After Maryland was hit with heavy snowfall last Thursday, WYPR’s Maryland Morning looked into the question: how do our older neighbors plan for and deal with this kind of weather? Sheilah Kast, the program’s host, spoke with Erickson School Dean Judah Ronch about tips and suggestions for helping elders during snowstorms.
Ronch discussed how elders can be vulnerable when they lose power and heat in their homes during storms, which can make them more susceptible to injury, cause them to become disoriented and it can even spoil food which can lead to lack of nutrition.
“That affects both body and mind. Their thinking gets to be a little less clear, and they may make decisions which really aren’t typical of what they can do,” Ronch said.
Ronch added you can help elders by creating a buddy system and forming relationships before storms and emergencies happen. He said having a plan in place and making sure the person has everything they need in advance can go a long way.
“Having a checklist of what the person needs, for example, do you have enough food, do you have enough water, do you have all the medications you would need for let’s say a four to five-day period?” Ronch said. “I think those who are checking in on older adults should check in before, during and after the event.”
You can listen to the full interview on WYPR here.
Leading Principles and Practices in Elder Care (Health Professions Press) is a new book series edited by Erickson School Dean Judah Ronch and colleague Audrey Weiner, President and CEO of the Jewish Home Lifecare in New York. Ronch and Weiner have also co-authored the first two volumes in the series: Culture Change in Elder Care (available now) and Models and Pathways for Person-Centered Elder Care (to be released in October).
Culture Change in Elder Care prepares health professionals with the essential arguments, values and business case for adopting new care models that better serve the needs of older adults “to bring dignity, choice, and comfort back into the day-to-day lives of elders.” Models and Pathways for Person-Centered Elder Care features reflections from the “visionaries whose model communities reflect the ideals of person-centered care,” addressing issues from retraining elder care staff to raising the capital needed for transforming a facility.
Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH, has been appointed senior fellow with the Institute for Leadership at UMBC’s Erickson School for the management of aging services, joining current senior fellow Chris Hollister.
Rabins is professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has been on the Hopkins faculty since 1978. Over the past 35 years he has had appointments in the department of health policy and management and department of mental health, and served as vice-chair for academic affairs in the department of psychiatry as well as director of the division of geriatric psychiatry and neuropsychiatry.
As the Erickson School’s newest senior fellow, Rabins will serve as a liaison to the aging research community — helping to develop collaborative research initiatives between the Erickson School and its partners in the field — as well as a guest lecturer on care for individuals living with Alzheimer disease.
Rabins’s career has focused on the study of psychiatric disorders in older adults. His current research explores the effectiveness of Alzheimer disease therapies, care of patients with late-stage dementia, and measuring quality of life among persons with Alzheimer disease. His recent books include Practical Dementia Care and Getting Old Without Getting Anxious.
Sigma Phi Omega (SPO) is the national academic honor society in gerontology, for professionals who work with or on behalf of older persons. The UMBC chapter of SPO, Delta Lambda, has continued to grow, thanks to the strength of UMBC’s sociology, gerontology and Management of Aging Services programs.
At a recent induction ceremony welcoming new members, the group also honored graduating member Susan Hannum, who pioneered Delta Lambda’s annual senior center “Food Drop.” Continuing volunteer activities with local senior centers and organizations remains a primary goal for the year ahead. The society also plans to connect with Washington D.C.-area colleagues in the field to increase activism and advocacy related to aging and the life course.
Delta Lambda new inductees, May 2013
The Baltimore Sun today recognized the 30th anniversary of the Charlestown Retirement Community with a front-page article on founder John C. Erickson and transitions in the retirement housing industry.
UMBC’s Erickson School was founded, in large part, through a generous donation from Erickson. Today, the Erickson School offers a range of programs, from a B.A. and M.A. in the Management of Aging Services (MAgS) to professional and executive education.
In the Sun article, Kevin Heffner, director of external relations for the Erickson School, describes the challenges the senior housing industry faced following the broader housing market crash and credit crisis of the last decade.
Heffner notes that retirees seeking housing today “have higher expectations but a lower ability to pay for them.” He reflects that although Charlestown might need to change its payment model to reflect the shifting market, it should be able to adapt because it offers a broad range of options in housing, meal plans, activities and other amenities
In a new guest column for McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, Erickson School Dean Judah Ronch explores how technology can enhance relationships between older adults with dementia and their caregivers, and also clarifies misconceptions about technology as panacea for compassionate caregiving. He writes,
Technology is not valuable as an (expensive) electronic attendant to deterioration. It is a vehicle that can help the person restore, replace, and compensate for the assault on identity of self that is dementia through pleasurable experiences with others (remote and on site), and by experiencing the pleasure found in successfully meeting challenges through problem solving – like all people do.
Technology can be a partner in caring for the whole person by enhancing relationships that go beyond physical care giving and enabling the whole person to be present with others and experience joy, rich sensory stimulation and success. This use of technology will take us beyond caring for the person’s memory and provide care for the whole person.
Read the full McKnight’s column to learn more.
The New York Times today examined the experiences of older students — in their 60s and beyond — at colleges and universities. The article cites many reasons for retirees taking college courses, including tuition waivers, social connections and an interest in lifelong learning.
“Novelty is something the brain thrives on,” said Erickson School Dean Judah L. Ronch, commenting on the physiological and psychological health benefits that older students experience. “It helps connections between nerve cells form, and that’s the basis of new knowledge and ability. Research now supports the idea that at any age these connections can continue to be made.”
In addition to supporting brain health, the classroom can also be a helpful for adults coping with the death of a spouse and struggling to socialize with friends who are intact couples. Ronch noted that in college fellow students are unlikely to ask, “Is your husband dead or alive?” Read the full article to learn more.
Judah Ronch, Dean of UMBC’s Erickson School, offers a pointed letter in today’s New York Times, responding to a report that some retirement communities are segregating their dining facilities based on residents’ required levels of care, sometimes splitting up married couple during meals.
In “It’s About More Than Food,” Ronch writes that although “different regulatory considerations might play into the dining decisions at differing levels of care in a continuing care retirement community…[w]hat’s important is the fact that dining is deeply tied to pleasure, identity and sense of community, and therefore the service being provided is not simply to deliver food. To make a point of segregating people because of their physical or mental condition is to threaten their sense of dignity and identity as a valued member of a community.”
The December issue of Maryland Family magazine features a unique article on seniors who volunteer in local K-12 schools — a practice that Judah Ronch argues has significant benefits for both children and adults. Dean Ronch of UMBC’s Erickson School comments, “Doing things you enjoy makes [your activities] meaningful, and that means you are more likely to remember them.” For seniors who enjoy interacting with kids and sharing their skills and knowledge, volunteering in a local community can have positive effects on their physical and mental health and well-being.