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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2014 CSA Conference - Last Chance for Early Bird Pricing

The 2014 CSA Conference was designed to help professionals improve their business through increased knowledge and offer exceptional opportunities to network with other professionals dedicated to serving seniors. Join the Society of Certified Senior Advisors for two full days of conference sessions across 4 different tracks, including Finance, Research and Lifestyle, Healthcare and Public Policy and earn 12 CSA continuing education credits. You will gain the latest insights from top industry leaders, such as host of A&E's HOARDERS, Matt Paxton, and have the opportunity to connect with hundreds of other CSAs.
The conference will be held August 7 -9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado, at the Grand Hyatt Downtown Denver!
Register by Wednesday, April 30th at the early bird registration of $325, and you will be automatically entered to win 2 free nights at the CSA Conference hotel!

Be a Sponsor
The 2014 CSA Conference Building Knowledge and Empowering Networks to Benefit Seniors is an excellent opportunity to promote your business to an audience of professionals in all industries related to serving older adults. 

Sponsors of the CSA Conference will connect with thousands of CSAs across the country through online recognition, advertisements in the CSA Journal and CSA conference program, obtain full access to the attendee list, and interaction and promotion throughtout the August Conference. For more information about sponsorship contact Anthony Gallegos at or 888.828.9270, or you may download the CSA Conference 2014 Prospectus.

Early bird pricing ends Wednesday, April 30th. Register Now!

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Carver, 103, Earns Respect for His Art and Charity

Article published in the March 2014 Senior Spirit Newsletter.

Every holiday season, thousands of visitors flock to the home of Louis Charpentier to see the hand-carved Christmas decorations that have adorned his lawn for more than six decades. Consisting of around 260 Styrofoam pieces, the magical display includes a nativity scene and figurines of Santa Claus, a nutcracker and other holiday icons. Louis is something of an icon himself in Leominster, Mass., where most residents know him by name or by his pseudonyms, “Mr. Christmas” and “Mr. Leominster.” The city even awarded him the first Citizen of the Year award and held a 100th birthday celebration in his honor. Today, at 103 years old, Louis does not make as many carvings as he used to, but his creativity and good will are unabated.

Louis developed his lifelong passion for art and design at the age of 3, when he learned to draw. His artistic sensibility and generous spirit have always gone hand-in-hand, and he recalls giving his aunt a drawing of a cow when he was 7. He eventually graduated to wood carving and, by the age of 12, had crafted more than 100 farm animals. Over the years, he has mostly worked with wood and Styrofoam, carving life-size figures, intricate ornaments and hundreds of his famous toy mice, which he makes jump out of his palm “with a trick of the hand.”

He has churned enough carvings out of his basement workshop to fill entire rooms—that is, after he has given most of them away as gifts. Louis was even able to turn his passion into a nearly half-century career, serving as head designer for a plastics company that manufactured buttons, jewelry, dolls and other toys. Several years ago, he spent two weeks at the prestigious Smithsonian Institution demonstrating his skills to the public.

Born in a small town in rural Quebec, Louis was one of 13 children. When he was 12 years old, his family immigrated to the United States in search of work, settling in a francophone section of Leominster called French Hill. Louis admires his parents’ courage, saying that it “took a lot of nerve” to relocate the family to a new country. When he was in his early 20s, he met his wife, Gladys, at the local skating rink, and they were married soon thereafter. They had one son, Ernest, with whom Louis is very close. The family eventually expanded to include three grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Louis is currently the oldest remaining member of the family along with his sister, Gilberte, who is 96.

Piano Pat

As a young man, Louis enjoyed boxing with his friends and was once able to lift 125 pounds with one hand. Although his days of pumping iron are over, he still remains active. In fact, one gets the sense that his energy levels have been minimally affected by age. He recently had “Eveready Bunny” added to his list of monikers. Louis is unsure why he’s lived so long, tentatively attributing it to twice-daily portions of raw garlic. One thing remains clear, however: He has spent the past century using his artistic talents to brighten the lives of others. That passion seems to be the fuel that drives him to this day. He says that what he loves most is spending time with his family and friends, both new and old: “It’s always nice to see people and talk to them; they always have something to offer.”

The New England Centenarian Study works with centenarians from all over the world to discover the secrets of aging well. If you know someone who may qualify for the study, call 1-888-333-6327, ext. 1; email or visit
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April Educational Webinar: Motivational Interviewing

Please join Carilyn Ellis, psychology intern at the Salt Lake VA Medical Center, as she presents the Society of Certified Senior Advisors April 2014 Educational Webinar, Motivational Interviewing: Tools for fostering improved motivation in your clients to make decisions and achieve their goals.

This event will be held Wednesday, April 23rd at 2:00 PM (EST).

Motivational Interviewing, known as MI in the psychological community, is a set of skills and tools for helping clients resolve their ambivalence about making decisions and setting goals for achieving their desired outcomes – whether this is quitting smoking, losing weight, filing for Medicare/Medicaid, selling belongings, moving into assisted living etc. Where there are decisions, there is ambivalence, and it can be so difficult as advisors for our clients to watch them swing like pendulums and often fail to make important decisions until the power is taken out of their hands (e.g. going to extended care or skilled nursing due to a fall). MI is NOT motivational speaking – in fact, you do far less speaking with motivational interviewing. It is a set of reflective listening skills and targeted questions that foster internal motivation in clients and resolution of their ambivalence (they tend to make the decisions when you use MI). This presentation will include some background on the theory, but it will mostly focus on the practical tools that you can use with ALL of your clients to help them make decisions. Practical, real world examples relevant to CSAs will be used with sample dialogue and demonstration of each skill.

Carilyn Ellis, M.A., Carilyn Ellis is a psychology intern at the Salt Lake VA Medical Center, specializing in Palliative Care, Geriatric Home-Based Primary Care, Outpatient Mental Health and Neuropsychology. Carilyn completed her Master of Arts (M.A.) in clinical psychology and doctor of psychology (Psy.D) at George Fox University in Newberg, OR. She loves her career and is motivated by a “profound personal belief that everyone, regardless of what he or she has done, reserves the right to an advocate.” She loves serving those who served our country, and especially loves working with aging Veterans. “It is a daily honor to provide care for Veterans during their end of life transitions. It is a unique position, because as much as I teach and comfort, I learn and am comforted by them.” The daughter of an international family, Carilyn spent years of her childhood living in Japan and travelling throughout Europe and the United States. When she is not working, she is running, reading, writing and exploring this strange new land of Utah.

Register now

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, April 11, 2014

Hidden Assets: Managing Your Social Security

Understanding Social Security and knowing how to make the most of retirement benefits is crucial. People contemplating retirement should plan carefully to maximize their assets.

Retirement specialist, James A. (Al) Hurt, Jr. has been assisting individuals and businesses with wealth management for the past forty years. His article, Hidden Assets: Managing Your Social Security, recently published in the Spring 2014 edition of the CSA Journal, focuses on Social Security and knowing how to make the most of your retirement benefits. Excerpts from his article can be read below.

Excerpts from CSA Journal 57: Hidden Assets: Managing Your Social Security

"As financial advisors, we are often asked, "How can I get the most out of my Social Security?" Are we responding with uninformed answers such as, "You have plenty of other assets," or "I’m not sure I would count on Social Security." The average two-earner couple receives $583,000 in lifetime Social Security Benefits (Steuerle and Quackenbush 2012). The reality is that Social Security is a huge benefit and when to start drawing benefits is a decision that many people get wrong.

Let’s look at Social Security as the "hidden asset" that everyone seems to give the least amount of attention, and in many cases is the largest asset a retired couple may have. You need to think about Social Security as social insurance that you have paid for, and you have a measure of control as to when your benefits are paid. Therefore, everyone has the responsibility to themselves and their families to make sure this asset is maximized to its fullest potential.

Baby boomers are turning sixty-five. Many are crying like the day they were born, but for a different reason. The company pension plan has been replaced by a 401(k) plan, the burden for retirement income has shifted from the employer to the employee, and there is no income for life with these plans. Private savings have been replaced by private debt. No wonder so many retirees are concerned about outliving their money. The three-legged retirement stool that President Eisenhower spoke of has sprouted a fourth leg over the years. That is, the need to keep working because savings, 401(k) plans, and Social Security benefits are not enough financially to live comfortably.

People are living longer today and should be planning for a retirement that lasts well into their nineties. When you look at taking Social Security early versus delaying it, the lifetime benefit numbers lost can easily be between $100,000 and $250,000 more.

Read this article in its entirety, and access more articles from CSA Journal 57.

The CSA Journal is a quarterly publication that provides valuable and practical knowledge directly applicable to Certified Senior Advisors (CSAs). The Journal publishes original and challenging articles that make a contribution to theory, empirical research, and evidence-based practices aimed at improving the lives of seniors and the skills and knowledge of CSAs. 

The Society of Certified Senior Advisors® welcomes article submisssions for consideration for publication in the CSA Journal. Articles can be submitted to 

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
Courtesy of James A. (Al) Hurt., Jr., CLU, ChFC, CSA

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Meet CSA Spotlight, Frank Samson


Prior to starting a new career in senior care, I spent over three decades in the travel industry. I ran a company specializing in the design of customized luxury vacations and villas around the Prior to that, I founded and franchised a travel company in Chicago that grew to 200 franchises within a 3-year period. The company was listed as one of the “Fastest Growing Franchises” in Entrepreneur Magazine.

After selling the business to a California based company, I moved my family to sunny California where we now reside. I decided to leave the travel industry and spent quite a bit of time researching the health care industry by traveling around the country meeting with various providers in senior services.

Many ask how I got involved in senior care from the travel industry. Interestingly, there happens to be many similarities, and my past experience played an extremely important role in the development and growth of the various senior care businesses I founded.

I began Senior Care Authority™ (, a senior residential placement service that has already helped hundreds of families in California and throughout the country. In the travel industry, I selected the highest quality resorts and villas to market, and now I select the highest quality assisted living communities and care homes for seniors to live in while receiving the best care and supervision.

After operating Senior Care Authority successfully for three years, we expanded and started SCAnetwork™ (, a self-paced online training course and a 12-week Coaching Program with our team of experts. We have customized programs in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), online referrals and e-mail marketing geared to senior placement agencies. Because of these various options, SCAnetwork™ members are both new to senior placement and those already operating and senior placement agency. We even have two new members in our program that I met at the CSA National Conference in Orlando!

I have been hosting a weekly radio show called "The Aging Boomers" ( for several years to help educate family caregivers and seniors on issues facing them while providing important resources nationwide.

Providing essential resources to those planning for aging and to those families who are facing a crisis has been a mission of mine. Because of this, I started local, interactive resource websites throughout California. These sites are designed so families and individuals can quickly and easily find local senior products and services. Experts provide written articles, blogs and videos to help families cope with the overwhelming challenges so often associated with managing the affairs of the elderly.

ElderCare Resources Bay Area (
ElderCare Resources Sacramento (
ElderCare Resources Los Angeles (

My experience with the Society of Certified Senior Advisors has been nothing but positive. Not only does this organization provide a wonderful program, but I have also met many CSA’s around the country who have become friends and have done business together. I’m proud to be a CSA and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship in the years ahead.

Frank M. Samson, CSA
Founder and Certified Senior Advisor
Senior Care Authority

If you're a Certified Senior Advisor interested in being featured as our next CSA Spotlight, contact Erica Ananich at  
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, April 7, 2014

Grandfamilies Find New Challenges, Satisfaction

When her son and daughter-in-law had to give up their two-year-old to foster care because they weren’t able to care for her, Rhonda flew from Baltimore to Tucson to retrieve her granddaughter. “I didn’t hesitate one bit. I had to chuckle to myself that I had just sent my youngest off to college and was relishing being an empty nester and getting to know my new home! Hello new life! . . . My son and daughter-in-law both signed over legal guardianship to me, the judge signed the papers and we flew back home to Baltimore the following day. That Sunday morning we woke up to freezing cold rain. I had no diapers, one change of clothes, no milk, no car seat, no stroller, NOTHING! But I didn’t care, it seemed like Christmas morning to me” (from Raising Your Grandchildren).

Rhonda is one of the growing number of older adults who find themselves being parents again, a phenomenon known as “grandfamilies.” A broader term is “kinship caregivers,” which refers to care provided for children by relatives other than their parents.
According to the U.S. 2010 Census, more than 2.7 million households consisted of grandparents raising their grandchildren, an increase from the 2000 Census. In fact, the number of children being raised by grandparents or other relatives is higher than those being raised in the foster care system by a ratio of 25 to 1. By keeping children out of foster care, grandfamilies save taxpayers more than $6.5 billion each year (figures from Generations United).

According to the U.S. 2010 Census, more than 2.7 million households consisted of grandparents raising their grandchildren, an increase from the 2000 Census. In fact, the number of children being raised by grandparents or other relatives is higher than those being raised in the foster care system by a ratio of 25 to 1. By keeping children out of foster care, grandfamilies save taxpayers more than $6.5 billion each year (figures from Generations United).

However, more than 60 percent of those grandparents are still in the workforce, and 21 percent are living below the poverty level. Both factors contribute to the challenges of being a parent again. So widespread has kinship care become that the government has created a website, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, with links to benefits and assistance, health and safety resources, data and publications and state resources. For additional information, see sidebar.

More Need for Grandfamilies
There are many reasons that more grandparents are becoming involved in raising their grandchildren. “More often than not, there is a correlation between alcohol and drug abuse and neglect on the part of the parents. The parent/s may be mentally ill, incarcerated or simply and unfortunately incapable of caring for their children,” reports Raising Your Grandchildren, a website dedicated to helping “guide grandparents and other relatives (kinship parents) in their efforts to raise, parent and educate these children.” Other reasons include:
  • As divorce rates increase, grandparents often step in to take care of their grandchildren during times of transition or uncertainty.
  • Grandparents are younger and healthier than previous generations of grandparents, so they are more able to care for children.
  • An increase in the number of single parents, often women, results in many unable to support their child(ren).
  • More teenage pregnancies means grandparents are helping when their children can’t handle the emotional or financial burden.
  • Parents become ill, disabled or die.
  • If parental abuse or neglect is found, grandfamilies are seen as a better option than foster care.
  • When military children are deployed, grandparents step in.
The impact on older adults raising their grandchildren is often emotionally rewarding but can also be both financially and emotionally difficult.

Emotional Issues
A 60-year-old woman tells of the hardships raising her four grandchildren, including one with Asperger’s condition, by herself. Her only source of income is state assistance, food stamps and death benefits from the father of the oldest boy. “There is absolutely nothing extra [money] to do anything for the kids except things that are free,” she told Raising Your Grandchildren. “All that to say, it is really hard at this age to be taking on the responsibility of these four kids, but I love them to pieces and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I have seen the younger three grow and mature and become awesome kids.”

Taking on the responsibility of child-rearing at an age that most people consider their leisure years can bring up a lot of emotions. You may feel grief and guilt over the inability of your children to be good parents, anger and resentment at having to step into the parenting role again, stress in trying to balance your life and figure out everything that needs to be done (school, activities, etc.). There’s also culture shock in having to deal with a generation, twice removed from you, which is more knowledgeable about technology, for example.

Some children arrive with preexisting problems or risk factors such as abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol or loss of parents (due to death, abandonment or incarceration). If the parents are still around, a child can have conflicting loyalties between parents and grandparents.

One of the first sources of stress is being uncertain about where to start when grandchildren first show up. Experts suggest first focusing on basic needs such as a good bed, food and clothing. Contact the children’s teachers, doctors and anyone else who has been involved in the children’s lives.

To continue reading this article, visit

“Grandparents: As Parents,” Colorado State University Extension Service
“Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,”
“Grandparents Raising Grandchildren,” American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Raising Your Grandchildren
“Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” U.S. government

Are you a grandparent raising your grandchildren? Did you raise your grandkids, who are now grown and on their own? We'd love to hear from you! Share your story with the CSA Blog!

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Meet CSA Spotlight, Sue Kalons

CSA Spotlight“Mom, YOU ARE A SENIOR, and taking a class to work with seniors?” That was my younger son’s reaction to my taking the course to become a Certified Senior Advisor—and rightfully so, I suppose. I’m a 66-year old wife, mother of two sons, aged 43 and 40, Grandmother of 6, married for 46 years. Well, to one and all, I think that from a child, I was being “prepped” to be a CSA!

Picture a little girl with no one to play with walking up the street to sit on the steps with an elderly blind man. Watch the child go a little farther up the street to see if the elderly couple in the corner house are sitting on their front porch. There they are…let’s go sit and chat with them for a while. Another day comes and is spent with another older couple who have no children. That visit becomes a regular weekly event. The little girl “adopts” these folks as her “Aunt” and “Uncle”. Then there is “Nana”…the elderly lady next door. She takes a cheerful little lass to church events and “adopts” her as a grandchild.

Fast forward about 10 years. The little girl is now in high school, volunteering at a local sanitarium, and thoroughly enjoying afternoons with a dear little 90-something lady who tells stories of growing up in Nebraska in the late 1800's. The young girl loves it when her duties take her to “Miss B’s” room.

Move on a few more years. The teenager has now become a young wife and mother of a 6-month old son. Her beloved father-in-law, in his late seventies, starts having strokes. Dutifully, the young mother begins what will become several years of intermittent caregiving…getting middle-of-the-night phone calls to come help. Grandaddy has to go to the hospital. Mother, husband, and little boy—and eventually a second baby boy make the drive with bottles, diapers, and clothing for an indefinite stay to be with Gramma while Grandaddy is in the hospital, and then to be there to help when he comes home again.

That’s how it all started. During this time, my own dear father developed a chronic lung disease that constantly put him in and out of the hospital. As my mother didn’t drive, I was the chauffer with daily trips from one end of the county to the other and back again to pick up Mom, go down-county to the hospital, take her home, and eventually get home to my family. I had little support, absolutely no respite, and not one of our friends who really knew what I was going through! They cared, they listened, but they just didn’t understand. My husband and I came into our parents’ lives when they were older, so we became caregivers at an early age. Many of our friends have recently or are currently going through what we went through—and I do understand!

Dear Grandaddy mercifully passes away in his sleep, and all is quiet for a short time. Then it begins again—my own sweet Dad is sick. He cannot drive, he needs down-county visits to the doctor and periodic stays in the hospital. We sell our little townhome and move in next door to Mom and Dad to help care for both of them. Trying to hold down an office job becomes an impossibility as I have to take too much time off to help my Mom with Dad. Everything comes to a crushing climax the day the first Gulf War begins. My oldest son is on a tank crew getting ready to invade Kuwait, and my Dad’s battle with weakened lungs comes to an end. Did I mention that at this point my Mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and my Mother-in-law has severe heart issues, is a diabetic, and stays with us part-time?

We buried Dad 2 days later. That night, my husband and I dropped into bed, hoping for blessed sleep. Oh no…it’s that dreaded middle-of-the-night sound of a ringing telephone. Gramma’s neighbor is calling to say that she called him and is very ill—come quickly. And we do. She’s in heart failure and transported to the hospital nearby. I cannot watch her…I just watched my own father pass 3 days ago. Miraculously, the following week, after triple bypass surgery, Gramma has resurrected and will be staying with us for the next 3 months as she recovers. Interesting – Gramma with us, Mom next door, both needing 24/7 attention.

Overall, for 34 years, I cared for 2 sets of parents, with the caregiving duties overlapping two ill parents at a time. Gramma ended up living with us for her last year and passed away in our home. My own dear Mom remained next door for 5 years and then spent her final 8 years in an assisted living/dementia-care home. During that time, I suffered breast cancer and had a mastectomy, got my real estate license, became president of the local Women’s Council of Realtors®, went to Maryland Association of Realtors® Leadership Academy, won the 2010 Jane Henderson Education Award and 2011 Community Service Award from the local real estate association.

In my pursuit to work with seniors, as an active Realtor®, one of my designations—Seniors Real Estate Specialist—got me curious as to what else was “out there” that might help me specialize in working with the senior population. That’s when, as I searched the internet, I found the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. I’d hit “paydirt”…that’s what I needed. I scoured the SCSA website, left my contact information, and was contacted the beginning of 2013 by an SCSA staff member. What an answer to prayer!...that’s another story for another day.

So here I am on December 5, 2013, one surgery and recovery time later, an inability to access some of the online lectures for 5 weeks, the kindness of another SCSA staff member to send me the lectures on CD, having to postpone my exam date twice, some more health issues, and recovering from a car accident 2 weeks prior, walking out of the PearsonVue testing center in Hagerstown, MD, with tears, a grateful heart, and a “Congratulations, you have passed your CSA Exam” letter in hand! When I called my younger son to tell him I’d passed, he laughed and said, “Mom, we think it’s great that you ARE a senior who’s been through so much, getting educated to work with seniors!...You have such stories to tell.”

Currently, I volunteer at the local senior center and co-lead a Caregiver Support Group at my church. With some new avenues presenting themselves, planning how and where to best use what I’ve learned since becoming a CSA (Certified Senior Advisor) is my top priority as 2014 begins. Bottom line is, I love seniors. My passion is to see that they have an advocate, are well-cared for, that their caregivers are equipped to walk the journey, having the resources and support that I never knew. Mine was trial and error, laughter and tears. And blessedly, my only regret is that I never got my Dad back to the zoo to see the monkeys before he died!

I am so very thankful for the opportunity to be able to combine all I’ve experienced along with the professional insight that I’ve gained from taking the CSA course of study. I understand it from both sides now and look forward to taking the good news that someone cares, someone is here to listen, help, and walk the journey with both seniors and their caregivers.

Sue Marie Kalons, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Referral Real Estate Professional

Blog Posting Provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors