Archive for the ‘Judge Spotlights’ Category

Giving Thanks to Our Local Senior Living Experts

We’d like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to our local experts who generously offered their time and expertise to the 2013 Best Senior Living Awards. This group of experts are primarily individuals who work in the senior living industry in their local communities. They may be geriatric care managers, home health agency directors or staff, hospice agency representatives and other professionals who work in some aspect of senior living.

These experts have familiarity with many of the senior living communities in their area, and were able to provide us with a level of insight that’s simply not possible without first-hand experience with a community. We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce our readers to a few of these exceptional leaders.

Les Ostermeier – With more than a decade of experience in the senior living industry, Les Ostermeier served as a local expert in the Seattle area — a city he’s called home since 1989. After working with a retirement and assisted living community in the area, Les recognized the silent cry for help from seniors and their families. He started CHOICE Advisory as a referral agency to help seniors and families make sense of the complexities of senior living and narrow down the many options in the Puget Sound area to make the right choice for their loved ones.

Pati Rader, CSA – Pati Rader is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and Enrichment Consultant with five years experience working in marketing, community and life enrichment in the Sacramento area. Pati’s career in senior living was born out of her own experience with her own mother’s sudden decline, which opened her eyes to the need for programming and services for the senior population. Pati was able to combine her background and experience to provide valuable services to the senior living industry while supplementing her existing expertise with new educational opportunities and professional designations. She offers services through her company, PLR Enterprises.

Kelli Bradley – Her experience caring for her mother, who suffered from diabetes and many related complications, led Kelli to Senior Helpers. Senior Helpers is a leading in-home care agency serving the greatest need that Kelli found in her own experience — the at-home support that allows adult children to step back into the role of children and focus on their relationship with their aging or chronically ill parent instead of juggling the responsibilities and challenges of skilled nursing care, hospital stays, doctors’ appointments and other needs. Serving the Portland metropolitan area, Senior Helpers specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and celebrates what their clients can do, not what has been lost or is now more challenging.

Jane Hamil, LCSW, CMC – Jane Hamil has been serving families in the greater Atlanta area for more than two decades. In addition to working with local families, she offers email and phone support to long-distance relatives with an aging loved one in Atlanta, providing a trusted local connection to help navigate the maze of aging and senior care from afar. Jane grew up in a family of caregivers — both of her parents served in leadership positions within the church. With the values of caregiving instilled in her throughout life, Jane’s academic work and her geriatric care management practice, Bridging Generations, came naturally.

Carol Howell – Owner of Senior Life Journeys, Carol Howell is a Certified Dementia Specialist and Endorsed Life Coach serving the greater Charlotte metropolitan area for more than 26 years. Carol works with dementia caregivers to help them develop effective strategies and cope with the many challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. A published author, her most recent book, Let’s Talk Dementia—A Caregiver’s Guide, is a #1 Amazon Bestseller. In addition to offering placement services, Carol provides  range of therapy services to those suffering with dementia, including Choral Music Therapy, Memory Music Therapy and Hospice Music Therapy.

These amazing senior living professionals are just a few of the many local senior living experts selflessly devoting their careers and unique talents to the aging and caregiving communities who devoted their expertise to the 2013 Best Senior Living Awards. We’ll be highlighting more of our local experts in the coming weeks, but in the meantime be sure to check out our Local Experts page for a look at the many talented senior living pros who generously offered their local insights for the 2013 Best Senior Living Awards. A huge thanks to all our local experts! Wishing each and every one of you, as well as our readers, clients and customers, a wonderful and fun-filled holiday with your family and friends.

Image via Flickr by bowenmurphy

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Judge Spotlight: Martha Stettinius

Dementia Care as the “Long Hello”:  An Interview with Martha Stettinius, author of the book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir”

Martha Stettinius, sandwich generation caregiver and author of the critically-acclaimed book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir,” cared for her mother over eight years at home, in assisted living, a rehab center, a “memory care” facility, and a nursing home.  In this interview she explains why she calls her caregiving journey not a “long good-bye,” as Alzheimer’s caregiving is often called, but a “long hello.” An unflinching and hopeful story that is hard to put down, “Inside the Dementia Epidemic” is also a well-researched and vivid overview of the challenges of Alzheimer’s care.

Read our interview with Martha:

Martha Stettinius, sandwich generation caregiver and author of the acclaimed book “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir,” cared for her mother over eight years at home, in assisted living, a rehab center, a “memory care” facility, and a nursing home.  In this interview she explains why she calls her caregiving journey not a “long good-bye,” as Alzheimer’s caregiving is often called, but a “long hello.” An unflinching and hopeful story that is hard to put down, “Inside the Dementia Epidemic” is also a well-researched and vivid overview of the challenges of Alzheimer’s care.

An advocate for the needs of family caregivers, Martha serves as a volunteer representative for New York State for the Caregiver Action Network (formerly the National Family Caregivers Association) and as an expert in dementia care for the website eCareDiary. She works as an editor, and earned a master’s in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Martha blogs about person-centered dementia care, has an active Facebook page for family caregivers, and tweets. “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir” is available through all major online book retailers as a paperback and e-book.

Q. As a busy sandwich-generation caregiver with your mom, two children, a husband and a job, why did you start writing your book?

In the spring of 2005, I realized that my mother, Judy, who was 72 at the time, could no longer take care of herself in her remote lakeside home where she’d lived alone for 25 years. She could not balance her checkbook, she had stopped cleaning and cooking, and she’d lost a lot of weight. In the winter she was in danger of falling on the steep gravel road that led up the cliff to where she parked her car. I convinced her to move into my home with my family an hour away.

I started writing in stolen moments to deal with the stress of suddenly becoming her caregiver. Like many caregivers, I felt so much guilt and confusion. I wanted to reassure myself that I was making good decisions about my mother’s care, and that, despite our challenging history together, I was being a good daughter. When Mom moved into assisted living in the summer of 2005, I would continue to write sporadically after my visits with her, as a way to clear my head, but I did not commit myself to writing about caregiving on a regular basis for another two years. I decided then that my story might help others, and that it would be worth sharing.

Q. How is your book different from other memoirs about dementia caregiving?

I believe that we are in the midst of a shift in the way that people with dementia are perceived. No longer are they always seen as “empty shells” or “gone.” A few years ago, dementia was commonly described as a tragic wasting away and a long, painful good-bye—indeed, as the complete erasure of the person who once was. My scenes, however, show my mother as “still Judy,” as still herself despite living with dementia—an unusual perspective in memoirs by adult children caring for their aging parents. Most dementia memoirs still paint the disease as unceasing bleak, but my story shows that there can be many moments of joy and pleasure if the person is treated as a whole human being.

Q. How did you come to believe that your mother was still “in there” despite having dementia?

In my early caregiving years I believed everything I had heard about Alzheimer’s disease—that my mother would turn into a different person, that she would be a “patient,” not a person. I also thought of caregiving as just another responsibility to add to my busy day, and my time with my mother as duty, not pleasure.

I was fortunate to live next door to a woman who leads workshops on person-centered care for an international organization (The Eden Alternative®). I also attended gerontology conferences where experts spoke about person-centered dementia care, and I read books on the subject. After Mom moved into assisted living, I tried to practice what I learned.

Even if a person cannot speak, as in late dementia, they often express their feelings and needs in other ways—through their eyes, their facial expression, and their body language. When talking to Mom, I found that if I paid close enough attention, I would almost always see a reaction—a raised eyebrow, a twinkle in her eye, a furrowed brow, a puff of a laugh through her nose like a tiny set of bellows. I tried to slow down enough to just “be” with her. Through the final stages of dementia, Mom enjoyed simple pleasures such as sitting with me outdoors or listening to music, holding my hand. Though she passed away at age 80 in December, I will always feel grateful for my time with her.

Judge Spotlight: Preparing for Your Second Adulthood

In the latest installment in our Judge Spotlight series, we are excited and honored to be among the first to introduce you to recognized eldercare expert and author Bart Astor’s latest book, “AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices about Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle, and Pursuing Your Dreams.”

At this point in our lives there are no more “shoulds.” Although many of us are caring for our parents as they are aging, they don’t have the same influence on our choices as they did when we were under their roofs. Maybe it would be a good thing if they did have that influence—perhaps their wisdom and experience would help us. But presumably we’re all a bit older and wiser now, so we determine our own “shoulds.” We’ve made our choices, and we’ve lived with them for many years. We’ve accepted that they were, in fact, our choices. We chose whether to have a family, where to settle, what kind of work to do, and what would occupy our time when we weren’t otherwise overwhelmed with work and family commitments. We probably set goals for ourselves, and those goalposts may have shifted more than once. We saw others around us whom we admired and we tried on what we saw in them. If those characteristics fit us we took them on as ours. They became our role models. That’s not any different than what our parents and their parents before them did.

But life was different for them. Their lives—at least from my perspective—seemed more predetermined. My mother didn’t have the same options my granddaughter has. Even as my wife was growing up she was expected to be a teacher or a nurse, if she worked at all.

As our society changed, we found that we had more freedom. And with that increased freedom came uncertainty. With fewer role models and with changing goals, we stumbled on our way as best we could. So it is with our next chapters in life. Who’s in front of us? Who’s clearing our paths?

We prepare for this second adulthood, I think, by doing what can to avoid being a victim. Sure, sometimes life brings the unexpected—illness, injury, or lottery winnings. But more often than not we see the ball coming at us right off the bat. As it heads our way we generally don’t have time enough to consider all of the options. We needed to have thought about them before the ball was pitched: What if the ball is hit to me? Where do I throw it? Who’s on base? How fast is the runner?

Then I let my muscle memory take over as I scoop up the grounder and throw it to second base to start the double play. If I bobble it, that’s an error. Errors happen; we do the best we can. If I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with the ball when it comes to me, that’s more than an error. That was preventable. That’s me letting down my whole team. My teammates and I then are victims because of my lack of preparation.

Each of our roads on this journey is unique. Some are winding, some straighter. Some have too many bumps, whereas the lucky ones among us have just enough bumps to learn from. A roadmap provides direction—an aid to help you navigate. Preparation and planning, as you approach your second adulthood, helps you think about your options before the ball reaches you.


Bio: Bart Astor

Bart Astor ( is a recognized expert in life’s transitions and eldercare. He focuses on preparing for second adulthood in his new book, AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices about Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle, and Pursuing Your Dreams available April, 2013. His unexpected personal journey led him to write his best-selling book, Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents, now in its second printing and critically regarded for being today’s must-have healthcare resource. Bart has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including ABC’s “Good Morning America,” PBS’s “MarketPlace,” and Ric Edelman’s “The Truth About Money.” His perspective comes from personal experience, both good and bad, and sometimes that’s what matters most.

Bart has written eleven other books, numerous articles, testimony, grant proposals, training and technical manuals, white papers, and website content on a variety of subjects including eldercare, student financial aid, college admission, insurance, buying a home, and corporate social responsibility. He was also the publisher and founder of the College Planning Quarterly.

Bart can be contacted at [email protected]


Judge Spotlight: SageMinder Offers Senior Care Calls and Caregiver Tools

This is the first in a series of spotlights highlighting our 2013 Best Senior Living Awards expert judges. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to find out about our spotlights as they go live and learn more about our panel of prestigious senior living experts and how they serve the senior living community!

SageMinder.Com is an award-winning website for family caregivers.  Users find articles, tips, forms to download, community forums, blog, and even guided relaxation meditations on our site.  SageMinder also offers some new technologies to assist the family caregiver and the senior at home. Lori Paterno

Care Calls

SageMinder is the home of the patented SageMinder Senior Care Call System.  SageMinder Care Calls provide reliable daily medication reminders and/or check in calls automatically and notify a family caregiver immediately of the call’s outcome.  These interactive calls make it possible for a caregiver to know what is going on through the day even if they cannot be there at that moment due to work or other family obligations.  Care Calls offer peace of mind and a regular routine for the safety and assurance of elderly people at home.

MySage Online Portal

Caregivers are notoriously busy and often juggling multiple roles.  That is why SageMinder has also introduced these new MySage online caregiver tools to help families with all their daily tasks:

  • Online Calendar with Free Text Message Alerts

SageMinder Calendar lets a user schedule recurring appointments, activities, or other tasks into a calendar and send email and/or text messages at pre-programmed times for reminding anyone in the family.  This is a free service.

  • Family Care Center

The Family Care Center (FCC) is a private social network for just the family and close friends of an elderly loved one.  Set up by a family caregiver, this portal can help the care team coordinate tasks, communicate privately about health updates, and share ideas, photos, events, and more.

  • TrackIt

TrackIts utilize the same patented scheduling and reminding system to help anyone remember to log progress toward health, exercise and fitness goals.  You program in the goals and the TrackIt system will remind you to log your activities.

These services and the caregiver website are all designed to empower the family caregiver with the tools, information, and ideas to succeed at this most honorable job of caring for another person.  For more information, go to


Lori Paterno, M.Ed. has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Penn State University.  She has over 25 years experience in human services, counseling, and education.