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Episode 23 of the Senior Care Industry Netcast is live!

About This Episode:

We were fortunate enough to have Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate and Co-Owner of Vesta Senior Network on our show and she offered some great insight and #advice for other #seniorcare and #healthcare providers.

EP 23: The Senior Care Industry Netcast with Pam Foti - Vesta Senior Network 2
Pam Foti

Pam Foti, Vesta Co-Owner and Elder Care Advocate, is a pharmaceutical industry veteran with 17 years of experience working in SE Wisconsin with psychiatrists and neurologists.

For ten of those years, Pam had the opportunity to work in the long term care arena with geriatricians, pharmacists, nurses, and caregivers in both skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Pam’s professional experience gives her insight into the business of elder care, but more importantly, Pam lost her own grandma to Alzheimer’s Disease.

This personal experience drives Pam to help the families she works with find the best possible care for their loved ones. Pam is married to Phil, and they live in Wauwatosa with their two daughters, two dogs, two parakeets and two guinea pigs.

Check out the blog post with the #video 📹 and look for more episodes coming soon as we travel the U.S. to find the leaders in #seniorcare to share their insights, experiences, and joy.

If you’d like to be on our show, check out the link here: https://www.seniorcareindustrynetcast.com/netcast

Full Transcript:

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with The Senior Care Industry NetCast, where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. It’s six questions in nine minutes, so let’s get to it.

In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Great. Thanks for having me, Valerie. I’m Pam Foti and I’m one of the owners of Vesta Senior Network. We are elder care advocates and we’ve been doing this for about seven and a half years. And in that time, we’ve helped over 900 families find the best care for their loved ones. We’re educators, advocates and experts. And most of what we do, is help folks find the best assisted living for their loved one but a lot of times we’re helping put some of the other pieces to the equation together as well, whether it be finding home care or even hospice or we’ve developed a network of elder law attorneys, realtors, really trying to help people remove the obstacles that stand in their way when it’s time to make a transition.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you. Yeah, it’s a confusing, confusing time and overwhelming time for so many families.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Having all those resources at your fingertips is priceless.

What is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Well, I can tell you that since March, I guess what, 13th was the last time I was actually able to interact personally with one of our older adults. Every time I get to see one on a Zoom or FaceTime call, I practically get tears in my eyes because it just makes me so happy to see them. They have so much to offer and our society … I think it’s a little bit cliche but it’s true at the same time, put such a heavy value and emphasis on youth. And we have this wealth of information, knowledge, love, compassion and experience in our older adults. And it’s just such a blessing to be able to get to work with them every day.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you. Yes. I would say absolutely right. The amount of learning we could do from our aging adults is immense. And so just listening to them is amazing. And I know that’s a lot of what you do, is listen.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Okay. We’re going to switch gears just a little bit. I’m going to ask you about online marketing.

What are your thoughts about online marketing?

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

I think the toughest part about any sort of marketing in general in our business, is that people don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for. When they go out online, they really don’t know what to ask, what questions to ask, to get the information they need. We really enjoy any opportunity like this. Thank you so much to be able to actually talk about what we do and explain that the services that we offer, do exist. Often people are saying to us, “Oh, my gosh. If I had only known about you two years ago, I would have been in so much better of a situation with my loved one.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

And that really, really leads us to believe that there is some sort of secret sauce to this online marketing. And I’m not exactly sure what it is yet but I just know that myself and my business partner, whenever we have the opportunity to speak about what we do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, you’re right. People don’t know what to type in. They absolutely don’t. And if you were to look at a pattern of what people type in to find care, it’s all over the map.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And so yeah, I think that doing any video or talking about what you do and being able to get a piece like this as short and easy out to the masses, is really helpful for so many families.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You’re exactly right. Keeping creating that content and being everywhere is really important.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right.

There are probably other successful leaders in the senior care industry like you, that maybe have been a mentor or inspiration to you over time or maybe an organization that’s close to you or maybe multiple organizations.

Who would you like to give a shout out to?

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

We love our Wisconsin Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. We think that they do tremendous work. We participate in their longest day fundraiser every year. And we’ve raised over $35,000 in the last five years for the Alzheimer’s Association. And I really want to give them a shout out because I think that that’s another fabulous resource that people don’t realize they have. I think that people walk the dementia walk as an individual or as a family alone. And they don’t know that there are so many great resources. And that’s what the longest day fundraiser actually does, it helps fund research as well as caregiver support. And that’s what’s been great.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

We’ve all had to pivot, right, since March 13th. And the Alzheimer’s Association has as well. And they’re doing virtual support groups and doing a lot more things online. They’re reaching people maybe in remote areas that may not always have such great access. Wisconsin, there’s a lot of rural territory, so to be able to develop a new way to reach people as a result of COVID, is really fabulous. The Alzheimer’s Association is a fabulous resource. We work closely with the Parkinson’s Association as well, all those groups giving a face and a name to people with challenging conditions and their families, are really important to us.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep, absolutely. And I love what you said about COVID forcing our hand in finding other ways to communicate with each other and to be present with each other. And even though it’s not maybe ideal, it still reaches … These Zoom meetings or whatever you’re doing, FaceTime or support groups online, reaches so many more people that couldn’t possibly drive an hour for a support group and leave an aging loved one at home or something like that.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, this has really been an eyeopener on so many levels for communication. And my hope is that organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, which I love too, is going to continue to do some of these virtual meetings and things like that. They do a wonderful job. Thank you for shouting out to the Alzheimer’s Association and the Parkinson’s Foundation and all the other ones that help so many people, we don’t even know how much they help.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. We’re going to transition back to your wisdom.

What piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

I think the most important thing that we need to keep in mind, is that every single person that we meet, is an individual. And so often we get asked, “What are your favorite assisted living communities?”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Or, “What’s the best memory care for my dad?”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

And I always feel like that’s a little bit of a trick question because I can’t answer that without knowing your dad, without knowing your family circumstances. And I think that healthcare as a whole, is so siloed. You have your hospitals, you have your nursing homes, you have your assisted living communities, you have memory care communities, you have home care and they don’t … What can happen in one area of healthcare can’t always happen in another because of regulatory issues. And so people don’t recognize that. And I think that we as human beings, like things to be a little bit cookie cutter, like to be able to put things in neat little boxes with bows and it’s just not possible.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

And that is what is absolutely the very most important thing. Of course, we have our favorite home care providers and our favorite hospices and our favorite assisted living communities but we have a huge bag of favorites because everybody is so unique and it’s so important to understand exactly what that person needs, what that person will be comfortable with.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

My grandmother died of Alzheimer’s 23 years ago. And I think about where I would have wanted her to be if I was doing this now and my grandma raised nine children and she was a cook, not a chef. She worked in a school, a nursing home, a factory. And so the places that I would love for her might have the final table clause that you change for every holiday, with a pot of coffee in the kitchen. That’s what I would choose for my grandmother.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Well, we just chose an independent living community for my mother-in-law and we fondly refer to my mother-in-law as fancy Nancy. There’s a putting green where she’s going. That’s what’s so incredibly important to recognize, is that everyone is an individual. And we also have to recognize as adult daughters, that we are choosing places for our loved one, not for us. We need to think all of that through.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. What a great answer. Thank you so much. That is so wise and not only for senior care providers but for families to hear that. It really is about choosing a place for your parent, not necessarily the place that you might like best.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Totally. I totally agree with you. Thank you for that. All right. Last question, supposed to be our fun one.

When you have a win in life or with family or with business or a client is happy, how do you like to celebrate?

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

This was the hardest question of all. And when I was discussing this with my business partner, as to how I was going to answer and what was important to us to communicate, I said, “I think maybe we need to celebrate more.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

But we do … Like in everywhere in life, you get so caught up with, “Okay, good. That one’s finished. He’s moved in today. He’s safe. He’s happy.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

And then, “Okay, next.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

But I think that again, COVID has been an amazing good or bad teacher.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

And I think that I’ve really learned to step away a little bit more. And my husband and I like to road bike. And so to jump on my bike and ride down to the lakefront, do a nice 25 mile ride or something like that, really is energizing and gives me the break that I need sometimes. I also have teenage daughters, so whenever they have time for me …

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, same.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Yeah, I like to spend time with my teenage daughters as well. I think what’s funny about it though, is that my husband and I have so much more time together now because they’re not necessarily interested in our time. My family is very important to me and getting outside and enjoying the outdoors, is what we like to do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Awesome, yep. And I know in the business that you’re in, you probably … A celebration might even be just your heart is so happy …

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Because you hear somebody say, “I wish I had done this 10 years ago.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Yes.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

“I wish I had done this 20 years ago.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And if everybody [inaudible 00:11:52] when they moved into an independent living or an assisted living, “I wish I had done this years ago.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Absolutely. And that is truly the reward, truly the reward when even in our first initial conversation with maybe the adult daughter and I say, “I’m going to help you. I know what to do. You can lean on me for this.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

And you just audibly hear their shoulders lowering. And they’re like, “Oh, thank God.”

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

And it’s incredibly rewarding work because so often, people do this in crisis, right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

We lost my father in law in October and these words, so many words that he said will stick with me forever but the thing that he said to me when he was in the hospital was, “Pam, you know what the worst part is? You never know you’re old till you’re old.”

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

That’s why we end up doing so much of this in crisis. If I can be a soft place for someone to land when they’re trying to figure out something that is so overwhelming, it’s so heartbreaking, that really is a good end of the day.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. It really makes your heart happy.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And there’s nothing better, absolutely. Well, Pam, thank you so much.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

For doing this episode and for being with us. You have shared your wisdom and we appreciate that about you. Thank you so much.

Pam Foti, Elder Care Advocate:

You’re welcome. Thank you.