Review from our interview with Liz Craven

Many seniors reach a point in their lives where they simply cannot manage their daily tasks alone. When that day comes, for most families the best move is to help them find a quality senior living facility where they can make a new home. It is a hard decision and the stakes are high. You want your loved one to be happy, and many seniors are resistant to the idea. What makes it even more difficult is when said loved one is not capable of making that decision.  According to Alzheimer’s Association one in ten people ages 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia. You may be reading this blog and you either know someone that is going through this transition or are personally going through it as we speak. Well fear not, we recently sat down with Liz Craven of Pro Ad Media and she just may have the solution you may have been looking for.

If There is a Need There is a Way:
Upon graduating from Florida State and going to work in corporate America, Liz Craven met her husband Wes, and both were in the retail environment. After the two were hitched they decided very quickly that retail management was not how they were going to live their married life together. They then decided to move to Lakeland to be close to Wes’ family.  Mabel, Wes’ grandma had Alzheimer’s and once she was diagnosed they knew part of the solution was to move closer to help. Mabel’s journey through Alzheimer’s was hard for the whole family. It wasn’t a time when you could just hop on computer and find google answers to everything that you wanted had a question about. Resources were something you really had to seek out. At some point Mabel fell, she ended up in the hospital. Needed to go rehab after her release. According to Liz the folks at the hospital gave the family a list of phone numbers for potential rehabs and that was all they had to go on. Liz’s husband’s mother was working full time as a teacher at the time so it was up to Liz and Wes as 20 somethings to figure out how to help Mabel. They  had no idea where to turn, and so knocking on doors and hitting the library and calling anyone  who would answer is how they did their research. It became quite a passion for Wes who wanted to make sure that his grandmother was well cared for. In the end they found a great care for her. The rest of that journey is another story in itself because Alzheimer’s can be quite a devastating disease. But through that experience they recognized that if they needed this information that other people did too. So Liz and Wes decided to do something about that to make sure that they could help and provide some access of information and some help the people in crisis. Families that did not know where to turn. Wes continued his research and they put together in a book format. They asked the Lakeland community for its support and here they are 25 years later with Polk Elder Guide Care still being a cornerstone of resource that is used for the senior population here in Polk County.

About the Polk Elder Care Guide
The Polk Elder Guide is an annual publication for seniors and their family members throughout Polk County who want to learn what resources are available in the county. Every year they make sure all the providing information is current. Even a year down the road you will see lots of items coming in and out. You’ll have new organizations appear you will have other organizations change hands. You will have some companies that such as homecare that come and go. There are a lot of companies that come and go, and they make sure that everything is updated on a regular basis. The community resources are something that they are constantly discovering. It is probably by far the most difficult task they have is identifying resources that are available for people. Some of that is because those who know of them want to hold them dear so that when they need to refer to those resources that they are available because non-prophets can become very overwhelmed by the demand they are faced with locally. That can be an issue. They have a lot of incredible people in this community who are addressing that issue and working on that. They got some exciting things coming here in Polk county area in that respect.

What Makes the Polk Elder Care Guide Useful?
The checklist is what makes the elder guide useful. There are a few things that are important that will never change in this guide. Number one, educate people. You will also find that it is a color-coded directory and each section for example the assistant living section starts with education. Someone can go though there and understand what assistant living means by the time they read through those few pages. After they read about it they are going to know what is available, so they have a complete directory. What neat is regardless of whether organizations are advertised with Polk Elder Care Guide they are listed in there. Liz and Wes want you to know every assistant living facility or community available to you locally, so they provide that information and the phone numbers. The Checklist can help you go through the long lists of facilities. The Checklist is two pages of questions including how much this is going to cost me and how is the food, and what do I see when I walk through the building are the residents engaged. Things to look for. When you are in that situation trying to make that choice is very difficult to remember all those bits. All those little pieces to check on. And so, providing it in the check list format it will allow someone to walk through a facility and preview it by highlighting the questions they really need answered and use that as a guide to tour different facilities. The checklist gives you an opportunity to compare three different choices. By the end they should be able to make a very educated choice and we have checklists like that also for the nursing home section and the home care section.

Do I Have to Pay for The Polk Elder Care Guide?
Absolutely not! The guide is distributed FREE each year in paper form. The information may also be accessed on their website:

We hope you enjoyed this month’s blog post! Stay tuned for roundtable discussion with Liz Craven, Jorge Geraldo, Tasha Saca and Randall Munsters.

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