Why Seniors Need Vaccines (and How They Can Get Them at Home)

By Emily Shewmaker, Pharmacist and Founder of Vaccine Valet, Chevy Chase, Maryland

Vaccine needle and vial

Why should you or your loved ones get vaccines, and what makes them so valuable to the health of older adults? With so much vaccine talk lately, questions like these have been on many people’s minds. It’s important that seniors and their families fully understand why vaccines are such an important part of healthy aging, as well as how and when they should be scheduling them.

Think of a vaccine as a personal trainer for your immune system. We hire personal trainers to assess, educate and create effective exercise programs that empower us to reach our health goals. Vaccines are similar in that they work by introducing the blueprint of a particular disease-causing agent, which our immune system then uses to recognize, minimize, and destroy potential exposures to that disease in the future. So, why should we get vaccines? To jumpstart our immune systems to be more efficient at eradicating these infections and viruses.

Many vaccines require subsequent boosters to help maintain the optimal level of protection needed. If the vaccine is like our personal trainer, then, these boosters are similar to the check-in’s we periodically have with our trainers to stay on course with our goals. These subsequent vaccine boosters are as important as receiving the initial inoculation, and the timing of them is key to sustaining the minimal response required to overcome the effects of preventable diseases.

So now that you know a little more about why you and your loved ones should be vaccinated, which specific vaccines are recommended for seniors? Below are the vaccines most often recommended for those ages 50 and older. There may be additional vaccines suggested depending on lifestyle, vaccination history, or other illnesses that may shorten the time intervals of receiving a booster.

Recommended Vaccines for Seniors:

  • Shingles: recommended for seniors age 50+; two doses 2-6 months apart
  • Pneumonia: recommended for seniors 65+; need to be vaccinated again if received younger than age 64
  • Tetanus: recommended for all seniors; booster is needed every 10 years
  • Influenza: recommended for all seniors annually; the adjuvanted (Fluad®) and the high-dose (Fluzone® High-Dose) versions are formulated and approved specifically for those 65 and older.
  • COVID-19: The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 years and older should get one updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be up to date. People ages 65 years and older may get a second dose four or more months after the first dose.

We are quickly approaching the fall and winter seasons, the time of year when the influenza virus begins to circulate. As a preventative measure, the flu vaccine is highly recommended to mitigate the symptoms and severity of this virus. As we age, so do our immune systems – and they naturally begin to lose some of their strength in fighting off infection.

Vaccine Valet has formed a solid relationship with Family & Nursing Care over the years because we admire their expertise in providing quality, reliable in-home care and support – our own loved ones are actually clients! Vaccine Valet offers support to Family & Nursing Care clients and their families by offering vaccination services in the comfort of their own home. Family & Nursing Care does not receive any payment or services for clients who use Vaccine Valet’s services. To learn more about Vaccine Valet or to request an in-home vaccine appointment for yourself or your loved one, find us at www.vaccinevalet.com.

Kelly Salb, Vice President, Client Services, Named to Aging Media Network’s Future Leaders Class of 2022

Kelly Salb, Director of Client Services, Named to Aging Media Network’s Future Leaders Class of 2022
We are so proud of Kelly Salb, LBSW, Family & Nursing Care’s Vice President, Client Services, who was named to Aging Media Network’s Home Health & Home Care Future Leaders Class of 2022. Kelly works tirelessly on behalf of the clients she serves and is a true partner to the professionals she works with. Read more about this prestigious award here.

Kelly has learned over the course of her career that it’s important to meet people where they are in order to provide a better overall experience.  Read more of Kelly’s interview here.

To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40 years old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being. Please join us in congratulating Kelly on this amazing and well-deserved accomplishment!

A Special Bond – Family Linked not by Blood, but by Mutual Respect, Love, and Trust

Grace Rogers HeadshotThe relationship between Family & Nursing Care Caregiver, Grace Rogers, and the Pratt family began nearly a decade ago when Grace started caring for the late Mrs. Pratt. Following his mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Mrs. Pratt’s son, Peter Harris, received a referral for home care services from the family’s care manager at Aging Network Services, an aging life care management provider. Mr. Harris subsequently reached out to Family & Nursing Care. Grace was the first Caregiver who the family interviewed, and it didn’t take long for either party to know that it was a good match. Grace explained, “After the second question, the family could see that I clicked with them and asked me to begin work that same day.”

Grace has not only provided the highest level of care to both the late Mrs. Pratt and currently her husband Mr. Pratt, but also became an integral part of the extended Pratt family throughout the years. Mrs. Pratt and Grace grew very close over course of the seven years Grace cared for her until her death in 2020. Peter says, “They understood each other till the very end. It was almost like they had a nonverbal connection – Grace always somehow knew what my mother was thinking.”

Grace sometimes affectionately referred to Mrs. Pratt as “Mommy” because of the mother-like role she played in her life. And Grace’s dedication to the family is nothing short of  extraordinary – she even ceased travel to Africa to see her own family while taking care of Mrs. Pratt because she knew she was needed while Mrs. Pratt’s health was so fragile. Grace said, “I needed her to know that I was there and wouldn’t leave her when she needed me. She was my family too.”

Grace stayed on to care for Mr. Pratt after Mrs. Pratt’s passing and is just as devoted to his care as she was to that of his late wife. Peter finds great comfort knowing his stepfather is being well taken care of by Grace, and that the family can turn to the Family & Nursing Care team for questions and support. In addition, he is grateful for the support of Alison Carelli, Mr. Pratt’s care manager at Aging Network Services. Living on the opposite side of the country, Peter tries to visit to check in on Mr. Pratt every six weeks, but relies on Mr. Pratt’s care team to keep him apprised with clear lines of communication. He says, “The staff at Family & Nursing Care is professional. They give me a sense of confidence. When they are on the job, I know everything is going to be okay.”

Because of their tenure together, Mr. Pratt trusts Grace implicitly, and she is able be direct with him when needed. Alison said, “Grace is able to tell him how it is, and he receives it so well because of their long-term relationship. She knows what she’s talking about and cares very much about him, and he knows it too.”

This year, Grace’s mother became very ill, so she went back to Africa for a visit. Although Mr. Pratt received excellent care from a substitute Caregiver in her absence, the family noticed that he wasn’t eating as much. Anticipating Grace’s return, Mr. Pratt joked with his family saying, “Grace will cook me good food.” Sure enough, he was happy to have Grace back, as he demonstrated by beginning to eat better again.

The relationship between the Pratt family and Grace is truly a blessing to all parties. During the winter holiday season, the whole family, including Grace, come together to enjoy a native African holiday dinner that she prepares. Grace said, “It’s so nice to be included in their family in this special way.”

The Pratt family appreciates Grace for the care she has provided to Mr. and Mrs. Pratt over the years, and she appreciates them for trusting her to take care of each of them as if they were her own family.

There is no question that Grace puts her heart into everything she does, and the mutual love the Pratts and Grace have for each other has bonded them forever. It is bonds like this that encourage us at Family & Nursing Care as we continue to strive to solve aging adult challenges that families in our region face each day.

Meet Madison Hoover – Elevating Client Support Through Compassionate Guidance

Madison Hoover HeadshotMadison Hoover’s commitment to a high level of customer service through empathy, guidance, and compassion tailored to each client is unparalleled. Since joining the Client Services department in March of 2020, the clients and families that she serves at Leisure World have continuously sung Madison’s praises for the incredible support she has provided to them:

“Communications with Madison and her efforts to meet our caregiving needs are excellent, timely, and responsive.”

“Madison has been a joy to work with. She is very helpful, returns my calls promptly, and is knowledgeable.”

“Our new manager, Madison took over the job beautifully, maintaining a high level of coordination. In the very rare times when a Caregiver did not work out, Madison has handled the problem quickly and with sensitivity.”

Madison’s sense of organization and attention to detail, responsiveness, caring nature, and excellent communication skills, especially in complex situations, as demonstrated by the feedback above is a testament to her dedication to those in the community she serves, as well as the professionals she works alongside.

Madison holds a bachelor’s degree in Family & Human Services in addition to a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration. Prior to joining the Family & Nursing Care team, she worked as a case manager and mental health administrator for military families for four years.

Madison and her husband are excitedly anticipating the arrival of a baby boy this summer.

The Family & Nursing Care Foundation – Establishing a Legacy

Sandy Kursban HeadshotFamily & Nursing Care was recently recognized by the Washington Business Journal as one of the top 15 midsize companies for giving in the Greater D.C. area. The Family & Nursing Care Foundation plays a big role in the company’s philanthropic efforts.

“When I founded Family & Nursing Care in 1968, my dream was to provide older adults and their families peace of mind by offering them a resource for reliable, dedicated, and compassionate home care whenever it was needed,” says Family & Nursing Care’s founder and visionary, Sandy Kursban.

At Family & Nursing Care, they clearly understand that the cost of home care may be a barrier for lower income older adults who could benefit from home care. That’s why Sandy established the Family & Nursing Care Foundation, a fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, in 2008.  Through grants to community partners the Foundation helps lower-income older adults gain access to needed home care.

“It warms my heart that so many members of our Family & Nursing Care staff have chosen and continue to choose to make donations to the Family & Nursing Care Foundation – whether through payroll deduction, at our annual holiday party, or through initiatives such as our GivHero challenge,” says Sandy.

Fostering the Next Generation of Caregivers

The Family & Nursing Care Foundation not only helps low-income older adults to have access to quality home care, but the Foundation also awards scholarship funds to Montgomery College to help local students become the next generation of trained Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

Sandy says it’s rewarding to talk with the scholarship recipients – especially upon graduation – and hear how grateful they are for the support that provided them an opportunity to not only improve their lives, but also the lives of others.

“This is what my life, both personal and professional, is all about,” says Sandy. “With the work of the Foundation, our commitment to helping others can extend to more people than ever before.”

Sandy recalls a time when a scholarship recipient inquired with her about joining Family & Nursing Care as a Caregiver. After following Sandy’s guidance and gaining two years of long-term care experience in a nursing home or private duty setting (Family & Nursing Care’s prerequisite for onboarding Caregivers), the CNA scholarship recipient is now a Caregiver with Family & Nursing Care and is helping to improve the lives of clients through compassionate care.

What’s Next

The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to more than double to 98 million by 2060, and Maryland’s projected population of people over 60 is expected to make up 26% of the 6.7 million total population by 2030. Recent studies have shown that there will need to be more than 1.3 million new Caregivers to meet the home care demand for this growing population.

“I started the Foundation because I wanted to offer assistance for older adults who couldn’t afford care,” says Sandy. “Now, it’s also really important to make sure that we have enough Caregivers as the population ages.”

It is the Foundation’s goal to continue to advocate for low-income seniors and the care they deserve, all while supporting the next generation of Caregivers who will provide care for those seniors.

“Together, we can make a huge difference in the lives of so many others,” Sandy says.

Learn more about the Foundation here.

Family & Nursing Care Awarded with the 2022 NBRI Circle of Excellence Award

NBRI Circle of Excellence SealFamily & Nursing Care is thrilled to have been recognized with the National Business Research Institute’s (NBRI) Circle of Excellence Award for the seventh consecutive year. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding achievements in Customer, Staff, and Caregiver Satisfaction based on data gathered from 2021 annual surveys of Caregivers, staff, and clients.

The data collected from the survey helps our team understand the experiences of our clients and their Caregivers and allows us to identify areas of excellence, in addition to opportunities for growth and improvement. With a focus on delivering the best client, Caregiver, and staff experience, this validation is meaningful to Family & Nursing Care, and we are proud to share:

  • Caregivers categorized all 10 topics addressed in the survey as strengths, with Technology and Benefits & Compensation seeing a significant increase in satisfaction over the 2020 survey results. Additionally, 94% of respondents answered that “Overall, I like being a caregiver with Family & Nursing Care.”
  • This year, we added an office staff survey gauging 14 different areas. Our office staff identified all 14 areas as strengths, with Values & Vison and Supervision performing at a best-in-class level of 90% or above satisfaction rating.
  • Clients expressed 94% satisfaction with the initial intake process, and 96% of respondents answered that they would recommend Family & Nursing Care to a friend or family member.

Family & Nursing Care embraces the best practice of continually assessing customer and worker experiences (including staff and Caregivers for Family & Nursing Care) and targeting the variables that drive these experiences to provide Family & Nursing Care with the keen insight and actions necessary for the continuous improvement of client, staff, and Caregiver thinking, behavior, and experience.