Simply the Best 2017

Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village is honored to be named again as Simply the Best Long-Term Care Facility by readers of Harrisburg Magazine in the 2017 Simply the Best awards. Key leaders from our nursing administration team celebrated the event and received our award at the celebration held at the Radisson.

Mr. Bicher Goes to Harrisburg

Early last month, resident, Mona Hershey, and Messiah Lifeways Director of Rehab, Jordan Bicher, were invited to testify in front of the House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee at the State Capitol. The call to participate came from LeadingAge PA, which is an association of non-profit senior services. Mona and Jordan were honored and excited to take part in this informational hearing on the “Role of Therapy in Long-Term Care.” The Messiah Lifeways delegation was joined on a panel by other providers including physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals.

The primary purpose for their testimony was to educate and enlighten House members, including Committee Chairman Tim Hennessey of District 26, along with roughly two dozen other lawmakers. The goal was to share the perspectives of the therapists along with an older adult who went through the rehab process. They shared positive outcomes and the value and importance of rehabilitation in long-term care facilities with success stories like Mona’s. Equally important was the chance to shed light on some of the challenges they face when it comes to diminishing insurance reimbursement and caps, along with reducing length of therapy stays as a means to cut back on costs.Testifying in Front of House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee

Jordan shared, “It’s important to remember that age is just a number. It’s all about how you feel and how you live your life.” He went on to say, “Therapy plays an enormous role in that experience… working with people like Mona, inspires me every day. I have the opportunity to work with a population of patients who truly want to maximize every second. They want to stay active, stay healthy, and recover quickly. Mona’s story is a testament to that mindset.”

Mona’s testimony was an inspiration for everyone in the hearing. Her rehab journey after suffering a fractured hip is pretty amazing, especially at the age of 92! Her strength and determination to get back on her feet, along with the inpatient and outpatient therapy provided by Jordan and his caring team, speaks volumes to the importance, value, and need for comprehensive therapies no matter the setting or one’s age.

“It won’t happen to me”- Don’t bet on it.

Earlier this week I held one of my Coaching workshops entitled “Making the Move versus Aging in Place.” It’s main purpose is to help individuals or their loved ones that are struggling with the choice of moving to a retirement community or care facility as opposed to continuing to live at home as they age. I highlighted the options, costs and the pros and cons to both paths. But an underlying theme of the workshop, along with Lifeways Coaching in general, is the virtue of planning ahead and being proactive. On average people do more planning and research on a summer vacation or a car than they do on choosing a nursing home or home care agency for themselves or a loved one. However, it’s nice to know that some people are starting to get it. The day after the workshop I was so pleased to receive this great article, by Jennifer Agiesta and Lauran Neergaard, from one of the workshop attendees that echos the concern for how unprepared and in denial people really are about future care.  Thank you Terri for sharing. Please read and heed…


Americans in denial about long-term care

By Jennifer Agiesta and Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press

We’re in denial: Americans underestimate their chances of needing long-term care as they get older — and are taking few steps to get ready.

A new poll examined how people 40 and over are preparing for this difficult and often pricey reality of aging, and found two-thirds say they’ve done little to no planning.

In fact, 3 in 10 would rather not think about getting older at all. Only a quarter predict it’s very likely that they’ll need help getting around or caring for themselves during their senior years, according to the poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

That’s a surprise considering the poll found more than half of the 40-plus crowd already have been caregivers for an impaired relative or friend — seeing from the other side the kind of assistance they, too, may need later on.

“I didn’t think I was old. I still don’t think I’m old,” explained retired schoolteacher Malinda Bowman, 60, of Laura, Ohio.

Bowman has been a caregiver twice, first for her grandmother. Then after her father died in 2006, Bowman moved in with her mother, caring for her until her death in January. Yet Bowman has made few plans for herself.

“I guess I was focused on caring for my grandmother and mom and dad, so I didn’t really think about myself,” she said. “Everything we had was devoted to taking care of them.”

The poll found most people expect family to step up if they need long-term care — even though 6 in 10 haven’t talked with loved ones about the possibility and how they’d like it to work.

Bowman said she’s healthy now but expects to need help someday from her two grown sons. Last month, prompted by a brother’s fall and blood clot, she began the conversation by telling her youngest son about her living will and life insurance policy.

“I need to plan eventually,” she acknowledged.

Those family conversations are crucial: Even if they want to help, do your relatives have the time, money and knowhow? What starts as driving Dad to the doctor or picking up his groceries gradually can turn into feeding and bathing him, maybe even doing tasks once left to nurses such as giving injections or cleaning open wounds. If loved ones can’t do all that, can they afford to hire help? What if you no longer can live alone?

“The expectation that your family is going to be there when you need them often doesn’t mean they understand the full extent of what the job of caregiving will be,” Susan Reinhard, a nurse who directs AARP’s Public Policy Institute, said. “Your survey is pointing out a problem for not just people approaching the need for long-term care, but for family members who will be expected to take on the huge responsibility of providing care.”

Those who have been through the experience of receiving care are less apt to say they can rely on their families in times of need, the poll found.

With a rapidly aging population, more families will be facing those responsibilities. Government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans will need long-term care at some point after they reach age 65, whether it’s from a relative, a home health aide, assisted living or a nursing home. On average, they’ll need that care for three years.

Despite the “it won’t happen to me” reaction, the AP-NORC Center poll found half of those surveyed think just about everyone will need some assistance at some point. There are widespread misperceptions about how much care costs and who will pay for it. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed underestimated the cost of a nursing home, which averages more than $6,700 a month.

Medicare doesn’t pay for the most common types of long-term care. Yet 37 percent of those surveyed mistakenly think it will pay for a nursing home and even more expect it to cover a home health aide when that’s only approved under certain conditions.

The harsh reality: Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor, is the main payer of long-term care in the U.S., and to qualify seniors must have spent most of their savings and assets. But fewer than half of those polled think they’ll ever need Medicaid — even though only a third are setting aside money for later care, and just 27 percent are confident they’ll have the financial resources they’ll need.

In Cottage Grove, Ore., Police Chief Mike Grover, 64, says his retirement plan means he could afford a nursing home. And like 47 percent of those polled, he’s created an advance directive, a legal document outlining what medical care he’d want if he couldn’t communicate.

Otherwise, Grover said he hasn’t thought much about his future care needs. He knows caregiving is difficult, as he and his brother are caring for their 85-year-old mother.

Still, “until I cross that bridge, I don’t know what I would do. I hope that my kids and wife will pick the right thing,” he said. “It depends on my physical condition, because I do not want to be a burden to my children.”

The AP-NORC Center poll found widespread support for tax breaks to encourage saving for long-term care, and about half favor the government establishing a voluntary long-term care insurance program. An Obama administration attempt to create such a program ended in 2011 because it was too costly.

The older they get, the more preparations people take. Just 8 percent of 40- to 54-year-olds have done much planning for long-term care, compared with 30 percent of those 65 or older, the poll found.

Mary Pastrano, 74, of Port Orchard, Wash., has planned extensively for her future health care. She has lupus, heart problems and other conditions, and now uses a wheelchair. She also remembers her family’s financial struggles after her own father died when she was a child.

“I don’t want people to stand around and wring their hands and wonder, ‘What would Mom think was the best?'” said Pastrano, who has discussed her insurance policies, living will and care preferences with her husband and children.

Still, Pastrano wishes she and her husband had started saving earlier, during their working years.

“You never know how soon you’re going to be down,” she said. “That’s what older people have a problem understanding: You can be in your 60s and then next flat on your back. You think you’re invincible, until you can’t walk.”

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey was conducted Feb. 21 through March 27, with funding from the SCAN Foundation. The SCAN Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that supports research and other initiatives on aging and health care. The nationally representative poll involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,019 Americans age 40 or older. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage point.

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