Author Archives: boparker

The Longevity Economy

Putting “longevity” and “economy” in the same sentence may sound like the start of a great joke. Our bouncing economy goes from great to grim with each change of the news channel. This significant “demographic sea change”, as AARP’s CEO calls it, is about to crash into and forever change our American generational normal.

When I read the research and try to synthesize the information, here’s what I’m taking away:

  • Over the next generation, the entire globe’s population of humans 60+ years of age? Is going to more than double;
  • This demographic today is currently the largest consumer market;
  • We – businesses, lawmakers, caregivers, and marketers alike – need to start paying closer attention to their needs.

With this seismic demographic shift, a new audience will be birthed, and the market will be forced to listen to the powerful den of voices and begin to make space for them. You can already see this swivel in how Apple is marketing their devices with heart activity tracking and the innovation showing up in glucose monitoring or major partnerships (think: Aetna and CVS, for example).

To take it one step further, what I’m seeing in the healthcare industry is an increase in responsibility for the generation behind this silver tsunami who will soon be the care coordinators for their parents and grandparents. The development of tech as well as interconnectivity for the purposes of remote monitoring or real time care updates is going to take on a heavier importance as this increase begins.

There’s never a better time than now to pay closer attention to these changes and get ahead of the swell. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the wave.

Feeling Squeezed? Explaining the Sandwich Generation

The “Sandwich Generation” is one of those terms that shows up and gains traction because it perfectly captures the squeeze that millions of Americans face every day.

First of all, what is the sandwich generation? When I first heard it, I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be a part of a group that sounded like something you grab on the “go”, something messy, like fast food in the car.

In fact, I often call it the “Panini Generation” because I feel squeezed AND pressed!

And now, well, I’ve accepted that life does get messy, you have to move fast, you get pressed, you’re under stress…and sometimes…we all feel squeezed by our commitments, even those that bring us joy.

Over HALF of middle-aged adults are taking care of children AND aging parents at the same time. We’re literally sandwiched in between the needs of multiple generations, providing emotional, physical and financial support for others. You may not identify as a “caregiver” but you ARE.

The height of the squeeze usually hits in the 40s- 60s. But don’t rule out millennials feeling the pressure—remember that millennials today are aged 23-38. 38! That’s solidly in the “approaching middle age” category. They’re busy “adulting,” perhaps with children of their own, busy careers and parents–even grandparents—for whom they are caregiving.

So where does this leave us sandwiches? Often exhausted from the pressure to succeed, and dealing with chronic stress. We know we have to plan for the future but how do you prioritize your health, your family, your job and also your finances?

The Sandwich Generation is growing as people live longer, and hopefully, healthier lives. Today, a person may have six or seven generations of family living at the same time. This puts even more of us in the category of balancing multiple priorities and trying to be all things to all people.

Remember that we’re also working longer as life spans extend—The Economist calls it the “graying workforce.” This is significant for employers attempting to stay on top of benefits offerings and sustaining a multigenerational workforce.

SO HOW DO WE COPE?

Articles and evidence-based research papers all say the same thing—reduce your stress, take time for yourself, breathe deeply, meditate, get good sleep, spend time with friends, take long walks, do yoga. All excellent suggestions—but how? I often get frustrated by this good advice when it’s not always practical.

I have three pieces of advice to offer, from personal experience:

  1. Do all of the above activities, if you can and when you can.
  2. Be acutely aware of your stress levels and what you can manage within a day. Watch it closely and determine for yourself a way to consistently evaluate your state of mind. Ask a friend to help you stay accountable to yourself.
  3. The best advice I have to offer, and also to take for myself—is that there is a limit to what you can be an expert at. I get as much help as I can. I have a financial advisor. I hire a math tutor for my kids. I’m pretty good at math, but my child actually responds better to a professional. I can accept that! Although I can do it myself, I have hired support to manage health needs within my own family. Why do I do this? Because I know the value of my time and I am also a full-time working mother. And I don’t want to let anything fall through the cracks just because I can’t do it myself.

Being a part of the “Sandwich Generation” doesn’t have to be a negative. I draw strength from my sense of humor and my faith Every. Single. Day. It’s a blessing to have a full life—and it keeps me filled with purpose. However, on my journey I’ve learned to ask for, and receive, support in so many ways…so I can focus on what matters.

From Tipping Point to Turning Point

Two of the most common words that we hear in client interviews and as we begin engagements with individuals and companies are: TIPPING POINT.

As in….

“We had passed a tipping point for my mother and we didn’t know it because we were so overwhelmed with our day to day.” “I knew we were approaching a tipping point, but I felt like we couldn’t avoid a crisis.” “Our company hit a tipping point where many of us were balancing caregiving duties with full time jobs and I could see the wear and tear on our team.”

You tend to HIT a tipping point. Usually “tipping points” like these force decision-making because action has to be taken. PyxisCare shines in this area—we take pride in intervening and mitigating crisis as it happens and making a difference immediately. Often clients come to us needed immediate help.

However, we DO have clients who are focused solely on wellness and prevention strategies to ensure they avoid costly mistakes down the road. Our vision is that one day, health and wellness transition into a proactive space where there is more planning and preparation for the challenges that people face…BEFORE you hit a dangerous tipping point.

Until then, we at PyxisCare are focused on turning tipping points into TURNING POINTS. And we have a proprietary process that creates that turning point for our clients. It’s our thorough custom assessment that kicks off most engagements.

I’ve been passionate about ensuring the “whole person view” is used when we are working with individuals; our assessment uses a multi-factor approach. Your health and sustainable wellness is a combination of many factors, chiefly: medical, psychosocial, environmental, legal and financial. These key drivers define your capacity to progress in the right direction and stay the course with treatment, prevention and intervention.

A client recently said:

“When I look back on that time in my mother’s life, I see the IA (initial assessment) and care plan as the turning point to get her back on the road to self-sufficiency.”

“When I look back on that time in my mother’s life, I see the IA (initial assessment) and care plan as the turning point to get her back on the road to self-sufficiency.”

I think often about this statement, and dozens of others like it, when I think about what we do and what makes PyxisCare special. That particular person used the resulting care plan as a road map back to health for her loved one.

Some clients even go back and do an assessment if we began with a “quick start” program. They want that full spectrum view of their needs without the pressure of an urgent issue needing resolution. One client said the assessment put him “out of his comfort zone” but also mentioned it was the most valuable part of the service because it allowed him to prioritize some unresolved safety issues in his environment.

This feedback and other customer-centric data helps us to be better partners. To provide a consistently improved experience for clients. To proactively identify pain points and step in to help.

I’m heartened to know that we are offering something unique and valuable that truly allows people to reach their TURNING POINT.

Meet the team: This Business is Personal

These days, every CEO and management expert says that “people” or “employees” are the key to success. It’s practically irresponsible to NOT say it in every leadership article or business speech that you find.

This is a business…but let’s be clear…care coordination and navigation is THE MOST PERSONAL of businesses. We work with people going through some of the lowest, most frightening and challenging points in their lives.

When I established PyxisCare, I didn’t want to just start “a business”, I wanted to help people.

So, we hire people who want to serve others. Our planning conversations at work are about how we can improve lives — how we can alleviate stress and confusion for families —how we can enable companies to support their teams—how we can save time and provide peace of mind—–and about how we can bring clients back to health or stability.

This is the first in a series that celebrates the team that works together at PyxisCare. The caring individuals who do everything from create strategic care plans and advocate at doctor appointments, to ensuring that your loved ones are in safe environments.

I’m proud of the PyxisCare Management team. At the beginning, it was just one registered nurse and myself, building trust with a handful of clients. Today, we have worked closely with hundreds of clients to bring peace of mind to families and improve outcomes for wonderful people.

Over the years, each nurse, each care coordinator, each team member is carefully recruited and trained to ensure that we are providing the most consistent and most experienced care coordination in the market.

So, look for my upcoming posts featuring our team. An experienced team that holds over 25 specialty certifications and accreditations. A kind team that supports clients as well as each other. A team that I treasure.

Mindy

Am I a patient or consumer?

The media and the services industry are flooded with articles and discussion forums with titles like “The Dawn of Healthcare Consumerism” and “The New Consumerism of the Patient.”  Not exactly compelling reading for the average person.

As a leader in this industry, I stay on top of where related laws and policy are leading us. I know what value-based payment structures mean to revenues; I see the implications of moving from hospital to home-based care; and I have a staff that understands insurance plans and reimbursements because they manage those issues for PyxisCare clients.

However, as a mother and a wife who manages a budget and healthy household of my own, I think about how confusing these changes would be to manage if I didn’t have a decades-long career in care management.  It’s difficult to be a “smart shopper” when you don’t know your options.

For most, the biggest impact is that YOU as a patient/consumer/smart shopper are more responsible THAN EVER for your healthcare and wellness decisions.  This is not meant to be scary—but it does mean that you have to be vigilant about coordinating and managing the full spectrum of services that you may need: physicians, specialists, therapists, mental health professionals, and more.  All the while managing financial and legal implications of decisions you make for the future.

By the way, the answer is… you are both a patient AND a consumer.  Today, you have both more control AND more responsibility for your health and wellness decisions. So treat care and care process like any other large investment: do your research, stay informed, get qualified advice, and most importantly, put yourself and your loved ones or clients in the center of decision making.

Meet the team: Nurse Client Advocate Jessica R.

“This is a dream job for a nurse who wants to provide a high level of attention to clients and work as part of a team to make their lives better. The accountability I have for my clients and their families is what keeps me motivated.”

I’ve always wanted to be a nurse.

I love helping people be their best. My early goal was to be a nurse administrator, so I continued my education and spent years in administration overseeing other nurses in their clinical and professional practice.

After a few years though, my personal interactions with patients were fewer and fewer. I found myself missing the relationships that were built, but didn’t want to go back into a hospital environment.

At PyxisCare, I am able to address a client’s full scope of care. I’m not just seeing them in a clinical environment. As part of the relationship, we take every client through a risk assessment so I have a 360 view of what they need clinically, emotionally and with day-to-day support.

It’s important for me to know that I’m helping clients think about their health on a global level, but also ensuring they get the personal attention they deserve as they maneuver next steps.

This is a dream job for a nurse who wants to provide a high level of attention to clients and work as part of a team to make their lives better. The accountability I have for my clients and their families is what keeps me motivated.

This is a career that requires imagination and creativity to solve problems and work through complex issues. I love working with people who value the expertise that PyxisCare brings to the table—because of our training and because of our passion for what we do for people.

Jessica R., PyxisCare Nurse Client Advocate
Master’s of Science in Nursing, Registered Nurse
Nurse Executive Advanced-Board Certification (NEA-BC)