Los Angeles Legislative Staffers “Walk in the Shoes of Elders” With SCAN’s Trading Ages™ Program

Date Posted: 01/12/2014

(LOS ANGELES) – Legislative staff members in Los Angeles recently had the opportunity to experience some of the physical and emotional challenges that come with aging. The activity was part of “Trading Ages,” a senior-sensitivity training program that was developed and conducted by SCAN Health Plan. The event was co-sponsored by St. Barnabas Senior Services, a 105-year-old nonprofit organization in the heart of Los Angeles. Participants included staff from the district offices of state and federal elected officials representing Los Angeles County.

“SCAN’s program provided an opportunity for the legislative staff to better understand the challenges faced by their older constituents,” said Rigo Saborio, president and chief executive officer of St. Barnabas Senior Services. “With society aging and healthcare changes so directly impacting the lives of seniors, this type of training is more important than ever. Having participated in the training myself, I know what an eye-opening experience the program is.”

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. 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 thick, heavy gloves and then try to 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.

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 Sherry Stanislaw, SCAN’s general manager in Southern California.

About SCAN

SCAN Health Plan is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit MAPD plans currently serving 150,000 members in California. Further information may be obtained at www.scanhealthplan.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scanhealthplan.

About St. Barnabas Senior Services

St. Barnabas Senior Services provides and promotes a continuum of innovative services that empower a diverse community of elders to live well, feel well and age well. Founded in 1908 St. Barnabas is a nonprofit organization that is widely recognized for its innovative programs in the field of aging. More information is available at sbssla.org.

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