In an effort to better serve Riverside-area seniors, the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Task Force recently hosted an interactive senior sensitivity training workshop for various local community organizations. Among those taking part in the day’s workshop at the Hemet Workforce Development Center were staff members from the Riverside County Office on Aging, Department of Public Social Services and Moreno Valley Police Department.
The award-winning Trading Ages™ workshop, sponsored by SCAN Health Plan, provides participants the opportunity to literally “walk in the shoes of a senior” through a series of hands-on exercises and sensory perception education. “Through this program SCAN provides an invaluable opportunity to feel, see and hear the common physical and emotional challenges that are a part of the aging process,” said Valerie Wheat, program manager, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. “As society ages it is incumbent upon all of us to better understand what it’s like to grow older and raise our level of appreciation for seniors and what they confront.” “With our society rapidly aging, this type of education across all ages and industries is more important than ever,” said Sherry Stanislaw, senior vice president of the nonprofit SCAN Health Plan who created the Trading Ages™ program. “As a health plan focused exclusively on the needs of seniors, SCAN is in a unique position to help people understand more about the aging process. We are especially pleased to be providing this training to people who interact with and serve seniors on a daily basis.”
To mimic the difficulties experienced with arthritis, for example, program participants were asked to don heavy, clumsy gloves and then button their shirts or open medication bottles and handle small pills. Participants also put popcorn in their shoes and walked around to simulate the feeling of painful joints. Others strapped their arm to their side to see how limiting it can be to deal with the effects of a stroke. Depriving participants of the level of hearing and sight that most people enjoy their entire lives was also a critical part of the program. Ear plugs were used followed by a hearing test to demonstrate how isolating hearing loss can be. Perhaps most difficult for many participants was when they were asked to wear special glasses that severely limited their vision and approximated many of the seeing challenges and disorders that accompany aging.
SCAN has been offering aging sensitivity training to its employees for many years as a way to ensure that they better understand the needs and mindset of its approximately 110,000 health plan members. The program also continues to be offered to SCAN board members, physician groups and to elementary school children to enhance their sensitivity in dealing with older adults.
According to Stanislaw, “Participants are often surprised by how they react to certain physical limitations that are mimicked during the program, and many have commented on what an eye-opening experience it is.”
For more than 30 years, SCAN Health Plan has been focusing on the unique needs of people with Medicare and today is the fourth largest nonprofit Medicare Advantage Plan in the United States. The company currently serves approximately 110,000 members in seven Southern California counties as well as Maricopa County in Arizona.
Further information may be obtained at scanhealthplan.com.