Solutions For Independence

Providing Life Consulting and Planning for the Aging and Disabled


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Home for the Holidays-Is Mom Really OK?

Posted on November 14, 2017 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (4)

Does mom sound a little off on the phone? Does she seem to be covering up or changing the subject when you ask specific questions?

Sometimes a visit home for the holidays can be an eye opening experience:

The Pumpkin Pie is nowhere to be found. The tree is not decorated. The groceries for Thanksgiving dinner haven’t even been purchased, let alone prepared. These are just a few signs that something is going on.

If you haven't seen mom or dad for a while, yet been suspicious of how “well” they are really doing, a visit home for the holidays is usually a tell all. Even though mom tells you every day on the phone that she is “fine’, seeing is believing. The possible scenarios are endless.


Bills are not paid

She seems frail and has lost weight,

The refrigerator is empty

She looks disheveled and her clothes are not clean

Nutritional needs not being met

She is confused and repeating herself

There are bruises or minor injuries

Physical problems can’t be seen over the phone.

Dehydration and malnutrition can lead to many other issues including falls.


Our parents are very proud and rarely ask for help or want to admit they are struggling. It is very common to visit after even just a month or two and see a decline. The good news is, there are plenty of solutions to give you and mom the peace of mind you all deserve.


At Solutions for Independence we advocate for our clients to assure their needs are being met and they have the best quality of life possible. We receive calls every year around this time from children visiting discovering mom and dad are having a hard time.

We assess the situation and determine the best support services. Whether it be a caregiver, a medical device such as a cane or walker, nursing care, rehabilitative services like physical or occupational therapy or maybe even downsizing to a first floor living option or retirement community, we can help.

Our care and safety assessment will help answer many questions and allow us together to come up with a plan. The plan of care will allow us to help find the resources and individuals to make sure mom and dad’s needs are being met on a daily basis.


If you are visiting for the holidays and run into any of these scenarios, please don’t hesitate to call or email [email protected]

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The Dutiful Daughter-Coping With Caring For Your Aging Parents

Posted on August 30, 2017 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Women are at the epicenter of caregiving as a whole. We’ve seen it over and over-“The Dutiful Daughter” struggling not only caring for their parents but their in-laws, as well. Women are also more likely than men to say that caregiving is physically difficult and has strained their marriages, and caused them to lose contact with friends and become isolated socially.

While it is true that men have become more involved and taken on more responsibilities at home caring for their aging loved ones, recent studies show that employed women who are caregivers are seven times more likely than men to cut down from full-time to part-time employment because of caregiving duties.

They are more likely than men to take a leave of absence from work, to lose employment benefits because they cut back their hours or to be forced to quit working altogether. A significant percentage say they were penalized at work because of their caregiving responsibilities.

As daughters, wives, and mothers there is no question that we love and honor our parents and grandparents and want to be there for them as they increasingly need assistance in their later years.

How can a Senior Care Advisor help shoulder your load of responsibility? There are a number of ways!

  • Arranging home safety services such as coordinating lawn care and cleaning services
  • Taking Mom to doctor appointments and grocery shopping
  • Setting up resources and services such as Meals On Wheels and caregiver support
  • Providing medication management

Whether you live nearby or in a different state, these duties can be overwhelming and stressful. Remember, you are not alone. I am here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance with these are any other matters pertaining to caring for your parents or grandparents. Email [email protected]

Assited Living Options That Work For You

Posted on June 9, 2017 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (2)

Most people don't realize how many different types of senior care living communities there are. Today are going to talk about a few options & what they have to offer.

In an early article, we talked about my client in need of an independent living setting. Since his wife passed, he has been very isolated and not eating properly. An independent living facility is a perfect fit for him because he is independent and does not need assistance with medication management or personal care. When he gets to the point where he will need that extra help, we will facilitate his move to an assisted living facility or nursing home if necessary.

Assisted living facilities, also known as personal care homes, offer amenities such as meals, light housekeeping, and activities. In addition, they offer medication management, therapy services, incontinence care, & some nursing services. The goal is to allow the resident to "Age in Place" therefore, they provide additional services as needs increase. They can also provide hospice care towards end of life situations to allow the person to remain in that setting throughout their days.

Memory Care Assisted Living is an alternative for those affected by Alzheimer's disease and other conditions causing memory loss. These facilities are secure with higher staffing ratios. They are set up in smaller settings that can be easily navigated. This helps to minimize the resident’s confusion in a safe & secure environment. For someone who is unsafe to live alone and at risk of wandering, this option is a great alternative.

The cost of assisted living and memory care settings vary greatly with semi-private rooms costing less than private. The cost is not covered by medical insurance. Some long-term care insurance policies help to offset the cost. The Veteran’s Aid and Attendance program can help too, which will be discussed in a later article. There is no Medicare or Medicaid funding for assisted living. However, there are some creative options for continuing care retirement communities also known as CCRC's. We will talk about these options in our next article. 

If you are considering a senior care living community for mom or dad, please contact us:

Phone: 412.999.7892

Email: [email protected]

We can help you navigate the options, costs, locations, and availability of these different types of settings.

How to Choose The Right Senior-Care Living Option

Posted on June 9, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Most people don't realize there are many different types of senior care living options. In today's article, we are going to talk about a few of these options and what differentiates them.

I'm working with a client who lives in Ohio. His son contacted me because “dad is having difficulty with meals and is feeling isolated and secluded since mom passed.” His son would like to move dad closer but is unsure of which direction to turn. Navigating the senior care housing market is not easy, but it is one of the things that our senior care advisors do best. There are over 400 senior care living options in Western Pennsylvania. With so many options, it becomes overwhelming.

For a senior like my client, who is independent and able to manage his own medications, yet in need of socialization and meals, a senior care high-rise or an independent living facility could be great options.

Senior high-rises are apartments for seniors aged 62 and up. They are generally subsidized by government supported housing for people with low to moderate income. These 1-2 bedroom apartment settings offer some activities and emergency services.

Another great option we are considering for my client is an independent living facility. These facilities offer studio, and 1-2 bedroom apartments. They also offer breakfast lunch and dinner, lots of activities, transportation and outings as well as housekeeping and laundry.

The biggest differences between senior care high-rises and independent living facilities is cost. Independent living settings are not government subsidized. They are generally private pay at a higher cost, however, they do offer more amenities. Senior care high-rises do not provide meals, transportation or housekeeping.

With so many options, it can become very confusing. Solutions for Independence can help.

If you are considering a senior care living setting for mom or dad, please contact us:

Phone: 412.999.7892

Email: [email protected]

Our senior care advisors can help you navigate the options, costs, locations, and availability of these different types of settings.

Stay tuned for our next article where we will talk about the personal care and assisted living options.

What is a Power of Attorney & Why Should You Have One?

Posted on April 7, 2017 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

A Power of Attorney is invaluable when caring for a senior loved one. Without it, medical and financial needs can be affected. Care Advocate Wendy Long encourages you not to wait for an emergency to appoint one.

Who will advocate for you in an emergency? I who will manage your affairs if you can't? A Power of Attorney sure can, and today we're going to talk about how important appointing one is.  At Solutions For independence one of the most important services we offer is Power of Attorney. This service is invaluable to our clients as well as their families. Without it, medical wishes and financial arrangements cannot be followed through.

What is a power of attorney? Do you think you need one? I'm here to tell you everyone needs one and here's why:

First of all, a Power of Attorney is a person who is appointed to speak on your behalf if you are unable to.  Not only can this person speak for you, he or she can also manage your finances in a time of need. For example, if you are hospitalized and unconscious or too confused or overwhelmed to convey your medical wishes, a Power of Attorney will step in and do this for you.

Solutions for independence Power of Attorneys provide both medical and financial services.

Our medical Power of Attorneys communicate with physicians, hospital staff & family members, manage care needs like medications & nutrition, and arrange nursing and caregiving services when needed.

Our financial Power of Attorneys manage all financial needs including bill paying, banking, and tax preparation.

Without having a Power of Attorney in place, it is next to impossible for someone to speak on your behalf. It is against healthcare regulations to obtain and share medical information from healthcare professionals without having a medical Power of Attorney. Without having a financial Power of Attorney in place, bills cannot be paid, utilities could be shut off, and finances could fall behind.

I have a friend whose father was in an accident while traveling and unconscious for several days. It took her days to find him because she failed to obtain Power of Attorney for him. Because she did not have it, the hospitals in the area were not permitted and not willing to give her information. With the help of his doctor, she was finally able to track him down, but it was not easy.

If you or your loved ones do not have a Power of Attorney in place, please call us. We can act in this role or we can help you act in this role on your loved ones behalf. Call us at 412-999-7892 or email [email protected]

Thanks for reading and I wish you and your loved ones happiness and life long

What Is A Senior Care Advisor and Why Should You Hire One?

Posted on March 8, 2017 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

What is a senior care advisor and why should you hire one? Do you think your parents would never allow outside help? As a geriatric care manager, I get questions like these often.

At Solutions For Independence we work with families all over western Pennsylvania, helping them with tasks to make daily life easier, offering complete care management solutions.  Senior Care Advisors have the very important job of helping our aging loved ones navigate life's every day issues.

Whether they're at home, in the hospital, or a facility, we visit our clients as often as needed to help with things like...

1. Managing medications

2. Bill paying

  3. Tax preparation

  4. Errands

  5. Managing household support services

  6. Transportation assisting and advocating at medical appointments


And much more!

Honestly, our family members want to remain independent - they don't necessarily need full time support - but if your loved ones are alone or family members live at a distance, having an extra person filling in the gaps can provide comfort and peace of mind.

Your Care Advisor becomes a part of the family, navigating senior living, and can be relied on from every day minor issues, like making sure the grass is cut, to the more serious challenges that all families face during aging, like communicating with everyone during a hospital stay or an emergency.

Over the past decades I have helped several hundred families navigate aging, and here's what I've learned:

Today's seniors are not comfortable with strangers in their home. As a matter of fact I work with multiple clients that would prefer to live in their family home but instead live in some form of care facility because they just don't trust having a stranger in their home. 

        That's heartbreaking.

You don't want to wait for a crisis to address this situation either.  Whenever I meet a family that feels hesitant about working with a care manager here's what I suggest:

1. Be Reassuring

When you say to your loved one "It's time we get some help in here" what they're hearing is that you don't think they are taking care of themselves and you are threatening their independence.  Instead approach the situation this way: 

"Mom, dad, I know you want to remain at home and we want that also, it's probably time to consider a little bit of support at home

                         just to keep you safe." 

2. Engage The Support Of A Trusted Professional

The truth is our parents implicitly trust doctors, bankers, lawyers, and accountants for guidance.  Sometimes this advice is more well received when it comes from a third party, so don't be afraid to ask for help.

Approach these conversations like I suggested We want our parents to remain at home but some support is needed.

It is my absolute pleasure to help families and seniors navigate every day life or extreme challenges.

Whether you're planning ahead or in the midst of a crisis I hope you'll get in touch for a complimentary phone consultation no matter where you are in the world.

I wish you and your loved ones happiness and life long independence.



What Can Family & Friends do to Help?

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Elderly driving What can family and friends do to help?
Sometimes caregivers, family, and relatives need to convince the older adult that there is a safety concern for themselves and others on the road. Be a good listener and raise the issue carefully. Think about a doctor’s checkup to review medical history and medications to see if any of these may be affecting his or her ability.
There are some specialists who can assess the person’s safety and teach defensive driving techniques. For more information contact Driver Rehabilitation Specialists at 1-800-290-2344 or visit

Create A Transportation Plan
The elderly will feel better about giving up driving if they know there are other ways to get around. Help your older loved one to make a list of transportation options.

  1. Senior transportation van - (or cabs) - look in the phone book for numbers or call your local Area Agency on Aging. In Missouri, call the Division of Senior Services at 1-800-235-5503 to get the number for your local Area Agency on Aging.
  2. Neighbors, Church Volunteers, Family and Friends - make a list of phone numbers and encourage your relative to ask for rides. My Mother has developed a network of fine people who take her places.
  3. Have meals delivered - many restaurants deliver free of charge and many communities have Meals on Wheels programs.
  4. Receive medicine by mail. Mail-order plans are easy and often less expensive.
  5. Shop by catalog. In our present time, every
    thing that an elderly person could need is
    available on-line or in print.

Assure older people that family and friends will work with them to help them get around. Tell them many older drivers who have given up driving have found that they can get by OK without driving. Also point out money spent on vans, cabs, etc. would probably be less than money spent on gas, car licensing, auto insurance, and car repairs. Include social activities in the transportation plan. Let your relative know that you care for their safety and you will help them with transportation.

Suggest yearly eye and hearing exams. Poor vision, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration can reduce vision or limit visual fields. Poor hearing will prevent the elderly from hearing a siren, car horn or pedestrian. Use of hearing aids and other devices should be considered.

Review medical conditions and speak to a loved one’s doctor. Certain medicines can cause drowsiness or mental confusion. Drugs prescribed for insomnia and anxiety, for example, can increase the crash risk among drivers who take them. If you suspect dementia or Alzheimer’s, have your loved one checked by a doctor. Signs of Alzheimer’s can include aggression – something that is extremely dangerous to other drivers and pedestrians. Work jointly with your loved one’s doctor to encourage them to stop driving.

Suggest a driving test and refresher course. A driver rehabilitation specialist can assess your loved one’s driving safety through an office exam and driving test. Ask your loved one’s doctor for a referral or contact the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists ( Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles may also offer driving tests. It’s important that senior drivers stay proactively involved in keeping their driving skills sharp.

That’s why, in many states, insurance companies offer an auto insurance discount for mature drivers if a person meets a given age criteria and has taken an approved mature driver safety course. Courses and informative pamphlets are available from the AARP, AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
“Involve your parent or loved one in the decision to adjust or stop their driving,” says Gorman. “Suggest they avoid long distance driving, night driving or expressway driving. Encourage them to leave plenty of time to get where they are going and not to drive alone.”

If you suspect that your loved one should stop driving altogether, the Insurance Information Institute has these tips to offer:

Tell your loved one you are concerned and give specific reasons. Ask if he or she shares your concerns. Provide examples of recent fender benders, getting lost or running stop signs. Don’t bring up these issues in the car. Wait until you have his or her full attention.

Create a transportation plan. It’s easier for people to give up driving if they have identified alternative ride options. Many cities offer special discounts for seniors on buses and trains, and senior centers and community service agencies often provide special transportation alternatives. Family and friends can take turns driving them where they need to go. Some families set up accounts to pay for their loved one’s transportation needs through a cab service. Remind elderly drivers that owning an auto is expensive, including the annual cost for fuel, maintenance and insurance.

Realize that your loved one may become upset or defensive. After all, driving is important for independence and self-esteem. If your loved one is unwilling to talk, don’t give up. Your continued concern and support may help him or her feel more comfortable with this topic.

If you feel strongly that your parent or family member cannot drive safely and will not stop, consider contacting the local Department of Motor Vehicles and report your concerns. Depending upon state regulations and your senior's disabilities, it may be illegal for them to continue to drive. The DMV may do nothing more than send a letter, but this might help convince your parent to stop.

Other Things to Consider:

Caregivers should also make sure that the parent or family member has adequate auto liability insurance and that coverage doesn’t lapse.

“Too often, parents have either too little insurance or may forget to make an insurance payment,” says Gorman. “Sadly, if they are involved in a serious auto accident, they could lose everything they’ve worked so hard for their entire lives.”

For more information on older drivers, visit the Insurance Information Institute’s web site at

Other useful information is available on the following web sites: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety at; Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services at; American Association of Retired Persons at; American Medical Association at; The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at; and the National Traffic Safety Administration at

Websites of Interest:

Alzheimers Association
Autism/Aspergers Association
National MS Society
Parkinsons Association
Twilight Wish Foundation