Peace of Mind Seminar 2023
AAUW’s Planning Committee for the 3rd Peace of Mind presentation — Kelly Gonzalez, Diana Reyes, Shirley Selz, and Diana Cardenas — hosted two experts in the field of senior care on October 21, 2023: Ms. Melissa Bergeron, Care Consultant with Mir Senior Care Management and Care Consultants; and Mr. Gene Lopez, PT, Ph.D., Fall Prevention Specialist and owner of FYZICAL Therapy. Offering their decades of knowledge, training, and experiences, both experts engaged audience members.
Ms. Bergeron: “Navigating Medical Management.” In her segment Ms. Bergeron outlined 4 basic foundational pieces necessary to function as an effective advocate for a loved one.
Establish a Care Team You Have Confidence In– This includes medical professionals, other service providers, family and friends, and anyone else who assists you in caring for a loved one. Observe members of the care team and hold them accountable for their responsibilities and actions.
Get Organized – Having the necessary information and tools is essential. Create a medical binder, a financial/legal binder, and a helper contact list. Identify specific documents for access to medical information and finances to conduct business on a loved one’s behalf.
Communicate – This is a cornerstone of being a good advocate. Understand the wishes and goals of a person in need of services. Practice continuous communication with your loved one and the care team.
Practice Self-Care – A burned-out, run-down, unwell caregiver cannot deliver good care and advocacy. Take care of yourself and recognize that doing so is not a selfish act, but a gift to self and others.
Based on her years of practice, Ms. Bergeron described 3 scenarios for effective advocacy: preparation, appropriate medication management, and managing hospital discharge.
Preparation – the Book. A simple three ring binder to house all the collected information will eliminate turning the house upside down trying to find essential documents.
Medication Management – Gather all medications, vitamins, OTC meds, and supplements into one location and utilize pill boxes that fit a person’s needs.
Hospital Discharges – The best time to start planning for discharge is just after a family member is admitted. While it may seem too soon, planning allows time to be prepared and to minimize stress.
Dr. Lopez: “Safety, Mobility, and Preventing Falls to Maintain Independence.” In his presentation Dr. Lopez described common falls and injuries that lead to incapacity, fear, injury, and hospitalization. He showed specific exercises, used in his clinic, to improve the balance of his clients to minimize falls.
He was accompanied by Ms. Diana Lopez, whose visual presentation helped the audience understand the anatomy of the ear, the physiological ailments of the inner ear, and their effects on balance and the sense of well being. Also, she provided research data, numbers of people needing medical care and admittance to hospitals for severe injuries from falls. She pointed out the loss and cost to the nation.
Dr. Lopez helped the audience members understand falls by demonstrating, physically on a mat, the kinds of falls, the parts of the body involved, and effects, such as shoulder, back, and leg damage, and severe head injuries. For example, he simulated the process involved in stumbling and how to react—by using leg muscles– to minimize the impact on the body, particularly the head.
A segment that attracted this audience member was his explanation of orthopedic rehabilitation offered to his clients. Dr. Lopez described the special equipment necessary to help clients overcome pain and immobility. Clients who use canes, wheelators, and rollators can strengthen muscles and gain motion with the use of suspended harnesses.
Dr. Lopez stressed his focus on research studies and findings to drive his therapies. Also, with its team approach, therapists and clients develop a sense of family, a factor that aids physical improvement.
Shirley Selz gave out a useful handout to help individuals, families, and care givers gather and organize essential legal, medical, and financial information to minimize alarm and crises and to promote peace of mind.
— Story by Dr. Diana Cardenas
— Photos by Lara Gephart