11. Deborah Edmondson

Dr. Debi Lynes speaks with Deborah Edmondson from the Coalition for Aging in Place for any stage in life

(duration: 31 minutes 6 seconds)


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There are resources in every city in town in the US. It may be difficult to access initially, but keep looking. Look for things like a senior resource directory or an Aging in Place Council.


Debi Lynes (00:03): Hi and welcome to Aging in Place for every stage in life. What if you could visit or have a home that would accommodate anyone at any age, any physical ability at any time? How cool would that be? That’s what we’re doing here at Aging in Place. Why me? Because I’m a doctor of psychology and I specialize in physical spaces in health and wellness. Also, I love designing with intent at any age. Why now? Because we the baby boomers want to age in place gracefully and we want our families around us as much as we can and why you the audience? Because we want you to experience what it’s like to have a home that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing and that you can live in at any age with any ability at any time. I’d like to introduce you now to Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.

Debi Lynes (01:03): Hi and welcome to Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. I am thrilled to be talking to a dear friend of mine for about 30 years. Deborah Edmondson, thank you for joining us. It’s ironic and interesting that we are both working in the field of Aging in Place and I am really curious if you will, to talk to us a little bit about what you’re doing right now with Aging in Place, how you got involved in it, and then share with this a bit about the whole process of dealing with seniors.

Deborah Edmondson (01:41): Okay Well, Debi, first, thanks so much for having me. I really am, I’m so thankful to be able to talk about this and share this information. Beaufort County, you know, in South Carolina is one of the richest counties. People love to come here and every time, Businessweek or the New York Times says we’re the best of something, even more people come here. And so we have a lot of seniors that have retired. Some of them have been here for 20, 30 years and they don’t know what their next step is. And some, everybody isn’t suited for a nursing home. Everybody isn’t suited or can afford assisted living. And so our mission at the Coalition for Aging in Place is to help people stay in their homes as long as it’s safe to do so.

Debi Lynes (02:31): So that’s the mission statement. Can I ask you a basic question? What is a coalition and how did Beaufort County formulate a coalition and why?

Deborah Edmondson (02:40): Beaufort County back in the 80s, about 30 years ago had a study called the together for Beaufort Initiative. And in that they identified four components: health, wellness, poverty education and lifestyle. Okay. And so within those components, then they developed certain coalitions that would address the needs within those components.

Debi Lynes (03:09): And so coalitions from my way of thinking are different members of the community in different areas of business that all come together and work as one it rather than independently. So that the line of communication and the message stays on point. Is that a fair way of saying.

Deborah Edmondson (03:32): The message stays on point and it also minimizes duplication of services. So if you’re not duplicating services, then you have the resources to help more people.

Debi Lynes (03:42): It makes perfect sense.

Deborah Edmondson (03:44): And so the Coalition for Aging in Place actually was born out of the poverty initiative because a lot of our seniors are impoverished and that includes a lot of our seniors that live in gated communities.

Debi Lynes (04:01): Interesting.

Deborah Edmondson (04:01): They are literally house poor and cannot afford access to the services that they need.

Debi Lynes (04:10): What have you all identified as some of the voids in the area as far as what seniors need? What are areas that you’re really working toward?

Deborah Edmondson (04:22): Transportation. That is the number one issue. Our seniors can’t get to doctor’s appointments. They can’t get to therapy appointments.

Debi Lynes (04:35): Grocery store?

Deborah Edmondson (04:36): Grocery store, and that really erodes your quality of life if you can’t access services. And so the Coalition for Aging in Place, we’ve been putting these nuggets into the ears of businesses and so it’s not by accident that Publix several years ago started delivering groceries in the Bluffton area.

Debi Lynes (05:01): Interesting.

Deborah Edmondson (05:01): Okay. Because we talk about these things and we communicated to the greater public.

Debi Lynes (05:07): How does it, how does it look? What’s a typical, do you meet monthly? Do you meet quarterly?

Deborah Edmondson (05:11): We meet once a month

Debi Lynes (05:13): Okay, what does that look like?

Deborah Edmondson (05:14): That looks like anywhere from five to 20 people that are from different organizations. They could be from hospice, they can be from Palmetto breeze, they can be from our area office on aging. The hospitals are involved. Assisted living facilities are involved and we all get together and we talk about what we have going on. There were certain agenda items that we want to get through that focus on our initiatives.

Debi Lynes (05:43):

Such as.

Deborah Edmondson (05:45): Who can get me into some communities to talk to developing a village that makes.

Debi Lynes (05:51): Now, what’s a village?

Deborah Edmondson (05:52): A village is where neighbors are helping neighbors. Wow. They are contained within a community and they will help people who need the services. Transportation, which is all volunteer-driven. I mean volunteer to the point in their personal car. We’ll help them with getting groceries, take them to doctor’s appointments. They’ll also come in, they’ll also come in. You need light bulbs changed too high for you to get to. You need somebody to maybe just do some light cleaning. Maybe you have meals delivered, but you can’t heat them up. Somebody will come by and help you. Socialization. Our seniors get isolated. They don’t have anybody to socialize with. And so some of the villages have opportunities to take seniors to places where they can have activities that they normally wouldn’t have gone to.

Debi Lynes (06:50): You know, we’re talking about this in South Carolina and Hilton Head specifically in the low country. But this model you said actually came from Massachusetts and it’s kind of generalizable throughout the country, which is why we thought it would be such an interesting topic. I just had no idea how the concept of villages, where did that come from or why the need for that specifically

Deborah Edmondson (07:18): The need for the village specifically came about in trying to create the structure so to speak.

Debi Lynes (07:25): Infrastructure.

Deborah Edmondson (07:25): That will allow people to stay in their homes. And in order for people to be able to stay in their homes, there has to be someone who can help them out with services and the same services that we talk about.

Debi Lynes (07:38): And so what I hear you say and tell me, Deb, we’re fine, right? Let’s say I live here. I live in an area called Point Comfort and it’s a community. So basically what you’re saying is rather than calling someone in Bluffton to come take me to a doctor’s appointment, if I can find folks that are within my neighborhood that I know and feel comfortable with. Ah.

Deborah Edmondson (08:00): Exactly. It’s less expensive than, you know, seniors lately have been calling Uber. Oh, that can get to be very expensive.

Debi Lynes (08:09): I know.

Deborah Edmondson (08:10): But if there’s a structure within your community, you get into the doctor in the grocery store for free.

Debi Lynes (08:16): With people I know.

Deborah Edmondson (08:18): With people, you know.

Debi Lynes (08:19): And I think that’s really important. My dad lives with us and I know he’s a lot more hesitant to go with people. He doesn’t know someone who would be likely to know. Exactly. Oh my gosh. Okay. This is absolutely brilliant. How long have you been working with Aging in Place?

Deborah Edmondson (08:37): I’ve been working with Aging in Place now for seven years. It’s been seven years because I started out basically being not only a facilitator for the Aging in Place Coalition, but what we call a village developer. That’s my goal, to try get communities to develop villages throughout the County because they have to be done a community at a time, you know, they won’t be a village for the County. So we have three that are South of the broad and for those that don’t know our geography, we have this huge river that separates us. And so South of the broad includes Hilton Head [Island] and Bluffton. And then we have one that is North at the Broad in the Sheldon area.

Debi Lynes (09:25): Oh interesting.

Deborah Edmondson (09:25): And because the communities are different, each of the villages are different in the services that they offer because North of the broad happens to be one of our more impoverished areas in the County. And so that village takes surveys of seniors, they go in and do assessments, see what they need, and then they try to provide them with some minor home repair or helping them get their home ready for a senior to live in it, you know, rails and the bathrooms. Wider entrance ways for wheelchairs, things like that.

Debi Lynes (10:05): This is what we’re going to take a break and this is sort of what I’d like to touch on in the next segment that we’re doing is transportation is huge. But I’d like to talk about some of the other things that have been identified as challenges for seniors. So stay with us. There’s more to come here on aging in place. Podcast. Hi, I’m Dr. Debi. Lynes. Design elements are psychologically and physically supportive and conducive to health and wellness. To learn more about what Lynes on Design can do for you, for more information on certified aging in place and facilitative and supportive design, look for us at lynesondesign.com. That’s L-Y-N-E-S on design dot com.

Debi Lynes (10:30): We are back here on aging in place. We are having an amazing conversation with Deborah Edmondson. And the more we talk, the more there is to share, and I think we’re going to talk about services, but before we do, during the break we were talking about the podcast is aging in place for any stage in life and our producer in his forties. And we were talking about if he lives in a village community, yeah. Falls and breaks his leg, is by himself, cannot get to the doctor. Is that something?

Deborah Edmondson (11:27): Yes. Of that village, he can be a member of that village and that village will provide him with whatever services that they have. It just appears that for the most part, it’s seniors that need these services. But if you’re 45 and you’re living alone and you don’t have any family.

Debi Lynes (11:48): Why not?

Deborah Edmondson (11:48): Why not?

Debi Lynes (11:49): See that’s the gift of this whole model, isn’t it? It really. All right. Let’s talk about services. We’ve touched on transportation, which you said is kind of the biggie to quote you, but what are some of the other voice or some of the things that you are.

Deborah Edmondson (12:04): Caregivers. Oh, caregivers. In this County, a couple of opportunities with that. One, there aren’t enough. So we’re working with our local higher education.

Debi Lynes (12:23): Oh like nursing school.

Deborah Edmondson (12:26): Exactly. For training, not only nurses, caregivers, just certified caregivers.

Debi Lynes (12:33): So what would that look like? What that could be a caregiver and what kind of.

Deborah Edmondson (12:38): A CNA. Okay. Certified Nursing Assistant. That’s two years at Technical College in the Low Country.

Debi Lynes (12:45): What a great career too.

Deborah Edmondson (12:46): Okay. but then pay comes into mind. And so the pay level, especially entry-level, it’s not great. And so there’s high turnover because when you can move and have an increase in your salary, you move. So there’s high turnover and there’s not enough to staff the places because you see the construction that we have going on around here and a lot of assisted living facilities are going up. Those facilities that are tied to larger corporations, then they can pay and they have the work. So it’s hard to keep up with the workforce, especially for the independent companies.

Debi Lynes (13:31): Let me ask you a question about caregivers. Because my mom had a caregiver when she had dementia. I found it interesting that very few men, yes. And that most of the caregivers were pretty young. Yes. So what are you looking for? I mean I wonder what criteria folks you all would be looking for for an ideal caregiver? I guess there isn’t one. It just depends.

Deborah Edmondson (13:58): It really isn’t. I mean you’re looking for someone and they vary in the qualifications vary because myself, I have been trying to see how the Coalition can help some of our partners who sit around the table improve the workforce population for them. Okay. And.

Debi Lynes (14:21): This is interesting.

Deborah Edmondson (14:23): Where when we, we had a strategic work session on that and we were really all over the place and the bottom line was talk to TCL [Technical College of the Lowcountry and see if we could send Colleges, I’m sorry. Thank you. What was needed were internships.

Debi Lynes (14:40): And what would that mean?

Deborah Edmondson (14:42): Because when they get certified they have to have X amount of hours training first. And so now your what comes first? The chicken or the egg. And so that was a component that was missing that we said we would try and work on.

Debi Lynes (15:00): What I hear is Deborah that this is a very solution-focused group for B for County and aging in place.

Deborah Edmondson (15:09): We, that’s what we work towards it to be every June we have a strategic work session and we identify initiatives to work on during the year. So the coalition this year has a couple of events coming up because also at our meetings we do presentations for the people who sit around the table. So we’re going to have one presentation is called our fall workshop. Okay. And what is.

Debi Lynes (15:38): A Fall? Yes. Workshop.

Deborah Edmondson (15:40): Falling

Debi Lynes (15:43): Oh I’m giving air quotes.

Deborah Edmondson (15:43): Oh right. Yeah. We see different counties spending a lot of money with the fire department and going out to pick up seniors. As a matter of fact, every time the truck rolls is $500.

Debi Lynes (15:58): We know what’s funny is we had a firefighter come and share with us and that was exactly what he said. His main calls for seniors are false.

Deborah Edmondson (16:08): So this workshop will take place in Bluffton. It’s going to be the end of March. And what we’re going to do is just have some fall preventative measures testing that might need to be done and.

Debi Lynes (16:22): Balance.

Deborah Edmondson (16:22): Balance, different things that you can do to avert falling. So that’s what we’re calling our fall workshop. Then also we found out that veterans and spouses of veterans have a wonderful benefit that a lot of our veterans don’t know about and it’s the Aid and Attendance Benefit from the VA.

Debi Lynes (16:45): What is that?

Deborah Edmondson (16:46): And so if you served during wartime, you did not have to be in the war, you wouldn’t be in Jersey. But if the country was at war in Europe you’re in and it goes up to the Vietnam war and then they are worse there is some more criteria for like Afghanistan and Iraq, but they can get as much as 20 some thousand dollars a year to go towards caregivers or assisted living. And because a lot of veterans don’t know about this. We had the gentleman who coordinates this area to come and speak with us and we’re now going to give a presentation with him sometime in late spring.

Debi Lynes (17:35): How do you all get the word out to the folks and the Beaufort County area, I know that you, you do produce a wonderful resource directory, which is a godsend.

Deborah Edmondson (17:52): All right. And that helps. And it’s going to the new one that’s coming out. We’ll include a calendar of events and so it will have our annual events listed in any other event that’s pertinent to seniors. And we also do PR. And then for the people who sit around the table in the coalition, they use their resources to get the word out as well.

Debi Lynes (18:12): Is church ever a problem, folks who want to participate in their church activities? I would think there again, transportation and accessibility would be a challenge for that too.

Deborah Edmondson (18:23): It is a challenge. And so, I mean if you’re involved with a village, you can get transportation to church services. The village that I mentioned that’s North of the broad actually was born out of a church. It’s their senior adult ministry and they offer seniors they do a health and wellness expo twice a year and they focus on different aspects of senior living. There’s one tomorrow. They’re doing it on dementia and caregivers and so, and then they also offer socialization because disability is in a very rural area. The seniors tend not to be able to get out and mix and mingle with other people, so once a month they try to have something where the seniors can go and participate like the conference tomorrow or maybe they might go take a boat ride in Savannah and have lunch or go to a museum in Charleston and have lunch so they do different things and these seniors wouldn’t have had that opportunity.

Debi Lynes (19:23): Oh my gosh. It’s amazing. I think we need to take a quick break. We’re going to come back on aging in place. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.

Henrik de Gyor (19:32): For more podcast episodes, links, information and media inquiries, please visit our website at aging in place, podcast.com as we transition through life with the comfort and ease you deserve, discover how you can create a home that will adapt to you as you journey through life and the changes it will bring. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as our host Debi Lynes and her expert guests discuss relevant topics to creating a home for all decades in life. Don’t miss our weekly episodes of Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.

Debi Lynes (20:10): We are back here on Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. Debra Edmonson is joined us and we’re talking about aging in place and some of the resources here in Beaufort County in South Carolina, although we’re talking specifically right now locally, really this is a very generalizable model and, and I don’t care in what city you live.

Deborah Edmondson (20:37): It can be replicated.

Debi Lynes (20:38): That’s right. And the issues are the same. Right. And I think again, we’re trying to open, open up a dialogue about things as we age that we may not be aware of. And what Deborah shared in the first couple of segments was transportation is absolutely a huge issue. One of the things we’re going to talk about in this segment is about adult protection. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Deborah Edmondson (21:04): Well, the department of social services at the state level has an adult protective services division. So each of the offices in each County has an adult protective services and what they.

Debi Lynes (21:18): Yeah. What is that and why?

Deborah Edmondson (21:21): Well, because we have a lot of our adults, specifically seniors who are vulnerable.

Debi Lynes (21:26): Okay. So they are considered a vulnerable population like children.

Deborah Edmondson (21:31): Yes, exactly. And so the family group conferencing process in South Carolina started with children and they realize that for vulnerable adults, this would be a great model.

Debi Lynes (21:44): And what does that look like?

Deborah Edmondson (21:46): What that looks like is bringing together for a family a meeting that includes service people. So, and I’ll give you a very good example. Okay. There was a vulnerable adult who had children but they could not care for her. And she had mental issues. She also had physical health issues. And she was in the custody of DSS because her children couldn’t care for her. They didn’t have the qualifications. But what we were able to do is bring together someone from the area office on aging, someone from an assisted living facility them, the caseworker was there. We also brought someone in from a hospice agency and a caregiver agency. So now the family has people to talk to because they didn’t know where to go to get help. Now they have people to talk to and we develop a plan and the plan is very specific person does this activity and they have to do it by this date with an end date. And this plan is then implemented and the goal is to make sure that that vulnerable adult is put into an environment where they are safe. Now that environment could very well be their home, but that might mean we have to get someone in to do some repairs. Okay. So the plans are tailored to that person.

Debi Lynes (23:26): And they are very, very specific.

Deborah Edmondson (23:28): Very specific. And so we had the state coordinator come and give us a presentation and so the people who sit around the table were able to get her contact information and they can provide her referrals. Of people who they work with that they think are vulnerable.

Debi Lynes (23:48): So what I hear you say again here is these are about specific people as it’s not just conceptional, right. Fascinating. From an adult protective services. I never really thought about caretakers not being able to, to take care or family, not being able to take care of someone. But I think that is something to really consider. And I guess adult protective services would also be involved in any kind of senior abuse or money.

Deborah Edmondson (24:21): Yes. Yes, they are. There have been instances where some adults have fell prey to scams or thinking that maybe one of their children were really taking care of them and they weren’t. They were just siphoning off their money. These are all types of situations that adult protective services will get involved in.

Debi Lynes (24:43): Do you find that as you start when you started this, the amount of knowledge that you’ve gained that you didn’t know?

Deborah Edmondson (24:53): Tremendous. Absolutely tremendous. And I’ve been able, I mean the knowledge that I’ve gained has helped me within my own family structure because there was so many things that we did not know about that I can impart to family and imparts of family, friends all over the country. You know, I’m always telling family members and friends who are taking care of their parents. Why don’t you look into this agency? Why don’t you look to your community? So the things that I’m involved here in Beaufort County, definitely I have talked to people about in New York and Alabama and Illinois. In Michigan, they are all transferable services.

Debi Lynes (25:35): Let me ask you a question about actual physical structures. What about things like what am I trying to say? Handlebars or safety bars, things like that. Aren’t those things that you do also?

Deborah Edmondson (25:49): We don’t do them specifically, but the area office on aging and every state has one. You can go to them and they have grant, they have grant money at the area office on aging and the grant money is for things like that, their remodels so that you can so that your bathroom is set to be handicap or if you need lifts to help you get out of bed, there’s grant money for that through your area office on aging.

Debi Lynes (26:21): So when I hear you say again, there are resources available. Part of the issue is getting all of that information out to the public. Yes. And one of the things you said when you came in that was interesting, I think for me Henrik and I think the rest of you all was, it’s not about getting the message out to the patient, if you will, or the client who’s the senior. It’s about the family.

Deborah Edmondson (26:47): It’s about the family. Because children need to know where to go to help their parents, especially if they do not live in the same area. You know, they used to be a time that we all live together, stay together in the same community. Now, you know you can have parents on the East coast and children on the West Coast and they’re not familiar with. Their parents have retired too. You know they were born and raised in New York, but mom and dad decided to move down to Hilton Head and then they can contact the Coalition for Aging in Place. At coalitionforaginginplace@gmail.com. They can also contact the Low Country Council of Governments or whatever council of governments might be a respective state because that’s where the area office on aging, we’ll sit and they can find out about grants. There are grants for respite care so that if you know you’re the caregiver in your family and you’re like, I just need a break. I want to go get my hair done. Exactly what I was. Okay. They were grants that will allow you to, they’ll give you money. It’s small, but it’ll pay for someone to come into the home and stay with your family member while you go to have some respite.

Debi Lynes (28:08): Deborah, this information has been absolutely priceless and I think again, the more knowledge is power and just this, this discussion right now is opened up a whole plethora I think of questions that we can can answer here within this podcast. So thank you for joining us.

Deborah Edmondson (28:26): Thank you for having me.

Debi Lynes (28:27): We want to thank all of you for joining us here on Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. Debra, before we go, I’d love to have you again, little shameless self-promotion and if are there any other websites or um.

Deborah Edmondson (28:42): No, I like everybody to be able to access the senior resource directory that we have here in Beaufort County and that senior resource directory.com.

Debi Lynes (28:52): Yay. Thank you all. Thank you all for joining us. Have a wonderful week. Bye-bye. I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is naturally curious and always creative. And when we were doing the Aging in Place Podcast, she said there are so many quick tips that I can think of offhand. My response. Who knew she’s going to be with us every week, giving us a quick tip and to hint. That is a practical application.

Tracy Snelling (29:26): Thanks Debi. Hit your ride. Don’t be afraid to ask family or friends for rides. Search out the senior transportation in your area. There are many agencies that have volunteers to drive you whether to the doctor or shopping. The good side about asking family. You can use the I buy and you drive for lunchtime. Allene but my mother was dependent on others. We made a family calendar on who could take her on what days. It made it easy to plan her doctor visits and shopping when she knew ahead of time she had a ride. Mama’s always happy to have family accompany or and enjoy treating or ride. Who knew we would miss being her chauffeur when she was gone.

Debi Lynes (30:07): Deborah Edmondson provided a wonderful interview today and there was really a lot of information. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is this: There are resources in every city in town in the US it may be difficult to access initially, but keep looking, look for things like a senior resource directory or an Aging in Place Council. Have a wonderful week and thank you for joining us here on aging in place. Bye-bye.

Henrik de Gyor (30:37): Aging in Place Podcast is hosted by Debi Lynes and produced by Henrik de Gyor. If you have any comments or questions, send an email to debi@aginginplacepodcast.com we would love to hear from you if you’re interested in advertising or sponsoring this podcast, email us at pr@aginginplacepodcast.com Thank you for listening to Aging in Place Podcast.