The springwell blog

Apr 04

April is Health Care Decisions Month

April is Health Care Decisions Month, and Springwell is pleased to announce that we are launching the Advance Directives Project to address the lack of end-of-life planning among seniors in our programs. Understanding end-of-life-care choices and being able to talk about them with family and health providers are important for all adults but especially for seniors. A survey of 1,886 seniors in Springwell programs found that 70% of them did not have any advance directive documents, and another 24% did not know if they did. Springwell’s new project will help interested seniors develop and write down their personal decisions with the aid of a specially trained care advisor.

Bob Morley (pictured here with Springwell Care Advisor, Ann Fucci) is one senior who supports Springwell’s new initiative. Bob lost his sister last summer, and he is still upset about how her medical care negatively affected the end of her life. Bob does not know if he has an advance directive in place, but he is open to the idea of talking to someone about it. "I think it’s a good program," he said. "The idea is to be ahead of the game."

In joining the growing national movement to promote conversations and planning about end-of-life care, Springwell is ensuring that the seniors we serve are included in this important work.

Springwell is very grateful to the Leaves of Grass Fund for project funding, and we are proud to partner with Honoring Choices Massachusetts, a private nonprofit that provides staff training and support. For support and tools to put in place your own health care plan, visit their " Getting Started Tool Kit."


Mar 06

Making the Impossible Possible

In December of 2008, it seemed impossible that 83-year old Jeanne would ever return to the home she loved. A bad fall months earlier sent her first to the hospital and then to a rehabilitation facility. Though long-term symptoms of post-polio syndrome meant Jeanne used a wheelchair, she had managed independently for years and was even famous for being able to vacuum from her wheelchair. But after her fall, Jeanne was unable to transfer herself into and out of her chair. Her physician and the staff at the rehabilitation facility were dubious about a return home, but Jeanne, a fiercely independent woman, was determined. Her determination was matched by the convictions of Springwell’s Jo White, a social worker who helped Jeanne enroll in the Community Choices program, a newly created program that mandated nursing-home-eligible seniors be given the option of receiving care at home.

Jo led an interdisciplinary team comprised of Jeanne, Springwell nurses and social workers, staff at the rehabilitation facility, Jeanne’s physician, and a local in-home services provider. As she facilitated these meetings, Jo ensured that all discussions focused on how to honor Jeanne’s choice to return to her home.

The coordination and planning took seven months, but in July of 2009, the impossible became possible when Jeanne spent her first night in her own apartment. With the support of a worker who assists Jeanne with her personal care and homemaking needs, some important adaptive equipment, and a comprehensive emergency back-up system, she’s been happily living independently for the past seven years.

To learn more about Jeanne and Springwell's work in 2016, view our online Annual Report


Jan 09

Springwell Featured in The Atlantic

Springwell is honored to be featured in an ongoing photo series being hosted by The Atlantic.  The series, called "Americans at Work" is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and launched on December 10th. The essay featuring Springwell, "Caring for Our Elders," was published on Saturday, January 7, 2017, and shows the work that Springwell does to help seniors as they seek to age in place by following two of our care advisors during their work this fall. 


Dec 06

Why Long-Distance Caregivers Seek Professional Help

During the holiday season families and friends visit aging loved ones. Frequently this is the time when they discover troubling changes in the health, behavior, or physical appearance of their family member. Many will discover their aging loved one now needs more help or attention. Springwell’s Private Geriatric Care Management Program offers a below-market rate solution for long-distance caregivers - those who live a significant distance from a person who needs care.

A recent survey by the Aging Life Care Association (all Springwell PGCM staff, like those shown above, are members), shows that over 30% of an Aging Life Care Professional’s case load involves families attempting to coordinate care for a loved one from a distance.

The 382 participants revealed the top reasons why long-distance caregivers seek help from geriatric care managers. The data show that professionals are contacted most often by long-distance caregivers when:

  • There is a crisis or emergency (76%)
  • Making a visit sees significant changes in health, behavior, or home maintenance (57%)
  • There is a need to explore placement options or relocation (41%)
From mediating complicated family relationships to serving as the local emergency contact, the role geriatric care manager plays varies client by client. The top five services long-distance caregivers are looking for when they engage a professional are:
  • Consultation about how to best help their parent and/or family (87%)
  • Assessment and care planning (83%)
  • Ongoing oversight/monitoring of care (75%)
  • Routine communication and status updates to out-of-town family (68%)
  • Arranging for home care services (68%)
“Most long-distance caregivers hire us when the situation has escalated or becomes a problem that they can’t solve alone,” says Dianne McGraw, LCSW, CMC and president of the Aging Life Care Association. “Our expertise and our knowledge of local resources allow us to become the team captain and coordinate services. We become the eyes and ears for the long-distance caregiver.”

Survey respondents offered examples of long-distance caregiving cases, many echoing the sentiment that working with geriatric care managers reduces stress and helps improve or restore family relationships.

Jo White, LCSW and Director of the Private Geriatric Care Management Program at Springwell, states that “many long-distance caregivers have trusted us to provide the expertise and experience to address the needs of their loved ones. We are passionate about advocating for elders and their families and aim to provide caregivers with peace of mind.”

More information about Springwell’s Private Geriatric Care Management Program.


Oct 11

Help Shape Senior Services in Your Community

Are you a senior or a caregiver living Belmont, Brookline, Needham, Newton, Waltham, Watertown, Wellesley, or Weston, MA? Do you have the services you need to remain living in your home for as long as you like? Could you, or a senior you know, benefit from new types of services? Then please consider taking our brief survey to make your voice heard. Springwell wants to learn more about the needs of older adults and caregivers in your community. 

There are two ways to make your voice heard:

  • Join us for Information Gathering Sessions on Services and Supports for Seniors at Home:

Monday, October 17th at 10:00 am
Linden & Chambers Community Room
5 Chambers Street, Needham
(To register, call Laura Vanderhill at 617-926-4100)


Friday, October 21 at 12:30 pm
Theresa J. Morse Apartments Community Room
90 Longwood Avenue, Brookline
(To sign-up for the 12 noon lunch, call 617-735-7588 by October 19)


Sep 15

Working FAST for Stroke Prevention

Springwell is pleased to be participating in a stroke awareness project funded by Mount Auburn Hospital Community Health Department. Mount Auburn, along with five other Massachusetts hospitals, is part of a pilot program to improve emergency stroke care and outcomes. Springwell is one of several community partners who received a grant from MAH to help spread the word about stroke warning signs in the communities of Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, Waltham, and Watertown.

What is a stroke? A stroke occurs when one of the blood vessels that carries blood to the brain is blocked or bursts. If that part of the brain does not get the blood it needs, brain cells die. To help prevent this from happening, it is important to know the signs using F.A.S.T.:

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a single phrase. Is their speech slurred or does it sound strange?
Time: If you observe one or more of these symptoms or notice them in someone else, even for a short time, call 9-1-1 immediately!
While the F.A.S.T. message does not include all potential stroke symptoms, it is easy to remember and it emphasizes the quick action needed to save lives and prevent severe disability. Springwell will be distributing F.A.S.T. during September and October to hundreds of seniors, Springwell staff and volunteers, and Springwell’s online community.

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of their age, but the risk can be reduced by practicing healthy habits, such as monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels, avoiding tobacco use, limiting salt intake and eating more fruits and vegetables, and exercising on a regular basis. If you are interested in learning more about stroke symptoms or prevention, visit


Aug 02

Mindfulness Meditation at Springwell

Mindfulness Meditation Workshop

Stressed? Worried? Preoccupied with the future, or the past? If you are a caregiver, even if you've never considered meditation to be something for you, learning how to be present in the moment can help. When we can live more fully in the moment we make fewer mistakes, come up with better solutions, navigate challenges more effectively, and are better able to enjoy the people around us. This fall, we are bringing in an expert to help us get started.

Join Boston’s Best Mindfulness Coach (2016) Kimber Green for a three part workshop to learn:

  • The foundations of mindfulness
  • How to make meditation a regular practice
  • How to bring mindfulness and meditation into our daily lives

When: September 8th, 15th, and 22nd from 3-4:30PM

Where: Springwell, 307 Waverley Oaks Rd, Waltham, MA 02452

This is a FREE program for caregivers and requires absolutely no prior experience with meditation. Join us for any or all of the sessions.

To register, call Molly Saldo, Springwell's Caregiver Specialist, at 617-972-5635 or email


Jul 05

Controlling Chronic Conditions

Mrs. Flynn is one of many local older adults working to actively regain control over their health – and their life by participating in one of the evidence-based Healthy Living workshops offered by Springwell.

Mrs. Flynn, who is in her early 60’s, has high blood pressure and Type-2 Diabetes. When she first joined The Diabetes Self-Management Class offered by Springwell and held at her community center, her weekly action plan included portion control at every meal and exercise. She committed to walking for one mile a day, 3 days a week. She also worked on managing her portion sizes better, trading in her large bowl of cereal in the morning for a smaller bowl.

By the end of the six-week workshop, Mrs. Flynn was walking a mile nearly every single day, it made her feel so good. She had lost some weight and was looking forward to seeing her doctor’s surprise at her next checkup. Her inspiration? The workshop leaders, like those pictured above, and seeing others successfully making changes to their lifestyles helped Mrs. Flynn realize that she could do it too.

Springwell offers a number of programs that help adults take charge of improving their health and well-being.

Diabetes Self-Management, Chronic Disease Self-Management, Chronic Pain Self-Management, and Powerful Tools for Caregivers workshops are offered in community locations including adult education centers, community centers, Councils on Aging, and some doctor’s offices.

The Healthy Living Program is one of Springwell’s innovative approaches to the health and wellness needs of our communities. It is helping to empower those with chronic illnesses, as well as those who provide care – offering the tools, confidence and support for participants to assume primary role in managing their condition and in improving their quality of life.

For more information, check out the Healthy Living Program page, and the current schedule of workshops.


May 05

Supportive Housing Helps

Concepcion, who prefers to be called Connie, moved to the Brookline Supportive Housing program in early 2015 when a unit in an accessible building became available through the housing authority. Connie has lived in Brookline for a number of years and loves the area. A United States citizen for over fifty years, with roots in Cuba, she worked for many years while raising her three sons after her husband passed away at a young age.

Springwell's Brookline Supportive Housing Program is designed in the style of a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC), in which housing entities unite with health and social service providers to promote and support healthy and integrated aging-in-place. Connie has gained a sense of security since moving into the Supportive Housing program. With a consistent homemaker and access to the round-the-clock assistance of on-site overnight workers, as well as her personal emergency response system (PERS) and the support of the case manager, Connie feels great peace of mind. She likes being able to maintain her independence while still receiving the help that she needs and wants in her home. Connie enjoys attending activities in the community room and shared that her favorite is Bingo.

“The best part of living in the Supportive Housing program is that I can enjoy time with my son and grandchildren who live nearby, rather than rely on them for assistance for things like laundry and sweeping the floors that my homemaker now assists me with each week,” says Connie. “I love the Springwell program, and hope that others do too.”


Apr 01

Supporting Change During a Transition: Private Geriatric Care Management

Marcie, a retired teacher, was struggling with the upkeep of her home, and increased anxiety made it hard for her to live alone. She had also recently given up driving because of poor eyesight. A brief hospitalization last spring was the tipping point that caused her to reach out to Springwell.

Kathy Kemp, Springwell’s Private Geriatric Care Manager, met Marcie as she was leaving the hospital. She helped Marcie understand the hospital discharge process, what her home-care instructions were, and then drove her home. Kathy arranged for 24/7 support from a home-health agency for a few weeks while Marcie recovered. Over the next several months, Kathy helped Marcie negotiate her ongoing doctors’ appointments, made sure that her in-home supports were working for her, and talked through the process of selling her house. Together, they looked at different assisted-living facilities. Kathy helped Marcie prioritize what was most important to her in a new home and supported her while she made her choice. Once Marcie settled on an assisted-living community and a move-in date, Kathy helped her pack up her home and decide what to take with her. Although Kathy worked with Marcie only about four hours each week, that time made all the difference to Marcie’s ability to cope during a stressful time of transition. 
As Marcie settled into her new home and connected with the staff at the facility, she needed much less support from Kathy. Within a month’s time Marcie and Kathy wrapped up their working relationship. On a recent follow-up visit Marcie lit up upon seeing Kathy; “She’s such a sweetheart. I wouldn’t have been able to manage without her.”
More and more seniors like Marcie – and their caregivers – find themselves wanting support during times of transition or periods of increased need. Springwell’s Solutions in Care program offers that support at an affordable hourly rate. In addition, Springwell offers access to an extensive network of in-home care providers who have been providing services to Springwell clients for up to 30 years.
More information about Springwell's Private Geriatric Care Management Program.


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307 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 205, Waltham, MA 02452
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