Bracing for the Falls – Older Adults at Risk

cdcAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults – and that one-third of Americans aged 65+ are injured in falls each year.

In “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation”, New York Times writer Katie Hafner examines those frightening statistics and provides a series of fascinating videos that demonstrate the visual acuity of the aging eye and how easily falls can occur through misperception.

Click here for full article and videos >>

Older adults can reduce their chances of falling by taking a few protective measures. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recommends having a yearly eye exam by an optometrist and discussing any new medications with a pharmacist to identify those that may cause side effects of dizziness or drowsiness. Adequate calcium and vitamin D is important for bone health and both the CDC and NCOA promote regular exercise as the most important action older adults can take to help prevent hospitalization and loss of independence from fall-related injuries.

Additionally, during our no-charge Complementary Professional Assessment, an experienced Eldercare Services Care Manager can complete a free home safety check – which could point out some potential dangers to you or a family member. Don’t risk a fatal fall! Call Eldercare Services today at 866.760.1808 for more information.

Being an Advocate for Your Own Health

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

 

The greatest thing you can do about your quality of life is to become your own best and prepared advocate.  This article can help you ask the right questions Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

The next best thing you can do, is to make sure you have an “agent” who can be your advocate when you are too ill to advocate for yourself and you need legal tools often called an “Advanced Health Care Directive” or “Power of Attorney for Health Care” – this gives authority to the named person so you can be sure to receive the care and treatment you desire.

 

Stay well – but always be prepared.

Utilizing Professional Care Managers in Special Needs Trusts

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

 

I was honored to be a panelist for this presentation with Stephen Dale, Attorney at Law on “Utilizing Professional Care Managers in  Special Needs Trusts” on June 25, 2014.

We discuss the importance of including a Care Manager in a Special Needs Trust to assess the needs of the beneficiary and develop a distribution plan that can help direct the trust and allow the trustee, advisory committee or trust protector make common sense decisions based on client centered needs.

 

 

 

Life is a Sacred Journey – In Home Care Services

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

 

Guest speaker, Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, Founder and Executive Director of Eldercare Services discusses how you can maintain your interdependence and stay at home for as long as possible on MPR Blog Talk Radio Hosted by Micheal Pope of Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay on June 12, 2014.

To listen to the audio interview, click here.  

Dirty Dancing at Any Age – A Lesson to do What you Love!

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

The national organization I am part of, National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, recently emailed this video to me and the other Care Managers in our office.  The video of this older woman, doing what she is most passionate about, is what we continually educate and advise our clients and their family members to do.

Doing what you love will give you joy and the highest quality of life, for all the years of your life.  This video will inspire you and if you’re like me, bring tears to your eyes.

A must watch!

Fall Prevention…Should be on the Minds of all Over the Age of 60! 3 ways to Prevent

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Who is falling, what happens then and how can we prevent this for ourselves? Every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the Emergency Room for a falls-related injury. A fall can change a life and many falls can be prevented in three ways:

1) Focus on strengthening exercises all your life

2) Be safety aware and don’t take chances on ladders or stools – keep your house as safe as possible and be “all eyes” when walking outdoors

3) If you have a mobility issue caused by a medical issue, use the right equipment for you. This could be a cane, walker or a wheelchair (make sure it is correct in size for you) – but still do as much exercise as you can with guidance from your doctor or therapist. Ask your physician for a “fall” evaluation and prevention referral to a physical therapist.

More funds are being sought to provide more education with the public on this issue. But more can be done. You could write to your representative in Washington supporting any legislation that would prevent falls.

Lives are changed and the quality of a life can be greatly affected by just one fall. Enjoy your long lives and live strong and safe.

Our clients matter – grieving their loss

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Many of you might think that in a “Caregiving” and “Care Management” agency we are somehow hardened by the experience of death as it meets our clients. But, after 25 years of serving clients, we have found that each and every client brings a new experience of life to those of us that have the honor to be with someone on this very last journey.

We have a secure way of sharing among staff the story of a client who has passed on from this life. Today, I heard a story of a gentleman who died and how his life work really touches so many today and will for years to come. I also heard of his passions and interests in life and how his wife will grieve his loss.

We get brought into these lives and deliver a service that is necessary to gently support the frail years. There are very few careers that give you the opportunity to get to know and yes, love individuals who you have not had a history with or have a family connection. Yet, it does feel like family when we lose someone who we have been working with for a few weeks or several years.

At Eldercare Services, when we have an all staff meeting, we always start by lighting a candle and saying the names of all those who have passed since we last met. We always want the focus of our discussions to be centered on the “client” and as we talk about the workings of Eldercare Services, we see the smoke of the candle reminding us the “client” is why we exist.

Life is love – caring is love. We thank all the families that have trusted us to get to know their family members and gave us the privilege to provide the highest level of care during hard times and sometimes just short periods of recovery.

NATIONALLY ACCLAIMED PIONEER CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF BUSINESS IN WALNUT CREEK

Walnut Creek, CA, April 2, 2014 – In 1989, Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC pioneered one of the very first Care Management and Home Care agencies in the Bay Area in her kitchen and 25 years later, hundreds of agencies now exist due to the extraordinary numbers of aging boomers. Today, the woman-owned agency remains privately held with a main office in Walnut Creek with over 250 employees.

Honoring this milestone, Eldercare Services hosted a private, invitation-only celebration at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Linda and co-owner husband, Bruce Johnson, were not only honored with a proclamation from the City of Walnut Creek, but many esteemed professionals who work with older adults publicly addressed Fodrini-Johnson and Eldercare Services for their leadership and commitment to caring and serving, and educating the community on aging issues.

Anne Marie Taylor, JFK University’s Vice President of Advancement, acknowledged Fodrini-Johnson as “One of JFK University’s most beloved graduates.” Continuing with, “She really is the quintessential model for people who come to the University, who follow their heart, who transform lives, and who change the world. She believed strongly in helping elderly people stay in their homes, and she was tenacious in supporting them in whatever ways they needed. Linda has been honored as Alumni of the Year, a keynote speaker, an adjunct faculty member, and an Advisory Council member…and still she gets nominated for these positions every year!”

Passionate about giving back to her profession and the community, Fodrini-Johnson served as President of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and was recognized with their top award – the Adele Elkind Award. She was honored as a “Hometown Hero” for community service and was most recently selected to the Contra Costa Commission for Women, Hall of Fame, for leadership in the community.
Fodrini-Johnson is a sought after public speaker with an intense passion for providing high quality expertise, community education and family support, setting herself apart from the norm. Of the hundreds of agencies now in the Bay Area, Eldercare Services is one of only two accredited by the Joint Commission, the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

Distinguished as experts, Fodrini-Johnson and her team are frequently contacted by local and national media (Contra Costa Times, Consumer Reports, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and many more) for their insight and advice on aging and advocacy. This is the same wisdom that for the past 25 years has been benefiting families, helping to maintain the highest possible quality-of-life for their aging family members.

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Eldercare Services provides a unique blend of services from professional geriatric care management, home care services (caregiving) and counseling to offering family support groups and community education. Passionate about the challenges of aging and illness, Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, served as President of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) in 2010 and is still a very active member. For more information on Eldercare Services, visit www.EldercareAnswers.com.

Linda and Bruce

Party Time - Group

Proclamation

The Brain & the Caregiver: Families at Risk

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Could providing care to a family member put your brain at risk? You might say, “Risk of what?” New research is showing that stress and anxiety have a negative effect on the body, damaging chromosomes and possibly becoming a catalyst to many serious illnesses including dementia, heart disease and cancer. When you think you are the “only one” who can provide all the care or the love, pulling you into caring for another person 24/7, you can actually put yourself at risk. You might suffer an illness far greater than the person you care for, putting that person in jeopardy of losing you as his or her primary advocate.

Dr. Philippe Goldin, PhD, from the Neuroscience division of Stanford and UC Davis, has done extensive studies on this issue which has led him to the promotion of the “Science and Practice of Mindfulness.” The practice of meditation and related exercises has been known to those outside the scientific circles for centuries. It is heartwarming for me to see this move into valid scientific research. It gives credibility to practices that allow us to experience the stresses and anxiety of life, but to also protect ourselves and our chromosomes with a few minutes of easy exercise each day.

It sounds easy, but if you have ever tried to meditate, you might suffer from a wandering mind as I do. According to Dr. Goldin, wandering minds are also destructive to our chromosomes. So, this takes lots of practice and intention. The good news is that you can stay in your own home and you don’t necessarily need to join a gym or find a Guru. It can be, and should be, a daily practice for those who are providing care for another.

I found it both startling and exciting that you can heal damaged chromosomes – it is the endings of the chromosomes called telomeres that are destroyed by stress, anxiety and pain. The telomere is like the end of a shoe lace (the plastic coating) and as you practice mindfulness, the telomeres repair themselves.

Below is a list of a few exercises that will assist you with keeping a healthy brain and body. These exercises are even more important for those who have a family history of any of the illnesses mentioned. Focused attention is key. If 60 minutes is a challenge – start with 20 to 30 minutes a day and gradually work up to 60 minutes. Even starting with 10 minutes will do your body well!

  1. Focused Breathing
  2. Systematic Relaxation
  3. Loving Kindness Meditation
  4. Physical Movement – Yoga, Tai Chi, etc.

I won’t go into all of the details of each of the above. However, here is an example of “Loving Kindness Meditation” from Sylvia Boorstein’s “Happiness is an Inside Job”:

1. Start by directing the phrases (the metta) at yourself: “May I be happy!”
2. Next, direct the metta towards someone you feel thankful for or someone who has helped you.
3. Now visualize someone you feel neutral about—people you neither like nor dislike. This one can be harder than you’d think – for example, a clerk at a store.
4. Ironically, the next one can be easier: visualizing the people you don’t like or who you are having a hard time with.
5. Finally, direct the metta towards everyone universally: “May all beings everywhere be happy.”

If you are interested in learning more about how to repair your telomeres, I am teaching a class that will explore more “brain-remodeling” exercises and will give you additional scientific data to support your new habits (see box below). This will enable you to care for others and not damage your own fragile brain. Our bodies and DNA need to be well-taken care of so we can have the lives we envision. You can repair the telomeres that protect your chromosomes from the stresses of life.

April Affirmation: “My mind is refreshed by quiet moments of mindfulness every day.”

To view the printable version of this newsletter, click here.

Special Event for Aging Adults or Family Caregivers Dealing with the Challenges of Aging:

 Brain Remodeling
You can change your brain and your health!  With Linda Fodrini-Johnson

Weds., April 16 | 5:30 to 7 pm | Eldercare Services, WC

More info or to register: Info@EldercareAnswers.com | 866.760.1808

 

 

Nursing Home Stays Can Be Deadly or Life Giving – What are families to do?

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

Founder and Executive Director Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC

A recent program on National Public Radio (NPR) called “A Third of Nursing Home Patients Harmed By Their Treatment” was shocking to me. Because of the fact that I or one of my staff advocates for and track our clients, we don’t have that type of harm – most are there for rehab and then are quickly discharged back to home or retirement living.

The article which ran on March 5, 2014 said that 60% of those admitted to nursing homes are actually harmed by their treatment (or errors) and end up back in the hospital.

I am sure regulators are trying to turn that around and hospitals could be penalized for readmission so both the nursing home and the discharging hospital have something to gain besides healthier people – and that is their reputation and the overall quality of care for all of us who might need just a little extra support after an illness or surgery.

I would highly recommend that families either hire a skilled and experienced Professional Care Manager to advocate, support and, at the same time, oversee the quality of care delivered so the patient can return to their previous functioning level if possible.

My experience with clients over the years who have needed skilled nursing has been mostly positive. But, I say this as an advocate and truly believe that, without my advocacy, their experiences would not have been as positive. The fact is, a patient can get lost or overlooked without an advocate to ask good questions, support the plan of care and work on realistic goals. I will say that those without advocates are part of the 60% who could be harmed by being overlooked and/or not having a skilled and experienced advocate.

Care Managers are skilled at asking good questions to find either comfort care that is attentive and kind or rehabilitation care that helps clients get back to their base functioning or improved functioning. The key is teaming with the skilled nursing center’s team and being part of making the outcome the best it can be.