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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Increase Your Chances of Avoiding a Heart Attack

Excerpts from December 2013 Senior Spirit Newsletter

Last month, a report by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommended extending statin drugs to a wider pool of people to prevent heart attacks as well as strokes. Previously, a high cholesterol level was the main criterion, but the new guidelines encourage people with normal cholesterol levels but higher risk factors related to age, gender and race to consider the cholesterol-lowering drugs. 

The guidelines also promote more traditional preventive measures: 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise four times a week and a diet focused on vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Reinforcing the need for exercise to prevent heart attacks, new research from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences suggests simple activities can reduce the risk of a heart attack (as reported in the online British Journal of Sports Medicine, October 28, 2013). Researchers found that those who were most physically active reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by 27 percent and decreased their risk of all-cause mortality by 30 percent, when compared with the least active participants in the study.

Aging Factor for Heart Attack Risk

Taking preventive measures becomes more important as we get older, because aging increases our risk factors. In fact, the number one cause of death in adults over the age of 60 is heart disease, including heart attacks. Heart disease can strike anyone, but older adults are hit the hardest for several reasons. For one, people who smoke or have a history of smoking have a much higher risk. Smoking is the leading cause of heart disease. (For help quitting smoking, you can call 1-800-QuitNow.) 

The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction, in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly and severely reduced or cut off, causing the muscle to die from lack of oxygen. This often happens as plaque, a fatty material, builds up over the years on the inside walls of the coronary arteries, which supply blood and oxygen to your heart; this build-up is often due to smoking. Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the part of the heart muscle fed by the artery. If the flow of blood isn't restored quickly, the section of heart muscle becomes damaged from lack of oxygen and begins to die.

As we age, changes normally occur in the heart and blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease, including heart attacks. The heart becomes more vulnerable to various injuries, and its “pump” capabilities begin to deteriorate.

The heart’s decrease in elasticity and ability to respond to changes in arterial-system pressure means escalating resistance to its pumping action. This increases the effort needed to drive blood to various organs. In addition, as the arterial wall thickens, the arteries stiffen. Rigid arteries lead to high blood pressure, which is especially dangerous for the elderly. (See the sidebar for other heart disease factors associated with aging.)

Heart Attack Symptoms Vary

People experience the symptoms of an oncoming heart attack differently. Women and those older than 75, especially, are less likely to feel any chest pain and more likely to suffer what is known as a silent heart attack. The problem is that silent heart attacks don’t exhibit the traditional warning signs but are equally deadly. In fact, they are even more common in older adults than heart attacks that immediately come to the attention of doctors and patients, according to a recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (as reported in “The Deadly Threat of Silent Heart Attacks,” New Old Age blog, New York Times). Silent heart attacks are hard to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague: prolonged fatigue, confusion, shortness of breath.

In general, common symptoms of a traditional heart attack include:
  • Chest pain and pain that originates in the chest and spreads to the back, jaw or arms. People may also feel pain in all of these places and not the chest, or they may feel pain in the stomach area and mistake it for indigestion. The pain is like that of angina but usually more severe and longer lasting, and it does not get better by resting or taking a nitroglycerin pill.
  • Faintness
  • Sudden sweating
  • Nausea
  • Heavy pounding of the heart
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), which occur in more than 90 percent of people who have had a heart attack
  • Loss of consciousness, which sometimes is the first symptom of a heart attack
  • Feelings of restlessness, sweatiness, anxiety and a sense of impending doom
  • Bluishness of the lips, hands or feet
Certain symptoms are mostly seen in older adults:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Progressive fatigue
  • Heartbeats that are too fast, too slow or irregular
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the left chest, or more commonly, “chest tightness,” especially if brought about by physical or emotional stress
  • Symptoms that resemble a stroke, such as feeling disoriented 
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Susceptible to SAD?

The holiday season is a time that can provide much joy and togetherness - but it can also be a period of great loneliness and even depression for certain people. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a cyclical form of depression that can affect people at specific times during the year, mostly in the fall and winter, and its symptoms can be severe.
In your interactions with the seniors in your care, be careful not to ignore potential SAD symptoms. The individual might even brush off his or her own symptoms, attributing them to temporary "winter blues" or a "seasonal funk." But such temporary down moods can be persistent and quickly resist improvement. Turning your back to such signs can lead to more serious problems, including thoughts of suicide.
Be sure to watch for the following symptoms of SAD:
  • anxiety and irritability
  • sadness
  • lack of energy and increased fatigue
  • hopelessness, discouragement and feelings of worthlessness
  • changes in appetite/weight gain
  • concentration/memory problems
  • problems sleeping
  • confusion
  • suicidal thoughts
SAD Seniors
People of all ages can experience SAD, but seniors represent a particular challenge. It can be difficult to properly diagnose older people who might be exhibiting symptoms of depression that actually result from other serious medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke or heart disease. Seniors are also susceptible to vascular depression, which occurs when blood vessels harden and constrict over time. This loss of flexibility in the vessels can disrupt normal blood flow to the brain. And certain medications can have side effects that resemble depressive symptoms.
Indeed, depressive symptoms can arise from a number of factors closely associated with growing older. A general biological slowdown can lead to decreased energy, increased health risk, fewer opportunities for social interaction and a loss of independence. Because these factors are so common, seniors or their caregivers might be inclined to believe the symptoms of depression are not serious.
However, although depression isn't a normal component of the aging process, it is quite common among seniors. Studies have shown that about 6 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from depression — and a mere 10 percent of those receive proper treatment.
White males age 85 and older have the highest suicide rate of any age group, and the main cause is untreated depression. Many have a depressive illness that their doctors might not detect.
What causes SAD?
The cause of SAD is unclear, but it might result from several factors related to age, genetics and body chemistry. In particular, drops in levels of the natural hormones melatonin and the brain chemical serotonin might lead to SAD symptoms. Both chemicals play a role in mood, but it's the connection of sunlight with serotonin — and the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter — that provides perhaps the biggest clue. It's well known that these darker seasons can disrupt the body's biological clock or circadian rhythm.
Put simply, SAD might very well be caused by the body's reaction to light deprivation — a lack of sunlight.
Typically, older adults suffering from depression show improvement after receiving treatment such as antidepressants and psychotherapy. In fact, psychotherapy alone might be particularly effective in addressing mild forms of depression. But perhaps the most effective way to handle SAD is a combination of psychotherapy, medication and phototherapy (light therapy).
Caregivers should already be encouraging the seniors in their care to bring more sunlight (and Vitamin D) into their lives. During the shorter, colder days of fall and winter, it can be more of a challenge to seek the sun; even something as simple as opening the blinds or taking a walk outside can help.
In the absence of such opportunities, doctors can prescribe phototherapy (or light therapy) to treat SAD. There are two types of light therapy:
  • Bright light treatment — The individual sits in front of a special fluorescent lamp (a "light box" or "sunbox") for a specific length of time.
  • Dawn or sunshine simulation — In the morning, a light box gradually brightens from dim to brilliant, like a sunrise, while the individual is still asleep.
It's amazing what a little sun can do! Light therapy has a high success rate, typically bringing relief from SAD within days. But the individual needs to keep up with the treatment. Adding other simple, proactive measures — getting regular exercise, keeping a strict sleep schedule and eating a healthy diet — can further enhance the person's mood.
If a depressed person does not respond to lifestyle changes such as increased light and exercise, it's important to seek the help of a health care professional promptly. With proper attention, SAD is a very treatable condition.
Blog post provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Conversations with Seniors: a simple guide to making them easier

In 2000, approximately 605 million people were 60 years or older. According to the Administration on Aging, that number is expected to be close to 2 billion by 2050. It will be the adult children who manage the care of these older adults that will need to discuss the many difficult, yet important topics that are critical to the health and wellbeing of these senior adults. Topics of conversation include finances, driving safety, living situations, health and wellbeing, and many more.

There is an ever-growing need today for understanding just how to effectively communciate with aging adults on these important topics and that providing them with meaningful support is imperative for their wellbeing. While it can be a daunting challenge, it is essential for those managing the care of older adults to be patient, respectful and empathetic to the situation. An effective conversation with an older adult should always consist of thoughtful speech, careful listening and an open awareness to their wants and needs.

The Key Ingredients to a safe conversation:
  • Acknowledge the difficulty of the conversation.
  • Look at all facts - be gentle and sensitive (if there is any resistance, back-up and create a safe space before proceeding.)
  • Ask questions - always look for ways to have the senior control the conversation.
  • Identify the outcome you're both looking for - the future you want to create. Be open to their thoughts and be thinking outside the box.
  • Inquire into what would help the senior create the next stage of their life as the best part of their life.
  • Take this as an opportunity for soul searching and valuing your relationship with your senior.
Common Barriers to Good Communication
  • Judgments
  • Having the answer
  • Being argumentative
  • Getting angry
  • Getting defensive
When utilizing this information, it will help to provide you with the tools to plan and structure your conversations more effectively and it will provide you with the support you need to support the seniors in your life. See Making the Difficult Conversation Easier.  


Blog post provided by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Make Downsizing Less Stressful

Excerpts from November Senior Spirit Newsletter

The kids are gone, the house is too big, the lawn takes too much work; or maybe you want to move closer to the center of town or be part of a community of older adults. For most older adults, there comes a time when you need or want to downsize.

The easy part may be packing up your possessions. The harder aspect is saying good-bye to what may be a lifetime of memories or choosing what is essential for you. What can you give away or give up? Who or what should be the recipient? What should you keep?

For adults over 60, only a spouse's death and divorce rank as more stressful than moving to a nursing or retirement home, according to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale—the Stress Scale.

Tips for Downsizing

Start slowly: It will be emotionally easier to tackle one room or part of a room at a time, giving yourself some breaks in between. (Consider distracting yourself with a movie or dinner with friends). You can start with an easier room, like a bathroom, that has less emotional impact. Once you’ve emptied one larger room, use it to organize the rest of the house or apartment. Be easy on yourself.

Organize: Figure out exactly how much space you will have in your new home, including storage in the kitchen, closets and cabinets. How many dishes, clothes, books and so forth will you have room for? If your new space is half of what you have now, you know how much you have to get rid of. If you have more possessions than space, you can always rent a storage locker, but it can be expensive over the long haul and may just put off the hard decisions of what to keep and what to get rid of.

To stay organized, create piles for things you want to keep, give to family and friends, sell/donate or throw away. To make letting go easier, take photos of what you’re leaving behind. To help with the decision-making process, it’s sometimes easier to ask, “What do I absolutely need” or "Which is my favorite piece" and then see how much room is left for anything else.

Get help: Because downsizing can be a painful process, both emotionally and physically, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s an opportunity to go down memory lane with friends and family . At the same time, you can give away possessions to your loved ones, including items you may have been planning to give them after your death. Passing them on now means you can tell the story behind the gift or reiterate your affection for the person—whether your childhood best friend, your granddaughter or your favorite walking companion.

Paperwork and pictures: Because going through old papers, personal notes, documents and photos is time-consuming, and because they often don’t take up a lot of space, you can pack these items and deal with them after you move. But if you do have time, it’s better to get rid of the papers and photos that no longer have any meaning. Make sure you shred any documents with personal information, account identification and especially Social Security numbers. You can digitize (on your computer) documents and photos you want to keep but don’t have space for computer (see sidebar).

Selling or Giving It Away

After sorting and packing possessions, you arrive at the big task of getting rid of the stuff you chose not keep.

If you think an item is worth money, there are several approaches: auction houses, antique dealers, consignment shops, garage sales, eBay or Craigslist. Each has advantages and disadvantages, including varying costs. You can use an appraiser to determine the value, but you need to have enough items to make the appraiser’s visit worthwhile. Auction houses want to sell things at the highest prices and will therefore often offer you more than antique dealers, who want to purchase items at the lowest price.

Whatever you can’t sell, you can give away. The main donation outlets include Goodwill, the Salvation Army, AmVets and Purple Heart. You can also find charities that might be more in line with your values, such as the Humane Society or a hospital/hospice outlet.

Before you donate, it’s a good idea to check online or over the phone to see if your chosen charity has any restrictions on what it accepts: for example, no furniture or electronics, or only clothes and housewares. Also find out if they are willing to pick up larger items.

You can target certain items for certain places; for example, take musical instruments to schools or old tools to auto repair shops. Nonprofits or local schools can use old magazines for art projects, and homeless shelters or abused women shelters can take unused toiletries. Even worn-out items, such as towels and blankets, are welcome at animal shelters.

To get rid of other items that don’t seem reusable, try Freecycle; you never know; someone might be looking for a broken lawn mower to use as part of a backyard sculpture. Freecycle Network is a nonprofit group with members dedicated to recycling. Items are posted online for anyone who wants them. If nothing else works, set items on the curb with a sign that says “Help yourself.”

Getting Professional Help

With the population of older adults growing, it’s no surprise that businesses catering to all aspects of helping seniors move are increasing. The number of local companies registered with the National Association of Senior Move Managers has grown from 30 to more than 800 since 2002, according to the group. Companies such as Caring Transitions can help manage the process and carry out your wishes.

Senior move managers specialize in helping older adults with both the emotional and practical dimensions of late-life transitions. Managers can arrange estate sales, locate and deliver items to storage facilities or coordinate donations to charities (“New businesses help unload the stress of moving seniors,” USA Today). Hourly rates range from $30 to $90 depending on location.


“7 Helpful Tips for Downsizing Seniors’ Homes,” Home Helpers

“20 Tips to Help You Get Rid of Junk,”

“Downsizing Tips for Seniors,” Senior Care Homes

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tips for Choosing a Medigap Plan

Excertps from October 2013 Senior Spirit Newsletter

Seniors getting close to the eligibility age for Medicare are bombarded with appeals from insurance companies—both in their mailboxes and on their computers. For those who already have the health plan, the busy time comes during Medicare's Part D (drug) and Part C (Advantage Plan) open enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7. Each year, you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Part D to another, with the new coverage to commence on January 1.

Deciding which plans are best is not an easy decision because the choices are many and complex. To demystify the process, older adults can get help from guidebooks, classes and their insurance agents. Keep in mind that Medicare was never intended to completely pay for seniors’ medical costs. Basically, Medicare pays for 80 percent and you pay 20 percent. Over the years, more options have become available to fill in the gaps, with private companies offering ways to mitigate costs.

Choosing Between Original and Advantage

The first choice you need to make is whether to go with the Original Medicare Plan, in which the government directly pays for hospital and medical care (Parts A and B, respectively), or to use the Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), in which the government pays a private health network (such as an HMO or PPO), which often covers Parts A, B, and D (prescription drugs).

With the Original Medicare Plan, you still must pay for copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. For example, Medicare requires a $1,184 deductible for the first 60 days of a hospital stay and 20 percent of the cost of Part B services such as doctor visits, outpatient treatments and laboratory tests. To cover these costs, you have to get supplemental insurance from a private insurance company. These plans are called a Medicare Supplement or Medigap policies.

The majority of Medicare users stick with the Original Plan, because they can choose their own health care providers rather than having to stay within the HMO network, which doesn’t work if you’re traveling outside of the HMO network. However, because HMOs carefully control costs, the Advantage Plans are often cheaper than the Original Medicare Plan.

Options for Medigap Plans

Choosing the Original Medicare Plan (in which the government directly pays your health care provider) opens a whole host of options. Supplemental plans, also known as Medigap, are confusingly named Plans A–N, although totally different than the Medicare Parts A–D. This is where most people’s eyes start to glaze over and you start wondering why someone couldn’t have chosen different names for all the plans.

Medigap policies come in 10 standardized benefit packages labeled as the letters. Each plan offers a different set of benefits, fills different gaps in Medicare coverage and varies in price. (Be aware that Medigap policies never cover long-term, vision or dental care; hearing aids; eyeglasses or private-duty nursing.) Some insurance carriers offer some of the plans but not all of them. Although premiums vary between carriers, each company conforms to the Medicare definition of that plan. That is, Plan C will always be the same no matter which insurance carrier you use.

The difference among plans has to do with how much each company pays for deductibles, coinsurance and copayments, and some plans offer to pay for emergency medical care while you are traveling in a foreign country. For example, Medigap Plans B, C, D, F, G and N cover the hospital deductible for each benefit period, while Plans K, L and M cover part of it. If you have to stay in the hospital, this benefit usually saves you money. Buyers need to carefully review insurance carriers’ offers, because premiums for the same plan can vary more than $100 per month.

The most popular plan is F, which pays for pretty much everything Medicare doesn't, including the 15 percent excess charge from doctors who don't accept Medicare as payment in full. Plan C is the next most popular. Plans M and N, the two newest options, are cost-sharing plans that have cheaper premiums, making them appealing to healthier retirees who don't use as much health care (“How to Choose a Medigap Supplemental Policy,” Huffington Post). If, however, you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota or Wisconsin, you have different standardized Medigap plans that you can buy.

Different Methods to Determine Premiums

If all that’s not confusing enough, insurance companies have three methods of determining the cost of a Medigap policy premium. A policy that looks inexpensive when you first buy it at age 65 could end up being the most expensive when you hit 80, so it’s important to figure out what is best for the long haul. The three types are:

  1. Attained-age: Premiums start low but increase as you get older.
  2. Issue-age: Premiums increase with inflation rather than age. These policies may start out a little more expensive than attained-age policies but generally have fewer rate increases over time.
  3. Community-rate: The same premium is charged to everyone, regardless of age. Issue-age and community-rated policies will usually save you money in the long-run (“How to Choose a Medigap Supplemental Policy”).
The best time to first enroll for Medigap is the three-month period before you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and the three-month period after turning 65 . During this seven-month period, insurance carriers must accept you without underwriting; that is, they must enroll you no matter your state of health and whether you have a pre-existing condition. After this seven-month period, you can enroll with (or change) different carriers every year, but insurance companies can reject you for any health reason.

The main differences among insurance companies are premium amounts and kind of service you get. Prices also vary between tobacco and non-tobacco users, for different zip codes and for city and rural areas. You can count on premiums going up as you get older.

How to Find the Best Plan

Beyond the costs, how do you choose a reputable insurance company? “Ask your doctor,” says Mickey Batsell, an insurance agent and Certified Senior Advisor®. “Does he or she have any experience with certain companies?” You’re looking for candid feedback.

Medicare provides information on the different types of plans. You can call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and ask them to mail you a free copy of the "Choosing a Medigap Policy" guide (publication 02110) or go online to

Different organizations offer their own advice. Consumer Reports ranks health insurance plans nationwide. You can use the tool to choose a plan category such as private HMO or PPO, or Medicare HMO or PPO. Then, choose your state and customize your search to compare plans' scores and their performance in measures such as consumer satisfaction and providing preventive services.

AARP has lots of information and several guides, including one just for baby boomers.

Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) or state insurance department can give you information on your state's rules, as well as provide free counseling about Medicare, Medigap and Medicare Advantage. SHIPs are federally funded programs and not connected to any insurance company or health plan. SHIPs were established to help beneficiaries with plan choices, billing problems, complaints about medical care or treatment and Medicare rights.

To view this article from Senior Spirit, visit Senior Spirit Medical News - October 2013.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Call for Proposals

SCSA’s Annual CSA Conference | Denver, Colorado | August 7-9, 2014
SCSA’s Annual CSA Conference is designed to provide current information relevant to professionals working in the senior market on the health, financial, social and legal issues associated with aging and how to apply practical knowledge to improve business practices. The CSA Conference is structured so that attendees gain knowledge relevant to their senior business and have opportunities to grow their professional networks by connecting with others in the senior market. The 2014 Program Committee invites proposals for conference sessions supporting the theme Building Knowledge and Empowering Networks to Benefit Seniors.
The deadline for proposals to reach SCSA’s office is November 30, 2013. 

Proposals will only be accepted if they are submitted using the Session Proposal Form which can be downloaded at Completed forms should be returned to with subject line 2014 Session Proposal.

Help make the 2014 CSA Conference a success by submitting your proposal or by sharing this opportunity with a colleague!


The FINANCE program track features both advanced and intermediate financial sessions. Some sessions will be geared toward professionals already working in financial services and are designed to be more specific and advanced, while others are meant to appeal to non-financial services professionals seeking a broader understanding that financial issues can have on their clients and their business. Trending issues or upcoming changes and their implications are preferred. 

The HEALTHCARE program track features sessions designed to inform participants, provoke discussions and explore new issues related to all aspects of healthcare and caregiving. Healthcare sessions can be a wide variety of topics and should be applicable to all professionals providing care to older adults at various stages of life and multiple levels of care. The healthcare track should include sessions that explore new concepts, address common and emerging issues, or identify best practices. 

The PUBLIC POLICY program track features sessions designed to 1) educate CSAs through a balanced program track 2) examine new and pending policies that involve senior legislation. The Public Policy session should apply to CSAs from across the US, but can include state specific case studies, examples, regulations, existing law and proposals.

The CURRENT RESEARCH & LIFESTYLE program track features sessions designed to enhance professional’s knowledge and skills for better job performance and practices. This track should include sessions that provide information relevant to technology, marketing, social media, company expansion and overcoming business obstacles. Sessions should relate back to senior specific concepts and issues, but can have a wider scope than other conference tracks.


The conference includes 4 program tracks:
  • Finance
  • Healthcare
  • Public Policy
  • Current Research and Lifestyle  
CSA conference sessions fit into the following formats: two 90 minute general sessions, eighteen 60 minute breakout sessions, and one roundtable session with 5-10 subtopics. Breakout sessions can be in roundtable seating for a discussion format or theater-style seating for a presentation format.

Interactive sessions with opportunities for facilitated discussion and Q&A, as well as sessions with a case-based approach, are preferred. Preference will be given to sessions that include proven and well-regarded speakers and sessions that focus on outcomes and learning rather than a narrative approach. Sessions should include national content and multiple perspectives on issues. A balanced view of issues and a diversity of perspectives, spanning across senior industry professions is critical. Joint submissions that span the interests of multiple programing tracks are also encouraged.


All proposals dealing with topics relevant to the four programming tracks are certainly welcome, but the following list includes some of the current trends and themes that are of interest to Certified Senior Advisors:

Health care changes Affordable Care Act  Power of Attorney Long Term Care and LTC Insurance Keeping seniors active and healthy Fostering services for middle income seniors Veterans benefits Aging in Place Identity Theft Repositioning for the new consumer Enhancing customer service Critical issues in aging and the aging industry Dementia and Mental Health Cyber Security Generational Marketing Recovering from Traumatic Events Crisis Communication Reaching Adult Children and Caregivers Exposing Your Organizations Flaws Legal Compliance and Updates Senior Relocations Estate Planning Technology and Healthcare Identifying and adopting best business practices Recent trends in aging business

For any questions regarding the CSA Conference please contact SCSA at 800.653.1785
or visit

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meet CSA Spotlight, Marilyn Clancey

Like many other professionals in their 50’s and 60’s, I have had a number of careers that has kept me excited and passionate about what I do. After the down-turn in the economy in 2008, it was hinted that I was a little ‘over the hill’ and my high paying corporate job was eliminated. It was obvious to me that I wasn’t 'old' so I decided to reinvent myself with a new career helping seniors. The nice thing about working with older people is that I’m considered ‘the kid’.

About four and a half years ago, in Southern California, I started a company helping older adults through the move process. Then, after being gone for many decades, I moved back to my home town of Windsor, Ontario Canada and re-started the senior relocation business, Moving In Harmony in January 2012.

After the layoff, I created a wonderful business that resulted from assisting my Mother with the decision that it was time to move to a retirement community after living in her home for 56 years.

Many of our clients, like my Mother, are older adults who have decided to move because they realize it’s very difficult to deal with grocery shopping, cooking, home repairs, arranging for gardening services and snow removal as well as needing some help in regards to daily care for themselves.

Most people, when faced with a pending move, immediately think “Oh I have to contact a moving company”. But unfortunately the moving company arrives and says ‘When do you want to move and here is an estimate’. They don’t help with the larger aspects of moving such as downsizing, liquidating household contents and sometimes they don’t even offer packing services. They arrive on move day and just move furniture and boxes from point A to point B.

Moving In Harmony makes all the arrangements for the soon-to-move older adult(s). We help with assessing the new residence to determine what furniture will fit, then we help with downsizing, packing, arranging for the move, selecting the moving company, organizing the contents of the house, handling shipping and distributing heirlooms to family members, liquidating personal property and anything that needs to be handled.

We transition many who either do not have children or their adult children cannot help much due to time and geographical restraints. Our clients know that there is a level of caring that sometimes characterizes our role as a ‘surrogate daughter’ or ‘surrogate son’ or ‘surrogate grandchild’.

Moving In Harmony also specializes in estate sales for those who have significant personal property that will be left behind and not moved to the new home. The income from the estate sale helps offset moving costs.

When we are dealing with people who are so anxious about getting themselves through this difficult transition, we keep our motto in mind, ‘We take our clients from overwhelmed to overjoyed’. Our system includes a lot of kindness, empathy and respect during the move process so that our client(s) stay calm and in control.

Let me take this opportunity, though, to tell you about my learning curve during my four and half years. Personally visiting over 50 independent retirement and assisted living communities in Southern California and in Canada, helps me to truly understand the complexity of the move process that many people in their 70’s and 80’ sand 90’s experience.

After working a short while with older adults, we came to realize the danger of assuming all those we call 'senior citizens’ belong to one group. Each move that we do is unique because people are unique. Each circumstance is unique with a variety of motivating factors and sources of anxiety.

I formed an advisory board of various kinds of experts (mostly people in their 80’s) which has given us invaluable insights for understanding how to better serve our aging clients.

And of course, the CSA certification provided me with a ‘bigger picture’ and useful information that I could implement in my business (and life). Learning about different age group’s attitudes, motivators, wants and needs gives me a confidence to work and reach out to older adults with understanding, empathy, kindness and respect. The Society of Certified Senior Advisors has helped me and my team to enhance our services while learning the importance of connecting our clients with a network of industry-wide providers.

Marilyn Clancey
Owner/Relocation Specialist
Moving In Harmony

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, October 18, 2013

Re-Inventing Retirement

As Baby Boomers move into their retirement years, they are re-inventing this time of life. For one thing, most want to keep working into retirement, and more than half plan to volunteer.

Baby boomers making their own rules
by daSantosh.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meet CSA Spotlight, Pati Rader

My journey through the senior care and living industry began with the abrupt need for intervention on my mother's behalf. In her effort to remain independent along with her self-destructive personal choices, she had literally set herself up for being at the mercy of those who had taken advantage of her. It was not until she had lost everything and could no longer live on her own that she allowed me to help her. And sadly it was then too late for her to regain the independence she desired. She had made too many bad choices, refused to recognize her need for help, and was literally wasting away from alcohol abuse, smoking and disease. The journey of intervention and care for her was a very difficult, time consuming, stressful, frustrating, and overwhelming process that took me through nearly every level of care for my mother and with it exposure to numerous agencies, and resources for seniors.

At only 72, my mother had not filed for Social Security or Medicare, had no health care provider, stopped receiving pension and retirement income, had either lost or destroyed legal documentation, and had no money or assets. Although clearly in distress with breathing difficulties, contusions, and many other problems, she refused to go to the doctor. After a few ER visits and a hospital admission, she was provided RX and recommendations for LTC after being diagnosed with COPD, Parkinson's, and significant cognitive impairment, a.k.a., Dementia. Looking at her brain scans revealed a brain much smaller than her skull - no wonder she wasn't thinking clearly and falling all the time. At this time her Durable Power of Attorney was enacted and I was thrust into the role of my mother's care manager. Within a few months her funds were re-instated, on Medicare, and she was moving through various levels of care as her needs increased.

While managing my mother's care I enjoyed volunteering in her community, singing for the residents and helping with activities. I soon found that my experience as a Recreation Supervisor, Instructor, Entertainer, Event Coordinator, and Program Director, along with a lifelong passion for the elderly, culminated in my becoming a Certified Activity Leader "CAL". Becoming a CAL not only provided me with education regarding the care for seniors, the aging process, and the diseases that afflict them, but also the significant importance in providing opportunities and activities that treat the whole person and not just the condition or disease they have.

In the midst of my mother's journey I drew on my experience as a professional singer to develop a musical program that not only entertains, but also provides opportunities for interaction and music therapy. During these visits I go on a journey with listeners where we can enjoy smiles, laughter, memories and moments of peace. Throughout the year I enjoy presenting Broadway Tunes, Romantic Melodies, Patriotic Celebrations, Christmas Memories and Inspirational selections.

When my mother's journey was ending, I was better prepared due in part to the education and exposure I had gained from the "End of Life Spiritual Care" program through the Hospice Foundation of America along with the Hospice team and the SNF staff that cared for her. Being there for my mother, near her end of life, was an honor to be shared and if I were able to be there for others, to sit at their bedside, comfort them, or sing to them, I would. However in my absence, I offer my CD "Hope for the Journey" which was produced in memory of my own father who asked to 'keep on singing' before he passed. My hope is to provide a peace, comfort and encouragement to others through the CD.

After my mother passed, I was ready to start a new journey, one that would no doubt include much of what I had learned and gained from the years of managing my mother's care. In addition, my experience as a Marketing Director in the Healthcare Industry along with being a Certified Activity Leader had provided me with insight that was shaping my thoughts about this new journey. I had seen the value and importance for seniors to not only have something to look forward to in the way of activities, food and entertainment, but to also remain as mentally and physically active as possible. Living in a senior community there is ample opportunity for activity. But at home a senior can become isolated, sedentary, weak, and lonely. All of which can lead to fall risk, failure to thrive, lack of desire and depression. Living at home is where they want to be and in many cases their only choice. So how could one remain home safe and secure while enjoying meaningful moments and enriching activities? My journey had begun!

I set out to develop a plan where seniors could enjoy a professionally run activity program that could be personalized and managed from their own homes. And in January 2013 my plan became reality with the launching of The Life Enrichment Activity Program "LEAP" for The HomeCare Source in Sacramento and Placer Counties of California. Each client has access to a monthly thematic calendar of activities designed for the home setting, as well as a personalized assessment and program. With the purpose of LEAP to encourage, inspire, motivate, energize, soothe, and simply 'help seniors enjoy life in their own home', we are meeting the desires of the senior, as well as the family. As a son recently said, "I wanted more than basic care of my mom" and more is what LEAP is all about.

While building the LEAP program I was also considering where and how to expand my education in the Senior Care Industry. I asked other professionals what they saw as beneficial and discovered that the Society of Certified Senior Advisors was a well-respected and honorable designation. With my experience and exposure in the industry, combined with the abundance of information and training materials provided by SCSA, I determined that I would be better equipped to move forward in my career.

Becoming a CSA has provided me with valuable resources, tools, and opportunities for continuing education. Through the network of fellow CSAs on LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs, Senior Spirit Newsletter and the CSA Journal, I have gained access to valuable insight, information, and connections throughout the country. As a CSA, I confidently guide clients and friends through their own journeys to reliable resources, as well as to other CSAs for help and assistance. \

This recommendation sums up in part how my being a CSA has benefited me: "Pati demonstrates to our clients, prospective clients, and referral sources, the knowledge, professionalism, and ethics that are fundamental to her CSA designation. Her excellent reputation precedes her and the credibility she has earned as a Certified Senior Advisor is very valuable to our organization." Sheila Abbasi; Owner, The HomeCare Source, Granite Bay California.

I am extremely thankful to the SCSA for providing the designation opportunity for professionals to expand their knowledge, continue their education, and provide resources for seniors and their loved ones. It is an honor to be a part of the SCSA.

Pati Rader, CSA
Certified Senior Advisor
Marketing, Events, & Consumer Experience Consultant

Life Enrichment Coordinator, Community Relations Director

"Golden Years Don't Have to Lose Their Shine" editorial about the Life Enrichment
Activity Program LEAP

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors®

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Halloween Safety Tips for the Elder Population

For most of us Halloween holds childhood memories of dressing up, carving pumpkins and going door to door for candy and treats. And for the elder population this memory expands to giving out candy and treats to the costumed children at their door. However for some with Dementia and/or Physical limitations; Halloween may hold negative feelings and fear that can contribute to negative behaviors leading up to and on Halloween itself. In addition the security and safety factor of having strangers coming to the door in the twilight and evening hours is not conducive to a safe environment for elders living alone. Keeping the elder population as safe as possible on Halloween, while still enjoying the holiday in their own way, can be possible with a few considerations and interventions. To continue enjoying life safely is the goal!

My mother was one of those treat givers that the children loved to visit. She enjoyed watching the little faces and would open her door to anyone, even long into the late hours. Without going further you can imagine what real risks there are for an elder woman alone opening her door up at night to total strangers. For my mother, the joy of giving out candy continued when she live in a secure community where children were invited, safety measures were followed and the doors were locked and staff protected her into the night. She continued to enjoy Halloween without previous risks.

On Halloween there can be an increase of safety and security concerns for elders who live alone, and especially those with Dementia and/or Physical limitations. Contributing factors may include; decorations, falling leaves, wet pavements, decreased daylight hours, change in weather conditions, and more. Some of these risks can be avoided or minimized by carefully considering what adjustments can be made. This is by no means an exhaustive or complete approach to safety or recommendations, but instead just a few considerations as you prepare for Halloween with an elder.

Halloween Safety Tips for Elders

  • Keep all floors, entry ways and porches free of decorations.
  • Add night lights to hallways, walkways and rooms, and keep well lit.
  • Avoid window decorations that block light or view of front entry.
  • Use only safe pumpkin carving tools, light pumpkin with flame-less votive.
  • Place carved pumpkins outside to keep decaying smell and bugs outside.
  • Spend the evening with them, be available to help answer door, keep them safe.
  • When done with candy, or at dusk: Put sign on door, "Sorry No More Candy".
  • There is debate on turning off porch light, which can increase security risk.
Don't leave an elder with Dementia or physical limitations home alone on Halloween...
  • Take them to a community event or family home, and return home after dusk.
  • Send a companion or professional to be with them from 4:00-10:00 or overnight.
  • Help them answer door and hand out candy if they wish.
  • Put out sign when done "Sorry No More Candy".
  • Watch movie or listen to music in another room away from front door if possible.
  • Be prepared; books, albums, crafts, favorite foods, etc. to enjoy and distract.
  • Follow dietary instructions; avoid over indulgence of chocolate or sugar.
  • Remember Halloween may not be a happy time for elderly with Dementia and may be scary, or create added stimulation from doorbell, knocks, noise outside. Be sensitive to what they can tolerate and do your best to keep them safe and enjoy the evening with you.

Blog post courtesy of  Pati Rader, CSA
Certified Senior Advisor®
Life Enrichment Consultant
October 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

SCSA Announces the 2013 Service to Seniors Award Winners

Every year hundreds, perhaps thousands, of CSAs take time from their busy practices to make a difference in the lives of seniors. The Society of Certified Senior Advisors believes it is important to recognize the outstanding achievements of our CSA's who are helping to improve the lives of seniors through their volunteering efforts.

Compassion, creativity and a “can doattitude make CSA volunteers an incredible asset to the seniors they serve and to the local non-profit organizations that serve the senior industry. CSA's are problem-solvers, fundraisers, facilitators and friends. Volunteering with seniors is a passionate attribute to the personal and professional services provided within their communities.
We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Service to Seniors Awards program.

2013 CSA Trailblazer:  Lisa DeMascio 
  • Founder of Out and About Day Respite Services
  • Certified Senior Advisor®
  • Dementia Advanced Care, essentiALZ
  • Dementia Related Behavior, essentiALZ
  • Certificate in Behavioral Interventions and Disturbances of Dementia, VCU
  • Certificate in Invaluable Service, VSNC
Established in September 2011, Out and About Day Respite Services is an innovative service providing socialization for seniors that live at home and in care communities to get "Out and About". Out and About offers participants with varying levels of dementia, independence and a chance to explore the vast array of opportunities and local events, while stimulating the senses intellectually and reconnecting outside their permanent, secured setting.

In addition, Lisa adds communication and support for caregivers by offering in-home care coaching.

Lisa earned a $500 donation to the charity of her choice, donating proceeds to The Alzheimer's Association, Southeastern Virginia Chapter.

2013 CSA Community Citizen:  John D. (Skip) Frenzel
  • Certified Senior Advisor®
  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Chartered Mutual Fund Specialist
  • Certification in Long Term Care
  • Member of Senior Round Table, Santa Clara Chapter
  • Member of Aging Services Collaborative, Silicon Valley
  • Member of AGEnts for Change 
Living by the motto “It’s all about the love”, Skip is indeed a valuable contributor to the senior community, volunteering with many organizations. The list below represents a mere drop in the bucket:

Agape Long Term Care
Conducts free seminars to the public on senior related subjects.

Los Altos United Methodist Church 
Plans senior activities, events and services for seniors in the church.  Creates educational programs, seminars, lectures and workshops dealing with senior related topics.

Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS, Senior Resource Center
Planning the establishment of a senior center to serve as source of information for seniors and caregivers.

AGEnts for Change 
Assists with the organizations mission to build a cohort of constituents, caregivers, and stakeholders engaged in advocacy and social action to improve the ability of seniors to live independently.

Skip earned a $500 donation to the charity of his choice, donating proceeds to Heart of the Valley. 

2013 CSA Samaritan:  Sandy Archdale 
  • Certified Senior Advisor®
  • Certified Paralegal
  • Life, Health and Disability Insurance Agent
Sandy has been a Certified Senior Advisor for over 10 years. She has more than 40 years as a certified paralegal as a solid foundation. She has also been a life, health and disability insurance agent since 1995.

Sandy first decided to become a CSA when her mother became seriously ill in 2001. She was very active in her mother's care issues and working with her various medical providers. The "to-the-point" quality training offered by SCSA to see issues from the senior's perspective is what attracted her to the organization in the beginning.

As a CSA, Sandy works with seniors on many of their needs, but specializes mostly in Social Security and Medicare issues. Her primary emphasis is how these issues, specifically Social Security, affect women and their financial future. She has successfully helped many women obtain increased Social Security benefits above what they were previously receiving.

Sandy earned a $500 donation to the charity of her choice, donating proceeds to Senior Services of Snohomish County.
Congratulations, Lisa, Skip and Sandy!


CSAs are professionals in various fields who have supplemented their individual licenses, credentials and education with knowledge about aging and working with seniors. The CSA designation alone does not imply expertise in financial, health or social matters. Among other designation requirements, CSAs agree to adhere to the CSA Code of Professional Responsibility, which is enforced by the CSA Board of Standards. For
additional information, go to 

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors