Consistent readers of this blog (whom I greatly appreciate) can attest that I rarely share my real life experiences with elder care in this forum. Although life’s experiences can certainly inform, I too often read blogs that are profoundly individualistic, focusing more on feelings than on ideas or actions and offer little in the way of synthesis. Often, after reading a blog, I’m left with the simple question a favorite, former law professor of mine regularly asked a first year law student recited the facts and findings of a case, “so what?”
What do I blog about?
In this blog, I teach about the forces which drive the daily experiences of millions of Americans as they rely on the long term care services and supports (LTSS) industry, or my preferred term: the elder care ecosystem. This ecosystem is a set of complex, interdependent relationships between individuals, regulators, payment sources and care providers and it impacts the lives over 13 percent of the nation.
But why blog?
After twenty years as a skilled nursing services provider and another eight as a volunteer for a non-profit LTSS agency, I’ve seen and learned much about the LTSS system. Too often I witness elders and their families in distress when the need for LTSS arises – often suddenly – and they must learn (quickly) how to access services and negotiate the complicated interaction between services and payment sources.
For example, who does a son turn to, when his 78 year-old mother, newly admitted to a nursing home’s rehab unit, is experiencing delusions and screams through the night? Or where does a daughter turn to for help when she notices a rapid decline in her mother’s health and her mother refuses to seek medical care? Or the gentleman who believes it is time to a continuing care retirement community, but has no one to advise him on the myriad of financial and lifestyle implications of such a move?
This I believe
Understanding the funding, regulation and development of long term care services and supports can turn passive consumers of LTSS into informed advocates for improved accesses to the appropriate services necessary to reach the highest practicable quality of life for the people we love and care for, as well as ourselves.
There are many skilled wordsmiths on the Internet whose blogs capture the feelings of elders and their families and friends as they bare witness to the effects of aging on mind, body and spirit. I’m a great fan of these blogs and am often moved to tears by their emotional accounts of the lives of older adults and the journey of growing older. But, my talent (hopefully) lies in explaining the ecosystem of elder care and so I blog when a topic peaks my interest because it reveals something important about the current, or future state of the elder care ecosystem.
Thank you and learn more on Twitter @aginginchicago