National Elder Care Expert Rolls Into Emeritus

Source: 
NorthJersey.com
Published: 
07/05/2012

Elder care is not just an issue for the old anymore, says Dr. Marion Somers, a visionary in the field who suggests that boomers should begin planning for their later years as well as their aging parents, spouses, and loved ones.

"Dr. Marion," as she's warmly referred to as, has embarked on a 12-week cross-country tour educating the masses on what she considers to be one of the most important decisions one will ever make. With the senior generation living longer, she believes we are on the verge of an "elder care tsunami" and we'd best be prepared.

Her co-partner for the tour is "3 in 4 Need More," a non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness about the critical need to plan ahead for long-term care. Sponsoring the tour is Emeritus Senior Living and Interim Healthcare. Along with Dr. Marion, Emeritus is hosting a national talent search at 24 communities for seniors or their caregivers who want to showcase their talent. The grand prize is free rent for a year at any nationwide Emeritus establishment worth roughly $45,000, and 11 runners-up will receive free rent for one week.

"Dr. Marion is bringing more knowledge to our families," said Brian Beausoleik, regional director of operations for Emeritus locations in New Jersey." When people come in with their parents to see our facilities they need to be more educated. We're becoming savvy now with the Internet but we still don't plan for additional care, usually it's all about death and wills."

One of her scheduled stops was the local Emeritus facility, on Hamburg Turnpike, where a slew of residents, some venturing as far away as Cape May, sang, played instruments, and even performed magic for the talent show. Dr. Marion spoke to the crowd, offering vital information on the three pillars of financial planning including long-term care insurance, reverse mortgage, and life insurance and annuities.

"You always have to be prepared for the future," said Emeritus resident, Betty Bowes, 86.

Speaking to Wayne Today about her relationship with "3 in 4 Need More," Dr. Marion called it a "perfect marriage." The tour, which began in May in San Diego, Calif., will wind down late July. It marks the second of its kind for Dr. Marion who traveled the U.S. for seven weeks her first time out.

"First and foremost our objective is to educate the public. I don't get involved with any of the politics, but I do believe the country needs a big overhaul," said Dr. Marion, adding that medical doctors and nurses should be taught how to deal with senior residents.

Representative of her strength, Dr. Marion travels in a converted 1967 Greyhound bus which she is proud to say she owns. The bus also includes a film studio in the back where her three man crew utilizes a makeshift editing bay to produce hundreds of video clips documenting her tour which can be found on YouTube and www.drmarion.org.

Dr. Marion, 72, brings 45 years of experience to the table every time she speaks. Growing up on 126th Street in a five-story walk-up in Harlem, N.Y., Dr. Marion, who didn't have grandparents, would assist her elderly neighbors while caring for her three younger sisters by 9-years old.

"It was a lot of responsibility for a little girl but I quickly fell in love with the older people. And I suppose in a way I was starting my career in a way but I didn't realize it. I had no idea what I was getting involved in," said Dr. Marion.

She later attended City College and Lehman College, both in New York, before acquiring her Ph.D in genealogy and special population handicap at Fielding University in Santa Barbara, Calif. And for the past three decades she's dedicated her life to providing care to over 2,000 elderly clients while she owned a thriving geriatric care management practice.

Her book, "Elder Care Made Easy: Doctor Marion's 10 Steps to Help You Care for an Aging Loved One" offers insight to this often and highly ignored topic. Some of what she proposes is called "S.O.S." or situation, options and solutions. Critically look at every situation, see what services are available in your area, and take time to research solutions.

"Most are in denial that a family member needs care. They are in complete shock and I am in complete shock that they are in shock," said Dr. Marion, who now resides in California.

This spunky great-grandmother and mountain climber up until a few years ago, who still exercises, swims, and does yoga every morning, has no plans of stopping.

"As long as there's a need, I'll be out there spreading the word. It's what I'm meant to do," she said.

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