Aging is imminent, and we all have either loved ones, acquaintances or ourselves reached the glorious “senior” status.  When your mother, father, other relatives, or you personally have reached this age group, you will also realize this comes with a unique set of needs and concerns.  Being educated and proactive, as well as utilizing the wealth of resources and businesses that specialize in Senior Health, will guide you through those golden years with confidence and enhance your enjoyment of family and life in general.

Advocate Nurses, LLC offers patient advocacy services to seniors and their families. Their focus is providing a qualified Registered Nurse (RN) to be the advocate for clients and their families, in order to help them navigate the complex healthcare system.  Kelli Hansen RN, BSN, CMCN, LNC is the Chief Nursing Officer and founder of Advocate Nurses, LLC and has a diverse background in healthcare including acute care, home health care, long-term care insurance and utilization management along with 16 years of experience as a Registered Nurse.  Advocate Nurses, LLC was founded on the hope of helping more patients and families in need to improve communication among providers, improve client’s health, and ease the burden on families.  Hansen has completed a certificate course in Patient Advocacy to better serve her clients, and she remains very active with the Professional Patient Advocate Institute as a member.  Advocate Nurses provides referral assistance, Attending Care conferences, coordination of services to improve communication among providers, attendance with physician appointments to act as a nurse liaison, education of available community services, health coaching, safety/wellness checks in the home when family is away, hospital visits to act as a surrogate family member to oversee care, and assistance with long-term care insurance coordination. In addition, they assist attorneys with legal nurse consulting services.  Their services aim to ease the stress and burden on families when a loved one needs additional healthcare assistance and complex coordination.  Hansen says that as a part of their continuing expansion of services offered, Advocate Nurses, LLC is working with another company, ‘A Voice 4 U’, to offer medical I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) cards to all clients in the very near future.

Reputation is a huge factor when it comes to selecting a retirement community.  The reputation of Elk Ridge Village speaks volumes, as they have won the Best of Omaha Award the past five years, the National Talk of the Town Award the past two years, the prestigious Better Business Integrity Award and various other distinctions.  Elk Ridge Village offers a continuum of care via Independent Living, Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s Care.  Elk Ridge Village Independent Living has several different programs and offerings.  Kristina Krumme of Elk Ridge Village says “Our most important offering is the availability of an onsite, full-time Methodist Health System Registered Nurse.  The Methodist Nurse Liaison provides support and guidance to residents and their family members that is not available at any other retirement community in the area.  The Nurse Liaison is available to answer questions daily, schedule physician appointments, visit with any health care professional about a resident condition, conduct periodic blood pressure monitoring and will even travel with a resident to a medically related appointment.  The Methodist Nurse also brings in resources and helpful presentations for Elk Ridge Village residents and conducts a fitness class three days weekly that gets a tremendous participation rate!”  In addition to these fitness classes, Elk Ridge Village offers a calendar full of social opportunities which is great for seniors!  Socialization helps seniors gain meaningful relationships and a sense of purpose.   Krumme notes it isn’t always about resident participation in their activities–rather, it is about their staff empowering and leading activities based upon our residents’ interests. Elk Ridge Village residents are very engaged and empowered to start things such as book clubs, resident led fitness classes, crafts, talent shows, etc.  Elk Ridge Village is also proud to host and provide periodic Alzheimer’s Support Group meetings.  The Assisted Living portion of their campus is renowned for their ability to work with each resident on a 1:1 basis.  With a Registered Nurse and two Licensed Practical Nurses onsite to manage the health care of all Assisted Living residents, family members can rest assured that their loved one is receiving all needed care and attention.

According to Krumme, earlier this year Elk Ridge Village initiated an all-employee training program that is unlike any other in the senior living industry.  She adds that the training program is provided by a nationally renowned vendor and is sure to lead to a much more pleasant experience for their residents.  This training focuses on every member of their team across all departments, and is free opportunity for the staff to further their education and abilities.  The residents have already been very complimentary of the changes they have witnessed!

At Comfort Keepers, their approach to in-home care is called Interactive Caregiving.  It is integral to how they care for seniors and other adults so they can live the highest possible quality of life in the comfort of their own homes. Rick Magill, owner of Comfort Keepers, notes that research indicates keeping seniors mentally, physically, emotionally and socially engaged helps them to enjoy a higher quality of life, retain better cognitive function, stay healthier and live independently longer.  Comfort Keepers is independently owned and operated, and provides in-home care that makes a difference in the lives of seniors and other adults. For over a decade, clients and their families have entrusted their care to Comfort Keepers in the Omaha and Council Bluffs communities. Whether it be companionship, personal care services or in-home safety solutions, they provide the support and services that improve lives and enable independent living at home.  Comfort Keepers was also recently awarded the ‘Operational Excellence’ award by CK Franchising, Inc. This was the first year for this prestigious award which recognizes operational excellence in quality of service delivery.  Omaha/Council Bluffs Comfort Keepers was selected as one of only 25 recipients of this award from over 650 Comfort Keepers franchises nationwide.  Criteria for the award included overall client satisfaction for quality service, caregiver satisfaction, and community involvement.  As a State Licensed Home Care Agency, Comfort Keepers prides itself on the level of care and services they provide, which includes bathing, grooming, transportation, light housekeeping, respite and much more.

New Cassel Retirement Home provides everything necessary for a gracious and independent lifestyle.  This includes delicious meals, a social calendar of activities, a la carte assisted services, transportation for medical appointments and shopping, daily mass and weekly interfaith services.  New Cassel is a licensed assisted living facility with 24 hour medical response, and will also be celebrating 40 years of caring for their residents and the Omaha community on June 1st!  Glenda Hallberg, Associate Administrator for New Cassel, invites anyone interested in seeing what they have to offer to attend their open house on June 23rd from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Advancing age can put us at risk for oral health problems. Examples include dry mouth, diminished sense of taste, root decay, dark colored teeth, gum disease, tooth loss, thrush and an uneven jawbone. Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers can make proper brushing and flossing very difficult for an older adult. Other conditions that affect teeth and gums are diabetes, poor diets, anemia, cancer and even taking some medications. Sometimes patients that wear dentures feel they don’t need to come as often, but that is not the case.  Daniel J. Beninato, DDS of Premier Dental encourages all patients, regardless of age and even if you wear dentures, to visit the dentist every six months. If there are changes occurring in your dental health, it’s much better to treat any issues sooner than later! Premier Dental sees patients of all ages in their practice, from children that are experiencing their first visit to the dentist to families, college students and gracefully aging seniors. Henry notes that many of their patients are older adults and simply want to improve their smile. These patients visit for regular dental exams and cleanings, implants, crowns, Invisalign, a smile makeover, or because they want no-shot dentistry/sedation dentistry. Premier Dental is a state of the art practice equipped with the latest technology for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Seniors often encounter ear-related challenges, such as balance disorders, tinnitus and/or hearing loss.  Hearing loss affects one out of ten adults with varying degrees.  One solution to hearing loss is the use of hearing aids.  Hearing aid technology has drastically changed to provide a cosmetic, clean-sounding solution.  ENT Specialists tailor this technology to be as simple and self-adjusting as each person desires.  Sometimes the most simplistic approach is the best solution. Technology has also given us more solutions for people who are suffering from tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  Ken Stallons, Audiologist, recommends people with hearing challenges to see an audiologist for a hearing consultation in order to find a customized solution for that person’s needs.  Ken Stallons, Board Certified Audiologist at ENT Specialists, has been in the hearing healthcare field since 1984.  He states “I’ve always taken the approach that if you treat everyone as if they are your own mother or father, grandparent or your own child, you’ll want to provide the best thing for them medically, whether it’s helping with their dizziness, tinnitus or just helping them hear better. I primarily want to provide the best medical care possible. This starts with listening to the patients. Sometimes the patient’s last complaint or symptom is just as important as the first one mentioned. Whether it’s the initial appointment or a follow-up, the patient’s input is valuable to helping us solve their troubles.”  ENT Specialists, PC, recommends a person with hearing concerns to schedule an appointment with a board-certified audiologist.  Audiologists are educated on the medical aspects of hearing and hearing loss as well as on auditory testing and diagnosis.  ENT Specialists, PC, currently employs three board certified audiologists, and a hearing evaluation can be made by calling 402-397-0670, option 4.

Pando Geriatrics offers mental health and grief counseling for the geriatric population and their family. Their services are covered by insurance policies and they accept most insurance carriers.  Pando can see each client in their facility, or in the clients’ home or office.  It is hard to experience dementia, as it is very scary and can be anxiety ridden to know what is going to happen to you as the days pass, let alone watch a loved one go through it.  Mindy Crouch of Pando Geriatrics says they have found that if the family members are more educated on the disease, they can better cope.  They have also found that grief comes in all forms.  While it’s common to grieve over loss of a loved one or pet, one can also grieve the loss of house, health, independence, the way they used to do things and much more.  This causes anxiety and depression and makes it harder to adjust to all of the changes that occur when getting older.  Mental health is often stigmatized, and Mindy emphasizes that using Pando as a resource does not mean that you are “crazy” or suicidal”.  This just means that you have the opportunity to talk to an objective person about issues that you might not be able to tell a family member or friend.  Pando serves as a support system to help the client and their family through a crisis in a healthy way.  Stress causes many problems in the body and talking about it tends to help. Additionally, most of Pando’s staff have experienced their own grief, loss, change and aging situations which gives them the ability to empathize with others.  They are very passionate about they do and don’t feel that you should be forgotten due to getting older–everyone needs someone to talk to!

David Latenser of Latenser & Johnson, P.C. says that they often deal with litigation as a result of fraud schemes, and seniors are especially targeted in these types of crimes.  Latenser says, “I received a call from a ‘telemarketer’ recently who asked me in the course of the telephone conversation what is my date of birth.   I was surprised that a caller actually would request for that particular piece of personal information from me.  This telephone call came in on my cell phone.  The caller ID displayed a toll free number.  The caller identified herself as a representative from an insurance company from whom I had purchased an insurance policy in the past six months.   The caller had my name, my cell phone number, and the name of my insurance company.  Initially, the call sounded legitimate.  The caller briefly described a new service of the insurance company.  The caller then stated in effect that before she could discuss any confidential matters with me I would have to ‘confirm my date of birth’.  I refused to give out that information.  The ‘telemarketer’ ended the call.  Had I disclosed my date of birth to a stranger over the telephone, I would have given an important piece of personal information that may have potentially enabled a stranger to access personal and confidential information.   I believe most people are aware of the risk of sharing personal information.  However, it is the senior citizens that are particularly vulnerable to fraud.”  The FBI has an extensive web site on Common Fraud Schemes, which can be found at   According to the FBI website, senior citizens are incredibly likely targets for fraud.  The web site points out that:  “Senior Citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes . . .” and points out compelling reasons why this is so.  One of the reasons on the website states that “Senior citizens are likely to have a ‘nest egg’, own their home and/or have excellent credit – all of which make them attractive to con artists   Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say ‘no’ or just hang up the otherwise ‘polite’ caller.” Latenser adds “The telephone call I described above was an indicator of how at-risk we are to economic exposure by inadvertently sharing personal information with the wrong person. Telemarketing scams are a tip of the iceberg of fraud against senior citizens. It is crucial to sensitize yourself to Common Fraud Schemes such as described on the FBI website.”

Hillcrest Health Services offers the widest continuum of services for aging adults in the Omaha metro, including independent and assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, adult day services, certified and private duty home care, hospice, palliative care and telehealth services. Jim Janicki of Hillcrest Health Services says “When an aging adult chooses Hillcrest, they become part of our family and we seamlessly connect them to all the services and locations they may need. This seamless approach ensures continuity of care, meaning that there is consistency in their treatments and their experiences across our system. We currently serve more than 700 aging adults every day so we truly understand seniors’ needs.” Hillcrest is also very focused on innovation to meet the needs of seniors in their community. They opened Nebraska’s only household model long-term care cottages at Hillcrest Country Estates so residents could truly feel empowered and at home, unlike in a traditional nursing home.  Additionally, they opened Sarpy County’s first assisted living residence, Hillcrest Mable Rose, and also offer the county’s only adult day services program. Hillcrest Health & Rehab is the region’s only rehabilitation facility dedicated exclusively to short-term rehab, which means all 114 patients are focused on recovery and returning home. Today Hillcrest is focused on building the Grand Lodge in Papillion, with 101 Independent living apartments and a beautiful community center complete with indoor pool, fitness center, movie theater, restaurant, bistro, performing arts center and much more. The Grand Lodge will open in early 2015.

Interim HealthCare offers home healthcare, private duty care and staffing options in order to provide a variety of services for seniors. Nursing care, therapy, homemaker services and facility staffing have been this agency’s main focus of business. They provide care in assisted and independent living facilities, as well as in patients’ private homes.  Nurses provide case management, diagnostic testing and chronic disease management which results in increased independence and decreased re-hospitalizations for seniors.  In addition to registered nurses, Interim Healthcare provides certified home health and medication aides, LPN’s and LVN’s, medical social workers, occupational and physical therapists, and speech/language pathologists. Their Transitions and Life Enrichment programs support a better quality of life by offering individualized therapeutic activities. Founded in 1966, Interim HealthCare is the nation’s oldest proprietary national organization in healthcare staffing.  Interim HealthCare allows their clients to maintain continuity of care and mandated staffing levels, reduce staff burn out and overtime. Interim staffing helps control and tailor costs to census, and increase employee retention.  According to Christine Dumont of Interim HealthCare, their philosophy is to consistently provide quality services to their clients in accordance with the highest ethical, moral and legal standards.  She adds that they are unique in combining the commitment of being independently owned and part of the local community with support of a national organization that develops innovative programs and quality standards that improve the lives of thousands of people every day.  Interim HealthCare is a single source of care for clients, patients and their families.  Physicians, families, a wide range of health care facilities, and thus seniors, can all benefit from services offered by Interim HealthCare.

People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before, and many seniors live active and healthy lives.  However, there is no avoiding the fact that as we age, our bodies and minds change.  An important part of targeting discourse with your physician is gaining an understanding of what you should expect.  Some changes are likely a part of normal aging processes, while others can be a warning sign of a medical problem.  Knowing the difference can allow you to be proactive while maintaining peace of mind.  Some issues that start out as simple inconveniences can end up compounding into major medical problems.  For example, difficulty swallowing as a result of age-related physical changes, side-effects of medication, or certain other illnesses may lead to malnutrition.  As a result, malnutrition can lead to vital nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, which can lead to other problems like weakness, bone damage or disorders and diabetes.  As you can see this snowballs quickly, so sometimes small concerns are just as important as larger medical issues for this reason.   Sometimes the simplest things are the ones we overlook, and even though drinking an adequate amount of water, moving around every 30 minutes and regulating medication properly sound like common sense, they often contribute to declining health if they are ignored. Being aware and educated about what your body needs as you age is vital to maintaining your health.  We live in a time where there are plenty of resources to help you age in a healthy and graceful way, as long as you take advantage of what each has to offer.  It is never too late to make healthier lifestyle choices, as those steps will help to ensure that you enjoy your golden years!