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Special Populations Paper

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Special Populations

Virginia Skov

BSHS/402

March 25, 2011

A. Marie Davis

Special Populations

Special populations include individuals requiring help with finding resources, programs, and services to live a normal life. I researched special populations including people with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS, addicts, senior citizens, and many more. After reviewing the different vulnerable populations and seeing the challenges each has I have decided to focus on the senior population. This is an area I am passionate about and hope to work as an advocate for in the future. The following information will address the special needs of senior citizens, programs and services for the aging, and the multicultural issues faced by this vulnerable population.

The Senior Population

The senior population usually refers to people who have reached the age of 65. This population is vulnerable because seniors typically are on predetermined incomes, live alone or with an aging spouse, have some form of debilitating disease, and lack the ability to perform daily activities. This vulnerable population is continuing to grow as the Baby Boomers have reached senior citizen status. According to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General (2009), The United States is in the midst of huge demographic shifts, with a third of [the] population reaching retirement age in the next few years. On January 1, 2006, [B]aby [B]oomers began turning 60 at the rate of one every 7.5 seconds. The criminally minded stalk this growing population of seniors, waiting to pounce on those who, by virtue of their age, are more likely to be isolated and struggle with poor health (p. 1).
Senior citizens may rely on other people to help with daily tasks and at times these other people may be strangers. This makes the seniors vulnerable to people taking advantage of them. Unfortunately, diseases like dementia make it even easier for a caregiver to manipulate or harm a senior citizen. This is why I have selected this vulnerable population.
My interest in Senior Citizens

I believe my interest in caring for senior citizens started when I was very young. I spent many summers with my grandmother in other people’s homes as she cared for their every need. When I reached the age of 13 I embarked on a fruitful career of babysitting but never felt the satisfaction I had felt when helping my grandmother care for seniors. Later in my life I had an opportunity to work for an assisted living community and jumped at the chance. Since my career at Sunrise began eight years ago I have thrived in helping seniors and decided to finish college with a degree in Human Services. This way I can help the senior population by advocating for resident rights and protect seniors from predators. Sunrise has taught me the fundamentals of caring for seniors. Sunrise believes that every senior should receive dignified care, nurtured spirits, individualized service, and caregivers need to champion quality of life for all seniors (Sunrise Senior Living, 2011). I understand the challenges seniors face and effectively advocated for improvements. With eight years of experience with these core values and my schooling almost over, I will bring experience and education to my career field.
Case Management for Senior Citizens With my graduation a year away I plan on venturing into the world as a case manager or ombudsman for the senior population. This means that I need to know about services and programs the community offers for the aging population. My education will not cease upon my graduation but rather develop into a more specialized arena. My focus will switch to researching services and programs aimed at helping the diverse senior population. I will grow into a senior citizen advocate through pursuing rights and helping create a safer environment for the aging population. New programs will need to be created and old ones updated to meet the growing needs of all senior citizens. With this new venture I will come upon difficult challenges and be thrown into an arena filled with unfamiliar tasks. I will depend on my strengths and develop my limitations to overcome the challenges ahead.
My Strengths and Limitations The strengths I will rely on are eight years of experiences I have had at Sunrise and the phenomenal educational experience through University of Phoenix. Working at Sunrise I have witnessed family members neglecting, financially abusing, and physically abusing his or her loved one. I have experienced working with the state, county, and local agencies in fixing the issues seniors face. My education has taught me how to be an effective manager and leader through using critical thinking. These experiences have strengthened my confidence and have prepared me for a future helping the senior population. My experiences are limited to working with one company run by a corporation. \ The experiences I have had at Sunrise have taught me many things. One item I have learned is how a corporation can tie the hands of an employee. I am restricted on the help I can offer our residents and the fear of legal action sometimes blocks progress. This limits my experiences with thinking outside the box. I am required to follow certain policies and have learned how to handle issues the Sunrise way. America is a melting pot of cultures and our aging population is becoming more diverse. Working with seniors means dealing with racial and cultural issues based on a different belief system. To address these issues I will need to understand the culture and race of the seniors I am helping. Researching cultures and talking with friends or family members will help me overcome these issues. Sunrise does not currently teach employees about multicultural issues seniors may experience and I believe this will be one of my biggest limitations when I venture out into the real world. Using local resources will be important in offering seniors the best help.
Local Resources Local resources like Colorado Seniors Resource Connection, The Colorado Alzheimer’s Association, and Seniors in Transition help link seniors in Colorado to services. The Colorado Seniors Resource Connection helps seniors find housing, help with power of attorney issues, and help with management of medical benefits (Colorado Seniors Resource Connection, 2010). The Colorado Alzheimer’s Association helps families and caregivers with any services needed when providing care for a person with dementia (Alzheimer’s Association, 2011). Seniors in Transition offers assistance to all seniors by providing links to senior centers, libraries, and other programs created to help seniors live a more independent life (Seniors in Transition, 2011). Programs like these will help me when I need to find services and programs for the seniors I will be serving. Case management will be a difficult job but worth every hour of my time. Helping seniors is a passion I have had for many years and fulfilling my dream through obtaining my degree will lead me to a blissful career. Seniors need someone to listen and care. Fighting for senior rights and advocating for better services will not be easy but very rewarding.
References

Alzheimer's Association. (2011). Alzheimer's Association Colorado Chapter. Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/co/
Colorado Seniors Resource Connection. (2010). Case Management. Retrieved from http://www.navigation4seniors.com/
Seniors in Transition. (2011). Links and Resources. Retrieved from http://seniorsintrans.com/links_resources.htm
Sunrise Senior Living. (2011). Mission, Principles of Service and Core Values. Retrieved from http://www.sunriseseniorliving.com/the-sunrise-difference/principles-and-values.aspx
Washington State Office of the Attorney General. (2009). The vulnerability of seniors. Retrieved from http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?id=23042…...

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