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Aging can be a complicated phase of the family journey. It becomes even trickier when the aging person’s family members live far away, when relationships are strained or when they simply don’t know how to help.

That’s where ShiningCare comes in. This nonprofit aims to ease stress, giving compassionate direction and assistance to the entire family, allowing loved ones to keep their main focus on the relationship and the time they have together.

ShiningCare was established in 2009 with a mission to meet the unmet needs of at-risk elderly, disabled adults and their loved ones. These trusted professionals extend compassion and hope, providing expert advice and connection to needed resources for safety, health and improved quality of life.

“This work is so important, because every family will eventually experience the stress of trying to figure out how best to keep their loved ones safe and happy as changes of condition happen and risks multiply,” says Joanne McCarley, founder and executive director of ShiningCare. “Due to increasing numbers of people aging, coupled with inadequate and decreasing resources for our elderly population, there is a rapidly growing need for support and care for these individuals who are lost, lonely, hurting and at risk. Our programs and services prevent neglect, elder abuse, loss of health and independence, premature institutionalization, unnecessary hospital admissions and re-admissions, homelessness and more.”

ShiningCare’s Gatekeeper Program was developed in 2011 to address these issues and has proven to be successful in preventing these critical situations and keeping elders safe. The program does this by partnering and training public agencies, organizations, health care providers and caring community individuals. The free training provides skills that enable them to recognize and refer older adults who may be in need of assistance. Once identified, the Gatekeeper connects the elder to ShiningCare who provides a free risk assessment to determine what support and services are needed for safety and wellness.

McCarley has a degree in social work and more than 25 years of experience working with seniors and disabled adults in both medical and community settings. She is ShiningCare’s programs director and lead care manager, and her goal is to guide and advocate for clients as they navigate the complex systems and uncertainties of what to do.

“Love for our community is at the core of our mission,” McCarley says. “We are dedicated to helping individuals and families cope, and even thrive, as they deal with the challenges of what is often a difficult season of life.”

ShiningCare offers resources and services that help build relationships and prevent isolation, loneliness and depression. The organization’s Aging Life Care Professionals work with aging adults wherever they live to help them age well while supporting quality of life for family members. They apply their skills in eight key areas to create a care plan tailored to each family’s individual needs and strengths: health and disability, finances, housing, family, local resources, advocacy, legal and crisis intervention.

“I hope our clients experience peace of mind, restoration of security and well-being,” McCarley says.