Chances are, you know at least one “senior orphan” — an elderly person who is aging alone and on a limited budget. Maybe it’s your neighbor, who has no family and can no longer get around. Maybe it’s the frail old man at church who probably shouldn’t be driving. You worry about them occasionally, but it’s really not your problem.
Except that it is. It’s everyone’s problem. And thankfully, a new not-for-profit, Seniors Alone Guardianship & Advocacy Services, is doing something about it.
“One out of every four senior citizens in Illinois is facing their healthcare challenges alone,” says founder Teri Dreher, RN. “While trying to get by on less than $20,000 per year.”
It’s a recipe for disaster. Tragedies do happen. Seniors Alone was founded to prevent them, advocating for seniors and adults with disabilities who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
A 39-year critical care nurse, Dreher was inspired to form NShore Patient Advocates, www.NShoreRN.com — Chicagoland’s largest private patient advocacy company — after her advocacy saved her father-in-law’s life during an overseas health emergency. She was inspired to form Seniors Alone as a result of the struggling senior orphans she has met through her business.
“It’s not unusual for a church to hire us to arrange healthcare services for a member, or for an attorney to commission us to advocate for an elderly or disabled client,” says Dreher. “But what about those people who don’t have someone to make the call or can’t afford to ask for help?”
The Seniors Alone team consists of experiences nurses, social workers, care managers, attorneys, and guardians, who work together to ensure clients receive much needed, high-quality care. They work collaboratively with healthcare providers, courts and long-term care resources, providing services that include:
Coordinating care for medically-complex clients
Advocating for hospitalized clients 24/7
Creating a Medical Profile and Care Plan for stable seniors, monitoring them to ensure they remain healthy and independent
Serving as Healthcare Power of Attorney
Providing guardianship services when awarded by the courts.
For example, a hospital might turn to Seniors Alone to administer its discharge plan for a solo senior with a broken hip. The team would choose the rehab facility, then make post-rehab living arrangements — i.e., lining up a skilled care facility or home healthcare agency — and coordinating with Medicare and Medicaid. All while monitoring the client’s ongoing health.
“Partnering with us saves hospitals — and Medicare and Medicaid — money,” notes Dreher. “Hospitals are financially penalized by Medicare for patient readmissions. At NShore, our client readmission rate has stayed under 1% for the last eight years — a standard we’re replicating at Seniors Alone.”
And for churches, Seniors Alone offers peace of mind. Many churches maintain a benevolence fund to help parishioners in a medical crisis. But while they offer financial support, most don’t make medical decisions — a task that can be offloaded to nurse advocates at Seniors Alone.
Currently, Senior Alone’s fees are assessed on a sliding scale, based on the client’s ability to pay. Once the not-for-profit has garnered adequate support from sponsors and donors, services will be provided at no cost to the neediest clientele. Because Seniors Alone holds 501c3 status, donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Dreher is no stranger to the world of not-for-profit healthcare. For over a decade, she led medical missions to Africa, cofounding two grassroots organizations, Aid Africa’s Children and Hands and Hearts International. She also earned her industry’s highest honor, the H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award. She is author of a book, Patient Advocacy Matters.
“Look around,” she says. “There are seniors in need all around is. The question is, what are you going to do about it?”
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.SeniorsAlone.org or www.NShoreRN.com
Company Name: Seniors Alone
Contact Person: Teri Dreher, RN, CMM
Email: Send Email
Address:150 S. Wacker
State: IL 60606
Country: United States