In a new feature we are offering called Expert Interviews, we are reaching out to local individuals that we consider experts in the field of senior care and interviewing them. Each month we will offer a new interview with a new expert. We will provide their background and talk about issues that are important to them, so that we can learn more about how to best provide and increase awareness of care for our seniors.
This month we are interviewing Art Budnik who is associated with the Friends of the Arlington Council on Aging, a non-profit that works year round to support the COA, but a lot of time is spent organizing and executing the Running with Friends 5k Race, which Minute Women is proud to sponsor.
Let’s get into it!
Expert Interviews Presents: Art Budnik
Art, tell us about your background and how you became part of the senior care industry?
My first career for about 20 years was in software development. Like many in the human services venue, there was a catalyst for me to change my career. In my case an aging parent. As I became more aware of difficulties of being an older citizen, I began to first volunteer and learn more. It led me to become a counselor specializing in Medicare-related issues which is supported by a non-profit organization. I am annually tested and certified.
It has been a rewarding career change for me. However, our senior citizens face complicated lives as they age and have clinical and a variety of issues that arise.
How does the Friends of the Arlington Council on Aging help the community and how does this connect with your passions about senior care?
We are primarily a fundraising organization. The Friends helps to fund programs which are requested and designed by the Executive Director of the Arlington Council on Aging. These are programs to help senior citizens to remain living at home in a healthy, safe and robust way. Some are more clinical; some are more social in design. The Council On Aging director refers to this as “Aging in Place”.
Two examples of things the Friends group directly gets involved in are our Holiday Gift Program which helps elders in need, who would be alone for the holiday season, to get a holiday style stocking filled with presents and a supermarket gift card to help them have a better holiday. Another example is our Running with Friends 5K race coming up on 9/27/15. This is our biggest event and is a community outreach effort and fundraiser to make our town aware of elder issues and to have a fun time too. The funds go toward programs for our senior citizens as we are a 501 (c) (3) all volunteer group with public charity status. Since our founding and first fundraiser in 2009, we have donated more than $44,000 for our senior citizens.
What do you think needs to be done about the growing population of seniors with dementia that live alone?
Elders should be made safe! Many adult children live geographically far from their parents. To the extent it can be safe and feasible it is a wonderful thing to keep a senior in familiar surroundings with friends and family interacting with them. The senior citizen does not want to lose independence nor would anyone.
From the perspective of our society, it is generally more economical to have attendants and supports brought into the home when and while possible and safe. This time at home can be a few cherished points in time of some stability that friends and family can look back on.
Elders who live alone should have professionals, friendly visitors, and helpers to look in and help out [as long as they can safely be at home] especially when the adult children live far away. This can take many forms one being home care companies and agencies. At some point, the loved one may not be able to reside at home. When that time comes, it is another area to explore and learn about.
What do you feel the most important steps are when families are looking for any care for their aging loved ones?
1. They need to become educated about the issues facing their frail loved one. This includes clinical, emotional and economic issues. This way they can understand what type of support is needed. More exactly, if it is in home supports or something more. This is a difficult issue for all involved and is easy to say and harder to do.
2. Research about available help and support that is needed for the loved one. There are a variety of organizations and companies that can provide help in the home and else ware if needed. This takes time to research, find and select.
3. Councils on Aging and Aging Services Access Points and other organizations can be good resource sources for individuals and families for loved ones at all levels of income and clinical [frailty] needs. There are home care companies and agencies available to help at home. The family members involved need to find those that meet their need.
Tells us about the event you have coming up in the next few days regarding your race?
As mentioned above this is our Running with Friends 5K race coming up on Sunday 9/27. This is our biggest event and is a community outreach effort, and it starts at 10 am in front of Arlington Town Hall.
There will be hundreds of people participating in this fun filled family event. My favorite is when we get three generations running, from grandparent to grandchild. There are race celebration awards and prizes for runners. Door Prizes, kids table, Pizza, ice cream, live music, Patriots tickets auctioned and More!
If people are interested? How can they get involved?
The best way to learn about the Friends and our event is to see photos, maps and details on our website at: http://www.
Wrapping it Up
As road races get more and more popular by the great Boston communities each year, we suggest you join and support the Friends of the Arlington Council on Aging, which provide great support to seniors.
We appreciate Art Budnik’s time and wish him great success with all future races, which Minute Women hopes to be a part of each year.