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Elder Care Specialist Takes Her Advice On The Road


Marion Somers, a national elder care specialist, stopped at Kobernick House in Sarasota Thursday. She was in the 10th week of a 12-week cross-country bus tour for an organization called the 3in4 Association.

“It’s a way to wake up American that we need to go back to old-fashioned values and help each other,” she explained.

Somers and others in the group are trying to wake us all up to the difficult truth that three out of four Americans need some form of long-term care in their later years, and we — especially us baby boomers — need to think about this right now. Her 40 years as a geriatric care specialist have shown her what a tough message this is for most of us to hear, and she’s resorted to a multimedia approach — bus tour, website, book, even iPhone apps.

Somers and her traveling camera crew have even put together a pilot for what she hopes will become a reality TV show, “Dr. Marion to the Rescue” — where she helps families who are in a caregiver crisis meltdown.

“From what I’ve seen around the country,” she said, “the ‘sandwich generation’ is getting eaten alive.”

Her book, “Elder Care Made Easier,” walks people through the highly individual journey of piecing together a care plan for an aging loved one. But, as she told the group at Kobernick House, “I’ve stopped saying loved one, because people come up to me after I talk and say, ‘I’m stuck with her, but she’s not a loved one.’”

Here are a few of Somers’ tips for caregivers:

Consult a care coordinator: “When you work with a long-term care specialist, that’s somebody who really knows the field and where the bargains might be. People do not know what’s in their immediate neighborhood.”

Ask questions about long-term care insurance before you buy it: “When does the benefit start; what triggers it? How do the payments work; do I have to pay and get reimbursed?”

Bringing an older relative into your home is not for everyone: “It’s a gorgeous concept, but they don’t realize how it’s going to affect their home, especially if they have children.”

Be on guard for elder fraud: “There are a lot of people who have no conscience whatsoever, and they will go into your pocket and empty it as fast as they can.”

If you’re a caregiver, take care of yourself first: “Five years ago, 16 percent of caregivers died before the person they were caring for. Now, the statistics say it’s 32 percent. People forget to delegate. They forget to ask, ‘Can you help me?’”

Take time away from your responsibilities: “Even if you think it’s hard, your life is harder if it’s out of balance. You don’t have to go and spend a lot of money to recreate. Close your eyes and think pleasant thoughts. Take a walk in your garden. Do anything that makes you feel good.”

Don’t give in to isolation: “If you want somebody to give you a call, and they haven’t, call them up and say, ‘Hey, I miss you.’ It works both ways.”

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