Tough Conversations…

My mom and dad moved into a retirement community about seven years ago, a move they tell me they’ve never regretted.  And I KNOW it’s a move that my five siblings and I have taken great comfort from.

In the time leading up to their move — and in the years since — we’ve had a number of conversations that fall into the “tough” category.  My dad will always be the man who effortlessly ran around the yard, shagging fly balls with me and teaching me how to bat.  Mom will always be the woman who taught me how to pitch a tent when we went camping.

So conversations about driving (or not driving!), financial matters, medications, and advance directives can be tough — not just because of the subject matter but because of the sense of vulnerability in our parents and ourselves that it introduces.

All of this is prelude to why I was particularly impressed — and touched — by a recent story that ran on WFMY, the CBS affiliate in Greensboro. It features Well-Spring Retirement Community and chronicles what those tough conversations ought to include — and shows you one couple who did it right. You can watch the entire segment — almost four minutes in length — by clicking here.

What’s Your Favorite Soup?

Sitting here on a rainy North Carolina evening and thinking that a bowl of soup sounds pretty darned good…alphabet soup, to be sure. Years ago, I can remember fishing all those letters out as a boy and lining them up on the rim of the bowl to see what I could spell. Try as I might, I could never spell more than a couple of words.

If only I’d had the experience of dealing with the acronyms we’ve all come to know as different government agencies have come and gone.  There were all those New Deal agencies of the Great Depression – the WPA and the CCC and the TVA. Today, it’s the EPA and the CIA and the FTC.  Here in North Carolina, we’ve got the DHHS, the DHSR, and the DoI. Alphabet soup, for sure.

So what in the world does alphabet soup have to do with the latest trends in aging services in North Carolina? Lately, we’ve been reading a lot about ACOs – Accountable Care Organizations.  Hailed as a model that can lead to better outcomes and lower costs at the person level, with support for the infrastructure required to provide high-quality, coordinated care, ACOs are still a little-known piece of healthcare reform for most providers.

So as you settle down over that bowl of soup, here are three great articles to bring you up to speed on ACOs…A-OK?

An excellent article from the Long Term Quality Alliance and Brookings can be found by clicking here.

Kaiser Health News has a FAQ on ACOs (just to continue our soup theme!) that can be found by clicking here.

Finally, Dr. Kathleen Griffin and two of her colleagues published a very practical look at ACOs recently in Long Term Living.  It can be found by clicking here.

“They said what?” When Social Media Goes Where You Didn’t Intend

Keeping up with the latest approaches to getting your message out can be a rewarding endeavor.  More and more communities are dipping their toes in the social media water and finding that the use of Facebook, Twitter, and others can result in prospects swimming their way.

As I visit with folks about social media, however, I’m often asked about the risk of an employee tweeting inappropriate information or posting something on Facebook that’s crude. Randy Eilts with GlynnDevins shared the story of how the American Red Cross recently experienced that situation…and I found their response enlightening.  You can access information about it and how the American Red Cross responded by clicking here.

The moral of this cautionary tale? We’re all human — but if we manage every opportunity that comes our way by avoiding those opportunities if there’s even the slightest hint of risk, we may be missing out on valuable ways to share our story.

What do you think?

The New Business of Old Age: In a Graying Population, Business Opportunity

A thought-provoking article from New York Times author Natasha Singer is required reading for providers looking to not only stay ahead of the technology curve but, more importantly, to help shape it.

Devices for I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up catastrophes, they say, represent the old business of old age. The new business of old age involves technologies and services that promote wellness, mobility, autonomy and social connectivity. These include wireless pillboxes that transmit information about patients’ medication use, as well as new financial services, like “Second Acts” from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, that help people plan for longer lives and second careers.

Read Singer’s article by clicking here…

Top 10 Senior Living Trends Identified in Survey of 1,000 Communities

Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging compiled  a “10 top senior living trends” after surveying 600 senior living organizations representing more than 1,000 communities from 15 states. Trends indicate that older adult living communities and care providers must anticipate and cater to the personal needs and interests of residents by offering options beyond the basics and include more comprehensive provision for in-home care.

The top three trends?

#1:  Senior living residents are choosing to “age in place.”

#2:  Health and wellness programs and services are top priorities.

#3:  Technology will be key to promoting and sustaining independent lifestyles among senior living residents.

According to Mather’s research, the ultimate goal is to create environments and lifestyles where people want to live, not where they need to live.

Read the full article, including all ten trends, by clicking here…