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updated: 4/1/2016 11:28 AM

A Year Later, "Senior Directions" Panel Really Going Places

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  • Damaris Boutros, professional patient advocate, is a member of the Senior Directions traveling panel.

    Damaris Boutros, professional patient advocate, is a member of the Senior Directions traveling panel.

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One year after Radford Green at Sedgebrook, a senior living community in Lincolnshire, initiated an innovative traveling panel of experts in senior care, the program has gained new direction, a new name, and a whole lot of steam. Now called "Senior Directions," the panel originally hoped to reach out to members of the greater North Shore area once per quarter. Currently, the group of 14 professionals in skilled nursing, assisted living, rehabilitation, home health care, hospice and palliative care, geriatric independent case management, patient advocacy, elder care law, and (newly added) audiology, go out to educate audiences in various locations at least six to eight times per year, drawing as many as 60 people per event.

"We're getting 'yes, yes, yes' from so many who want to hear from our panel, and momentum from each event fuels the next," said Cissie Gerber, Radford Green's community outreach coordinator. Along with another area senior service expert, Gerber tapped her connections across several areas of senior care and developed the traveling panel in March 2015 after an event intended only for Sedgebrook residents proved greatly successful. With a broad view to the outside community, Gerber and her associates now approach senior centers, churches, synagogues, independent living centers, libraries, etc. to host panel events focusing on elder care options and scenarios before they become a reality for seniors and their families.

"Our goal is to educate people before a crisis situation occurs," said Gerber. Targeting seniors, their adult children, and the general public, the free panel events feature "20 Questions On Senior Health Care" as well as a fictitious case study of a situation seniors might typically face. According to Gerber, the questions and case studies are there primarily to inspire comfort and candor among attendants. "Once we open up to Q&A, people can ask anything. After they've heard our discussion and what each of us has to say, they feel more open to talk and inquire," said Gerber. "There's huge value in learning what may happen and what can be expected from advocates in several different areas, especially for the many people who don't know the ever changing senior health care system."

Each two-hour Senior Directions event is customized to the community at which it's presented, and each features lunch, dinner, wine and cheese, or coffee and dessert, depending on the time of day. After the Q&A portion of the events, attendants are free to speak individually with panelists, and everyone is given a bag of materials to take home. "We load them up with information that is so important to have--now," said Gerber.

Next up on the Senior Directions agenda is an afternoon coffee and pie event on May 6, 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the Buffalo Grove Senior Center. On June 17, the panel will be at Grand Dominion in Mundelein, 4:00-6:00 p.m. Later in the summer, on August 10, they will visit The Abington of Glenview. To register and find out more about Senior Directions, contact Cissie Gerber at 847-876-2411 or

Sedgebrook is a Life Plan Community offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Five-star rated Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is located on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Sedgebrook is owned by Senior Care Development LLC and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For additional information visit or call 847-901-3319.