Mercy's Senior Life Solutions hires new director

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Program offers resources to community

Senior Life Solutions, a counseling program for seniors ages 65 and older at Mercy Cassville, recently hired new director, Susan Poehling, RN.


Poehling is originally from Tiskilwa, Ill., and along with her nursing background, brings a wealth of expertise to the program, including certifications as an instructor and examiner for certified medication technician and certified nursing assistant, and a teaching certificate in vocational education through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Part of her duties will include intake assessment, taking client's vital signs, discussing medications, providing education each week on a variety of topics that relate specifically to the challenges they are facing.

"I have worked extensively in geriatrics for years," said Poehling, who worked as a hospice nurse for seven years, and in a 120-bed skilled nursing facility outside St. Louis.

She also has experience in management, training and marketing in geriatric settings. Due to her extensive background, she feels she has much to offer as director, and her goals are to expand the program.

"[It's just about] being able to understand and relate to some of the concerns and difficulties that the aging population goes through," she said. "I think a lot of persons, as they age, think the stressors we go through and emotions we deal with are part of the normal aging process. For instance, people will say, 'I'm just getting old.' They are just accepting that, but that's not really true. Depression and deep feelings of isolation -- those kinds of states are not part of the normal aging process, and it's OK, to reach out and get help."

Therefore, Poehling wants area residents and the community to know about the resources the program offers.

"There are a number of people who have heard of it, but don't know the whole scope, so I want to educate our community about the program and what it has to offer," she said. "The more we bond together and find out what those resources are, the more we can make them available."

Services are designed to assist individuals suffering from things like loneliness, sadness, hopelessness, coping with loss and changes, decreased energy, difficulty sleeping and low self-confidence.

Along with Poehling, staff includes board-certified Psychiatrist and Medical Director Dr. Tamon Paige, Therapist Beverly Vanover, MS, LPC, who joined staff in April, and Katherine Setzer, RMA and patient care coordinator.

Referrals can be made by anyone, including a physician, family member or other health care professional, and Poehling encouraged family members to call for a loved one they may be concerned about.

"We all know someone who is a little older than us," Poehling said. "We all have moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, etc. who can benefit from the help."

Services include both individual and group therapy, where clients can connect with others who may be going through similar challenges. A patient care coordinator even patient care coordinator picks up patients who can't drive and brings them to the program if they qualify.

The program is a Medicare reimbursement-type program, and accepts traditional Medicare with or without a supplement, but does not accept Medicare Advantage.

"The services they offer people are amazing," she said. "While it is 65 and above, that's a great deal of the population, so we're not talking old. Someone can be 65, 66, or older and still have gone through recent losses, and thus can use the benefits of these services.

"About 50 or 60 years ago, the population was taught to just 'buck up' and deal with things, but the younger generation is released from that taboo. They were taught it's OK to get in touch with your feelings. So I think it's a challenge [for clients 65 and older] to be open enough to let down their guard and accept that help, and know that it's perfectly alright to do that. That can add to the quality of your life to allow that to happen."

One point Poehling wants to get across to seniors is that it's never too late.

"That's my passion -- it's never too late to have some happiness, joy and fun in your life, and not let problems keep you in a place where you not having that passion in life," she said. "Come visit us, you're going to have a great time, and start to feel better."

The program plans to host an open house event later this fall for the public. More details will follow as they become available. For more information about the program and specific questions about Medicare coverage, Poehling can be reached at 417-847-6042.

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