All posts by Julie Boggess

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute and provides education and training to private and professional caregivers through her company Enlighten Eldercare. She lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs of Mount Prospect, IL.

Importance of Aging Courses in Higher Education

Students at Northern Illinois University experience Dementia Live

Higher education should not overlook the benefit of educating students on issues related to aging.  In addition, tremendous career opportunities exist in Aging Services.  The field is a legitimate career choice.  However, students are largely unaware.

I didn’t give much thought to growing old when I was 20.  But, while attending college at Northern Illinois University many moons ago, I elected to take two courses about aging, and that was the beginning of my career path into aging services.

The subject was interesting, and the focus of the two courses was very different.  The first had more of a negative perspective- how growing old usually means depression, disability, and disease.   In comparison, the second course painted a more optimistic view.  Growing older can be a time for renewal, a life encore so to speak.

Fast forward 35 years, and I now teach aging courses at Northern Illinois University.  With the wisdom that is acquired with age, I have a keen understanding of why it is important for young people to learn about issues of aging.

Young Minds Learning about Aging

First, the more we understand about the process of aging when we are young, the more influence we can exercise over our aging experience.  I ask students who they want to be when they are 80, and what they will want out of life.   It is not surprising that most students are unable to answer this question.

Second,  we need to nurture more professionals into the Aging Services industry.  To that end, my second course discusses Leadership in Aging Services.  I introduce students to the possibility of a career in Aging Services.  It is wonderful to witness their “aha” moment!

Many students find the topic of aging fascinating, especially when coupled with experiential learning.  One student shared, “The book put the process of aging an interesting light. I also thought the Dementia Live experience is something that all students should continue to participate in.  This was an experience that I will remember moving into my career, and even as a human being.”

“I am actually shocked at how much I learned in this course and how interesting it really is” shared another student.  Many students discuss their own family members and gain a heightened appreciation for their challenges and how to support their personhood.

Teaching the young about the process of aging surely will produce positive benefits all the way around.

 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving to private and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Employee Education = Engagement = Quality Care

Employees at Emerald Health and Rehab in North Carolina are immersed in education about the positive effects of expressive touch.

We understand the negative impact on quality care as a result of high employee turnover.  However, more elusive is an understanding of how lackluster engagement of employees with longevity impacts quality.

Much of the focus is on recruiting new employees, and rightly so. Estimates show employee turnover nationally at 45%-66%.

At the same time, it is important that we also maintain the spirit and engagement of current employees. However, scare resources have forced employers in Aging Services to make tough decisions.

Cuts into the marrow of the employee education budget in light of the current staffing challenges could be devastating.  In doing so, we inadvertently create a more disengaged workforce and impair quality.

Defense Against Declining Quality Care

The vital connection in health care is that employee engagement drives quality of care. To that end, one of the best ways to engage employees is through ongoing hands-on education and training.

Guard against what could become turn-over induced decline in quality with a robust and engaging employee education program for your experienced and dedicated employees.

Employees with longevity have also felt the devastation of workforce challenges.  Fatigue with over-time and the constant flow of new employees in and out impacts the spirit of our dedicated workers.  All the more reason to dedicate resources and efforts towards their ongoing growth and engagement.

The absence of training appears on this list of reasons for poor employee engagement. Employees with longevity also need to continue to learn and adopt best practices. In doing so, we ensure the evolution of our quality of care and service.

In conclusion,  a corporate culture that supports growth and education for long-term employees will promote engaged workers and defend against declining quality care and service.

 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving to private and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Alone Together: Combating Loneliness in Long Term Care

Loneliness plagues the elderly in long term care.

Promoting quality of life is an essential component for any successful aging services organization.  Many things impair quality of life, but most impactful is loneliness- which I think is one of the most challenging issues to addres

The effects of loneliness amongst the elderly are well documented.  Without a doubt, it is an issue that deserves attention from aging services leaders.

Create New Connections

Jamie Ducharme cites research that indicates meaningful social contact and forming relationships is the best anecdote for loneliness.
To that end, I came across a Ted Talk from an extraordinary young man.  His simple, cost-effective idea for combating loneliness is to take letter writing to a new level.

Imagine the impact on a resident who receives a real-snail-mail letter every day!  Knowing that someone cares is a powerful antidote for loneliness.

Our employees,  neighborhood churches,  fire department personnel,  students,  senior center members all might be willing to become letter-writing partners.  It is such a lovely way to help someone feel special and less alone.

Deepen Existing Relationships

Research reveals that often times, nursing assistants perceive tacit messages from management not get too attached to residents.  Therefore, perceived or real, let’s start working on building deeper bonds.

Creating a culture that supports deep and meaningful relationships between residents and caregivers helps to combat loneliness.  In addition, it improves trust between residents and caregivers.

By no means is this a simple issue, but we can begin by understanding the barriers that prevent deeper caregiving relationships and create opportunities for our employees to more deeply connect with residents.   As a result, it may help to chip away at the feelings of loneliness for our residents.  Additionally, it could  improve the quality of the work experience for employees.

By creative programming and inspiring deeper caregiving relationships,  we may be able to make some inroads in curtailing loneliness and improving quality of life.

 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  she provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving to private and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Dementia-Friendly Faith Communities: Let’s Get Started

Faith communities should start to think about creating a culture of acceptance for persons with dementia.

Many faith communities find themselves investing in worship experiences that will attract younger members.  However, it is just as essential to keep older members engaged and attending worship services, including those with dementia.

Faith often plays a vital role in the lives of persons with dementia and their family members.  But, the presence of dementia can greatly interfere with a person’s ability to actively engage in their faith community.

Becoming a dementia-friendly congregation will create an open and welcoming environment for all.  It is an initiative that can be embraced by all members, regardless of age.  Faith communities are stronger when they recognize the value of multi-generational connection and interaction.

Dementia-Friendly Transformation

Church leaders can begin by calling upon professional community resources to educate congregational members about the needs of persons with dementia.

We should dispel notions that people with dementia are incapable of benefitting from worship.  As a result,  persons with dementia can be more easily understood and accepted with compassion and lack of judgment.

Recognizing when someone stops attending is a good first step.  Leaving the house alone as the disease progresses is very overwhelming and leads to isolation. Mobilizing volunteers to reach out and offer transportation could help them hold on to their faith a little longer.

Start with Small Changes

Begin with simple changes to assist persons with dementia to better navigate their way around the church. Therefore, consider forming a group of volunteers, with specialized training, to serve as ambassadors to escort or sit with someone in need.

Create opportunities for purposeful engagement to keep them connected.  Serving as a greeter, wiping down tables after fellowship, or telling a bible story in Sunday school may be a possibility.

Dementia-friendly worship is best when it is inclusive and engaging.  In doing so, we help them stay close to God and honor the mothers and fathers of our faith.

Beth is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a compassionate professional with decades of experience as a Registered Nurse, caregiver, patient advocate, educator, and trainer.  Early in her career, Beth found her passion for working with elderly populations and their caregivers.  Living in the Green Bay/Fox Valley area with her husband, she enjoys driving a ski boat for barefoot or slalom water-skiers, playing board games or creating a new quilt.

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  she provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving to private and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.