Jody Robinson

Jody Robinson

Each year in Hawaii as the winter temperatures drop to a lovely 81 degrees, the groundswell charges the shores of Oahu with monstrous waves, sometimes reaching 60 feet tall. For many, the spectacle is overwhelming - the only chance most of us have to see the terrifying immensity of nature up close. For others, it brings the chance to enter into the annals of history by riding down the face of one of those monsters on a three inch thick piece of fiberglassed extruded polystyrene (for those of you who don’t surf, glassed EPS equals one intense wave-riding surfboard).

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Some picture Oahu, and think only of Waikiki Beach and Waimea Bay. Some imagine the bustling metropolis of the Honolulu - all traffic and big business; island style, of course. A quick TripAdvisor search produces pages of information on museums, snorkeling excursions, beaches to stroll: helicopter and hot air balloon tours, aquariums, nightclubs and for the courageous, even a submarine adventure. Undeniably, any way you look at it, the waves and sunshine combine into one big beautiful postcard, airmailed straight from the tropics.

Diamond Head Luau - Hawaii’s only Farm to Table Luau

Why come all the way to Polynesia and then never truly experience it? Explore the rich heritage of the Pacific Islands and cultures (Samoa, Tonga, Aotearoa, Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii) as natives demonstrate their arts, music, history and games at Waikiki’s only oceanfront farm-to-table luau.

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Crafting an authentic Hawaiian and Polynesian experience on the islands can be a tough mark to hit. At Diamond Head Luau however, the craft is interactive and engrained. Basing their teachings on the shared experiences of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, activities like hula, lei making, weaving and more combine into the ultimate evening. Top it all off with the only farm-to-table buffet dining experience in Hawaii, and the excitement leans over the tipping point. Diamond Head Luau believes in Malama ‘ka ‘Aina (caring for the land), and as such, only serves local ingredients: from the root to your plate. The appetizer station showcases lychee wood-smoked local marlin dip and kalo (taro) hummus served with freshly made uala chips (local sweet potato). There is literally something for every palette - from a variety of salads to poi shooter with Lomi Lomi salmon, fresh poke (my fave), kalbi short ribs, Huli Huli rotisserie chicken, vegetarian dishes, kalua pork and Hawaiian-inspired desserts. An exciting show with fire performances and traditional hula cap off the night, and round out even the finest Hawaiian vacation.

Atlantis Adventures Premium Submarine Tour

There is really little in the world more magical than the pristine, clear waters off the Hawaiian island chain. Full of attractions for the whole family, days spent swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sun await on every stretch of sand. But if you’re looking for something to up the ante, Atlantis Adventures has just the thing: a premium submarine tour. Dive below the surface for an hour and forty-five minutes of fascinating views, fantastic fish, and even a sunken ship or two. The 64-seat sub hosts its guests in an incredibly comfortable environment, with more viewing space per seat than any other tour through its large ports, and individual seats complete with seat backs to take the burden from your body and set you at ease in the sea. Now, when you book online, get a child’s ticket free with every adult purchase, and $10 off to boot. Not too shabby for an adventure 100 feet below the salty surface.

Atlantis submarine

Atlantis Adventures Island Style Sunset Buffet Cruise

Food, fun, and the open water ahead of you. What more could you ask for on Atlantis Adventures’ newest cruise? With the addition of SEAKEEPER technology, the Majestic offers the latest in boat stability, making each sunset buffet cruise as sleek and seamless as it sounds. Round trip transportation from select Waikiki hotels will deposit you at the doorstep of luxury, and upon boarding you’ll be met with a complimentary welcome drink. As you set sail, large panoramic windows enable Oahu’s breathtaking coastal scenery to take center stage. Entree options include garlic shiitake teriyaki chicken, Pacific catch of the day and Hawaiian rock salt-crusted pork with gravy accompanied by garden vegetable medley, fresh fruit, white rice and Hawaiian sweet rolls.

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Return under the cover of Hawaii’s gentle dusk after Atlantis’ Friday Night Fireworks Cruise, the lights still bright in your mind’s eye. Any way you look at it, the sunset cruise might just be the best two hours you’ve ever spent on the water.

Stairway to Heaven

If you’re looking for a memorable way to work in a bit of exercise on your trip, try hiking the Diamond Head Crater. I have to say, there’s something rather empowering about walking up the inside slop of an extinct volcano. More than 3,500 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit, Diamond Head is a lasting remnant of a volcanic explosion that occurred about a half a million years ago. Ancient Hawaiians called it Laeahi, which translates to “brow of the tuna.” The name “Diamond Head” has more recent roots in the 1800s, when British sailors mistakenly believed that the glistening calcite crystals embedded in the lava rock were diamonds lodged in the lodged in the crater’s soil.

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It takes 45 minutes to an hour to reach the summit, and half that time for the trip back down. The trail is a switchback with the mountain on one side and a railing on the other. After a lookout point that doubles as a rest stop, the trail takes a steep upward ascent through a series of stairs and tunnels carved into the mountain. The last set of stairs is a 99-step climb that my husband and kids clamored up with little effort while I took the slow and steady - and decidedly less “in shape” approach - that eventually ends at a World War II bunker. From there, you step out to one of the best panoramic views of the island. We lucked out with the weather during our four-day trip to the islands which meant that once we summited the crater, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Oahu’s entire leeward side (the side to which the wind is blowing). Entry into the state park is $5 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian.

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My entire experience with North Carolina up until a few months ago consisted of a vague knowledge of the sports teams the state boasts: Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Checkers, the Hounds, the NASCAR Cup races, and its Hall of Fame. That all changed when our family fell head over heels for Charlotte on a recent trip to cross the North Carolina off our “50 States List.” Headquarters to Wells Fargo, the city is the third-largest financial center in the United States. And to be sure, the city is chock full of bankable moments.

Charlotte Sign at The Green

Nicknamed the Queen City, the city of Charlotte was honored with the moniker of the German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was head consort of Great Britain (and therefore Ireland); those among the first to establish a township in the region after the Catawba Native Americans population diminished. Nationally recognized for their interactive youth-centric activities, the Children’s Theatre and the Great Wolf Lodge are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the long list of “to-do’s” for long family-friendly weekend vacay. The Concord Aquarium, Sky Zone, ImaginOn, and Discovery Place (Science and Nature!) follow with a set of their own kid-friendly adventures.

Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel

The field guide to fast casual started in Charlotte, with a long and delicious list of southern barbeque options for everyone. From pimento cheese to biscuits and backyard smoked soul food, to staples like jalapeno-cheddar cornbread and fried chicken just like Mama used to make it. Kids down for the night? Hit up any number of eateries serving up craft beers and southern starters. Within a day’s drive are gorgeous wineries serving up the region’s most delectable vintages, but if you’re not keen on leaving the Queen City’s limits, the oldest rum distillery in the state lies within the city boundaries, serving up history along the banks of the Catawba River.

Merchant & Trade bar

Relaxing with a craft cocktail 19 floors above greater Charlotte might sound too good to be true, but the buzz of the city melds with the sleek elegance of its history within the four walls of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel (tryonparkhotel.com). An uptown Charlotte institution brimming with hospitality, and featuring a soothing blue and gray palette, the hotel takes seriously its place in a city fit for a queen. Each of its 217 guest rooms and suites are elegantly furnished, appointed with Italian marble, mahogany, crystal, and feature views of Romare Bearden Park and BB+T Ballpark or the sprawl of Uptown Charlotte.

Merchant & Trade bar

Craft extends beyond cocktails at its rooftop Merchant & Trade bar - from music, punch, and tableside bar snacks to mixology and bottle service. Rent the space for your own event or just enjoy the indoor-outdoor flow, complete with lawn, terrace, fire pits, modern furniture, and lush foliage. Head downstairs to Angeline’s for straightforward Italian-American cuisine that greets each ready tastebud.

Seasonal southern ingredients are prepared with traditional Italian techniques, and every meal is the chance to reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues. Our family broke bread over a multi-course feast, full of antipasti, wood-fired pizza, and a post-dinner limoncello digestiva (for the grownups). The kids and I rose early for flaky European style pastries, and I brought an espresso to my deliriously comfortable husband in bed, before we ventured out for another day in the city.

Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel

Situated in the heart of what was once the mill town of North Charlotte (known today as NoDa), Haberdish (haberdish.com) is a pre-Prohibition era-focused eatery with a distinctive apothecary feel. This restaurant - popular with tourists and locals alike - elegantly melds history with nostalgia in everything from its ambiance to its menu of chef-driven family-style Southern comfort food (meats, vegetables and sides here are served on a jumble of plates). Think of it as a family potluck, but one where the spread is comprised of only your favorite foods. Inspired by the dishes served in the region during the late 1800s and early 1900s, the eats here revolve around what might very likely be “the best fried chicken in town” (brined, battered and fried), sides and snacks (think house pickles, pimento cheese ball rolled in spiced pecans, mac & cheese and my personal fave - kale grits) and seriously impressive, innovative craft cocktail creations (like a smoked mint julep that I can’t say I’ve ever seen on a menu anywhere else).

The hometown spirit is alive and well in North Carolina, beginning with the renegade nature of NASCAR, brought to life at the Hall of Fame (nascarhall.com). Celebrating the spirit of America’s favorite race, the Hall features exhibits ranging from the suits our favorite drivers have worn to the exact tilt and sprawl of each fabled track: from 0 to nearly 33 degrees banked. Realistic racing simulators and Race Week simulators help recreate the sport from all angles: pit to to driver’s seat. Watch a movie that traces NASCAR’s historic roots from the sandy beaches of Daytona to present day on a 64-foot wide projection screen in the 278-seat High Octane Theater.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Feeling the need for speed after exploring the Hall of Fame? Explore the 1,300 acres of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river at the U.S. National Whitewater Center (usnwc.org). Our littlest adventurer’s eyes lit up when she saw the zip lines, ropes courses, and of course, outdoor climbing walls. Home of Olympic hopefuls and whitewater enthusiasts alike, the 30 miles of walking trails, stand-up paddleboarding, single or tandem kayaking, and guided rafting ensures a day full of outdoor excitement.

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Opting for a more active weekend away over a more sedate experience, the all-access Activity passes at the Whitewater Center gave our family plenty of opportunity to play and experience the great outdoors. You can choose from 30+ activities to try something new, perfect a hobby or hop between activities to try your hand at several adventures for all ages and skill levels. Play on land with ropes courses, mountain biking and rock climbing, in the water rafting down rapids, flatwater kayaking or standup paddle boarding or in the air with ziplines.

National White Water

For those looking to kick back, live music and outdoor festivals create a unique atmosphere of relaxation and community. The River Jam concert series takes place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening throughout the summer months, in addition to nine distinct festivals throughout the year. The River’s Edge, Pump House Biergarten, Adventure Dining opportunities ensures no shortage of food and fuel throughout the day. Based on our kids’ excitement in regaling the tale of our day of adventure at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, we wouldn’t be surprised if this world-class outdoor recreation destination rises to the top of all of our friends and family’s “must experience” list when in Queen City.

But unfortunately phrases like “bottom-line oriented,” “unscrupulous,” even “cutthroat” have cropped up in the vernacular when hearing home improvement gone wrong stories from fellow homeowners. That’s why it was so refreshing to come across Jeff McCabe and his Orange County-based One Way Painting.

In business since 1976, Jeff and his team serve all of the OC and specialize in interior and exterior residential and commercial painting. They swear by the rules of professionalism: “no cutting corners. No cheap materials. We pay attention to every detail, and never call a job complete until the customer is completely satisfied.”

Some might call it good Christian values. Others might say it’s simply good business. But for the last 42 years, working from the heart has earned One Way Painting such a respected reputation in the industry that the vast majority of their work comes through repeat customers or referrals from repeat customers. The company’s success isn’t merely rooted in customer service though. Boasting a superior knowledge of available product on the market and hiring the most professional crews in the business also goes a long way.

“Our reputation speaks for itself; but if it didn’t, we have 16 satisfied employees on our permanent payroll who would put a hand up in defense of the standards we set,” says Jeff. Standards which were born and bred through a commitment to ethical business practices and hard work. In 2001, Jeff teamed up with seasoned professional Ron Bartz as a journeyman, then took over the company when Ron retired, and has been growing it ever since.

IMG 1309In 2009, Jeff took the pair of three-man crews and expanded the operation to encompass six crews, two office staff, and a project manager who oversees jobs, right alongside the man with the plan himself. “We currently have three vans on the road and I’d like a full fleet someday. I’d like to leave a legacy for my daughters, and that means more than just cans of paint and a warehouse full of equipment and materials.” To Jeff, it means taking care of his employees, taking care of his family: taking care of business. The hope is that One Way Painting becomes a household name, for its quality of work and quality of values.

My husband and I can happily attest to both. When we moved into our home in San Juan Capistrano five years ago, we acquired quotes for exterior painting from several contractors, but were particularly impressed with Jeff and his crew. Prior to starting work at our home, Jeff came by in person to go over what the job would entail and answered all of our questions. His team showed up right on time the first day - and each subsequent day - and at the end of each day everything was cleaned up before they left.

“We pride ourselves on working with a team of long-term employees - we do not hire off the street,” says Jeff. “We guarantee our work and do not require payment till the job is completed and the customer is completely pleased with our work.”

IMG 2840 1Jeff and his crew delivered on these promises and more than exceeded our expectations - the result was outstanding work, a job completed on time and on budget and defined by unparalleled customer service (Kelly in his office was hyper-responsive to our inquiries during the estimating process and followed up immediately upon completion of the job to ensure that we were satisfied with the results and our overall experience of working with One Way Painting). We were so pleased with the work that when we decided to update our kitchen by painting our cabinets and adding hardware (the job is scheduled to start two weeks from the date of this writing so look for a future testimonial feature), we were confident that One Way Painting would be the one and only call we would need to make.

Their attention to detail is found from start to finish. For exterior projects, they begin by power washing to clean and remove any loose paint, mildew or mold. Then the patching: with stucco, trenching around the foundations and priming with an acrylic. They’ll treat your wood siding, eaves, fascia, windows. Main doors, garage doors, trim. Even wrought iron, or other specialty surfaces like patio covers and fences. Most work depends on the client’s preference: semi-gloss, hi-gloss enamel, acrylic, or oil finish. Inside walls see flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi, or hi-gloss. If you have natural wood cabinets and they need refinishing, One Way’s crew will see to it that they look new again. Also licensed and bonded as commercial painters, Jeff’s crew has been making businesses and their buildings look new again for 42 years. With a free on-site estimate, your custom needs are sure to have a custom solution. No deposits required, and “no surprises along the way,” Jeff is quick to add.

“I think at the end of the day what sets us apart is taking our time with each and every customer that comes our way,” says Jeff. “We run a business like every person we interact with is family.” They may not be the cheapest out there, but then that wouldn’t fly in Emerson’s eyes, and not in Jeff’s either. “Our business is based on the Christian ethic of treating every customer with honesty and integrity. Every job is done ‘as unto the Lord.’ Does this mean we’re perfect? No. It does mean that we strive to do the best painting job possible.”

I remember when one of my college friends was appointed Payroll Specialist for a large company in Pasadena. When we were talking about the job, he noted that all he could think of was that scene in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge watching Bob Cratchit balance his books on Christmas Eve, too scared to ask for the following day off. Obviously, his daily tasks turned out to be nothing like the Dickens novel, but it is worth noting the stigma that he associated his bookkeeping business with. Nadia Milner is no stranger to the association. She’d like to point out however, that while she specializes in bookkeeping, she’s much much less Ebenezer Scrooge, and more Jennifer Lopez from The Wedding Planner: on top of everything you need far before you ever thought you needed it.

Having spent the last 15 years as a bookkeeper and executive assistant, Nadia handles all aspects of the job description: A/P, A/R, Bank Deposits, Bank Reconciliations, Payroll and more. But she prides herself in the level of service made available to her clients beyond the books: making bank deposits at their behest, and even creating travel arrangements for executives.

“I truly believe that what sets me apart is my loyalty,” says Nadia. "Anyone can be single-minded, and stay task oriented for one job or one client. The dedication I show is treating each client as if they were the one and only.”

Responding to clients emailed requests within one hour is no easy feat, but Nadia would prefer to be available, efficient, and accurate to the highest level, ensuring client satisfaction. “I can come by the office with only a single days notice if a client needs me to handle something right away that cannot be done remotely.”

One of Scrooge’s major shortcomings of course, other than his lack of compassion, was a quality of short sightedness: something Nadia counters in spades.

“It is my primary focus to get clients taken care of on a a daily basis. In the long run, eliminating the stress of finances for my clients enables them to stride confidently forward in their own business, knowing their books are in order from start to finish.”

Organization is an obvious game changer. Look no further than the million copies sold of Marie Kondo’s international bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Putting her clients minds and books in order, she undoubtedly had made clients for life. “I’ve had clients who, before hiring me, never knew where they stood financially. They just hand me all their papers and I set them up from scratch. Now their peace of mind is something they can’t live without."

Nadia’s drive and dedication are apparently family traits, too. Her eldest just graduated from San Clemente High School as a valedictorian and has had the same job for two years. Her youngest, 15, ended the year with straight A’s and also volunteers at the Shea Center, something that “opens us to making a long term impact in our community.”

Currently Nadia is involved with the Orphan Care Initiative and Wells of Life which brings running clean water to villages in Africa. In the past, she has also prepped food for the homeless and served lunches to Wounded Warriors at The Food Pantry in San Clemente, and been a greeter or receptionist at various American Red Cross locations across the OC. “Sure, I love going to the beach and spending time with friends and family, but giving back is one of the most important things in my life."

There isn’t much that Nadia can’t accomplish in the bookkeeping world, with her keenly developed sense of anticipation and broad sense of loyalty to her clients. That combined with the work she puts in outside the office too, she might as well be the signifier of Dickens’ conscious ghostly guide, “Mankind my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence,” making clients for life, and easing the burden of stress on us all.


NadiaBusinessCardPicNadia Milner is CEO & Owner of the San Clemente-based Top Notch Services. She can be reached by calling (949) 303-3211 or visit tnsandcompany.com

Early in my writing career, I had the opportunity to interview many successful entrepreneurs for an OC-based regional business/lifestyle publication. While the scope of the featured businesses was diverse, the owner/operators all shared an unerring passion for their profession and a common belief that “if you love what you do, the money will follow.”

It didn’t take long after meeting Denice and Stephen Merrill for me to discover this energetic, enthusiastic couple were obviously cut from the same entrepreneurial cloth. As specialists in the complex and often confusing Medicare insurance industry, they help educate seniors on the ever-changing nuances of Medicare and the myriad of Medicare Insurance plans available.

For the past fifteen years, Denice has been working in the insurance industry, first as an independent agent, and then as an incorporated business owner, as Merrill Insurance Services Inc. entered the market in 2009. Like any other field, there are the requisite hoops to jump through on the way to owning one’s own insurance business, and Denice has leapt through them all. State board exams, licensing, ongoing certifications. “Even with all the classes, there is nothing that can beat years and years of practice,” she says. “Especially in a specific field: in my case, Medicare insurance benefits.”

In 2005, Denice began shifting her attention to the senior market in her field of Insurance . Helping to enroll and guide them in an area which is so confusing to most was an exciting new challenge. She asked herself “how could I stay in touch, be relatable with this demographic exclusively, when most were dropping off the radar due to the confusion around these benefits or not wanting to dig in and specialize ?” As an independent agent, broker and business owner, Denice found that there was not just one approach to the process of “guiding people, organization and staying in touch. “Keeping myself open, selfless and available started setting Merrill Insurance Services apart from others in the industry, and I’ve always tried to operate in a way that I appreciate in any given market - to never approach anyone as a salesperson.” Find what you might have in common. Enjoy people. It’s easy - Today’s seniors are so diverse and active!

It’s also important to Know your product and services inside and out. Don’t try to be the jack of all trades! Lots of agents try to do it all, and end up knowing very little about the products they are recommending.

Even with all the classes, there is nothing that can beat years and years of practice. Especially in a specific field: in my case, Medicare insurance benefits.

Clients began flooding in. In the ensuing years, Denice and her husband Stephen (who joined the agency in 2012 have focused their efforts to exclusively supporting the senior market. “We have both found incredible contentment and passion in our day to day lives and helping seniors. Education and taking the time to explain the details is what makes us different.” We always look at what makes the best financial sense for the client, even if it means suggesting they hold off on activating their Medicare and not enroll with us for a period of time.... (sometimes staying with an employer plan can be the most prudent).

Stephen MerrillToward that end, Denice is a regular editorial contributor to Sorbet - a SoCal Senior publication and is the sole presenter at a series of free educational seminars on Medicare each month at Mission Hospital. Standing in the spotlight is certainly outside her comfort zone and she found the idea of speaking to a large group unnerving. But she talks to the audience like she does to each and every one of her clients: as individuals, with families, and history, and legitimate concerns about their future. “By offering or showing all options, we can help everyone that is 65 and over. There is just never one plan that fits all.” At these seminars, Denice explains Medicare Basics and the Full Benefits of Medicare in a side-by-side comparison model and finds that “everyone benefits because it is so interactive and lots of questions get asked.” Questions like “How will MY personal prescriptions be covered?”

“This is what might make one plan a better fit for you than another,” she says. “Honestly, I can simplify and help you to understand your options of a Medi-Gap Supplemental policy or a Medicare Advantage plan and they all offer amazing coverages, but its the everyday or every month usages of medications that can really break the bank!” I want to protect people and have the skills to help them.

When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work. My success has come from being honest and just being human and down to earth. I’ve always felt blessed to have found this business, actually out of a time in my life that was difficult financially.

Being self-employed has given Denice the opportunity to grow without limitations. “My agency now guides other agents and we are helping them replicate what has worked so well for us.”

Staying true to her core values has helped everything fall gracefully into place, one hour at a time. “I truly enjoy people and hearing their stories,” says Denice, and these stories are what make her days. “Today, many businesses are so hands-off, so computerized. I am told daily that clients appreciate when they call me, I actually answer the phone: it’s unheard of!” You must really love something to practice at it, deliberately, for minutes, hours, months, years. Denice’s husband, Stephen, is a product of the theory too. And he’s taken his hours and turned them into relatability, Denice says.

“When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work,” says Denice. “My success has come from being honest and just being human and down to earth. I’ve always felt blessed to have found this business, actually out of a time in my life that was difficult financially. It took a few years and finding my stride before I was able to convince my husband to leave his engineering and sales background to join the company. Now the only thing he can say is that he wishes he’d done it sooner. We tend to draw people in that we can relate to, and Stephen found his success with folks who share similar interests like being outdoors, golfing, fishing, etc. We try and keep it fun. Like with this cover, showing what the face of Today’s 65+ Year Olds look like - very sports-oriented and active. Certainly not what we used to think of when turning 65! We love our clients and hope that is what comes through.”

Connect with Denice directly by calling (949) 584-2646. CA Lic.# 0H08139.

You can also connect with Stephen Merrill by calling (949) 584-2634.

A Q & A with Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare

You think it might be time to consider options for your aging loved one’s future care and quality of life. Easier said than done when the mere thought of navigating the myriad of options - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long-term, hospice  Parkinson’s and more - seems a Herculean task.

That’s where a senior placement specialist can prove to be a tremendous resource … and available at no cost to you. Having said that though, you’ll want to make sure the professional you are working with has your family’s best interests at heart, is experienced with key relationships in the senior industry and will advocate for your loved one to find the best fit for his or her needs.

In the following interview Derek Mannion, founder of Alliance Eldercare, addresses frequently asked questions concerning options, the process and finding the right senior placement specialist to work with your family.

Question: How do I know when placement is needed? What are the signs that my loved one may benefit from placement?

Answer: There any many signs that someone may benefit from being placed in an assisted living environment. Some of the big ones for me are fall risk and fall prevention. Is your loved one safe to be left alone? Does he leave the stove on with an empty pot or pan? Wander and get lost? Is there a need for incontinence care or help with general cleanliness and personal hygiene? Are medications taken as prescribed or does she take a second dose, having forgotten that she already took her medication? These are all signs that someone could benefit for an Assisted Living environment.

Q: How do we determine the best setting for my loved one - what are the differences (assisted living, memory care, board and care, skilled nursing)?

A: To find the best care options for your loved one, we must first complete a Care Needs Assessment to determine the personal needs of an individual. We must evaluate the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), as well as the individual’s mental status. We also need to discuss what a viable monthly budget would be to work within the individual or family’s financial means. We can also look into Veterans Benefits and discuss any Long Term Care policies that the individual may have. Once we narrow down the options that work best for your loved one’s needs and budget, I personally tour the family. Sometimes there isn’t an exact fit for an individual’s needs. This is when we tour the options so your loved one and family members can see for themselves the differences between the types of facilities and options available and what each has to offer.

Q: What should I look for when working with a senior placement company?

A: Not all Senior Placement or Referral Agencies are the same. There are things that families should be aware of and want to have in place. Stay away from online agencies that want personal information in exchange for a list of Assisted Living Comminities. Work with companies that offer Free Guided Tours rather than companies that just want to give you a list of places. If the company offers personal tours, they are likely in the communities regularly. Ask how familiar they are with the specific communities that they are referring you to consider. Ask about their experience, training and relationships in the industry. Are they a licensed RCFE administrator? Ask if they will share your contact information or keep your information confidential. They should never share your information without obtaining your permission.

Q: Do senior placement companies find the best fit for my loved one or do they typically place individuals with the ones at which they have contracts?

A: Finding the best long-term solution is always my goal at Alliance Eldercare Senior Placement Service and should be the goal of any reputable senior placement company. For me, it’s about building a relationship with the community and getting to know the people who run and/or own the facilities. This gives me a better understanding as to what they can and can’t do (or sometimes won’t do). This allows me to better place someone in a Community that fits the individuals likes and needs. It’s not about contracts, it’s about care.

Q: Can a senior placement service work with our family if our family disagrees on the best care for mom or if our loved one has behavioral problems?

A: You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes families don’t agree on things. This is why in our industry we recommend having one POA or decision maker if the loved one is incapable of making decisions for themselves. This is a decision that the senior needs to make while they have capacity. If the loved one has behavioral problems, I would connect them with a neurologist if they don’t have one already and work with the doctor to get the behaviors under control. Getting the behaviors under control can open up more options for care. We can discuss this further during the Care Needs Assessment at Alliance Eldercare.


IMG 8524For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com

A Q & A with Dr. Michael DeYoung, M.D., LaSara Medical Group

Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) often suffer in silence. For many, it’s a taboo topic associated with a stigma that affects their self esteem. So much so that they don’t even share the details of what they are experiencing with their primary care physician or urologist.

What these men might find surprising is how much they have in common with approximately 18 million other men across the country. Erectile dysfunction impacts men of all ages from their 20s to their 90s. But here’s a particularly staggering statistic: It is estimated that 50% of men will be affected by ED by the age of 50. That means that when a group of 50-something year old men get together, nearly half of the men in the room are likely struggling with ED.

The physicians at LaSara Medical Group have seen men from age 27 to 95 walk through their doors. For those with a vascular disorder, or blood flow disorder, as the root cause of their ED, LaSara offers a clinically proven treatment option without drugs, without surgeries and without needles.

As the Southern California leader in low intensity focused shockwave therapy, LaSara has seen incredible results for its patients utilizing the only proven method of reversing ED for the long-term. Before obtaining treatment anywhere, Dr. Michael DeYoung, Medical Director at LaSara, strongly encourages men to do their due diligence, investigating the efficacy and research behind provider care.

While most of LaSara’s competitors base their businesses on the same research, they use an entirely different machine with a type of energy (radial, acoustic or pressure waves) that produces less than half the success rate that LaSara’s patients enjoy. If that weren’t enough of a difference, the machine that LaSara’s competitors utilize requires the use of numbing cream to (hopefully) minimize what can be a rather painful process - unlike LaSara’s pain-free treatment option. “Our goal is to restore natural functionality in a safe, discreet environment for our patients. Our professional, all male staff is committed to providing a medical experience that surpasses all your expectations.”

In the following interview, Dr. DeYoung addresses frequently asked questions concerning the patient experience and shares specifics about low intensity focused shockwave therapy.

Q: How long has LaSara Medical Group been in existence and what does it specialize in?

A: Since January 2018. We specialize in Men’s sexual health providing treatment for erectile dysfunction and peyronies disease.

We’ve treated more men in southern California with focused shockwaves than anyone else around. On a daily basis, we have 14-18 men coming through our doors in each location. We use the exact machinery and protocol that’s been clinically studied and proven.

Q: What is low intensity focused shockwave therapy, is it a new treatment and how does it work?

A: The treatment is relatively new to the United States, but not to the world. It’s been studied and used for 15 years, originally in Europe (Switzerland, Germany, UK, Denmark, etc.), Canada, Asia (Japan, Korea, India), Australia, and most recently here in the US in the last couple of years.

The majority of men who experience ED have a vascular disorder or blood flow disorder. What happens is their blood vessels have prematurely hardened, there is plaque that builds up, or they have other medical conditions that attack the vascular system, such as Diabetes. When this happens, a man loses his ability for blood to easily travel into his penis allowing for an erection to occur.

We use low intensity focused shock waves to trigger the body to grow new blood vessels into the penis. The shockwaves create a small micro trauma. When this happens, new blood vessels begin to grow throughout a man’s penis. This is the process of neovascularization. Over time, the body miraculously repairs and heals the countless blood vessels damaged and prematurely hardened by the accumulation of plaque. As the plaque becomes eliminated, more and more blood vessels grow back... The ultimate goal is get a man back to achieving erections naturally and without the use of medication, like Viagra or Cialis.

Q: How do you determine if a prospective patient will benefit from treatment?

A: The process starts with a complete medical evaluation and history to determine whether a vascular disorder is the cause of a prospective patient’s ED. We weed out if he is experiencing ED as a result of a psychological or neurological issue. If the ED is determined to be caused by a vascular disorder and he does not have other major medical risk factors, then he is a good candidate for this treatment. Our patients range in age from 27 to 95 and 80% of our patients experience positive results from the treatment.

Q: What are the benefits of treatment? What is the process and when might a patient expect to see results?

A: The primary benefit or goal of treatment is to restore a patient’s ability to have spontaneous intimate experiences, restored confidence and a natural sex life. Unlike other treatment options, there’s no timing to take a pill when you want to perform. No injections to medically induce an erection, which can obviously be very intrusive when you are “in the moment.” Treatment is non-invasive - no surgery and no side effects.

In terms of what a patient can expect of the process, the first step is to schedule a consultation - a 10 to 30-minute phone call with a member of our team will give us an idea of whether or not he is a good candidate for the treatment. After he is determined to be a quality candidate and that the root cause of his ED is likely a vascular disorder, the patient will visit our office for an in-person consultation with one of our physicians.

The next step would be to begin treatment, which typically involves six visits over the course of three to five weeks. Then we wait for 90 days as the body takes six to 12 weeks to fully react to the treatment, at which time he’ll come back in for a follow up visit with the doctor. Because LaSara is committed to achieving the best result for its patients, they will perform a second round of treatments, if necessary, at no additional charge.


Call for your FREE phone consultation to determine if LaSara’s treatment is right for you.

oeiqwo898932Dr. Michael DeYoung, M.D. is the Medical Director for LaSara Medical Group with offices in Tustin and Beverly Hills. A Fellow of the American College of Emergency Medicine, Dr. DeYoung worked full time in emergency medicine for 43 years before retiring in 2017 to focus on his “second career” in the field of men’s sexual health. The Tustin office is located at 14642 Newport Avenue, Suite 250. The Beverly Hills office is located at 150 N. Robertson Blvd., Suite 205. For more information, call (855) 200-1111 or visit www.lasara.com.

Let’s play a quick game: I’ll say a word and you write down the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? Beer. Now, I’ll bet you a pint that you immediately imagined some Oktoberfest, flush with icy cold brews and brats grilling in the background.

But while beer has a colorful history indeed in the cloisters and taverns of Germany, the story of beer actually began a few thousand years before the Reinheitsgebot. Since its earliest days in ancient Sumeria, the art of brewing has come a long way. The simple act of allowing water, malt, and hops to ferment coursed through many different iterations before landing in the age of “craft,” when more than 150 beer styles and 20,000 plus brands exist on the market, all for the simple enjoyment of drinking.

IMG 0070As of early this year, more than 6,000 separate breweries hold the recipes for all the craft beer in the United States. No longer bound to Germany’s “Purity Law,” you’ll find ingredients in brews today ranging from avocado honey to hemp. Andrew and Kim Reed believe there has never been a better time to appreciate the craft, and as such, opened the doors to The BrewHouse in 2014. The premier spot in Orange County to learn about beer and experience a range of flavors, Andrew’s “beertenders” are more than happy to show you some of the raw ingredients, introduce you to the Digital Pour feature, and serve up a (giant) signature pretzel, which, the last time I checked, was as shareable as it was delicious and accompanied by a Bavarian and classic yellow mustard for dipping. Try a panini, hot from the sandwich press, complete with locally sourced beef jerky on the side and your choice in kettle chip.

IMG E0063Not feeling up to an entire pint? Let Andrew and Kim set you up with a flight of flavors, from breweries all across California. Santa Monica to Moorpark, San Clemente to Santa Ana, Buellton to Boonville to Torrance and back. A four-beer flight is just 20 ounces, and you’ll be covered with The BrewHouse’s range of flavors: light and tart sours, dank IPAs, malty golden ales, rich stouts and more. With a rotating selection of food trucks on Wednesday and Friday evenings and trivia night on Wednesday, there’s never a shortage of entertainment to be found. Let’s play that game again. Ready? Beer. I’ll bet you an icy-cold-rotating-tap-locally-sourced-pint your first thought was The BrewHouse.


IMG 5395For more info, stop by 31896 Plaza Drive, #D3 in San Juan Capistrano, call (949) 481-6181 or visit www.thebrewhousesjc.com. The BrewHouse is located in what just might be one of this historic city’s “best kept secrets” for fine furnishings, unique retail, health and wellness: The Capistrano Center. These speciality retailers are situated along the back side of the Plaza Del Obispo Shopping Center at the corner of Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano.

In a recent conversation with my mother, I discovered something. Something that was a cause for pause as I pondered all the possible ramifications. This thing I realized? My mother appears a bit more stubborn than she used to be. She laughed when I called it to her attention, but the more we thought about the fact that she was growing increasingly stubborn, it occurred to both of us that this trait could prove to be increasingly problematic as she got older.

P8211413 2.53She shared that she had always imagined herself to be a strong elder - a grey haired grandmother who had seen it all, survived it all, and was stronger for it. But the real truth was that as she remains set in her ways, the traits that she could get away with in her younger years (like wanting to do everything herself and refusing to ask for help when she needs it) would only be exacerbated by the slights of age. At 84, she sometimes forgets the simplest of day to day tasks. Like taking her vitamins and prescriptions - on time and in the right dosages.

In an article referenced on the web site for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies have shows that in the United States alone, non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 deaths annually and accounts for 10 to 25 percent of hospital and nursing home admissions. Further, the consequences of non-adherence are enormous. Patients who don’t take their prescribed medications run the risk of serious health issues, including hospitalization and death (ref: mhealthintelligence.com).

How prevalent is this problem? According to a recent Kaiser Permanente report, 72 California hospitals were fined in 2016 by the federal government for the disproportionate number of patients who returned within 30 days of hospital discharge. Ninety percent of these patients were readmitted due to health issues specifically arising from medication non-adherence.

P8301599 copy 2“In spite of their difficulties and illnesses, many men and women prefer to remain independent and self-sufficient as they age,” says Andrew Harper, Co-Founder and Pharmacy Director of the Orange County-based AmeriPharma Specialty Care. “So many cases of patients who arrive at their doctor’s office with the same symptoms they were prescribed medication for, return still suffering, because they had not taken their medication as prescribed.” Or, as I could suddenly foresee happening with my mom, forgetting to take her medication at all.

A respected industry leader utilizing cutting-edge prescription packaging systems, AmeriPharma Specialty Care introduced the MedBox and helped set a new standard in medication management that has revolutionized the way for government-run healthcare programs, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities dispense medication. And now they are bringing the MedBox direct to consumers for use in the comfort of their own home.

Non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 death annually and accounts for 10 - 25% of hospital and nursing home admissions

Working directly with your pharmacy, AmeriPharma arranges with your physician to manage, maintain, and dispense your medical prescriptions - delivering them right to your front door. Packaged by date and time to be consumed, the MedBox is out to change the way we take pills - for the better. Wrapped in customizable packaging, the doses are easily identified by the patient and/or their caregivers, and even easier to handle and open.

“Dosage times are marked, and the procedure of actually filling the packets is done directly under the care and supervision of the pharmacist - which eliminates the chance of you, as a patient, misidentifying a bottle or taking the wrong dosage,” says Harper. “This is especially useful for those patients who cannot manage their own medications as prescribed due to physical disabilities, mental infirmities, or a combination of other factors. Fifty-eight percent of all patients over 65 admit that they have missed taking at least one dose of their prescriptions at one time or another.”

There is no additional cost to using the customized MedBox - patients keep their current insurance and co-pay and won’t pay a penny more for this service (delivered directly to your door - monthly, bi-monthly or in an emergency, within four hours!).

With benefits that include convenience, no additional cost, ease of use, peace of mind AND safety? The MedBox sounds like something my mother and I can both stay stubborn about.


For more information, call (800) 270-7091 or visit ameripharma.us/medbox

 

In-Home Care and the New! Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center in Laguna Woods Village

Over the past decade, there have been an increasing number of studies examining the effects of stress on the human body - from the immune to metabolic systems, to cell division, diet, hormonal changes, heart rate and of course, cortisol levels. Cortisol, after all, is what floods the body in response to stress. Its main purpose is more far-reaching than was once believed. Systemic effects play a great many roles to maintain homeostasis in the body: which, at a basic level, looks like a greater span of stress-free years. Experts at UCLA, Harvard and the University of Maryland all posit that lowering stress levels leads to healthier mental and bodily functions across the board, which is great for everyone, but can be particularly meaningful for men and women of an advanced age.

Founded in 2002, the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. are dedicated to ensuring the individual care they provide will lessen the stress of everyday life for your aging loved one and their families. Between the two divisions of this Laguna Woods-based family-owned and operated business, seniors have the option of in-home care or respite at the Senior Social Club and Stay Care Center (applications are currently being accepted for participation).

In-home care

With loving kindness, trained caregivers provide exceptional general care and assist with the basic necessities of daily living in the comfort and safety of a senior’s own home. In-home care encompasses services tailored to the senior’s specific needs and range from meal preparation, medication reminders, doctor visits, grocery shopping, laundry, light housekeeping, dressing and incontinence care to Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related care.

“We have observed that those who are able to stay in their homes are more likely to remain healthy and free from common communicable illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia that are prevalent in nursing homes and assisted living centers due to the high volume of residents and close living quarters,” says Boyd Warner, founder of Your Home Care, Inc.

Understanding that the safety and security of your loved ones is of the utmost importance, the professional caregivers at Your Home Care undergo a rigorous interview process, from reference checks and background clearance to competency training. But that’s just the beginning … equally as important as each applicant’s credentials is their personal philosophy as Warner says “our caregivers want more than a job. They want to make a difference in the lives of those in their care. As a company, our job is to give caregivers the direction and tools they need to fulfill their personal mission of service, as well as our corporate mission of improving the lives of those we serve.”

We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver.”

DSC 2446Upon meeting the company’s strict selection criteria, caregivers are insured and bonded before completing a comprehensive orientation process to ingrain Your Home Care corporate policies and procedures followed by ongoing, specialized training on issues that help them develop as better overall caregivers, as well as deal with very specific situations. These issues include medication management and compliance, Alzheimer’s and dementia, osteoarthritis and mobility loss, hypertension/stroke recovery, diabetes, heart disease and cancer recovery.

“We believe that our focus on the individual and family is what sets us apart,” says Warner. “When you contact us, you will receive individualized care that will meet the needs of your family and your aging loved one. Whether you are in need of around the clock assistance, night relief or a short shift during the day to assist with ADL’s, you can rest easy knowing that we have your well-being and that of your loved one as our priority.”


Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center

DSC 2557While in-home care focuses on the one-on-one, allowing trust and friendship to flourish between caretaker and patient, the Adult Day facility follows a social model in a “beautiful, warm and inviting place for seniors to gather together and create new friendships and memories.” Different from many other day centers, the licensed caregivers at Your Home Care’s “Social Club & Stay Care” Center oversee all activities and are highly interactive with each visiting senior.

“In a typical day, our clients will arrive at the center, sign in, and enjoy leisure activities in the morning, such as enjoying our reading center, or watching a movie or playing a game with other participants and our caregivers,” says Warner. “We will also provide daily activities that will vary depending on the day, but you can expect to find on our schedule activities such as bingo, karaoke, and knitting caps for the newborns at local hospitals. We will also provide lunch at our facility.”

Warner and his team encourage family members to stop by and tour the facility to see firsthand the advantages of participation.

“Our service will greatly benefit those who find themselves living in multi-generational homes, whose primary caregiver is stretched thin,” says Warner. “We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver. Our mission is to provide a fun, exciting place for your aging loved one to participate in activities that they love and maybe even try something new. Further, this facility allows those who may be isolated from the world an opportunity to open up and create new friendships.”

After interested seniors (or their loved ones) fill out an application for the program, they undergo a medical evaluation from their own doctor, and then a follow up visit with the program director at Your Home Care, Inc., to determine whether participation the adult day facility would be the best fit for their needs.

“We’re very serious about providing a compassionate caregiving service, preserving dignity, ensuring independence, and a higher quality of life,” says Boyd. “We want this to be as good a fit for you as it is for us.”

Warner 11 2017zone57 P 25Taking stress off anyone’s plate is a loving act in itself. Yet, I can see how many selfless acts might feel like a double-edged sword. My mother is the primary caregiver for my 85-year-old stepfather who suffers from dementia. As a result, she has less time for activities she enjoys, spending time with her friends, going to the movies and the infinite other little things that seem to fill the cracks in a single day. When I emphasize the importance of also caring for herself, she brushes the thought away not wanting to be “selfish.”

“Taking advantage of a referred professional caregiver is not giving up on your loved one or being selfish,” says Warner. “On the contrary, you’re being selfless by bolstering your own love and support with professional, quality care while enabling you to spend more time enjoying their company.”

What could be more selfless (and scientific) than helping to lower cortisol levels (yours and your loved one’s)? Eliminating that unnecessary drain on energy can mean restored resiliency, greater access to memory, improved brain function. Selfish? Or selfless? Stress full? Or stress free? Through compassionate in-home care and its new adult day care center in Laguna Woods, Your Home Care is here to ensure that this choice is the easiest you’ve made in a long time.


Connect with Boyd and the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. by calling (949) 215-0004 or visit www.yourhomecare.com.
The Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center is located at 24191
Paseo de Valencia, Suite B in Laguna Woods.

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