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SCAN Health Plan Provides 'Senior Sensitivity Training' to City of Los Angeles Department of Aging and Network Service Providers

LOS ANGELES, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the past two months, staff members from the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging along with contracted vendors and service providers, have literally been "walking in the shoes of a senior" by participating in a series of hands-on exercises and sensory perception education intended to demonstrate the physical challenges facing the elderly.

"The program is experiential and focused on providing participants' the opportunities to feel, see and hear the common physical and cognitive changes that occur with aging," said Sherry Stanislaw, senior vice president of the nonprofit SCAN Health Plan who sponsored and conducted the programs. "Participants are often surprised by how they react to certain physical limitations that are mimicked during the program, and many have commented on what an eye-opening experience it is."

To mimic the difficulties experienced with arthritis, for example, program participants were asked to don heavy, clumsy gloves and then button their shirts or open medication bottles and handle small pills. Participants also put popcorn in their shoes and walked around to simulate the feeling of painful joints. Others strapped their arm to their side to see how limiting it can be to deal with the effects of a stroke.

Depriving participants of the level of hearing and sight that most people enjoy their entire lives was also a critical part of the program. Ear plugs were used followed by a hearing test to demonstrate how isolating hearing loss can be. Perhaps most difficult for many participants was when they were asked to wear special glasses that severely limited their vision and approximated many of the seeing challenges and disorders that accompany aging.

"The participants are people who work directly with seniors throughout Los Angeles every day, and the experiences they received in this training are invaluable in helping them do their jobs even better," said Laura Trejo, general manager, City of Los Angeles Department of Aging. "Thanks to this program, we can more fully understand the challenges seniors face as part of the normal aging process."

Among those taking part were representatives from numerous local agencies as well as activity coordinators and directors of the Los Angeles City Adult Day Programs. Funded through community development block grants administered by the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging, adult daycare includes programs, services and facilities designed to help physically or mentally impaired adults remain in their communities. These are persons who might otherwise require institutional or long-term care and rehabilitation. They also allow for respite opportunities for caregivers.

The recent program offerings mark the first time SCAN has partnered with the city of Los Angeles to provide this critically important training. However, SCAN has been providing similar senior sensitivity training to its employees for many years as a way to ensure that they better understand the needs and mindset of its more than 100,000 health plan members. The program also continues to be offered to SCAN board members, physician groups and to elementary school children to enhance their sensitivity in dealing with older adults.

"With our society rapidly aging, this type of education across all ages and industries is more important than ever," said Stanislaw. "As a health plan focused exclusively on the needs of seniors, SCAN is in a unique position to help people understand more about the aging process."

For more than 30 years, SCAN Health Plan has been focusing on the unique needs of people with Medicare and today is the fourth-largest nonprofit Medicare Advantage Plan in the United States. The company currently serves nearly 110,000 members in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Kern counties. In Arizona, SCAN offers a Medicare Advantage Plan in Maricopa County and provides long-term care services to individuals in that county who are enrolled in the state's long-term care system. Further information may be obtained at

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