Elderhouse Helps Seniors in Fairfield County, CT

Last week I visited Elderhouse, an adult daycare center in Norwalk, CT. I was so impressed. Executive Director Denise Cesareo is very warm and enthusiastic. She explained to me that Elderhouse can help older adults remain in their homes by giving them a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment during the day. Normally, most of their clients would be forced to live in an institution because it would be too dangerous for them to remain in their homes. About half of the clients have cognitive impairments, and others have physical disabilities. 

I could really see the difference between life at Elderhouse and a nursing home because I visited my mother-in-law in a nursing home the day after my visit to Elderhouse. Wow. Elderhouse clients were more engaged and really looked far happier. They were singing, playing games, reading and resting. They all looked very well groomed and  well dressed.

Elderhouse, which is one of the oldest adult daycare centers in Connecticut, provides lunch, activities, and even showers and personal care. Denise told me that they also care for the families, staying in touch with them and ensuring that the clients get a program of care and activities tailored uniquely to their needs. Combined with being able to be in their own homes at night -- with a loving spouse, adult child or other care-giver, this makes for a really high quality of life for older adults who can't care for themselves.

Elderhouse’s highly experienced staff offers the following services:
•    Transportation to and from the facility (door-to-door with assistance)
•    Hot, nutritious meal
•    Variety of group activities and celebrations
•    Nursing care with administration of medications by a nurse
•    Daily exercise appropriate for the individuals
•    Personal care including showers and grooming
•    Support and education for families and caregivers

They are open Monday – Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. They are also open until 7 pm on Tuesdays. The daily charge is $82, which includes transportation. Showers are extra - $9.00. This is far cheaper than nursing home care at an average of $350/day in Connecticut.

The population Elderhouse serves is getting older and frailer, posing more challenges. While the clients range from 63 to 100, the average age is now 81, up from 76 a decade ago. The clientele is also being affected by the recession, but Elderhouse provides scholarships, which are funded by donations. Medicaid will pay for the care for those with no funds. Medicare will not.

Elderhouse collaborates with other social service agencies.  The City of Norwalk has no social services department, so agencies like Elderhouse have to work closely with other agencies to try to prevent elderly from fall through the cracks. That said, Elderhouse also serves people from Westport, Darien and Wilton, too.

For more information, contact Denise at 203-847-1998

Location: 7 Lewis Street, Norwalk, CT 06851

website: www.elderhouse.org

PALS on WTNH's Connecticut Style - PALS

I know Henry Racki and think his modular practical assisted living structures are fantastic. Here is an interesting video of an interview with Henry on Channel 8 News in Connecticut. You can see what a PALS is like. Henry is a certified aging in place contractor.

Watch & learn about PALS on WTNH's Connecticut Style - PALS

Aging In Place in Darien - Progress Report

Aging In Place in Darien ("AIP") is on a great trajectory. About four years ago, I started writing this blog to chronicle the stages of development of an Aging in Place initiative at the First Congregational Church of Darien. Well, that project joined in with other initiatives in town. The resulting Aging In Place in Darien is now well on its way to becoming a full-fledged independent nonprofit of some form or another. The nominating committee has assembled an awesome board. Truly, I cannot get over the caliber of the people on it -- all amazingly intelligent with many perspectives and representing different agencies, groups that serve seniors, plus several highly active town residents.

In the interest of getting our group into the 21st Century, I'm posting the sorts of information I believe the public needs to be able to access easily online -- all in one place. After all, that is what AIP is all about -- one-stop shopping for links to the services for seniors. The list below is only a drop in the bucket. Hopefully, after a committee study, we'll be able to post photos and more news bursts via a blog, facebook and/or a proprietary website. But until then, I'll just keep putting up some news right here on my own blog.

Aging In Place in Darien's Mission Statement:
Helping Darien seniors live independently, comfortably and with dignity in their own homes as long as possible.

We provide information and links to all the services which help seniors live at home successfully -- transportation, handyman services, senior social and educational events, help with understanding Medicare, and other services. Anyone who is seeking information or help to stay in their homes, can call Alyssa Israel, our coordinator, at 203-202-2912. Her office is at the Darien Senior Activities Center. Her email is aipcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org.

Call or email her and become a member for free! You'll get email alerts about all sorts of events and services for seniors in our area. Alyssa also has a list of vetted service providers -- handymen, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, etc. She checks to make sure they are insured and licensed to do business in Connecticut. We also know wonderful volunteers who can help with small tasks. Please don't hesitate to call.

I've been amazed with how many services there are for seniors.

Here is a brief list of organizations AIP is connected with:

Gallivant -- the town's senior transportation provider -- 203.655.2227.
Half-price Taxi Vouchers -- available at Town Hall -- 203.656.7328

CT Transit Bus -- 203.202.2912 or Easy Access Minivan -- www.norwalktransit.com - 203.299.5180

Family and Children's Agency private driver -- 203.831.2900

St. Luke's Small Tasks Ministry -- run by Charlie England -
Call Charlie directly at 912-8720 or e-mail charlesengland@sbcglobal.net or call
Alyssa Israel, AIP Coordinator at 202-2912 for an extended list of vetted service providers.

The Darien Library -- www.darienlibrary.org

The Darien Senior Activities Center -- 203.656.7455

Darien Town Government: Department of Social Services -- 203 656-7328 phone
Olive Hauser - Director - ohauser@darienct.gov
Inta Adams -- helping with Medicare --
    Senior Men's Association -- http://sma.darien.org/

    The Darien Community Association ("DCA")--

    The Darien Commission on Aging

    Family Centers/Friendly Connections -http://www.familycenters.org/

    The Community Fund of Darien (our sponsor) -- 

    There is a whole lot more. And when we get our own blog, website and/or facebook pages, we'll list more connections, post more information and photographs from all our activities.

    Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It?

    Last week a friend of mine said her long-term care insurance premiums had suddenly gone up by 39%. When she called her insurance company to see if this was a mistake, their answer was "no." It seems that people were beginning to actually make some claims and use the benefits of the insurance. Well, that suddenly hurt profits, so MetLife (the company in question) asked the State of Connecticut if they could raise their rates. The state said "yes." This is happening all over the country.

    Shortly after I had this conversation, I read an article in the New York Times on the sudden increase in long-term care insurance premiums. Obamacare was partly to blame (due to several new regulations buried in the law). But there were other factors, too. It seems baby boomers aren't buying the insurance. In fact, sales are flat to down. Why? Some answers were in the Times article and others in a report by Milliman (an insurance consulting company).

    Most people realize that our government indemnifies most of us from the catastrophic costs of a nursing home, home-health care or assisted living through Medicaid. You don't even have to give up your house, car or personal possession to qualify for Medicaid (in most states). The vast majority of older Americans qualify because they don't have a lot of savings and investments outside their homes. And those that do, have figured out ways to protect their estates.

    In addition, the chances of needing the care are not as great as one would think. For people over 65, there is only a 45% chance that you'll make a claim. Not only that, only 14% of people stay in a nursing home more than three years.

    So, if you can afford to pay $83,500 or more a year on a nursing home for three years, buying the insurance might not make sense. Long-term care insurance can cost $2,500 per year for a 60-year-old. But if rates continue climbing at 40% per year, that could be a lot of money to give up for a 45% chance you'll need it when you're in your 80s. Even if you do, the insurance may not pay all the bills.

    The NY Times article and the study by Milliman give many more facts, opinions and food for thought. They are both worth reading prior to making any decisions about buying long-term care insurance. When looking at long-term care coverage, see how much they will pay out and for how long. Weigh the costs and benefits for yourself. Would your premiums earn you more if invested in stocks or bonds?



    Indoor and Outdoor Falls: Are the Risks the Same?

    Here's a really great article about falls. Did you know that more active, healthy adults fall outside the home, while sicker, less active adults fall inside? Makes sense, doesn't it? Fall prevention courses and articles tend to focus on falls inside the home. Yet, there are plenty of obstacles outdoors. I've had three friends fall outside in the past year -- one broke her arm, one broke her hip, and one hit his head and died within 24 hours.

    So, be aware of your surroundings, no matter where you are. Look ahead. Watch where you are going. Be mindful.

    Indoor and Outdoor Falls: Are the Risks the Same?

    "The Reversal" Is a Great Crime Novel

    I just finished a fantastic crime novel -- "The Reversal" by Michael Connelly. If you enjoy detective fiction or know someone who loves murder stories, get them this book. (Reading and keeping the mind active helps stave off dementia and makes life enjoyable.)

    I am a huge Michael Connelly fan. Whenever I finish one of his books, I look forward to the next one. I used to live in LA and really miss the city. So I particularly love his dark descriptions of Los Angeles and its seamy underworld of sordid crimes, cops and criminal attorneys. I've grown very fond of his characters L.A.P.D. Detective Harry Bosch and defense attorney Mickey Haller, who Connelly developed in separate series of novels over the course of many years.

    In "The Reversal", Connelly brings the two men together to nail a kidnapper and murderer. I'm not going to reveal the plot; it's best to read it for yourself. In most detective novels, the reader has to guess who committed the crime. That is not the point of this book. Rather, it's a story of how two prosecutors and a police detective work to find evidence to nail the bad guy. The unfolding of how Harry and Mickey work and think is really fascinating. Their characters' parallel lives with divorces, daughters and homes with sweeping views of Los Angeles (Mickey's looks West to the ocean. Harry's looks northeast (I think) over the Cahuenga pass and the Hollywood Freeway) pull you into the story and make you care.

    Amazingly, the court room scenes of the murder trial are fast-paced and fascinating. And wondering what the bad guy will do next kept me reading past my normal bedtime.

    Trust me. This is great escapist reading, grounded in a real city with characters you'll believe are real. That's what makes this book great.

    Death Panels?

    Remember how so many people were afraid of death panels in the Health Care Reform bill? We may have them already.

    I just heard this story.

    My good friend escorted her older neighbor to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing after picking up a cold on the plane back from Europe. In the emergency room, the doctor determined that the older woman had pneumonia and had to be admitted to the hospital.

    My friend was dismayed, shocked and alarmed when a social worker appeared and started to take over. The social worker produced all these forms to fill out, including asking if the sick woman had a living will and if she wanted to be cremated or buried! She was asked all sorts of other difficult near-end-of-life questions. My friend told the social worker to wait until the woman's son arrived -- that these were questions to be discussed with family. My friend's neighbor's first language was Italian and she was very sick, not able to breathe well and was duly scared of all the sudden medical and social worker attention. She really couldn't handle all that was being thrown at her.

    To me this just shows how far we have come into the world of impersonal, uncaring, bureaucratic medicine. There was definitely no bedside manner. It just shows why we all need advocates to help us -- family, friends, neighbors or clergy. Occasionally, we get a family doctor who cares about us (not our money) and can help. But it seems they are few and far between.

    Who is going to stand up for us and help us when we're sick and old? It's not the medical establishment.

    This is a topic we all need to think about and discuss.