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Porter Place in Tinley Park hosts symposium, focuses on aging

To educate the public on aging and living well, Porter Place, a newly opened memory care community based in Tinley Park, hosted a round table event to highlight the fundamentals of understanding senior care on April 4.

The senior symposium featured a number of experts from different areas of expertise, addressing questions on memory care, hospice, elder law and geriatric healthcare.

“Families come in here with a lot of questions they don’t know the answers to,” said Elaine Essary, community relations director for Porter Place. “The bottom line is, I want to educate the community. I want them to know and I want people to be proactive. So, I thought, ‘What can I do to get the word out to the community, so when someone comes in here, they’re so overwhelmed they don’t even know where to look or where to start.’”

To satisfy this aim, Porter Place offered a symposium on aging and living well as a way to bring together experts to answer questions on the fundamentals of senior care.

Often seniors are very trusting and their children don’t know where to turn to assist them in caring for their aging parents.

“We had 11 of my peers who I felt were experts in this,” Essary said. “We had the senior symposium. They all came and spoke for like 15 minutes, and they gave the details of why, what it is, what it costs, why you need it, and maybe when you need it. So, it was about just knowing what’s our there for your aging parents and what you need to follow. I hope we accomplished that.”

Essary wants people to go to agencies that are assured to help them in the most beneficial way.

“When people get the information in crisis, they’re frantically writing,” she said. “They go and then they forget. They can’t even retain, it’s just too much information.”

Essary noted that sometimes people feel rushed to make a decision and said it would help if people were more proactive when looking toward senior care. Essary wants people to know there’s much more information to be learned when it comes to senior care than they may realize.

“People don’t know there’s extra money—the [Veterans’ Affairs] doesn’t tell you this—if you were an active wartime [veteran,] you may qualify for extra money to help pay for a community,” Essary said. “It’s extra money. A veteran can get up to $2,000 a month if they qualify. People don’t know this.”

“People don’t know that you can be on hospice and you don’t have to have a terminal illness,” Essary said. “If we had a resident who wasn’t eating and she was losing a lot of weight, it’s called palliative care. Well, people don’t know about that. They just think, ‘Oh, you must have a terminal illness.’ So, again there’s much more to that.”

Essary recognizes the challenge children face in talking to their aging parents about senior care and said it’s better not to delay those conversations for too long.

“It may take a while to talk to them about this because you just have to give it in increments,” she said. “You could always say, ‘It’s to your benefit. I want to do the best thing for you.’ I want you to have the best care.’ Maybe, they would qualify for some of these services and they don’t even know they would.”

Porter Place intends to hold another senior symposium at a later date.

“The whole premise [to that was] come on and learn about senior care,” Essary said. “You may not need it today, but you are going to need it at some point. Don’t put yourself in a crisis situation, have all the information you need. Then, when that rolls around you’re going to feel you made a very educated and the best decision for your parents.”

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