The South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition: Available Resources
Guest: Paul Franklin – Chairman, Aging in Place Coalition
Host: Sally Smith - Author/Resource literature on age-related disease and healthy aging
Sally Smith: Welcome to Age to Age. I’m Sally Smith. Let’s talk. Today, we’re fortunate to have with us Paul Franklin, chairman of the board of the South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition. Their big hope it to keep people, happily, in their own homes for as long as they want. This is such a huge issue. Alzheimer’s affects 4.5 million Americans; 10 percent of all people in America over 65; 50 percent of people over 85. This is just Alzheimer’s. So, the numbers are huge here. What does Aging in Place do?
Paul Franklin: Well, Sally, it’s based on a very simple concept, which is if your ideal retirement location is right under your feet, it won’t happen by accident. The whole idea is that it takes planning, and it takes some effort to, basically, put in place things that they need to put in place now, without being in a crisis mode. Too many people wait until something happens and then they don’t have too many choices. But, if you do some planning up front, it really does help give the family a lot of options and things to think about, and they don’t have to go into crisis mode when something happens.
Sally Smith: What a perfectly stable and wonderful idea. How did this coalition come into being? I mean, who generated it? Was it a state thing, a local thing?
Paul Franklin: It was personal, quite frankly. About ten years ago, my father-in-law, my wife’s father, was diagnosed with dementia, which later turned into Alzheimer’s. They were living in Pittsburg; we were in Charleston. We realized that in order to provide the kind of support and help that Barbara’s mother would need, we needed to be a lot closer. So, we moved them from Pittsburg, down to Charleston, about five minutes from where we live, and started the process of trying to assist her in taking care of him. That is, really, how it got started. We realized that in order for him to stay at home, she needed a lot of support and a lot of help. There was no list. There was no one place we could go to find that help, and we said, gee, this is an opportunity, other families have got to be facing this, how can we help?
Sally Smith: That is just so pivotal. That is exactly the sort of way I got into doing this as well. Think of the thousands of people out there who wake up one day and the whole world is new, and different, and they have no place to go. It’s just kind of a freefall. When my mother had this sort of situation; it was somewhat different, we just had to do our own original research. We were, like, you’ve got to be kidding! You know, she was in a big city where there should have been a go-to place. You could go to a nursing home. So, that’s such a universal. It sounds like you really filled a need there. What is, sort of, the vision then? The vision is, what, would you say?
Paul Franklin: The vision is that everyone who would like to remain at home, and age in place successfully, can do so. That’s, really, the vision. It’s very simple.
Sally Smith: So, this plan ahead and the Aging in Place vision, what does someone do when, say, I do want to stay at home? I’ve heard of Aging in Place. I pick up the phone and call you and say that I want to make a plan, I don’t know what’s out there, how can you help me?
Paul Franklin: Well, that, of course, is one of our challenges. What we try to do is be proactive. We try to meet with senior groups all over the low country area. We’ve met with senior center members. We’ve met with members of church groups, civic organizations, community neighborhood associations, trying to take the message to them that there are a number of things that you can do now. They’re not that complicated, but you really need to make an effort to organize your thoughts about what you want the future to look like if certain things happen, and we try to provide the resources to help them do that.
Sally Smith: Okay. That’s a key comment there. I read in your literature about your providing the resources, identifying the resources, what are these resources? Do you sit down with me and tell me where I need to go? Is it that hands-on, or is it more, these things are out there?
Paul Franklin: Well, we do, really, both. What we have tried to do is pull together the major elements of the community, what we think are important resources to try to help people. I’m thinking, what are the government resources, for example? There’s the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging. There’s the local Trident Area Agency on Aging. There’s the Mayor’s Office on Aging, here in Charleston. So, there are some government resources, in addition to what we normally think of in terms of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. So, what we try to do is bring those resources to the table and say, these are resources that are available through the government. Now, what else is available that people ought to be aware of?
Next, we go to the nonprofit sector. We work with the Alzheimer’s Association, Trident United Way, Association for the Blind and say, what sources can they bring together to help families and people that are confronted with these issues? So, we get all those on the table. Next, we go to are the geriatric research universities in the state of South Carolina. We say, what’s the latest technology they have on aging? We want to be a funnel for that research. So, we have MUSC, Clemson, and USC, all, associated with us to provide us with that element.
Then, the fourth sector is very important, which is the private sector. There, we have such resources as geriatric care managers. We have physicians in which their whole practice is in a patient’s home. They take Medicare, and just go to their homes. We have a foot nurse that goes in and takes care of just the feet. We have medical equipment providers. We have people that will come in and help with the activities of daily living. So, we bring all of these resources together and look at that, and say, okay, what are the gaps? We meet with all these different resource representatives on a quarterly basis, look at what’s available out there, and provide feedback to each other as to what has been missing, and say, okay, who can cover this? It’s a very collaborative effort to bring those resources together, and we try to compile all of that in something that is easy for people to understand and digest, with contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, websites, and all of that.
Sally Smith: Well, you know, I am very impressed with all of that. So much of what I’ve heard is that people, they’re in the forest, they’ve got one thing that they kind of have a grip on, and they can really help you with whatever this one thing is. But there are very things that have the overview of looking down from the airplane and saying, okay, let’s just look at this forest for pine trees. You know, let’s just look at South Carolina and the southeastern United States, and every institution, and offering, and group within it, and look at it only with the focus of pulling out how aging may help. Some of these things, you might not think to look at for aging. You might say, I don’t know whether they do that or not. You’re looking and saying, yeah, they do that, or they don’t, or they whatever. There’s this big overview. I love that. So, you put this together in something like a pamphlet I can go in and get, and you just update it all the time? Is it on your website? How do I, as John Q. Public, say, wow, he knows everything that’s out there. It’s like going to the biggest shopping center in the world. How do I access that?
Paul Franklin: Well, you, certainly, can access it as a participant in one of our presentations. We invite people to contact us to find out if we could make a presentation for their particular group, where they have seniors, and adult children. Our audience is not just seniors. We really encourage adult children to get into the lives of their parents to figure out what’s going on. In fact, one of the first initiatives that we had for the Aging in Place Coalition was National Aging in Place Week. We were, basically, trying to encourage adult children, right before the Thanksgiving holidays, to start thinking about things they ought to be looking for in their parent’s lives that would be a tell-tale sign that their parents need help.
A lot of times parents aren’t as forthcoming. They don’t want to be a burden to their adult children. And they are hesitant, sometimes, to really talk about some of the things that are going on in their lives. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon children, sometimes, to take the initiative, to look for the signs that parents really do need help. It could come from a number of places: messing up on their medication, for example, items that are in the refrigerator that shouldn’t be there. There are all kinds of little tell-tale signs: bills stacking up that haven’t been paid.
Sally Smith: These sound very familiar.
Paul Franklin: Yes, right.
Sally Smith: To many people, I’m sure, that are listening as well. Let me ask you one other thing before we move on. How would someone reach you?
Paul Franklin: The website is www.scaipc.org. There, you can see a lot of the information about the coalition, the resources that are available, support, and phone numbers. Our phone number is (843) 762-2218.
Sally Smith: Okay. Thank you so much, Paul. It’s just been fascinating to hear what you have to say. I really appreciate your coming.
Paul Franklin: Thank you, Sally.
Sally Smith: This is Sally Smith, Age to Age, saying goodbye. Thank you for listening. We welcome your comments on our website, and wish you courage and joy on your journey. We are all connected.
If you enjoy listening to Sally Smith, you can buy her book, The Circle. It’s the story of how she personally responded to her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a wonderful gift of hope for anyone with a parent with dementia. Just click on Sally Smith’s name under the Health Professionals tab on the Podcast home page. All profits support research at the Center on Aging. Thanks.