At 84 years old, Delilah was evicted from her assisted living community. Her dementia episodes had become so bad that she would scream, hit and kick the attending staff and throw things during her most agitated moments.
“When we met Delilah, she was taking ten prescription medications at a total of 22 pills a day. She was refusing care and did not have family in the area. Once we onboarded her as our client, we were able to assess her situation and bring down her prescriptions to five a day, which resulted in her attitude to change around the facility where she spent the last two years of her life living with dignity and comfort,” said Terri Abelar, CEO and Founder of Aging Solutions, a company that manages patient care for older adults.
Terri has been one of California’s leading consumer advocates helping older Americans for over four decades. She has designed or helped design pioneering programs and services for seniors and has even given expert testimony on eldercare issues to legislative committees in Sacramento and Washington D.C.
For Terri, the journey of helping seniors started in the nineteen-eighties as a social services supervisor at the Riverside County Office on Aging, where she specialized in elder abuse prevention and helped develop the C.A.R.E. Program.
“I created some unique programs for the state and for the county to fight elder abuse until a foot injury forced me to go on short-term disability. When I came back, my position had been eliminated due to budget costs,” Terri remembers.
Around the same time, Terri began receiving hundreds of calls from people she had met throughout her career. They were primarily calls from adult children struggling with care for their parents and seeking advice from an expert. That’s when the idea of creating Aging Solutions was born.
According to CA.gov, in California, the population aged 60 years and over is expected to grow more than three times as fast as the total population and this growth will vary by region.
“Why would a 30-year-old know how to navigate Medicare?” asks Terri. “When you meet with our team, we offer a 30 min phone consultation and analyze everything about the patient. Lifestyle, medical conditions, habits, support system, family budget and we create a customized plan of action for our clients.”
This plan of action could include referrals, in-person care, virtual visits, or more. For example, in Delilah’s case, the Aging Solutions team came up with some creative ideas, like showing her a picture of her favorite doctor when they wanted her to eat and drink or comply with taking medications. They even planted a “victory garden” at the facility where she spent her last days. It is what Terri refers to as a compassionate approach to care.
Aging Solutions was founded in 1997 by Terri, it is based in San Rafael, employs nine professionals, and offers virtual consultations as well, expanding their work to reach anyone who is interested. The company fully embraces digital transformation and was recently awarded the technology makeover through the Comcast RISE program.
In January of 2020, Terri heard from her network in the medical arena that something big was coming. She began equipping all her staff and clients with laptops and tablets to create a solid virtual communication system that allows them to communicate with clients and even join telehealth appointments.
Aging Solutions documents day to day, sometimes hour to hour data. “Without technology, we couldn’t do our jobs as effectively as we do. All our clients have a tablet at home where our caregivers document all health data related to the patient. That’s how we can measure progress or course correction if needed,” said Terri.
For example, caregivers update forms with moods, meals, medication, etc., on a form that the team reads periodically. Before the digital transformation, caregivers would make updates on paper, but by the time the information made it back to the team, it was outdated information.
Sample data gathering from Aging Solutions.
“Real-time data allows us to make real-time decisions which translate in less crisis and fewer or none trips to the emergency room,” said Terri.
Thanks to the technology makeover through Comcast RISE, Aging Solutions will continue expanding and helping one of the most vulnerable populations.
“The work that I do at Aging Solutions is an extension of my Hispanic culture because it takes a village, and it takes a lot of people to make someone’s wellbeing ok. Our goal is to help families do the best they can to take care of their loved ones. Proving quality of life is very important. This mission is my passion,” said Terri.
Comcast RISE is a multi-year commitment to provide marketing, creative, media, and technology services to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) owned small businesses. Most recently the program expanded to small businesses owned by women. The program is accepting applications for its new round that closes on June 17, 2022. For more information and to apply visit www.ComcastRISE.com.