Tips!

The Caregiver’s Journey

By Mark Narvaez, Care Manager

Rosalynn Carter, former first lady and founder of the Rosalynn Carter Caregiving Institute has noted, “There are only four kinds of people in the world—those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who need caregivers”. Currently, in America, 65 million caregivers make up 29% of the adult population. Indeed, we are rapidly becoming a Caregiver Nation, each one with their own personal and poignant story to tell.

Each November, we celebrate and pay tribute to our caregivers during National Family Caregiver Awareness Month. At the same time, we must also note the significant challenges and risks which caregiving entails. At the recent 8th Annual Family Caregiver Conference, Keynote Speaker, Barbara Michels, metaphorically and accurately, referenced the “journey of the caregiver” and the need for each to develop a “roadmap” in embarking on their personal journey.

A few of the important considerations in preparing and planning one’s caregiving roadmap, include:

Preparing and Planning for the Journey:
 
With the awareness that, at any moment, we may be called on to take-up the caregiving journey, it is never too early to begin to develop and plan our roadmap. Even after beginning the journey, planning and making adjustments to our map along the way is essential;

Taking Care of Yourself:
 
Caregivers are often selfless in their commitment to care, often at the risk of their own physical, psychological and spiritaul health. From the outset, it is important to allow yourself to consider and plan for those practices and activities which support one’s own on-going health and well-being.

Learn the Landscape:
 
A key component in taking care of oneself and our loved ones, is in coming to intimately know the aging process, disease and/or condition which we are confronting in our caregiver role and responsibilities. A key component in taking care of oneself is being able to anticipate the stop, starts, turns and hazards which might lie ahead;

Seeking Directions:
 
In beginning any journey, it is useful to have help in navigating the road ahead. This includes being willing to pull-over on occasion to ask for direction. With the increased complexity of our health care, insurance, legal, financial, public benefit and service eligibility systems, it is important to seek out assistance from those professional, and others, including other caregivers, who travel these roads daily or have in the past, and are familiar with the network of community resources which exist to serve and assist us;

Seeking & Keeping Good Company:
 
Caregiving is a “job of jobs”. We need not and, in most cases, cannot embark on our caregiving journey alone. On any journey we take, it is an asset to have kind, caring, helpful and supporting company. In addition to those specialists and experts who can assist, it is useful to identify those within our more informal support network of family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances who might also welcome the opportunity to “walk beside us” and contribute time, experience, expertise and other “gifts” in giving-back to you and your loved one;

Blessings of the Journey:

While the caregiving journey often presents many risks and challenges, as any longtime caregiver will tell you it also brings with it many blessings, in its’ humanity and commitment to fundamental values and virtues. 

“While on your caregiving journey, remember that a whole network of local organizations and virtual/web-based resources have come into being in responding to and assisting with your caregiver issues, concerns and needs. These include: Area Agencies on Aging; non-profit organizations focused on specific disease conditions; local support groups; educational classes; caregiver web-sites, chat rooms and blogs and, of course, ourselves at Geriatric Care Management LLC!

A few helpful caregiver websites are:


THANK YOU TO ALL THE CAREGIVERS! As the Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran wrote in his classic work, The Prophet, “For this (we) cherish you most, you give much and know not that you give at all”. 

GCM News

We have moved and are happy to be in our new offices:  2730 San Pedro, NE – Suite E, ABQ, NM  87110.
Martha (Marty) Brown, MSW, CMC, NCG and Kimberly Gyle, MSW, MSG are just back from the Annual conference of the Western Regional Chapter of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, where they presented on “Eccentricity:  Dementia or Mental Illness in our Elders?”  (More on this topic in future issues.)

Mark Narvaez, BA presented on a panel at the Annual Caregiver’s conference “Caregiving:  The Heart of the Journey” in November 2012 sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association.  The topic was entitled,  “Off the Beaten Path”.

 

Kimberly Gyle was elected to the Board of the NM Guardianship Association and Marty is just going off the board.

 

Geriatric Care Management is a new member of the NM Estate Planning Council.

We are grateful for all our very qualified and caring staff that are with our GCM/Silver Runner team!  And we wish you the best this Thanksgiving and holiday season! 

Our staff/family continues to grow:

GCM has a new Care manager, Bonnie Bowlin, LPN. Bonnie joined us in July and her experience includes working in specialty dementia care assisted living settings for the last 16+ years.  We are proud to have her join our team.

 

Asia Negron-Esposito, MS in Gerontology and a professional Journalist, Writer and Illustrator joined us in November to help prepare the monthly
e-newsletter.

And Brianna Matel, MSW, continues to help prepare the monthly e-newsletter and is getting ready to expand her family with the expectation of a new baby boy in March, 2013.

Copyright © 2012 GCM
Office: (505) 897-3009 Toll Free: (866) 997-3009
www.mgbcm.com
Silver Runner: (505) 872-0451

 

 

The GCM Newsletter – September

Planning for All Futures: GCM Can Help

It is common for people to talk about planning for the future and planning for retirement, but not many people talk about planning for memory loss. According to the Alzheimerʼs Associationʼs 2012 report, over 5.4 million people are currently living with Alzheimerʼs Disease, which is just one of the many forms of dementia. One in eight Americans have Alzheimerʼs Disease. As the number of people in the U.S. being diagnosed with a form of dementia increases, this talk about planning for the future is becoming even more important.

Early conversations are imperative. They allow families to plan on a variety of levels. First, early interventions allow for the person, diagnosed with any form of dementia, to seek medical treatment right away. Getting a diagnosis and finding a trusted medical professional allows the person to explore all medical opportunities. They may be candidates for medications that may or may not slow the progression of the disease. They may also be interested in pursuing life changes that could impact their overall health. Programs are springing up all over the country that focus on Brain Health and provide opportunities for those in the early stages of memory loss to stay active and receiveopportunities for those in the early stages of memory loss to stay active and receive support from people experiencing similar issues. It also allows caregivers to seek support early on how to cope with changes.

Talking about memory issues also allows families to make financial plans. Sometimes, some of the earliest signs of memory loss occur when a person makes poor financial decisions. Since people with memory loss are at an increased risk of being victims of financial fraud, interventions allow the family to meet with financial planners and attorneys to protect the personʼs financial interests and provide them with the greatest number of options for future care. A recent article in Kiplingerʼs, entitled “Prepare for the Financial Impact of Alzheimer’s”, did a great job of addressing the financial needs of planning for Alzheimer’s.

Finally, early intervention allows the person who has been diagnosed to be a part of the planning process while they are still able to make decisions. The person may express that they would like to remain at home, if possible, and may want to make some safety modifications to their home. Some may want to move closer to their children, who could help. Others may express that they would like to live in an assisted living facility or other community where they could receive support. Allowing the person to be a part of the process of selecting a facility or even transitioning to a new home in the early stages of the disease, increases their chances of being comfortable and feeling at home in the new setting.

All of this early planning and conversations allows the family to know that they are meeting the wishes of the person living with memory loss and removes some of the stress, worry and guilt that families feel when they have to make these decisions. At Geriatric Care Management, we work with families in all stages of dementia and to help clarify which type of dementia their loved one has: Alzheimerʼs, Frontal Temporal, Vascular, Lewybody, Alcohol related, mixed dementias, etc. and what to expect. We can meet with families and the person who is experiencing memory loss to do screening and evaluation about being home alone, driving, and what specialists to see. We can make recommendations also on financial planners, needed legal documents and refer to attorneys to prepare those, as well as specific programs and facilities that could provide the services that person and their family may need.

If you would like a consultation about planning for memory loss,
please call to schedule an appointment. 897-3009

– Brianna Matel, MSW

To download this Newsletter as a PDF, click on this link:
GCM Mail – Geriatric Care Management Updates!

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