Category / Careers

Meet me at the Sim Lab

April 18, 2019

“Maxine” enhances quality of clinical training

I am an advocate of blended learning. Learning in the classroom setting is certainly important, but learning extends way beyond sitting in a classroom. The classroom does not offer real life condition changes, so it is important to utilize training that includes real scenarios in order to enhance and refresh the confidence and skills of our caregiving teams,” says Ginny Burke, director of clinical quality and education. Ginny continues, “There is an increase in acuity of our skilled nursing residents. Hospitals are under pressure to discharge patients and long-term care communities are caring for individuals requiring higher levels of care. Our clinical teams are expected to have the skill and confidence to care for residents that are more complex, and be able to identify subtle changes that may indicate a significant change in condition.”

How do we ensure that our teams are up for the challenge? With Maxine.

Scenario-based training with Maxine “We have access to a simulation mannequin, or Maxine as we fondly refer to her, through our partners at Health Ventures Alliance in Erie. The simulator allows our nurse educators to set-up scenarios for our teams so that they can comfortably work through assessing a resident,” says Kristen Moore, care transition educator for our Erie campuses. While the team member is assessing Maxine, the mannequin has the capability to respond to what the team member is doing for treatment. So the “patient” changes as the scenario moves forward.

Photo caption: Megan Smith, LPN, practices recognizing lung sounds. 

“Maxine helps our clinical team members learn how to identify changes and seek interventions earlier in the treatment process. They also learn how to stabilize a patient, which in a real-life scenario, could ultimately avoid transfer to the hospital,” says Kristen. The simulation mannequin provides training on a variety of topics, including how to recognize normal and abnormal breath sounds and heart sounds, IV placement, blood draws, urinary catheterization, wound identification and care, injections, tracheotomy care, blood pressure checks and more. Another benefit of the simulator is that it offers special programming for common illnesses such as pneumonia and heart failure. “What’s great about Maxine is that she was built to have all of the common diagnoses that we see in our communities. If we find that at any given time, there are a number of residents in our care that have congestive heart failure (CHF), we are able to hold a special education session with our teams to discuss CHF, and then we program Maxine so that they can practice the proper treatments,” says Ginny.

The simulation lab was created at Manchester Commons, one of our campuses in Erie, after Ginny attended a presentation where the labs were discussed. At the end of the conference, she was so inspired, she drew the Simulation Lab on a piece of paper while waiting to catch her plane home. Her dream turned into reality shortly after, and the simulation lab was set-up like a typical resident room. When Maxine isn’t on campus for training, team members are still able to practice on the variety of simulated body parts that have been purchased for training purposes; they are able to practice clinical techniques on a foot, an arm, a leg and more.

How often do we train?

As part of orientation, newly hired Certified Nurses Aides (CNAs) and nurses participate in the Simulation Lab training to show that they are able to complete basic competency skills. Current nursing team members complete the training once a year as a refresher.

Photo caption: Team members practice proper wound dressing. 

“I have to admit, when we first started training with Maxine, it felt a little silly and awkward because she’s a mannequin. But those feelings quickly disappeared after a number of team members went through the training and thanked me for a refresher that they felt was needed. I cannot believe how many team members have told me ‘Wow, I learned how to do that procedure more efficiently,’ and ‘the lab was wonderful, can you believe I forgot how to take a manual blood pressure!’ But what gets me the most is when a team member tells me thank you and that they appreciated the time I took to show them how to do a particular procedure. That is what it’s all about – we are all in this together,” says Kristen.

“The Simulation Lab was a good refresher on a lot of different topics such as lung sounds, and I learned a lot about orthopedics as part of the simulation. Kristen was a great teacher and always willing to help, and when we didn’t know something, she just encouraged us to learn it and add something new to our skill sets. It is important to train on the simulation mannequin because it is the closest thing to a real person, which helps us in our everyday work.” ~ Jessica Bush, LPN at Manchester Commons, one of our Erie Campuses

Expanding the reach of the Simulation Lab

“We are so lucky to have access to the simulator through Health Ventures Alliance, but we could really benefit from having our own simulators so that team members from across our Network have consistent access to the tool,” says Ginny. Currently, the use of Maxine is limited to our Erie and Oil City communities, and while some team members have made special arrangements to travel to Erie to participate in the training, many are unable to make the trip. Ginny is working with Presbyterian SeniorCare Foundation, our fundraising arm, to raise money to purchase two of the simulators for use around our Network. David Dix, major gifts director explains that “the cost of one of the simulators is $42,000. So we are looking to raise $84,000 to purchase two simulators for educational purposes. Being able to purchase these is crucial to our success in providing well-rounded clinical training.”

If you are interested in learning more about donating towards the purchase of a simulator, please contact the Foundation office at 412-826-6195 or email

CNA Profile: Brianna Larrow

April 15, 2019

Meet Brianna Larrow, a team member who benefited from the CNA Training Classes at our Oakmont campus. Learn more about her journey to becoming a CNA.

Q: How long have you worked at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network?
A: I’ve worked at the Oakmont campus for about three years, working first in dining services as a hospitality aide, and now as a CNA.

Q: You decided to transition from the dining department to working as a CNA. Why?
A: While I worked in dining, I often received encouragement from residents and coworkers to take the CNA classes. I took their kind words to heart and  eventually enrolled! I did not have caregiving experience, so I saw the CNA training classes as more than just a way to advance my career and increase my knowledge, I saw it as an opportunity to do what I love – care for others.

Q: Did you find the class helpful in learning how to do the daily work of a CNA?
A: Yes. The CNA training classes taught me and my classmates the skills required to work in long-term care. I really feel that the classes taught me everything I needed to know so that I could perform my daily duties and responsibilities. I learned that I would be the eyes and ears in the skilled nursing neighborhood which made me feel like what I was training for was both needed and meaningful.

Q: In order to become a CNA, you need to pass a State test. Were you prepared?
A: I felt extremely prepared for the test after taking the class. Mindy (instructor) teaches us everything we need to know, going over all the material multiple times not only before the exam, but before we even step out on the floor with the residents. The clinical portion just reinforces everything we learn with Mindy in the classroom. By the time we took the test, the material is second nature.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the class?
A: I loved the clinical portion and gaining firsthand experience with the residents. I loved seeing how things worked as part of the clinical team and helping out, especially because I’m a hands-on learner. Because of my previous work in dining services, I already knew the residents well, and now I was able to work more closely with them, which was and still is so rewarding.

Q: As a CNA, what are some of your main responsibilities?
A: I take care of our residents, make sure they are comfortable and without pain. I help them with daily activities and observe any changes in condition, which I report to the nurse manager. I also keep them motivated and hope to make them smile!

Q: What would you say to anyone thinking about pursuing certification to become a CNA?
A: There is always a need for CNAs. If you love taking care of people and seeing them smile, consider becoming a CNA! Sometimes the job is hard, but in the end, it’s not about difficult duties, it’s about helping to make our residents feel important and cared for at this stage in their lives.

Interested in becoming a CNA like Brianna? Visit to explore your options around our Network! 

How to Job Hunt if You Haven’t in Years

April 12, 2019

The keys, according to this expert, are people skills and patience
By Kerry Hannon

People looking for jobs in their 50s or 60s who haven’t been job hunters in years — maybe decades — often tell me they find the process frustrating. They apply for posted jobs and never hear back — the “black hole” syndrome. Steve Dalton, program director for daytime career services at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and author of The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get The Right Job Faster sympathizes, but also has important advice: You need to know how to look for work in this age of virtual job search.

“Sadly, every year I see dozens of very smart people voluntarily subject themselves to situations with high competition and low odds of success (online job postings, most commonly),” Dalton writes. “Submitting resumés online lets job seekers feel like they’re looking for a job, but it’s like watching someone beating up a vending machine completely unwilling to accept that it just ate his or her money.”

The 2-Hour Job Search

After reading The 2-Hour Job Search, I interviewed Dalton to hear more; below you’ll see my eight favorite tips he offered.

Now about that “2-hour” notion: In reality, the two hours are not how long it will actually take you to get hired, but the time it will take to winnow down your list of 40 potential employers and finding networking connections who can be your insider booster or advocate. That’s a person who can bring your resumé to the right person, make an introduction and help you get an interview.

“In practice, you start with forty employers that you rank in terms of priority, but no job seeker I have worked with who has followed the two-hour search has ever gotten past fifteen without getting hired,” Dalton says.

The Power of Boosters for a Job Hunt

Boosters are the people who love their current job and take an interest in helping others advance their careers, according to Dalton. “It essentially boils down to purposeful relationship building,” he says. “Even if you are not the perfect fit for the job, but you can get someone to advocate for you, you can jump ahead of people who might have that fit, but don’t have a champion.”

Dalton’s people-centric approach hits me as particularly wise with the news this week that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged two companies with bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from consumers for sham job placement and resumé repair services. To get an interview, job seekers had to pay upfront fees of $1,200 to $2,500. In many instances, the defendants pocketed consumers’ money knowing the job opportunities were fake, according to the FTC. A federal court halted the scheme and froze the defendants’ assets at the FTC’s request.

8 Tips for a Job Hunt After 50

Now, as promised, here are my favorite eight job-seeking tips from Dalton. They can be summarized in three words: people skills and patience:

  1. Don’t be embarrassed. “There’s a lot of needless embarrassment and shame associated with job searching mid- or late-career, when nobody at that age has been rigorously taught how to job search, particularly in the online job posting era. Don’t be ashamed. Embrace this as a new skill set — turning strangers into advocates on demand,” says Dalton.
  2. Get contacts at your prospective employers to talk about why they are so good at their work. “Set up an informational interview. This can take some persistence. Find people whose work you admire, preferably at companies where you want to work, and reach out by phone or in person to learn about their jobs,” says Dalton.
  3. During these conversations, resist the temptation to sell yourself. “It is the sell-yourself mentality that sends the conversations off the rails. Focus on really learning. When you embrace the humbling process of no longer selling yourself and instead dedicate yourself to listening, you will get so far, so quickly,” says Dalton.
  4. Hone your listening skills. “When I give my talks, I show the audience a GIF of dog cuddling up to its owner because dogs are experts at this. When they look at their owner, there is not another person in that dog’s world. They block everyone out. They are singularly focused. We don’t love dogs because they are good conversationalists. We love them because we are the only person in their world when they look at us. That is the key to listening well,” says Dalton.
  5. Be likeable. “The point is not to tell them why you are so great. The point is to let them know that they have been heard. That you are open to learning and are passionate about learning about their employer or the work they do. You are perceived to be likeable if you are listening. It’s how you build a booster relationship. It is counterintuitive concept,” says Dalton.
  6. Take advantage of LinkedIn. “I don’t endorse a lot of career -related websites, but I do consider LinkedIn a must. Even better, it’s free [if you don’t sign up for the premium version]. A LinkedIn People Search helps find contacts at a target employer. It’s six degrees of separation. You supply the name of employer and it shows the closest connection you have to someone who works there. If it’s someone who shares an alumni connection with you, even better. LinkedIn Groups are also helpful to find connections, or people to reach out to with a short, fewer than one-hundred words, email that has no mention of a job, just your connection to him or her and expressing an interest in learning about a topic,” says Dalton.
  7. Use job boards for research. “Online job postings aren’t good for getting you a job, but they’re great information about what sorts of jobs are available in a particular city. I recommend using Indeed for meta information; what employers are looking for in your city, even different jobs than what you’re looking for. I always figure the specific jobs listed are already spoken for. The chance of a random applicant online going through and getting that job is a longshot. Remember, you are looking for people. I have never heard of a job seeker finding a job online who didn’t have a booster,” says Dalton.
  8. Don’t fear technology. “The good news there is really no intimidating technology anyone has to learn to pull this off. Use a simple spreadsheet to create your list of employers; LinkedIn and Google searches to learn about trends in the industry that interests you and to discover smaller companies in the field doing interesting things that you may not  have known. You may also tap into databases such as an alumni one or Dun & Bradstreet’s Hoovers to learn about competitors of companies you’re interested in that may tip you off to less obvious employers. Back in the old days it was accidental networking; you meet or know somebody who knows somebody. Now the game is about having those accidental meetings, but on purpose. That is terrifying, but not a lot of new technology to learn,” says Dalton.

By Kerry Hannon

Kerry Hannon has covered personal finance, retirement and careers for The New York Times, Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today, among other publications. She is the author of a dozen books including Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single WomenGreat Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy...and Pays the Bills, Getting the Job You Want After 50, Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness and What's Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond. Her website is Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

  View Attachment

Team Member Testimony--Amy Barbarino

March 29, 2019

Amy's Journey with Presbyterian SeniorCare Network

When I think back, over 35 years ago when I first came for my interview right out of business school, I think…WOW! Where did the time go? It has been quite the journey.

At 18 years of age, my first interview here was to be an Assistant to the President’s Secretary. At that time, it was a small place and I met EVERYONE on my first day. Thinking about that and the evolution of the company, there are so many people now I still haven’t met. Presbyterian Association on Aging (the “old” name) has certainly changed in leaps and bounds.

This was my very first interview out of Bradford Business School and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to work for this company practically in my back yard!

Through the years, I worked my way around the company from Assistant to the Secretary; to Secretary to the newly created “Senior Housing Services” (now known as SeniorCare Network); to working in the Medical Center (The Willows) as a Unit Secretary; then lucky enough to be asked to come back to the Housing Division to work with Jim Pieffer. It’s been quite a journey with many, many offices.

Cherished Accomplishment/Memory

My kids grew up here. My daughter, Madeline, was the first kiddo in The Strawberry Patch, the daycare I helped start here on campus. Then my son, Orazio, came here, too. I loved that! I was able to visit my kiddos for lunch and story time. It allowed me to still work but know that I didn’t have to worry about them – I got to see them during my day. They would even yell at the Hamilton House window for me to come and play… and yes… I was known to take a turn in the bouncy house when they had their parties behind the Hamilton House (not sure Jim knows that but he does now lol. My kids are now in their 20’s – hard to believe!

I’ve seen beautiful residents come and go… my absolute favorite was Jim’s godmother, Loretta. She’d call for “Jimmy” and get me to come over to see her. I enjoyed every minute with her – she was a beautiful, beautiful soul and I still think of her today.

Believing in this company’s mission has kept me here for all these years. I’ve had family members in our system, and I wouldn’t have wanted them anywhere else. The care here is exceptional and I’m always proud to recommend Presbyterian SeniorCare Network. As in all jobs there are struggles, but working with a so many great team members, I honestly can’t imagine working anywhere else!

Explore our careers at!

A Nurse's Journey

March 13, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows growth within their career at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network. Read about Kathy LaVan, Director of Nursing at Oakwood Heights, our Oil City campus, and why she has stayed with us since she became a nurse 22 years ago!

“I started at Presbyterian Homes (now Presbyterian SeniorCare Network) in November of 1995 as a graduate practical nurse. I never dreamed that over 22 years later, I would still be here. Those first few years, I was as scared as can be! I had patient teachers and even more patient residents as I learned to be more competent in my nursing skills. The residents I provide care to became part of my family, and watched me as my family grew to include three beautiful children. Through the years, I have sat with residents as they passed away, held hands with family members and provided comfort to families, residents and team members during difficult times. I had wonderful nurses who mentored me and coached me when I needed it. My hope is to pass my knowledge and experience on to the next generation of nursing to instill in them the art of caring for people.

I think one of the most remarkable things I have watched as a nurse has been the evolution of the long-term care world. When I came here in 1995, we had posey vests, lap buddies, four-point restraints, set meal times and horseshoe tables in which to feed multiple residents at the same time. We have grown from the institutional setting of the 1980’s to a community where we care about each resident as an individual with their desires in mind. I am very proud to work here and could not imagine working anywhere else.”

Like Kathy, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Click here to visit our web page. Once there, please click on the button, Share My Story. Once you have submitted your story, you will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card! Winners will be pulled the first Monday of every month.

How to Recharge Your Job or Career in 2019

February 6, 2019

A noted life and career coach offers her five-step plan
By Allison Task

Would you like to make 2019 a remarkable year for you?

A new year has begun. It’s is as exciting and fresh as the first day of school and a brand new lunchbox. You’re past those school days, of course, but you aren’t past embracing the new and possibilities to recharge your job or career this year.

As a career and life coach, I help people set — and more importantly — achieve life-changing goals. It’s what I do: identify what isn’t working, clarify what could be better and help people pursue a life they’d rather lead. I’d love to help you make 2019 a remarkable year.


What you’ll need:

A 2018 calendar, filled out (or your memories of 2018 fresh in your mind)

A 2019 calendar, fresh and new

Blank paper (or a Word doc if you’re more of a  computer person)

What you’ll get: A remarkable year.

There are five parts to this exercise — reflection, selection, envisioning, planning and sharing. Here’s how it works:


For this part, pull out that 2018 calendar if you have it or rely on your memory.

Write down the names of the months on three pieces of paper. Put four months down on a page, in separate quadrants. January, February, March, April on one, May, June July, August on another and September, October, November and December on the last page.

Now, review 2018 month by month. Let’s start with the trips you’ve taken. Where did you go, in which month? Short trips, overnights and longer trips. Write them down on the calendar.

Next: were there any landmark events for you? A new job, a promotion, weddings, graduations, births and deaths? What big events happened in your life, and the life of loved ones?

Sit with this for a while, as you start remembering one thing, which leads to another. As you start filling up the months, you may realize that you need more pages. Enjoy the memory trip.

You’re ready for phase two.


Once you’ve got a thick set of memories from 2018, take out another piece of paper. On one side, write “coming” and on the other side write “leaving.”

Imagine that you are packing your bag for 2019, and you can choose five things that come with you, and five things you’d like to leave behind. Maybe you hired a terrible contractor last year; leave him or her in the past. More importantly, what incredible things happened? New relationships or experiences that you could pick as the “best of” 2018?

Keep that list of five things you treasured from 2018 and want to bring with you and five things you’d prefer to leave behind.


You’ve just taken stock of 2018 and my guess is that it was more extensive and powerful than you may had remembered. So many things happened. And 2019 will be the same. Right now, you can choose those things.

Look at your top five treasures from 2018. If you were to elevate these, build on the joy they delivered and create even more joy, how could you do that? How could you plan that into the coming year? If you improved your health, how could you celebrate that or take that to the next level? If you became closer to an old friend, is there a new old friend you’d like to connect with this year?

Write it down. Acknowledge and elevate your top achievements from 2018.

Is there something missing that you’d like to be sure to add to this year? Think about what that would be

Maybe you’d like to start meditating more, or get off medications that you think are slowing you down.

Maybe you’d like to travel more, or nest more. This is your life; your choice.

Write it down. Add new goals for 2019.

Next, look at the four seasons and the month at the center of each: February, May, July and October. When you think of these seasons, what do you love most? Is it apple picking in October, and the beach in July? How can you embrace the upcoming season with a new or well-loved experience or person you’d like to have in the center of the season? What is the treasure you’d like to look forward to?

Write it down. Make sure to add your favorite parts of the year to 2019.


Now take out that 2019 calendar. What is already in place? Have you booked any travel already? When is your birthday? Any upcoming weddings, graduations or other events? Put those on the calendar.

Your 2019 treasure map is starting to take shape.

And now (drumroll please)… add in those extras: those bigger dreams and seasonal joys. Add in the items you identified in the “envisioning” phase. If you can dream it, you can build it. You’ve dreamt it, so put it on the calendar.

Have fun with this. You may find there’s too much to do in one year; some items may need to wait until 2020. Others that seemed important may not seem as urgent now that you’ve raised your game, so they can be replaced.


Onto Sharing. This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time to share your dreams and your calendar with your friends and family members. Make a list of the top five items you want to do this year (that you’ve always done) and top five new objectives (that you’ve never done). Identify something, each month that you are looking forward to doing.

On the first of the month, announce the thing that you’re excited about. You may be telling your loved ones, but what you’re REALLY doing is telling yourself, reminding yourself how sweet your life is, and then sucking every last bit of sweet off your finger tips.

You have now created a treasure map for 2019 of the things you’d most like to do. Pursue that treasure. You’ve created a powerful vision. It can be as remarkable as you let it be.

Allison Task, is a Montclair, N.J. life and career coach whose business is Allison Task Career & Life Coaching. She is a author of Personal (R)evolution: How to Be Happy, Change Your Life and Do That Thing You’ve Always Wanted to Do.

A Nursing Career Inspired by MASH

January 24, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when a childhood dream becomes reality!

Read about Chris Plyler, a RN Neighborhood Manager at Oakwood Heights, our Oil City campus, and how her favorite TV show led her into nursing.  

“I always wanted to be a nurse. As a young child, the television show MASH was big. At the same time, my uncle went into the Marines—the perfect storm happened! I connected with Margaret Houlihan, “Hot Lips.” So my story begins. I would play hospital and I was always the nurse. If you watched the show, “Hot Lips” was tough. In the scary times, she took control, orchestrated the work in the OR and worked hours upon hours. She took time to hold the hands of the wounded. The expectation of myself is to be strong as needed, but gentle at the same time. My experiences are vast from starting at a nursing home as a CNA to being a nurse in a 1000 bed hospital ICU, then making the circle back home to Oakwood Heights. I get to hold hands and make memories with some of the most beautiful people in the world. I feel as part this team, I make a difference.”

Like Chris, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Click here to visit our web page. Once there, please click on the button, Share My Story.

Once you have submitted your story, you will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card! Winners will be pulled the first Monday of every month.

All Ages Make a Difference

November 28, 2018

Submitted by Haley Chiusano, dining services aide at Longwood at Oakmont

I have been around older adults my whole life. When I was born, my Mom was the Director of Recreation at the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network Oakmont campus. When she would go to work on the weekends or on a holiday, I would go with her. From summer picnics to trick or treating at Halloween to Thanksgiving dinners and of course, Christmas caroling, I was right there enjoying my time with the residents. Being that I was little, I did not understand what was actually transpiring or why my Mom took me with her, but I was having fun so I didn’t mind.

My favorite memory from when I was little was every Fourth of July, the band Dr. Zoot would play outside before it got dark enough for the fireworks. I would stand in between the band and the residents and do cartwheels and flips until I was so tired I could not stand anymore. To this day, which is about 12 years later, when I walk through the halls, there are still a few residents that know me as “the little girl who did the flips.”

When I got older, my Grandma moved into Westminster Place at the Oakmont campus. Anytime I was home with my Mom and she had to go into work, I would ask to go along to visit with her. I would spend hours in my grandma’s apartment playing Sega and pulling YouTube videos up on her computer, singing and dancing around the room for her. When it was time to go to dinner, I loved going with her. She lived right across the hall from the café, so as soon as she opened her door and the other residents saw me, they all got very excited. Whoever was there that day would sit at my Grandma’s table because they liked when someone new was there to talk to (especially someone as young as I was). We would sit in the dining room for hours after dinner, just talking about what I did for fun and how school was going. My Grandma and I always dreaded the “time to go home” phone call from my Mom. It came too soon every time.

When I turned 12, it was a big deal. I was finally old enough to volunteer! I had this project in school called the “Pay It Forward Project.” The project meant that I was supposed to do something good for someone, and then that person was supposed to something good for someone else and so on. So I decided to make this project a bit bigger. Instead of just me going to volunteer, I took some friends with me. That summer, myself and four of my friends would go all day every Wednesday and help in the Recreation Department. We did things such as rewrite special events on the whiteboards in the resident neighborhoods and take residents to the Corner Store. Our favorite thing to do was B-I-N-G-O! Sometimes, we would host three different Bingo games in one day. There was one resident in particular from The Willows who just loved us, and we loved her too. She never missed one of our bingo games. She would help us set up and take down, and she would even bring snacks for us and the other residents attending. Every time, right before a game would start, my friend Shannon would say “Okay, we are going to get started, is everyone ready?” And she would say, “Ready for Freddy!” We do not know where “Ready for Freddy” came from, but it made us laugh every time she said it!

When I started sixth grade, my Mom became the Administrator at Woodside Place of Oakmont, a specialized dementia care community. I remember being a little nervous to go help out there at first because I was not used to interacting with residents living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. My Mom and I talked about the disease and she reassured me that I would be fine with my social skills, and as soon as I walked in, I was. The Woodside Place residents soon became some of my favorites.

In my ninth grade Civics Class, we had to have at least an hour of volunteer work each nine weeks. All my friends would ask to come with me to Woodside Place to get their volunteer hours completed. They were nervous at first too, but I told them they would be fine, just like my Mom did for me. They all ended up loving the residents right away, just like I did.

Right after I turned 17, I applied for a job as a Dining Services team member at Longwood at Oakmont, the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network independent living community in Plum. Working three to four times a week, and spending an hour with them every time, the residents started to remember my name. This was a big deal to me. Whenever I would volunteer and hear a resident call a nurse or an aide by their name, I would get a little jealous because I always wanted them to remember my name too. But, being there only once a week and not seeing all of them every time made it hard. Now, at Longwood, most of the residents know my name, because after they have finished eating, we will have conversations while I clean up. We talk about anything and everything. One resident told me about how he and his wife started a business. That business did so well that when they retired they were able to travel the world together. Every night at dinner he tells me a different story about the incredible adventures they went on. He reminisced about their long nights in Brazil and their hot days in Cairo. It is amazing to me how he can recall any detail from any city. I look forward to these stories and it is still one of my favorite parts about my job.

I believe that intergenerational partnerships are so very important. Even though we have different lifestyles, we can still enjoy things as simple as sharing a conversation. I have learned so much from our seniors over the years, and I’m sure I have taught them quite a bit too. I enjoy going to work to be with my residents every day, and honestly, isn’t that is what it’s all about?

If you are like Haley, and want a career where you can spend your days bonding with our residents, explore careers at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network! 

An Employee Pipeline That Starts With Schooling

November 20, 2018

Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, a full-continuum provider serving 10 counties in western Pennsylvania, has accepted that challenge by creating a program that not only recruits young people as employees, but actively partners with schools to educate and train them for the purpose.

Click here to read more of this LeadingAge Magazine article about how Presbyterian SeniorCare Network is building an employee pipeline. 

5 Retirement Pitfalls You’ll Want to Avoid

November 5, 2018

Advice from the author of 'The Retirement Dreammaker'
By Matthew Jackson

(The following article is adapted from The Retirement Dreammaker: Master the Art of Retirement Abundance by Matthew Jackson.)

I’ve interviewed more than 1,000 retirees over the years and have observed retirees defaulting to a retirement lifestyle lacking excitement, positive challenges, contribution in significant ways, personal growth, and, ultimately, fulfillment. Below are five retirement pitfalls I’ve witnessed. I believe that those who understand the circumstances, situations and events they may encounter in retirement have a better chance of avoiding the snags and of feeling fulfilled in the third chapter of their life.

Let’s unpack each, so you can identify whether you are experiencing any of these thought patterns, and start on a path to self-correction.

1. Lack Of Money

There are few things that frustrate me more professionally than watching good people get paralyzed by the feeling of not having enough. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we don’t have enough when other people’s abundance is constantly shoved in our face. 
Rather than looking inward for personal satisfaction and happiness, we are constantly and subconsciously told we must measure our happiness in terms of our possessions or the events that take place in our lives.

No matter how much money you believe you have or will make, if you are spending more than you are earning, you may very well find yourself with this retirement pitfall. Being content with where you are and living within your means is both empowering and freeing. Don’t be locked in a cage because of a lack of money.

2. Lack Of Permission

Feeling like you lack financial resources leads to the belief that you lack permission to follow your passions and live your life with confidence.

A couple recently came to my office feeling frustrated. They told me they had found their dream retirement home, a few miles from their current home. When they were done explaining the details of the property and all they could do with it, I told them I couldn’t wait to see it. That’s when the tone of the meeting changed. With a little embarrassment, humility and wonder in their voices, they told me they didn’t know if they could afford the extra cost of purchasing the property.

I watched their bodies and faces physically tighten as they explained their concerns. No one had given them the financial permission and the confidence they needed to believe they could live this retirement dream. We all experience these insecurities.

This couple had come to get my permission that their retirement plan could handle the extra expense of buying their dream property. As we ran the hypothetical stress test models, I could see that they would be able to handle it. I’ll never forget the day they came into my office to review the results. They walked in looking serious and sat very straight in the chairs. It was if a weight had been lifted from their shoulders. The tightness in their lips and chests disappeared instantly. My permission was met with a simultaneous sigh of relief and smiles on their faces.

I often wonder how many people don’t fully live a life true to their dreams because they haven’t heard a simple word of permission or encouragement to help them do so.

3. Isolation

I’m sure there have been times in your life, sitting at your work desk, that all you can think about is getting away from it all. It’s healthy to have a little isolation. Being isolated helps us to decompress, rejuvenate our physical and mental energy and to gain the mental clarity we need to solve problems we are experiencing. However, extended isolation with little social interaction has been well documented to increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, some forms of cancer, depression and memory loss.

Isolated individuals are up to 50 percent more likely to develop cognitive decline. They are less likely to exercise, eat right, and develop hobbies. Compared to people who have regular social interactions, isolated individuals are more likely to need long-term health care and to be victims of elder abuse.

Many retirees fall into isolation by no fault of their own. Here’s a list of circumstances to be aware of that can cause isolation.

  • Financial changes in retirement
  • Friends moving away
  • Getting stuck in old daily habits
  • Loss of optimism about the future
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of mobility caused by health complications
  • Grief resulting from loss of a spouse or close friend
  • Physical and emotional pain
  • Decreased sense of personal safety
  • Problems with memory recall

I highly doubt that people ever anticipate how deeply isolation can affect their life in retirement. It’s my hope that your new awareness of the negative effects of isolation helps you to avoid it in any shape or form.

4. Waiting For Milestones

Milestones are the measuring stick we use to analyze our progress in life, compare ourselves to others and fit into the construct of the life we believe we should be living at the time we are living it.

From the time we are infants we hear statements like: 
When you’re old enough you can…
When you graduate high school you can… When you go to university you are a…. 
When you get married…
When you buy your first house… When you have your first child… When you have your second child… When you are xxx years old…

I can see how easy it is to measure life in terms of milestones, given the way we’ve been taught to get past them or to want to fulfill what others expect of us.

Milestones are an important part of human growth and development because they do give us feedback if we are on track, behind, or need help with our own growth and development.

A few examples of retirement milestones are:

  • Age 59 1⁄2: This is the first time you can take distributions from an Individual Retirement Account in your name without a 10 percent early withdraw penalty.
  • Age 62: This is the age we can take our first elected Social Security payment.
  • Age 65: This is the age you are eligible to enroll in Medicare health plans.
  • Age 66 to 67: This is the Full Retirement Age for Social Security, when you they may be able to receive your check with no reductions. If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full Social Security retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1960 or later, it’s 67. For individuals born between 1955 and 1959, your full Social Security retirement age is somewhere between 66 and 67.
  • Age 70: This is the age you are eligible for your maximum Social Security benefit. If you’ve delayed collecting Social Security until this age, you have been enjoying the maximum 8 percent increase in your check since the time you elected to suspend payments (elected at ages 66 to 67).
  • Age 70 1⁄2: This is the age that you are required to take Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from your tax-deferred retirement accounts. The penalty for failure to take your RMD at the correct time is 50 percent of the RMD amount. You don’t want to miss this milestone!

So these milestones seem pretty positive in our lives. How can they hurt or prevent a person from having the most fulfillment in retirement? Quite simply, they can be the reason we put off doing important things.

Here are a few examples of negative milestones in retirement:

Children’s Milestones –Have you ever heard someone say, or thought to yourself, “When my child finally does “X,” we are all going to take a family trip. “X” can be a move, a job promotion, a wedding, a divorce, the birth of a grandchild, a work promotion or an advanced degree. But what if Johnny isn’t motivated to accomplish “X” or just can’t quite get it? You’ll never take that trip. What would be more important to you, making family memories on a vacation or waiting for Johnny to accomplish something you don’t have control of? Trust me…it’s the memories and connection that are much more important in the long run.

Personal Health Milestones – I believe it’s very important for all of us to have the courage to face the reality of our own good and poor health. Doing so can help us to make important decisions about delayed gratification of experiences, events and opportunities.

If you have heard a person you care about say he’s waiting for his or his spouse’s health to improve before they visit a place they’ve wanted to go, please encourage them not to wait. And if you’re waiting for your health to improve, don’t put off the trip.

Even though a health challenge may keep you from physically doing all you want, do whatever you can. It’s more important you do it now rather than wait for your health to be perfect. It may never be!

5. I Have Nothing Of Value To Contribute. I’m Not Relevant

Feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem affect many retirees. In a time when twentysomethings have hundreds or thousands of followers and “friends” on Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook, how can retirees not feel left behind in some ways? How can they find relevance in the modern age?

We all know that people don’t suddenly lose the talent and experience gained over a lifetime with passing of a birthday. But, somehow we are expected to believe that the world has outpaced our knowledge and experience. We’re told through media channels that the “new” is what is relevant. Experience is irrelevant.

The prospect of having to reinvent and learn new skills is frustrating for many people because even if they get more training and education, they believe there will still be a mark against them on their application… age.

This spills over into retirement. Imagine your psyche if you were downsized because of age, just prior to retirement. Would you feel as if the skill set you sharpened for 30+ working years meant anything? Would you have a great sense of relevance in the world?

The truth is that retirees have more value than they think. Just because it doesn’t fit into the traditional construct of how value is measured doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

Finding new value in your experience will require a shift in thinking.

By Matthew Jackson

Matthew Jackson is author of The Retirement Dreammaker: Mastering the Art of Retirement Abundance.  He is also an investment adviser representative of Royal Fund Management.


Return Home
Learn More Contact Us Today
Respect Experience Read More