An interview with Amy Decker from Senior Helpers on September 20, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
I started my journey with seniors in South Florida at an Elder Law Firm in 2013 where I became an assistant, a notary, and HR Manager. While there I was the sole coordinator for an annual conference called Elder Concert that was held in Tampa and Boca Raton, FL for many years. My passion for seniors and those that are disabled, allowed me to move forward and grow into a more hands-on profession and has now been the Director of Client Services for Senior Helpers, South Palm Beach County, since 2019. I have been a volunteer and patient advocate for Vitas Hospice since 2017, and in 2020, I was named Most Inspirational Volunteer. I created the ‘Signature Baby Experience’ where I visit Hospice Patients and those in Memory Care weekly encouraging hands on with my life like baby dolls that generate conversations and good memories and feelings. This has been a total success. I served on the board of directors as secretary for Partnership for Aging Palm Beach County for many years, and I am presently serving on the Board of Directors for Senior Healthcare Coordinators since 2019. I am certified in Teepa Snow Dementia and Alzheimer’s Gems Course Training, JFS Holocaust Survivor Care Program, Life Profile Assessments, Alzheimer’s ALZSTAR Dementia Care Program as well as The Virtual Dementia Tours that are offered to communities in South Florida.
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
I have been asked by radio and TV streaming programs to be a guest on several occasions. These programs were all geared toward the care of seniors and assisting family members and caregivers on their journey of finding the right resources and tools to make the best educated decisions for the proper care for all involved in that daunting task. This has now presented me with a new venue and platform to create my own personal radio and TV Streaming program called ‘Senior Strategies’. This is a lively, fresh, fun discussion with my co-host and dear friend of many years, Shayne Silver. We have both coordinated and planned a forum of many professional, educated, and helpful guests that are on the show that will connect the viewers and listeners with resources and the right tools to care for the seniors in their life. Senior Strategies, LLC also organizes two caregiver support groups that are held in Assisted Living Communities that Senior Helpers is the preferred Home Health Agency. I have a very full, rich and rewarding career that does nothing but ‘Pay it Forward’ all day long., They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I really do LOVE what I do.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My passion has always been to make it a better day or moment for anyone that I am with. I have an extra passion for our dear seniors dealing with memory impairment and those dealing with any challenges that come hand in hand with age and memory. After meeting with Desirae Mearns and learning more about what she does for our loved ones with Parkinsons, I too took the course and became certified in the Parkinsons Training Course. Education is the only way we can be of the utmost assistance to the caregivers and their loved ones they are caring for. I sent the same course to any client of ours that has a loved one with Parkinsons as well as all our caregivers that work for Senior Helpers as I am the Director of Client Services.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?
My goal is to educate myself as much as possible to make the biggest difference in their lives, more importantly I want to education their caregivers, so that they understand the challenges they are dealing with, why, and how to make it more comfortable for them on this journey.
What type of training and how long are the programs?
I offer the APDA Certification test as well as our Teepa Snow Educational piece regarding Parkinsons and the training she offers to our caregivers and their families. We are an Agency that offers RN back up at all times as we all know each person is different.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
My goal is to make them feel understood, loved, and cared for. The more education I receive the better I am for all involved.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
I would love to see the APDA to get the attention it deserves. We need all to know the challenges and solutions.
What events do you participate in?
I have my own TV/Radio Program where we discuss these topics, and I am the Director of Client Services for a Home Health Agency. I also have 2 caregiver support groups a month at 2 different ALF Communities. This year we have offered Desirae Mearns and the APDA to be the recipient of our Annual Charity Event Fundraiser on October 11th!!
How does your advocacy also assist the caregivers?
My education and understanding can only affect the way they are caring for our seniors. With knowledge comes responsibility, and my responsibility is to share that information with all that will benefit.
How can someone get in touch?
My email is email@example.com the links for my TV/Radio/Support Group for Senior Strategies is:
How can others also become advocates for awareness?
It is all up to them and what sort of time and energy they have for their passion. Getting in touch with Desirae Mearns would be the most productive for them and she can mentor them and find their strengths and weaknesses. Dmearns@apdaparkinson.org
If you could add any questions to this interview that you may want others to learn about, what would the question(s) be?
Where is your passion? If you are empathetic and have compassion for the human race, getting involved in making it a better moment, day, or even week in someone’s life struggling with the challenges of any sort of a dementia is the answer. Parkinsons and its awareness needs to be front and center for all to understand. Michale J Fox does so much to educate but we need more!!
In your opinion what is the key to effective advocacy?
Really believing, understanding, and wanting to make a difference. All of those ingredients need to be there.
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
We are here to listen, understand and learn so that we can assist on your journey both for you and your caregiver. We know the struggle is real, you are not alone. We are here to help!!