At $7M a spot, Super Bowl ads have big stakes and are sometimes more entertaining than the game itself. At Assured Allies we care deeply about how older adults are portrayed in popular culture, and so we watch closely every year for how they fare on advertising’s biggest stage. Compared to some really mind-blowingly ageist ads in past Super Bowls, the 2024 slate shows glimmers of mild progress. That said, we still have a long way to go.

Still in stride at 80+

The BMW ad, one of the best according to the NYT’s ranking, features 80yo Christopher Walken as himself, suffering gladly the everyday fools who flatter him by trying to imitate his signature verbal cadence and twang. But no one has the real deal: there’s only one Walken. This vintage actor has earned his BMW by being a maverick, an authentic original who has only gotten better with time. 

A related ad is STōK Cold Brew with 86yo Anthony Hopkins, also playing himself, who makes fun of his serious actor reputation by donning a giant Wrex the Dragon costume and, fueled by Cold Brew, shouting “ROAR!” to Wrexham Soccer Club fans. The lampooning of Hopkins’ reputation, however, is nevertheless an indirect form of flattery. Hopkins is legend, and he gets the last word in the ad, a victorious “Ahhh!”

It’s great to see these two legends steal the show at age 80+. I just wish they had more diverse company. The only non-white-male legend who comes close is Glenn Close, 76, in the Booking.com ad, but she’s only featured as Tina Fey’s non-desirable body double, identified after she whips off her brunette wig to display a cloud of white hair. “My nemesis!” says the horrified Fey. 

Older adults as comic foils

Hopefully, we have moved beyond the painfully obvious ageism in ads that make slapstick-style fun of older adult bodies like E*Trade’s 2018 “This is getting old” ad, the 2010 Betty White Snickers ad, and Taco Bell’s “Viva Young” 2013 ad

But have we? The Doritos ad, which features two abuelas, Dina and Mita, chasing down a young man who steals the last bag of Dinamita chips at the store from their hands, comes awfully close. We’re supposed to laugh as the two “old ladies” ram their motorized shopping carts into his car, crash through a window, and zipline down from a tall building to flail-kick him into submission. The humor is grounded in the absurdity: these old, frail abuelas would never be able to do that! The playbook here is the same as the E-Trade toddlers playing pickleball: old people, toddlers, and animals are funny when cast in adult roles precisely because they in no way qualify for them.

Oh how achingly sweet!

Older adult characters who function mainly as opportunities for younger people to show heart, loyalty, or compassion are a common sentimental trope, and the 2024 Kia ad is true to type. A father races his daughter, who has just won a figure skating championship, to her ailing grandfather so she can skate her winning ice dance in person for him. The grandfather, who improbably lives alone in a cabin surrounded by wilderness, is unable to even come outside and writes a “10” in the foggy glass window to score her performance. 

This ad is a tear-jerker of the “so close and yet so far” variety that in many ways echoes the Chevrolet 2023 Christmas ad where an empathic young woman goes way out of her way to make a human connection with an older female relative who has dementia. Older people are going, going, gone—fading from relevance—and so if you make an effort to value or recognize them or bring them back to life, then you are way above the unfeeling masses (in fact, you’re so special that you might want to buy a Chevrolet or a Kia).

The best age-positive ad

In terms of age positivity, the Superbowl 2024 winner is, somewhat surprisingly, the Microsoft Co-Pilot AI ad. Featuring a slew of anonymous Gen-Z types secretly burning with ambition despite society’s dismal view of them—”they say I’ll never make my movie”—the ad then ups the ante with tantalizingly brief glimpses of a long-haired older man smoking cigarettes and a middle-aged female medical professional with the copy: “they say I’m too old to learn something new, too young to change the world.” 

The fact that the secret sauce of all of these future talents is outsourcing all their thinking and production to Co-Pilot AI is a bit weird, but kudos to Microsoft for allowing older adults into the AI party at all, and for illuminating the natural alliance between the “too young” and the “too old,” both of whom suffer from age bias in our society. I just wish there were more older adults featured. Only 2/15 are older than 20-something, and neither of them returns at the end like several of the young people do to demo their prompt-writing skills on the AI app. 

In conclusion, we’re making progress, but it’s slow. There are so many opportunities for advertisers to break the mold in 2025 and really show older adults as, well, adults. Let’s just start there.

As we step into 2024, I’m excited about the future of project management. Looking back at my work for Assured Allies’ AgeAssured program, which helps older adults thrive at home safely and independently, I’ve witnessed the incredible innovation and productivity in our field that happens when diverse perspectives, technology, and clear communication come together. Here are five reasons why I’m optimistic about 2024.

1. Increasing diversity

2024 will drive forward the aspiration towards greater diversity and inclusion within our ranks. Our field needs talent from all backgrounds. By harnessing the unique talents and experiences of individuals from all backgrounds, we can unlock innovative solutions and build a stronger, more resilient community.

II. Better communication

Whether it’s fostering collaboration, aligning stakeholders, or simply avoiding misunderstandings, clear and concise communication is the backbone of every successful project. In 2024, project managers will continue to become masters of the art, inspiring and motivating those around us through transparent and impactful communication.

Personally, I hope to follow more consistently the communication strategies that I recommend to others. I will avoid jargon and technical terms that may not be understood by everyone; communicate important information as soon as possible rather than at the last minute; and start every meeting with a clear agenda. After each meeting, I’ll follow up as quickly as possible with meeting minutes to help people to stay on track.

III. Better tools

2024 will continue of course the long-standing trend of game-changing technology in our field. Project managers who pay attention and shape how their teams are using company collaboration and communication software to maximize efficiency and protect everyone’s focus time will always be ahead of the pack. This year, let’s continue to break down silos, explore new possibilities, and harness the power of data-driven decision-making across all of our technological platforms.

IV. No more burnout

Last but not least, let’s not forget to exhale. The days of the “workhorse” mentality are over. We can achieve incredible things without sacrificing well-being. By adopting smart tools and modeling expectations for productivity and how to measure it (hint, it’s not about hours facing a screen!), we can all help each other to excel without burnout.

V. Agility

In a world of constant change, the power to anticipate and address challenges proactively is vital. In 2024, project managers will step forward as agile leaders who embrace change as a catalyst for growth. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, was an opportunity for many companies to reflect on what could be improved. At Assured Allies, we immediately embraced the change and used it to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies across the company, which enabled us to almost seamlessly transition to a remote work environment. After some trial and error, we gravitated to a set of tools best suited for our culture of interdisciplinary collaboration. 

As we leave 2023 behind, let’s leave behind the habits that hinder our progress. Instead, let’s embrace respectful dialogue, mindful communication, and collaborative problem-solving.

I look forward to a promising year ahead—a year of progress and inclusivity in our profession. May it bring us peace.

What’s in store for 2024? We gathered our top leaders, ear-to-the-grounders, and trusted mentor and futurist Adam Hanft to bring you our best predictions on two of the hot topics in our company wheelhouse, Successful Aging and the long-term care industry. Enjoy!

We’re long on long-term care insurance 

Accelerating trends

Trends already established will build momentum into 2024 and beyond. More states will experiment with a mandatory LTC employee tax to ensure broader coverage, and InsureTech innovation like our own NeverStop Wellness will continue to loosen what has been an industry-wide lockjam since the actuarial miscalculations of the1990s, by carving out new paths to profitability that serve the needs of business and consumers alike.

Sooner or later, supply follows demand

Given that 70% of all Americans will need some form of long-term care before they pass on, with an average cost of 250K, there will be a consumer rush to purchase long-term care Insurance. Whether that happens in 2024 is anyone’s guess, but sooner or later, it’s inevitable.

Must-have new wellness benefits

69% of employers offer wellness benefits, with 75% offering incentives to encourage uptake. Long-term care insurance and support for caregivers are both neglected benefit categories, and we predict that 2024 will be the year that employers recognize that they need to offer one or both to stay competitive and improve productivity. 

Marketers finally wake up to ageism—and move past it 

We’ve come such a long way since E-Trade’s ageist 2018 Superbowl commercial, and the tide will continue to turn towards age-positive advertising, building on momentum from Gillette’s Handle with Care ad in 2017 and Chevrolet’s 2023 holiday ad. More brands will wake up to the commercial potential for re-framing aging as a meaningful and aspirational life stage in order to successfully engage the 80 million U.S. adults turning 65 by 2030.

Boomers bow the culture—again

The year of grand-influencers

We’ve read about this phenomenon in the past, but we predict 2024 will see an explosion of an older generation finding fame and fortune on TikTok, with big brands starting to support and sponsor them. 

Older adults are…sexy?

Yesss. Celebrities like Lenny Kravitz (60 and sizzling on Esquire) and Martha Stewart (81 and gorgeous on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue) are paving the way for ordinary people to own this territory, and more and more of them will. Why not? 

The pressure for more legislation, lots of it

Cover my robot please

With AI creating a new generation of “care robots” to help seniors keep living in their homes, expect to see massive pressure on Medicare to include this technology in basic coverage. Of course, the cost of this cyber-therapy will be more than offset by long-term reductions in health care costs.

Elder scam: something everyone can hate

With the GAO reporting that elder fraud has reached $2.9B – call it “ScAMERICA” – we expect to see this emotional issue bring together Democrats and Republicans in a bi-partisan reaction to the crisis.

Neighborhood, sweet neighborhood

With the increasing recognition that innovation is required to allow seniors to keep living at home, we predict that in 2024 cities across America will follow the recent steps of NYC to allow zoning changes that will allow affordable garages, studios, apartments and backyard cottages for an aging population.

Family supporting family

In some states, family members can be reimbursed for providing care. Given the reality that most seniors can’t afford in-home care, and that there are many family members who desperately want to help but can’t sacrifice the income, we expect that more and more states will recognize that this is a win-win and will begin a reimbursement model.  

Aging in the house of the future

By 2040, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 80 million U.S. citizens—almost a quarter of the population—will be over 80. Innovators like the McKechnie Family LIFE Home center—who are innovating the smart homes of the future—will garner increasing attention and funding in 2024.  

When it comes to increasing the odds of living a long and healthy life, Assured Allies has one of the most well-informed staffs around. It’s our mission to broaden access to Successful Aging, and with in-house operations, research, and actuarial teams examining every longevity trend and indicator out there, it’s almost impossible to work here without applying some of what we learn about healthy aging to ourselves. So we thought it would be fun to share with you the lifestyle changes some of us adopted in 2023. Enjoy!

Alexandra Pitkin-Morin, NeverStop Service Delivery Leader:  I started meditating daily for five minutes before bed to help lower stress. If I’m still ruminating about something during the day, the meditation helps me to let it go. It’s easier now to fall asleep and my stress level is lower too.

Erik Wenzel, Senior Actuary: In the last year I built a workout routine around becoming a better basketball player, much of which involves strength training to avoid injuries. I used to suffer a lot from back, knee and ankle problems, but now I can play basketball twice a week with no problems at all. It feels great to see how I’m steadily improving.

I also used to wake up in the middle of the night with insomnia, and found that practicing intentional gratitude is a reliable way to fall back to sleep. 

Daniella Segal, Deputy General Counsel: My husband and I cut way down on sugar to set a good example for my son once he started eating solids. To minimize his sugar consumption for as long as possible, we started cutting back on it in all our cooking and baking.

What did we learn? Using half the amount of sugar called for is more than enough! I also started reading nutrition labels while shopping and discovered that there are always good alternatives with less or no added sugar. My husband and I feel healthier and better on the lower sugar diet, a bonus.

Larry Nisenson, Chief Growth Officer: I started intermittent fasting (the 16/8 plan) last January and found it to be really easy after the first few days. I also restrict my carbs (which is MUCH harder for me) but all in all, it’s been a net positive. I feel less bloated and healthier. My goal is longevity for sure but my more immediate goal is weight management, which helps keep my activity level up (since i have a bum knee).

Marissa Badler, Senior Manager, New Ally Success: I started using Noom this year. It has been hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a toddler and I was getting frustrated and wanted to make a change. For the first couple of weeks, I was excited and really into it, but since it is time intensive and my life is crazy, I haven’t been able to keep up with it as much as I’d like. I saw a little progress in the beginning, but not as much as I wanted and I got discouraged.

I’d like to try again, but the holidays are a challenging time, so I think I’ll wait until January even though I’m not a big one for New Years Resolutions. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself. If this isn’t the right time in my life for weight loss to be a top priority, I know I will come back to it later. 

Anna Annecca, Clinical Ops Team Lead: I use sunscreen daily now! That was a win.

Katharine de Baun, Senior Marketing Manager: I started regularly eating fermented foods, typically adding a few tablespoons of kimchi or fermented beets to my luncheon salad and indulging in a small container of coffee-flavored (but no caffeine!) whole kefir yogurt for dessert at night. My goal was to improve my microbiome for better digestive health, and I’ve definitely noticed an improvement. I plan to continue this habit for the rest of my life, which has many health benefits including improved metabolism, a stronger immune system, and a better anti-inflammatory response. I might even start fermenting my own vegetables one day. 

Morgan Pichel, Senior Ally Specialist: In the last year I decided to put myself first and focus on my overall health and wellness. I started being more mindful about the foods I was putting into my body, and made sure to fuel myself with a healthy, well balanced diet. I also made it a priority to get up every morning before work and get some sort of movement in, whether it was a quick walk with the dogs or 30 minutes in the gym. The walking pad I invested in helped me stay accountable and get my steps in during the workday, too!

Ryan Bailey, Clinical Researcher: When I discovered last May that my cholesterol was on the border of needing to be medically managed, I began intermittent fasting from 6 pm to 10 am to reduce my  LDL levels. 

I won’t know whether my LDL has changed until my annual check up, but I’ve noticed other changes. I don’t feel as hungry as I thought I would in the mornings. I’m more mindful of what I eat, choosing more nutritious foods. And I’ve drastically decreased mindless snacking, which I’m especially prone to when bored or stressed. Maybe to compensate, I’ve increased my coffee consumption in the mornings. Some studies show increased coffee consumption has heart healthy benefits and others show decreased memory consolidation.

Driving is not just a form of transportation; it symbolizes independence and freedom, the ability to live our lives when and where we like. As our bodies get older, however, driving can become more difficult or dangerous, and when issues arise, it’s important to have open and informed conversations about problems and solutions that meet everyone’s needs.

As many older drivers are either unaware of how their driving abilities have changed or resistant to talking about it, these conversations are often fraught for caregivers and family members. Caregivers can feel like they alone need to step in and act when they perceive a problem, partly because as a society we have many laws and advice about keeping our youngest drivers safe on the road, but hardly any national guidelines for older drivers.

In this article we aim to inform you as a caregiver about the most common ways in which aging affects driving ability, so you know what to look out for. For older adults, understanding that aging-related driving difficulties are common (and often solvable) can also be reassuring. Last but not least, I share several strategies that we share with our AgeAssured members and families that help make discussing the topic of driving easier and more productive.  

Top three ways aging affects driving

Vision: Most people know about the need for reading glasses after age 40 or so, but aging affects vision in other ways that are less commonly understood and that affect driving. Peripheral vision (seeing out of the side of your eye), visual acuity (blurriness), astigmatisms (light glare at night), and ocular motor function (how our eyes move) can all be impacted by age, chronic conditions, or other diseases.  As a result, annual vision screenings are critical for older drivers. 

Proprioception / Nerve Damage: Chronic conditions such as diabetes can impact both sensation and proprioception (or knowledge of where one is located in space) in our feet. The change can be very subtle, and most people do not even realize they have lost sensation. Obviously, if you lack understanding of where your feet are while driving, it can be very dangerous, leading to improper braking or use of the gas pedal. Ask your primary care provider to check for any foot-related sensation problems at your annual visit.

Cognition: As we age, changes in cognition can impact driving abilities. Memory, attention, and reaction times may decline, affecting decision-making on the road. Changes in any of these areas are important to be aware of and discuss with your doctor. In many cases, working with an occupational therapist can help you adapt and ensure safety while maintaining your independence. 

Tips for successful conversations 

As an occupational therapist, I have had the driving conversation many times with my clients and my own relatives. Some older adults were incredibly upset and offended while others were understanding and ready for the change. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few strategies for making this discussion a constructive collaboration instead of a bitter conflict or forced take-away of someone’s keys. 

Show respect. Many older adults perceive the idea that they should stop driving as an insult. It is important to always start the conversation respectfully and recognize that this is challenging for them to consider. Give them the space to process and react organically. Sometimes these conversations may need to happen over multiple occasions. 

Start the conversation early. It’s much easier if you start this conversation before you need to have it. For example, after my family navigated the end of my grandmother’s driving due to Alzheimer’s, I had an open conversation with my parents on how they wanted their eventual cessation of driving to happen. Both of my parents affirmed that their top priority was to maintain their independence and safety. As long as there was a healthy Uber budget, they just wanted a clear heads-up that it was time to turn over the keys. Ten years after that conversation, we gave my father the heads up, and he happily gave his keys to us: our values were already aligned.

Don’t make it personal. Keep the conversation objective and steer away from blame. It’s easy for an older adult to feel offended and/or threatened if you say, “Dad your memory is too bad, you keep getting lost, I am taking away your keys.” Instead, try “Dad, I have noticed that your memory is starting to impact your safety while you drive. Let’s explore some other transportation options together to ensure you are able to get to where you need to go safely.” 

Focus on solutions. The biggest resistance to driving cessation is, naturally, the fear that you’ll no longer be able to get where you want or need to go. Luckily, there are many services around that can support your loved ones to maintain independence while keeping them safe on the road. Do your research upfront on what’s available—whether public transportation, local senior services, or ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft.

Don’t be the expert. Try and have an outside authority bear the hard news so you are free to be an ally. Otherwise, you may have little defense in the heat of the moment against the critique “you don’t know what you’re talking about!” Ask your primary care physician for an occupational therapy driving evaluation. A certified expert can provide you and your loved one an objective assessment of their driving safety, as well as some possible rehabilitative recommendations to extend their independence. 

Thank you for being someone who cares about safety on the road. I hope this article helps you and your family navigate what is often a dreaded conversation in a positive and effective way. 

Resources:

  • Find an OT Driving Rehabilitation Specialist: https://myaota.aota.org/driver_search/
  • Gogo Grandparent -Gogo Grandparent is a service that enables adults to easily access ride-sharing services like Uber and lyft through a phone call instead of using a smartphone application

How to access:https://gogograndparent.com/services/rides-for-seniors or call 855-464-6872

As you go about your day-to-day caregiving responsibilities, you’ve probably wondered whether there’s an easier way to get things done. Maybe you’re sitting in traffic to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy during rush hour for the second time that week. Or maybe one of your paid caregivers needs to reschedule and you find yourself texting with three different people, trying to coordinate a solution on the fly.  

Is there an easier way? Yes, often there is. Consider this article a cheat sheet on how today’s tech solutions can help you manage all of the twists and turns in your caregiving journey and take at least some of the tasks off your to-do list. We also provide a short list of some of the vetted resources we send our NeverStop and AgeAssured members in the righthand column.

Widen their social circle

It can be a heavy burden when an older adult relies almost exclusively upon you for all of their social needs, especially if they make it known that they feel lonely. And even though they may want to rely solely on you, it’s not an ideal situation for the older adult, either. Diverse relationships, including ones where they are not always on the receiving end, form a much stronger social foundation.

Going online can open up new worlds for older adults, particularly if they are housebound. Any adult with reliable high-speed internet and basic digital literacy can explore online classes, interest-based and/or identity-based communities, games, and social media. Online volunteering and virtual participation in local events from the comfort of their living room can also lead to in-real-life meetings with people in their community.

An active social life helps to protect mental and physical health by boosting the immune system, protecting against chronic illness, and reducing cognitive decline. Knowing that your older adult can rely upon, interact with, and be entertained by other people besides you is a priceless comfort that can reduce your stress level as a caregiver, too.

Offload routine tasks

There are many apps and services that can help you delegate routine caregiving tasks like grocery shopping, preparing meals, and driving to and from errands and appointments. Groceries and meals can be ordered online and delivered. Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft or researching free or low-cost local transportation services can take care of some of the driving you do to doctor appointments and errands. 

For adults who are unable to go online, Gogo Grandparent is a wonderful option. It’s a phone-based service that can interface with all of our recommended apps and more. Get started on their website or call 855-464-6872.

Recommended resources

For getting connected online:

  • American Association of Retired Persons (AARP): Over 100 free online games including solitaire, mahjongg, sudoku, and 10×10.
  • Academic Earth: Thousands of pre-recorded university lectures and courses across a variety of subjects.
  • Senior Planet Free live courses on wellness, fitness, technology, and more offered via Zoom video conferencing platform.
  • Volunteer Match: Find virtual or local volunteering opportunities that suit your schedule, skills, and interest.

For transportation help:

Uber
Lyft

For restaurant delivery:

Uber Eats
Grubhub
DoorDash

For grocery delivery:

Instacart
Costco Grocery
Walmart
Whole Foods

For care coordination:

ianacare
Life360
Carely
Caring Village

Manage a team of caregivers

If you’ve been coordinating help with friends and family and paid caregivers over the phone with a paper and pencil, you might be delighted to learn how online tools can make your life a whole lot easier. Common features of care coordination apps include shared calendars to track activities and appointments, task requests and individual assignments, and organized group messaging. Having everything in one place not only provides an invaluable track record of your caregiving but often provides more emotional support for caregivers, too.

Manage medications

Refilling, reminding, checking, and re-checking multiple medications is challenging for anyone, let alone for the caregiver of an older adult who has cognitive issues. 

Apps and technology are immensely helpful here. Medication management apps and smart pillboxes can help with maintaining medication logs, medication scheduling and reminders, drug interaction detection, and refill or appointment notifications. For caregivers, many apps and devices have medication management features built in that can help caregivers coordinate communication among themselves and establish caregiving duties.

Setting up prescriptions to be refilled and delivered from a local or online pharmacy pays dividends for months and years to come. If getting to the pharmacy to pick up medications is difficult for someone, they can access online and app-based services to have medications delivered to their homes through the mail or directly from a retail pharmacy. The following flow might help you figure out the best solution for your situation.

If you are already using a local or retail pharmacy: Call them and ask if they offer home delivery. Many retail pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, do. Also ask If they can pre-sort your medications for you.

Consider an online pharmacy:  Amazon Pharmacy (855-745-5725) is a great option, especially for ongoing prescriptions. They can ship 90-day supplies to you. They can also pre-sort your medications: Ask about their “Pillpack by Amazon” service. 

Still having trouble? Contact your health plan. Many health plans contract with pharmacies to provide mail-order services. Call your health plan’s member services phone number to see what they offer.

For our annual holiday gift blog this year, we are handing the mic to two of our most experienced Allies, experts on aging who are an integral part of the teams that help thousands of our members thrive into their third acts and beyond. Our Allies know firsthand which devices are most popular, enhance members’ lives, and brighten their days year-round. Without further ado, let’s hear it from them!

Thrive-at-Home Gifts

By Morgan Pichel. With a background in case management and gerontology, Morgan is an Ally in our AgeAssured service, which helps long-term care insurance policyholders aged 65-85+ to live independently wherever they call home. 

What I love most about my job is that I get to wake up every day and make a difference in people’s lives, no matter how big or small. I’m happy to spread the news about some of the most popular items we send to our members, which mean so much to them. All make great gift ideas for the older adult in your life, and they’re all fairly low-cost, too!

Long-handled reacher: When members have difficulty bending or reaching, I send them one of these. Members have told me the reacher is a “godsend,” especially for picking things up off the floor. One member even reported that he had one in every room of his house, and stopped worrying about falling as a result. $30 for two on Amazon

Nightlights: Whether battery-operated or plug-in, motion-activated nightlights make a huge difference in our members’ lives. Members report that they feel much more safe getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom now that dark hallways and passages are automatically illuminated. $29.99 for 4-pack on Amazon

Lightweight vacuum: For older adults who have been lugging around a heavy, clunky vacuum for years, a lightweight vacuum is a huge upgrade. The Eureka we send our members is economical, weighs under three pounds, and maneuvers easily into hard-to-reach areas like couches and corners. Members report they actually look forward to doing their housework because their new vacuum is so easy and convenient to use. $39.99 for the Eureka on Amazon

Adjustable long-handled shoehorn: Members who have difficulty dressing their lower body and/or balance concerns love this adjustable shoe horn. They can continue to wear the shoes they love and put them on easily. $17.99 on Amazon

Pillbox: This easy-to-open seven-day pill organizer is a big hit for our members, allowing them to easily manage and track their medications. A few members have told me that they loved it so much they purchased additional ones! $10.39 on Amazon

Long-handled sponge/brush: Members who have difficulty reaching parts of their body when bathing really appreciate how this device helps them stay clean and fresh. Both the sponge and the brush feel good and stimulate the skin (the bristles are neither too soft nor too abrasive) and the curved handle is easy to hold and maneuver. $9.99 on Amazon

NeverStop Wellness Gifts

By Kasaundra Bennett, Kasaundra is an Ally in NeverStop, a wellness rewards program carried by select financial institutions to help their clients aged 55-75 prepare for a long and healthy life beyond retirement.

I love using my coaching skills and expertise to support our members on their wellness journeys. Here at NeverStop, it’s very rewarding to see our members reach their goals and discover the potential they have to age successfully long past retirement. Here are some gift ideas that our members really love, devices and apps that help them go further than they ever imagined! 

Fitbit Charge 5: Our members love using this top-of-the-line non-smartwatch, which they receive as a complimentary welcome gift in our NeverStop Wellness program. Members use their Fitbit to track their activity, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more. It’s a great choice to support a loved one in your life with the gift of good health. You can also purchase a Fitbit premium subscription to go with the watch; our members get a two-year subscription. It provides access to several online workout videos, nutrition information, recipes, and more. $149.95 on Amazon

Calm app: Our member’s favorite Fitbit premium app is Calm, which helps with stress management and improved sleep. They love the app’s guided meditations, sleep stories, and relaxing soundscapes. Calm can be purchased separately; you don’t need a Fitbit watch. $69.99/year for a Calm gift subscription

Apple Watch: Many members use the Apple Watch to support their health and wellness goals. Like Fitbit, Apple Watch allows you to track your steps, activity, heart rate, and sleep.  Some Apple watches also come with fall detection capabilities. from $399 on Apple.com

Hello Fresh: this popular meal delivery service takes the stress out of meal planning and preparation and saves you time. Fresh ingredients are delivered right to your door with instructions on how to prepare a delicious dish. This is a great way to get started on your health and wellness goals in this busy world we live in! Members have also found that this service helps with their weight loss goals. Gift cards from $75 and up at Hello Fresh

Our exclusive series of interviews on women leaders in the ILTC industry ends with our own Hila Zadka-Schuldiner, Head of Data Research, Analysis and Reporting at Assured Allies. Hila is dedicated to data-based decision-making and that is a big part of why she mentors and encourages future women leaders in the field: they make a proven difference! Find out why and more in this brief interview.

How long have you been in the LTC space and what attracted you to pursue this career path?

I started working in the LTC space when I joined AssuredAllies four years ago. However, I have long been interested in the health of older adults and preventative medicine. Previously, as a researcher in the public healthcare system in Israel, I explored how we can help the aging population live more independently and maintain a high quality of life. 

Did you have any female role models? How did they support your career growth?

My mom is one of my main female role models. In her own career path, she was always a true feminist — not only pursuing and achieving senior management roles herself but breaking glass ceilings and opening doors for other smart and talented women.

Have you been a mentor? How have you helped an aspiring female professional pursue a career in long-term care insurance?

In most of my roles as a researcher, I was a mentor to more junior researchers, many of whom were women. Some women find it challenging to express their professional views assertively. I made sure they felt comfortable offering their opinion and made it clear that their views were valued. 

Can you share any memorable experiences or instances where your influence has brought about positive change in the industry?

I am a strong advocate for data-driven decision-making, even though it can sometimes cause friction when I need to delay a decision in order to make full use of the unique data at our disposal and translate it into actionable insights. I am happy to work at a company that is deeply committed to a data-driven approach in its culture and day-to-day practice.

How do you envision the future of female representation in the industry, and what steps do you believe should be taken to further promote gender equality and inclusivity?

I believe that having the right female role models within the company is crucial, especially, in management and leadership roles. Based on my experience, I can say that in general women act differently during interviews than men. For example, they might take some time to think about their answer, and it is important to give them enough time in an interview to allow them to shine. From my point of view as a manager, this lets me reliably test their fit for the role. I am proud and happy to manage a diverse team: five awesome researchers, three of whom are women (definitely the best team ever). We already know (based on research!) that diverse voices in strategic discussions raise diverse considerations that otherwise might have been overlooked, and therefore that diversity leads to better decisions overall.

I think it is also important to stress that a female point of view in our company is critical as we are working with an aging population and therefore the majority of our members are women. Women have different interests and inclinations when it comes to their physical and mental health, and so having women on my research team, as well as in key positions at Assured Allies as a whole, is very important for our success as a company.

Julie Belknap, Assistant COO at Continental General, is passionate both about her innovative work in LTCI and how she can open doors for future female leaders in the field. There is much to learn in this brief interview, and we are grateful to Julie for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts.

How long have you been in the LTC space and what attracted you to pursuing this career path?

I have worked in the long-term care industry for almost 17 years in many different roles. My pursuit of a career in actuarial led me to the insurance industry initially, and it just happened to be with a company that had long-term care. In 2013, I became an Associate in the Society of Actuaries, but in 2016, I took my learnings from actuarial and started applying them in non-traditional ways. I’ve had the opportunity to develop and lead initiatives related to rate increase implementation, internal controls, enterprise risk management, claims, and wellness.  

A deep appreciation and respect for this industry has kept me here. I love that it’s a smaller, interconnected industry. If you don’t know someone, there’s a good chance you know someone who knows that person.

It’s rewarding to hear firsthand from our insureds and their families about the impact this product has on their lives. I feel the industry is stepping up to the challenge and finding innovative products and programs to help people age more successfully. I want to be a part of that solution.  

Did you have any female role models? How did they support your career growth?

When I transitioned into my role leading the claims department, the team I was leading grew from about 10 to 50 people in an instant. I was nervous, to say the least, but my sister, an inspiring leader in her industry, provided encouragement and sent me books that shaped some of her leadership views. That was my first introduction to Brenè Brown. Her research on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy has influenced my leadership style.  

The phrase “Strong back and soft front” has been around for some time, and there are many variations to it, but Brenè Brown adds the “wild heart” concept to it. She explains that this is holding the tension between two opposing feelings – fierce and kind, tough and tender, grit and grace. Often, leadership is a combination of conflicting emotions. It means showing vulnerability even when you are being tough. It means challenging the status quo. This mantra expands beyond leadership and into life.  

I’m a big believer that there is something to learn from everyone you meet, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing women during my career growth. These women have accomplished so much in their careers and are willing to provide guidance on a professional and personal basis. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to learn and grow through these connections and be one of those females for the next generation.         

Have you been a mentor? How have you helped an aspiring female professional pursue a career in long-term care insurance?

Mentoring professionals is very important to me. The insurance industry isn’t typically on someone’s dream job list. However, it’s something that many people find rewarding once they get here, especially if they have had a personal experience with someone they care about needing or receiving long-term care services. Passing on the knowledge of where the industry has been to get to where we are today is important to help us continue evolving.  

I’ve had the opportunity to mentor several aspiring female professionals pursuing long-term care careers. It’s essential to identify their growth and leadership potential, no matter what their current role is within the company, and to give them opportunities to try new things. Providing opportunities to grow and sometimes even fail in a safe environment is invaluable.     

It’s also been important to me to pay it forward and introduce mentees to other females within the industry to help build up their personal network. Even if they decide to move on to a new company in the future, having that professional stay within the long-term care industry is a win.

Can you share any memorable experiences or instances where your influence has brought about positive change in the industry?

The long-term care insurance industry has faced its share of challenges and has persevered through innovation and new perspectives. Since some of these policies were originally contemplated, there have been evolutions in the care settings from home health care agencies, assisted living facilities, dedicated memory care facilities, continued care retirement communities, and now, to the idea of robotics and technology in the home. 

There have been new features like cash benefits or an alternate plan of care to allow for more flexibility and new insurance offerings like hybrid products to fit the aging population’s needs. The long-term care industry is also trying to learn from other industries how to better support the aging population through wellness initiatives. There is no one solution to ensuring that long-term care insurance stays relevant as care needs evolve. It takes new perspectives coming in and a willingness to learn from others.

With my actuarial background, I have provided a unique perspective by leading non-traditional actuarial areas like claims. My analytical approach introduced new ways of looking at processes and data. I improved communication across departments and helped remove biases in how people thought the processes worked. I’ve shared these insights by presenting at industry meetings and having discussions with other leaders in the long-term care industry. Our industry has some truly inspiring leaders, and I am excited to see its continued growth and evolution.

What do you believe is the key to empowering more women to pursue leadership roles and become influencers in the long-term care insurance sector?

Empowering women to pursue leadership roles is key to our industry; it takes dedication and support to get there. Leaders within their companies need to identify these individuals with leadership potential early on and create opportunities for them to enhance those skills further. That might be through training, mentorships, projects, meetings, conferences, etc. It also means that companies have a responsibility to create internal opportunities to encourage these individuals to stay and grow within the organization.  

Similarly, having more industry-wide opportunities — conferences, industry meetings, panels, or networking events — for women to connect with each other would be highly beneficial. It cultivates an inclusive environment and empowers them to feel more confident about sharing their knowledge and experiences.

How do you envision the future of female representation in the industry, and what steps do you believe should be taken to further promote gender equality and inclusivity?

​​I’ve been encouraged by the growth of female representation in leadership roles within the industry since I started. There has been a greater emphasis on the need for companies to ask tough questions and have uncomfortable conversations to determine how they are doing regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. When an organization invests in fostering a diverse, equal, and inclusive environment, it creates a sense of belonging, which then fuels new perspectives and innovation.

Creating awareness of gender inequality and promoting inclusivity can positively impact an organization. In many cases, individuals aren’t even aware of their personal beliefs and biases. Providing educational opportunities for employees to analyze and understand these views can help shed light on possible solutions.  

Consideration should be given to work policies that accommodate professional and personal responsibilities. Flexibility in work policies is an area that has become increasingly important to many employees and often has a more significant impact on working females. 

Developing formal or informal mentorship programs for females entering the industry can positively impact both employees and the organization as a whole. It provides a better support system for the mentee and often creates a stronger sense of belonging for the mentor. Promoting gender equality and inclusivity is important and allows organizations to capitalize on untapped potential.   

Heather Kane, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Equitrust Life Insurance, was happy to share with us the many ways that she is intentional about mentoring young women to become LTCI leaders of tomorrow. In this brief interview, one of our exclusive series in honor of International Day of the Girl 2023, we hope you’ll enjoy her many tips and insights about how to grow diversity at the leadership level.

How long have you been in the LTC space and what attracted you to pursuing this career path?

Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve touched all facets of the insurance business, including sales, marketing, contracting, and operations, and have even sold products as an independent producer. Location played a significant role in my career path. Des Moines, Iowa, is the number two state in the country for annuity and life insurance companies, which has provided me with exciting growth opportunities. 

My LTC chapter began two years ago when EquiTrust partnered with Assured Allies to develop Bridge, a new hybrid annuity product with an LTC rider and the NeverStop wellness program. It’s been rewarding to use my health license and be on the front lines of developing an innovative product that goes beyond providing financial coverage and helps policyholders live healthier and better in retirement. I’ve enjoyed dipping my toes into technology and being the driving force behind building an interactive agent portal.  

Did you have any female role models? How did they support your career growth? 

I’ve been very fortunate. At my first job in banking, the branch vice president was an excellent role model. Her support sparked my curiosity to learn new things, which gave me confidence in my ability to grow. Within the insurance industry, I’ve benefitted from several leaders who took me under their wing, honored an open-door policy, and provided valuable guidance on building a strong business presence. They helped me develop my leadership style and insisted that I never apologize for not knowing something and instead embrace it as a learning opportunity. That has always stuck with me. There are many female leaders at EquiTrust. It’s a positive environment supporting women’s career development and growth. I have colleagues who are trusted sounding boards. 

Have you been a mentor? How have you helped an aspiring female professional pursue a career in long-term care insurance?

I certainly make an effort to support and encourage the women around me. Inspired by my early career days, I encourage them to be curious, learn about different aspects of the business, and seek out growth areas. Being a mentor is often about helping people see their strengths. After meetings, I acknowledge each person’s valuable contributions. It’s a small way to create a positive learning environment with open feedback. 

I’ve also supported aspiring colleagues to take additional training courses to expand their knowledge. Overall, I encourage women to find something they are passionate about doing. There is no point in just going through the motions. I’m a big believer in feeling like you make a difference. Make what you do matter! 

Can you share any memorable experiences or instances where your influence has brought about positive change in the industry?

Developing and launching Bridge is an example of making a positive change in the industry. It’s a unique product that makes aging better in retirement accessible to everyone. The fact that it has a 100% guaranteed acceptance rate and provides LTC coverage benefits to people who typically would be denied is a game-changer. Women are usually caregivers, and this new product’s wellness program provides them with support and tools to take care of themselves, too. 

What do you believe is the key to empowering more women to pursue leadership roles and become influencers in the long-term care insurance sector? 

We are seeing more female leadership in our industry. I was encouraged by the strong female representation at last month’s CLTC (Certification for Long-Term Care) Summit. Working for a company that supports professional development and career growth is very important. EquiTrust is a member of Tero International and offers two different nine-month corporate training programs for executives and managers. I’ve nominated female members of my team to attend. 

How do you envision the future of female representation in the industry, and what steps do you believe should be taken to further promote gender equality and inclusivity?

One of the best ways to promote equality and inclusivity is to nominate women for leadership roles at industry associations. There’s an opportunity to embrace the competition and create a more united front across all carriers. We can build a stronger voice together by getting involved in influential organizations.

Currently, I’m a board member of the National Association for Fixed Annuities (NAFA) and served on the Executive Committee for four years. Years ago, I admired another female board member and knew I would learn from her by getting involved, so I joined her committee. Several years later, I was nominated to be on the board. It has been a productive way to use my voice and help shape the industry and future female leaders.