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You Planned for Retirement, Have You Planned for Aging?

Originally published in Local Umbrella News, San Diego


This country’s elder population is surging. Every day, approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65. And as more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, an increasing number of these individuals (and their family members) are confronting issues surrounding senior living and long-term elder care.

The decision to place yourself, a parent or loved one in the right senior community or find the right in home care is often tough, but inevitable. Unfortunately, the situation can arise without advanced warning—after a catastrophic illness or injury and may be hand-in-hand with a short timeline to find the appropriate home or community.

That’s when it pays to know Julie Derry and Kie Copenhaver. This dynamic duo owns and runs a San Diego office of Care Patrol, covering La Mesa, East County, South Bay and parts of San Diego. Care Patrol is the nation’s largest senior placement organization.

Julie and Kie are on the front lines of the “Golden Wave” of aging Boomers. “The amount of research, coordination and logistics involved in caring for a loved one can be overwhelming,” Julie says. “Kie and I are experts in this field with a broad network of resources. People have all kinds of questions—and we’ve got the answers or know the resources that do. We are also there to hold your hand during what can be a very trying time.”

Their experience and expertise are far-reaching. The average age of a client is 82, but they’ve helped seniors ranging in age from the early 60s up into the 100s. Sometimes, these clients are beset with a myriad of challenges that have to be addressed.

Like the time a hospital nurse called them about an aged woman with dementia who had been dumped at an emergency room. “We went to meet her and found there were a lot of things to consider —dementia, paranoia, and hallucinations,” Kie recalls. “She was ambulatory—so if we didn’t keep an eye on her she was likely to wander away.” Kie and Julie tracked down her out of state next of kin and found someone who could exercise power of attorney for healthcare and financial decisions. They presented memory care living options to the next of kin that could meet this client’s specific needs.

And after placing the client, Kie says she kept in touch to ensure the situation was working. “Yes, we visit our clients—that’s a huge part of our business,” she says. “Caregivers at facilities often are confused when we show up after placements, as this is not a common practice among placement agencies. But that’s what we do – we check in with our clients, to ensure their continued safety and well being; plus the families appreciate these visits and the updates we provide them.”

This country’s elder population is surging. Every day, approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65. And as more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, an increasing number of these individuals (and their family members) are confronting issues surrounding senior living and long-term elder care.

The decision to place yourself, a parent or loved one in the right senior community or find the right in home care is often tough, but inevitable. Unfortunately, the situation can arise without advanced warning—after a catastrophic illness or injury and may be hand-in-hand with a short timeline to find the appropriate home or community.

That’s when it pays to know Julie Derry and Kie Copenhaver. This dynamic duo owns and runs a San Diego office of Care Patrol, covering La Mesa, East County, South Bay and parts of San Diego. Care Patrol is the nation’s largest senior placement organization.

Julie and Kie are on the front lines of the “Golden Wave” of aging Boomers. “The amount of research, coordination and logistics involved in caring for a loved one can be overwhelming,” Julie says. “Kie and I are experts in this field with a broad network of resources. People have all kinds of questions—and we’ve got the answers or know the resources that do. We are also there to hold your hand during what can be a very trying time.”

Their experience and expertise are far-reaching. The average age of a client is 82, but they’ve helped seniors ranging in age from the early 60s up into the 100s. Sometimes, these clients are beset with a myriad of challenges that have to be addressed.

Like the time a hospital nurse called them about an aged woman with dementia who had been dumped at an emergency room. “We went to meet her and found there were a lot of things to consider —dementia, paranoia, and hallucinations,” Kie recalls. “She was ambulatory—so if we didn’t keep an eye on her she was likely to wander away.” Kie and Julie tracked down her out of state next of kin and found someone who could exercise power of attorney for healthcare and financial decisions. They presented memory care living options to the next of kin that could meet this client’s specific needs.

And after placing the client, Kie says she kept in touch to ensure the situation was working. “Yes, we visit our clients—that’s a huge part of our business,” she says. “Caregivers at facilities often are confused when we show up after placements, as this is not a common practice among placement agencies. But that’s what we do – we check in with our clients, to ensure their continued safety and well being; plus the families appreciate these visits and the updates we provide them.”

Here are a multitude of questions that focus on placing seniors in the right assisted living and memory care settings, including:

■ Who pays for assisted living, memory care, in-home care and hospice? How does Medicare/Medi-Cal fit in?

■ Do I have a choice about which company I want to work with for home health or hospice?

■ How can I know if my loved one needs a nursing home or if assisted living can take care of their needs?

■ My loved one has dementia, has started getting combative, tends to wander, sleeps all day and/or stays up all night. What are my options?

■ The hospital/skilled nursing facility (SNF) is going to discharge my parent in two days—what do I do now?

■ The hospital/SNF gave me a list of five places to check out—are those my only options?

■ How do I know if any of these providers are any good?

■ What happens if I live across the country and I place my mother in assisted living? Who will advocate for her in my absence?

■ Can my father keep his cat if he moves to assisted living?

■ Are Care Patrol services free to families?

To answer the last question, yes, Julie and Kie’s services are free to families. They’re compensated by their network of providers. “First and foremost, we are advocates for our clients,” Kie says. “I’ve been in most of the local home and communities and I know which ones offer what services. Keep in mind that it’s just as important to our providers that our clients get placed in the right setting. If clients have move out of a home or community later because that particular provider cannot meet their care needs, it’s hard on everyone involved – but especially the client. There is something called ‘transfer trauma’ and it negatively impacts the senior each time a move is made. We aim to place the client in the right place for current ​and​ future care needs.”

Nearly any question you might have, including those noted above, are issues Kie and Julie regularly field. In particular, they are highly adept at diffusing crisis situations. One important note: About half of their clients are military veterans. Kie and Julie both come from military families—and they’re familiar with certain benefits that most veterans don’t even know they’re eligible to receive.

“We’ve seen nearly every scenario,” Kie says. “For example, we often find that seniors with dementia will begin to start speaking their first language. If that’s the case, we know the particular providers who can offer caregivers that speak the language the client may be reverting back to.”

Being Proactive

Not everybody is currently in a situation that calls for finding specialized long-term care or assisted living for themselves or a family member. For many, however, it’s an unavoidable reality. Fortunately, Julie and Kie offer a planning service that’s proactive…rather than reactive. This fall, they are leading a workshop series through San Diego Oasis. Located at Grossmont Center in La Mesa, Oasis is a learning facility that offers informational workshops and seminars for older adults.

Julie and Kie’s workshop series is designed for anybody who wants to properly prepare for the future. The workshops will cover:

Critical documents everyone should have

■ Simple tricks and tips for better health and well being

■ Staying at home safely versus moving to a senior community

■ Innovative transportation options

“Whatever stage of life you’re in, this is valuable information,” Julie says. “We all know a senior or the loved one of a senior that could benefit from having an awareness of the options available to them. We make it our mission to educate and advocate for the safety, well being and peace of mind of seniors and their loved ones.”

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