(LONG BEACH, Calif. – April 24, 2013) – Legislative staff members in Orange County had an opportunity to "become senior citizens" recently thanks to Trading Ages, an aging-sensitivity program developed by SCAN Health Plan. Participants included field staff members from the offices of U.S. Rep. John Campbell and state Sens. Mimi Walters and Lou Correa as well as staff from the offices of California Assembly Members Donald Wagner, Travis Allen, Tom Daly, Allan Mansoor and Diane Harkey.
“For legislative staff that is participating, this program allows them to better understand the challenges faced by their older constituents,” said Sherry Stanislaw, SCAN’s general manager in Southern California. “With society aging and healthcare changes so directly impacting the lives of seniors, this type of training is more important than ever.”
Trading Ages is an interactive workshop that allows participants to experience firsthand a series of age‐related conditions such as hearing loss, vision changes and loss of dexterity. The training also utilizes tools to accelerate aging and help participants understand how seniors struggle with everyday activities as well as the challenges they face as they maneuver through the healthcare system.
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 can be.
To simulate experiencing the difficulties of living with arthritis, for example, program participants were asked to don heavy, clumsy gloves and then open medication bottles and handle small pills. Participants also put popcorn in their shoes and walked around to simulate the feeling of painful feet. 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 vision challenges and disorders that accompany aging.
The day after the training SCAN received feedback from several participants. “After this workshop, as soon as I saw my father, I gave him a huge hug. I felt compelled to show him more love and patience,” said Maggie Moreno, district representative for Sen. Correa.
SCAN has been offering aging-sensitivity training to its employees for many years as a way to better understand the needs and mindset of its health plan members. The program is also offered to SCAN board members, physician groups, legislators and businesses to enhance their sensitivity in dealing with older adults.
“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,” said Stanislaw.
For 35 years SCAN Health Plan has been focusing exclusively on the unique needs of seniors and others on Medicare. The company currently has nearly 145,000 members in California. Further information may be obtained at www.scanhealthplan.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scanhealthplan.
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