News and Updates from our Team Members

Don’t Miss The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging


JULY 19, 2017
Networking at 9:15 AM – Program Starts Promptly at 10 AM
646 County Square Drive, Ventura, CA

Here is the Agenda:

9:15 – 10:00 AM – Networking (optional). A table will be available to display flyers. Coffee & snacks.
10:00 AM Meeting Starts
Welcome – Christine Voth, Manager of Business Strategy & Strategic Planning, VCAAA.
Brief Introductions by Attendees – Please state your name, title and organization
10:10 AM RECOGNIZING AND PREVENTING SCAMS – Presented by Detective Erica Escalante #4628,
Certified Fraud Investigator, Oxnard Police Department, Financial Crimes
CAREGIVERS – Presented by Martha Shapiro, LCSW, Director of Programs for Senior
11:05 AM SHARING – Share news about your organization’s activities, upcoming fundraisers, events,
staff changes, workshops, etc. Please say your name and organization.
Next Case Management Network Meeting: July 26, 2017 (Wednesday), 10:30 AM at VCAAA
Future Senior Network Meetings: February 13, 2018 (Tuesday) & June 14, 2018 (Thursday).
VCAAA’s Senior Network is an informal group of professionals and some volunteers from local communitybased
organizations (non-profit, for-profit and government agencies) who represent the interests of Ventura
County’s older adults, persons with disabilities and their caregivers. VCAAA encourages and facilitates
networking among these providers to ensure coordination of services and community awareness of clients’
needs by providing information and education, plus opportunities for collaborations and shared problemsolving.

ABOUT PARKING: Additional parking is across the parking lot at 669 County Square Drive, and street parking
is available. 674 and 702 County Square Drive are private parking lots; thus, drivers park at their own risk (of
being towed). Persons with handicap parking placards or license plates may park in the Reserved Parking spaces
(on the north side of lot parallel to Highway 126 exit) if the regular handicap spaces are full. Please do not park
in spaces reserved for “VCAAA Clients Only.” Thank you.

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Did you know 40% of adults 65+ take 5 or more medications? Practicing safe medication management is critical to making sure your loved one is getting the proper benefits from their medications as well as avoiding potentially harmful interactions. Read our tips for smart medication management and learn how in-home care can help keep your loved one safe and healthy.

Click here to download a printable version of the tips to share with a friend or loved one.

BrightStar Care Tips for Smart Medication Management and Avoiding Harmful Prescription Drug Interactions

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By Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC
Chief Clinical Quality Officer, BrightStar Care

Daughter discusses home care options with her senior parent

Many people shy away from discussing issues surrounding aging, especially when decisions could threaten an older person’s independence. While these conversations aren’t always easy, they’re important to have to ensure your parent can continue living safely at home.

Some seniors need just a little help, such as with chores around the house or grocery shopping, to maintain their independence and energy. Others may need more advanced help with showering or taking medications to safely remain living at home. Home care services can assist in all these situations.

I urge you and your parents to discuss home care preferences early and often – and not just after a problem or crisis arises. The sooner you start talking about it, the better prepared you and your loved one will be should the need for home care become reality.

Let’s talk about how to initiate a compassionate, productive conversation about home care, strategies to deal with three common concerns, and what to do if you live far away from your mom or dad.

How to initiate a home care conversation

First, know that this will take more than one discussion. Think of each conversation as a “dose” that makes decision-making more palatable for you and your loved one. You may have 10 things you want to discuss, but maybe only talk about one or two at a time.

Dos and Don’ts for having a compassionate and productive conversation about home careIdeally, your first conversation will be about their wishes for the future and will not require a concrete decision about something. You could open with something you experienced in real life or saw on TV. For example, “I was talking to my neighbor and they mentioned they’re getting some help from a home care company. I realized I don’t know how you would feel about that if you need a little help someday. Could we talk about that?”

Be honest, but also sensitive to your parent’s feelings. This conversation can put seniors in the delicate spot of realizing or acknowledging they’re not who they used to be and they may need some help. You want to be an ally, not an adversary, to their desire to live independently. You don’t want to push them away or make future discussions more challenging.

Ask what’s important to them. Would they prefer a male or female caregiver, particularly if at some point they need help with personal care? Would they be more comfortable with someone who speaks their language?

Here are a few more tips to follow when discussing home care with your loved one:

  • Make it a team effort: If you start the conversation with, “I already researched …,” it sounds like you’ve made the decision for Mom or Dad. Instead, say, “Let’s research what options are available together.”
  • Begin with less personal services: “Home care” includes a wide range of services. Don’t dive into the home care discussion by immediately suggesting help with something like bathing. Instead, ease into the conversation by proposing a less-personal service, such as housekeeping or meal preparation.
  • Don’t force your agenda: If your parent resists discussing home care or flat out refuses, give them space to think about it. Unless there’s an imm Read Original Article

Everyone loves when grandma and grandpa come to visit, and keeping them safe from falls during their stay means more time enjoying their company and affection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.8 million older Americans are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year, so taking the necessary precautions around your home is key. Whether your older relatives are planning a full weekend stay or just an afternoon visit, it’s important to take their mobility and health status into consideration. In honor of National Home Safety Month this June, we’re here to help you protect your loved ones from potential harm.

Here is a checklist of easy and thoughtful safety tips to make your home comfortable and accessible for elderly visitors, allowing you and your family to make the most of your time together:

How to Fall-Proof Your Home When Grandma & Grandpa Come to Visit

Learn more about home safety and care when you contact a BrightStar Care location near you. Call 866-618-7827 or visit

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By Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC
Chief Clinical Quality Officer, BrightStar Care

BrightStar Care caregiver assisting client going up the stairs.

Elderly people suffer 29 million falls annually in the United States. When a frail older person falls, they’re more likely than a younger person to suffer severe injuries, such as broken bones or concussions.

As a geriatric nurse practitioner, I have seen firsthand that falls are among the worst things that can happen to older adults. Falls are the No. 1 cause of injury-related death for people 65 and older. Falls that result in hip fracture, for example, can lead to loss of independence, serious health complications, or death.

I don’t want to scare you if the seniors in your life are active and independent. But fall risk is vital to consider as your loved ones age and their risk for fall-related injuries increases.

Why are seniors at high risk for falls?

So many physical factors work against us as we age. Our muscles become weaker, our joints become stiff and painful with arthritis, and our ligaments become shorter and stiffer, impairing how we walk.

Other coexisting conditions increase the risk of falls, including:

Hip fractures are among the most serious injuries an elderly person can sustain after a fall – they face a 20 percent risk of dying within a year after the injury. And 20 to 30 percent of elderly people who fall never regain their full mobility or quality of life. Once an elderly person falls, they’re at greater risk for suffering another fall in the future.

3 tips to reduce the risk of falls for seniors

When BrightStar Care starts to care for a new client, our Registered Nurse Director of Nursing conducts a comprehensive health and wellness evaluation to determine lifestyle, medical, and environmental factors that may put their health at risk. A fall-risk assessment is part of this process.

We weave risks into their personal care plan so nurses and family caregivers know what they need to focus on to keep the client safe from falls at home. Often, these reviews point to three main areas of risk: home safety, medications, and mindfulness.

1. Optimize your loved one’s home

Household items and fixtures that may seem harmless to you and me can be d Read Original Article

Amelia Williams, RN for BrightStar Care of South West Fort Worth / Burleson, TXIn honor of National Nurses Week (May 6 – 12, 2017), we want to introduce you to BrightStar Care Registered Nurse Amelia Williams. She started with BrightStar Care as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and with the support of her family and her BrightStar Care mentor went back to school to become a Registered Nurse.

For Amelia Williams, being a nurse means more than the day-to-day care. “It’s about creating relationships and getting that one-on-one experience, that time to hear their stories.” Amelia started with BrightStar Care of South West Fort Worth / Burleson (Texas) in 2012 as a CNA, and then went back to school to become a Registered Nurse.

A Life’s Passion At Work

“When I was a teenager, my grandparents had dementia,” said Amelia. “We have a really big family, so all the aunts would take turns taking care of them. When it was my mom’s turn, I would go with her and help with anything from meal prep to showering. I just remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is something I’m good at!’ And just ever since then I knew that healthcare was what I would go into.”

After graduating from high school, Amelia got her CNA license and worked in a nursing home. “I felt like I was lost in the crowd a bit and never really appreciated.” After moving to a new location, she came across an opportunity with BrightStar Care as a caregiver. “I had always been interested in BrightStar Care and home health, so it was meant to be.” As a caregiver, Amelia particularly enjoyed the one-on-one time with clients. “I just wanted to be there for them, and let them know they can trust and rely on me.”

Taking It To The Next Level

Having developed caregiver experience and relationships with her clients, Amelia started looking ahead to what was next. Her colleague and mentor Jennifer Rine BSN, RN — the Director of Nursing for the agency and the 2017 BrightStar Care National Nurse of the Year — played a role in that decision. “Just working with Jennifer made me want to become a nurse. And I realized I wanted to be the kind of nurse they could all be proud of.”

Going back to school was tough, but Amelia gives a lot of credit to her BrightStar Care community. “BrightStar Care helped me when I decided to go back to school. They worked with me, were flexible with my schedule when I prepared for exams, Jennifer was always there when I had questions, and they were so incredibly supportive and encouraging through the whole process. All of that just made me work harder.” For current and future nursing students, Amelia advises, “surrounding yourself with people who can give you good vibes is important. And don’t forget to make time for yourself!”

Now graduated and working as a Registered Nurse, Amelia says it is important to keep learning every day. Whether it is researching new medication administration techniques or trying different methods of senior care, she likes to stay ahead of the trends and go the extra mile to keep her clients educated. “I’m not the kind of person who’s going to stop. I’m going to keep going, and one day go back to get my master’s degree.”

All In The Family

Amelia puts her clients first, but always makes time for her family. “They are the ones who inspire me and have been there for me. Every time I was down in the dumps I just remembered ‘okay, I just want to be somebody they’re proud of’ and it’s always kept me going.”

Amelia’s husband has played a big part in helping her reach her nursing career goals. From flashcard study sessions to practicing care techniques, he always encouraged her to continue doing what she loves. “He’s been there for me since the be Read Original Article

By Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC
Chief Clinical Quality Officer, BrightStar Care

5 ways a nurse-led home care team can make your life easierDealing with day-to-day tasks such as meal preparation, bathing and dressing; coordinating medical care; making medical decisions. Caring for a loved one can seem overwhelming at times.

The people on your loved one’s care team can make all the difference. When that team includes a registered nurse, you’ll receive additional care, support, and resources that go beyond your loved one’s day-to-day medical needs.

Every person and family we work with has a registered nurse who leads their care team. This is not true with many private duty home care agencies that do not have a nurse on their team. We want you to feel confident in the care your loved one receives, the environment in which they live, and the decisions you make. Nursing has been ranked the most trusted profession in the country for 15 consecutive years, according to the annual Gallup honesty/ethics poll. Nurses instill confidence and exude compassion, and that is exactly what our more than 5,000 nurses strive to do.

Before you choose a home care partner, take a moment to learn about the benefits a registered nurse can bring to the team. I’ve listed below the five benefits our clients say they appreciate most. Use the list as you consider whether your loved one could benefit from in-home care led by a registered nurse.

To learn how a BrightStar Care nurse-led team can help you and your loved one, call (866) 618-7827 or contact a BrightStar Care® home care agency near you.

Benefits of having a nurse involved in home care

While nurses partner with you on your loved one’s care, they also can serve as consultants. Their background and training means they can provide services, resources, and education that keep you confident your loved one is safe and in the right hands.

1. Answer questions about medical conditions and treatment

There’s a lot to take in when dealing with a medical condition. Sometimes you forget to ask a question when you’re at the doctor’s office, or you don’t think of it until you return home, or you just don’t know what to ask. Your dedicated BrightStar Care nurse often can answer questions as they pop up. They’ll take time to explain the details of your loved one’s condition and treatment.

2. Provide skilled medical services

Your loved one may have specialized needs that require skills beyond that of a general caregiver. For example, if your mom needs injections for a condition, or your dad needs care related to an ostomy – a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes – in most states, a BrightStar Care nurse can assist with these types of services. If you don’t have a nurse on your home care team, you will need to find another provider to perform these specific tasks.

3. Help modify your loved one’s home to make it safer

There are safety practices that should be used in every home, such as installing smoke detectors, but some medical conditions may require additional steps to keep a loved one safe. Our nurses follow the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goals, which address safety issues in a variety Read Original Article

By Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC
Chief Clinical Quality Officer, BrightStar Care

BrightStar Care nurse discussing medication with a clientPeople with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia may take multiple medications. And because the risk of missing a dose or confusing pills is so high for these individuals, someone should oversee the process.

But what happens when your loved one resists or refuses to take medication? This can happen for a variety of reasons – they don’t remember or understand why they need to take it, or they don’t want to take orders and feel like they’re not in control.

We never want to force someone to take a medication. It’s their home, and we want to honor their choice. But we also know some medications are critical to a person’s health. While we need to keep safety in mind, you can use these four strategies – and a little creativity and flexibility – to help your loved one feel more comfortable about taking their medication.

1. Find the best time of day

We all have a particular time of day when we’re at our best. Some people are grumpy in the morning and may not want to take medication right then. But they may be more alert and receptive to it later in the day.

The time of day when someone has to take a medication isn’t always set in stone. One of the advantages of the home-care setting is the flexibility it offers to fit in with the individual’s routines. After you check with their doctor or pharmacist, try giving the individual medication when they’re most open to taking it. If needed, talk to their doctor and pharmacist again to adjust their medications.

Then, make the new medication schedule part of their daily routine. People with dementia appreciate and respond well to repetition and structure.

2. Examine frequency, delivery method, and number of medications

After you’ve found a good time of day to give your loved one medication, take a close look at the number of medications they take, how often, and in what forms. If you’re frequently frustrated trying to administer medication, you may find there are options that make the process easier.


Consult with your loved one’s doctor and pharmacist about whether there are alternatives to a medication that can cut down the number of times they take it each day.

For example, if they are prescribed a medication that needs to be taken four times a day, is there an equivalent that they can take twice a day?

Delivery method

Often, there are options for how an individual takes a medication. If your loved one doesn’t like to swallow a pill, ask if the drug comes in other forms, such as a liquid or patch.

You also may be able to crush up a pill and put it in a food such as applesauce or pudding. This can make taking it more tolerable. However, still be transparent about this and tell your loved one you are doing this. Also, not all pills should be crushed, so ask the doctor or pharmacist first.

One note: Don’t spoil a food they love by mixing in a nasty, bitter medication. If they love ice cream, for example, don’t ruin it for them with a taste they hate.

Number of medications

Keep a list of medications and periodically ask your loved one’s doctor and pharmacist to review it. You may find that a medication can be eliminated because it’s no longer necessary or another medication they’re taking does the same thing.

Download our free medication chart

Also, take a close look at the Read Original Article

Helping your loved one follow a special diet for heart disease or diabetes may not mean they have to give up their favorite family recipes. Who knew you could use applesauce instead of oil in mom’s famous blueberry muffins? Try these simple substitutes for healthier ingredients the next time you cook or bake together:

Click images to enlarge for better viewing or printing

Healthy Baking Tips for Seniors

Healthy Cooking Tips for Seniors

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As we grow, we pick up habits that will never truly leave our memory, even if other parts of our memory fade away. Lucille, better known as ‘Ms. Bitsy,’ loves cooking, especially homemade pecan pies. This was one of her fondest memories of growing up in the south.

Ms. Bitsy is 86 years old and living with dementia. She moved from her childhood home in sunny Daytona Beach to a farm in Tennessee with her daughter Mindy and son-in-law Bobby, and they took care her until Mindy unexpectedly passed away. Since then, Bobby has made it his mission to care for Ms. Bitsy, a promise he made to his wife, and makes sure she has everything she wants and needs. He has also hired BrightStar Care of Chattanooga to ensure she has the professional, quality care she deserves.

Bitsy Boop MobileTo keep life exciting, Bobby enjoys surprising Ms. Bitsy in creative ways. The most notable surprise was a customized golf cart that he labeled the “Bitsy Boop Mobile” in honor of her love for Betty Boop. She was thrilled! Angie, the community liaison and scheduler for BrightStar Care of Chattanooga, said, “That is what she calls her car. She likes to take long rides [with her BrightStar Care caregivers] and look at the beauty surrounding her. When at home, Ms. Bisty loves watching her horses. She talks to them. She will take pictures with her camera with some assistance.” Creating new memories like these gives her so much joy as older memories don’t come back as easily as they used to.

Angie likes to work with Ms. Bitsy as much as she can. They have a special bond. “Bitsy used to be a wonderful cook until she became unable to because she forgets the stove is hot and forgets to turn it off. Now me and Bitsy will sit and prepare meals at the table,” says Angie.

One day, Ms. Bitsy told Angie she wanted to surprise Bobby with a homemade pecan pie. This started a grand baking adventure for the two. Together, they followed a recipe with Angie prompting Ms. Bitsy step-by-step.

Making Pecan PiesThe crust for the pie was prepared from scratch. When the dough was sticking to the counter, Ms. Bitsy rolled up the dough into a ball, placed it into the pie dish and then began to shape it out. She loved scalloping the edges of the crust with a fork. The whole process took about an hour and a half to assemble the pie, but Ms. Bitsy enjoyed every minute of it!

They also love making chocolate chip cookies together. Angie says, “She loves mixing and stirring. I also ask her to count the amount of measurements needed for a recipe. This helps her feel like she is helping.”

Angie looks forward to making many more sweet memories with Ms. Bitsy and treasures their special bond saying, “Bitsy is a sweet, wonderful lady that has a huge place in my heart.”

More stories like this:

No Place Like Home
Those are My Momma’s Words
Robert’s Drive Down Memory Lane
Wisconsin BrightStar Care CNA Brings the Beach to her Client

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Synergy Business Connections helps businesses grow through relationship marketing and we follow the exclusive category format with one member per Conejo Chamber of Commerce business sub-category. Your business sub-category appears on your Conejo Chamber profile page, right under your business name, to see if your category is eligible. We welcome you to join us at a meeting as our guest to experience the Synergy network for yourself.

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What makes the Conejo Valley special, unique or interesting?

I like to call Thousand Oaks "the biggest little town in the country." Even though its size is well over 100,000 residents, it still has a small town feel. You are liable to see someone you know every time you go out. I also like the fact that it has protected itself from the blight that has ruined so many other communities in Southern California by restricting things such as billboards, building structure and height, paid parking lots, and corner strip malls. 

— Cary Ginell - VC On Stage