• Choice in Aging - November 21, 2017


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    For today’s #TinaTuesday I had the opportunity of visiting with President & CEO, Debbie Toth at Choice in Aging and Choice in Learning here in Pleasant Hill.  My challenge is always to try and fit in as much information as I can without making my posts too long.  Today that’s going to be a bit difficult, because all of the amazing things that Debbie, the Staff and the Board are doing could fill a book, but I’ll try.

    Choice in Aging was started in 1949 as Rehabilitation Services of Northern California, but the name was changed in January of this year to encompass more of their vision and what they truly do for the elderly in our community.  Choice in Aging’s mission is to promote dignity and independence of people with disabilities and special needs.  To understand how they got to where they are now, you have to understand an experience that changed Debbie’s thinking forever.  In a land far, far away, 😉 Debbie used to work at the Motion Picture and TV Fund Retirement Home (something else I didn’t know existed and had to google because it sounded fascinating), which had a separate skilled nursing facility on this big retirement community campus.  One day she was walking through the skilled nursing facility only to witness an elderly women sitting in a wheelchair screaming in the hallway just a few feet from the nurses station where 3 nurses were playing cards.  This was Debbie’s first impression of what a skilled nursing facility was like, and that’s when she knew she wanted to work with the elderly population.  So for the last 15 ½ years that Debbie has been there, she and Choice in Aging continue the mission that began in 1949, and work on keeping people out of skilled nursing facilities (or as Debbie calls them, Institutions), and leading a life with dignity where they choose.  BTW, did you know that it costs 6k per month for a person to be in a skilled nursing facility, and we the tax payers foot the bill?

    Here is a little of what Choice in Aging provides…

    ·         Adult Day Health Care services for frail adults, elders, and persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This program is designed for loved ones who can engage in a safe and supportive environment during the day, while still living at home with their family members. This provides the therapies and sense of community to increase and maintain their optimal level of physical and mental functioning with the goal of remaining independent and preventing premature placement into nursing homes and unnecessary hospitalizations.  The daily activities are offered in English, Russian and Farsi to better focus on the cultural sensitivities of their clients, and include a dedicated Alzheimer’s disease and late stage dementia program.

    ·         Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) - MSSP is a federally and state funded care management program that helps keep frail seniors safely at home and out of skilled nursing facilities. Their social workers and nurses work with you, your family and friends to set up the resources and services needed to allow you to live as independently as possible at no cost to those eligible.

    • California Community Transitions (CCT), (or as Debbie calls it, the Jailbreak program) -  Adults who have been living in a skilled nursing facility for longer than 90 days and are covered by Medi-Cal can transition back to their home or to community living with the help of a Transition Coordinator.  They find resources, make connections and ensure a safe changeover to independent living.
    • Intergeneration program – With the recent acquirement of Choice in Learning, the Montessori School next door, they are bringing the young and the old together for the benefit of both.  They are teaching the kids that Aging is not a disease, and the elderly get so much joy out of seeing and being around children.  Some of the activities they do together are seated hockey and seated volleyball (I wanna play).
    But that’s not all… Choice in Aging is going to create an Aging in Place Campus  complete with a clinic, assisted living, healthcare and much more.  Their goal is to change the thinking of aging with this new model that addresses the quality of life and cost of aging all in one place.  What an amazing thing to be forging a new and different path for the aging in our community.  I can’t wait to see it when it’s all done.  Groundbreaking will start in late 2018.  But, it’s going to take a village to make this happen, and you can help out by attending some of their fundraisers like their annual Crab Feed, help on “Giving Tuesday,” which is next week, and a myriad of other opportunities that you can find on their website http://choiceinaging.org/.  I barely scratched the surface on everything Choice in Aging and Choice in Learning are doing, but my hope is that it made you curious to learn more about them and what they are doing and the difference they make in so many people’s lives.  Thank you Debbie, for taking the time to enrich and enlighten me on all that Choice in Aging is doing for our elderly community.
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