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Focus Stories

One Senior Place

by Susan Shalhoub

Featured Photo from One Senior Place

Many have likely driven down Douglas Avenue in Altamonte Springs and seen the neon-inspired sign for One Senior Place. Some may have assumed it’s a retirement community, or perhaps a ‘50s-era throwback gathering spot. Fortunately, the remedy for the misconceptions is quick and easy. One step inside One Senior Place reveals its true – and innovative – purpose.

It’s a one-stop resource for information and services to help local seniors and their families. Want to compare senior-living options in the area? Looking for in-home senior care? Need to ask questions about Medicare? Need a hearing aid repaired? One Senior Place has all the answers, and more. The Altamonte location serves an average of more than 1,000 seniors a month, and has been helping the community for more than five years.

Seniors and their families are welcome to come in and attend presentations, workshops, and events. They can meet face-to-face with Medicare, long-term care, and other senior insurance representatives; memory care experts; elder-law attorneys; and more. Or, seniors can get referrals for financial planners, tax experts, or travel agents.

One Senior Place is laid out like a shopping mall, with individual offices manned by senior specialists, all under one roof. New clients begin with a free consultation with social worker Emily Stowers, who works with them to gather information, assess their needs, and map out some potential next steps.

In many cases, clients who come in for one reason – say, an onsite support group for Alzheimer’s caregivers – find guidance and resources on issues they may not have considered, such as estate planning.

And it’s not a “sales” environment, says director of business development Michelle Steffano, who has worked in senior services since the mid-1990s. It’s more about finding the best solutions for clients’ needs.

“There is no obligation, and it’s a very welcoming environment,” Michelle says. “We just want to make the information available to seniors and their families and connect them with the appropriate service providers depending on their individual needs.”

What makes One Senior Place so effective, says Michelle, is the center’s ability to let seniors compare many different options for services all in one place and with the help of an unbiased expert. The senior-living marketplace, for example, is more complex than ever before.

“There are many different choices now, from bigger facilities with an executive chef, to six-or-eight people living in a house with a caregiver,” Michelle explains.

One Senior Place also hosts frequent seminars on topics like Medicare and Medicaid planning, smoking cessation, in-home care options, minimizing prescription costs, insurance and estate planning, and veterans benefits, to name a few.

But One Senior Place isn’t just a centralized resource hub for seniors, it’s also a gathering place. There are coffee socials, craft classes, movies, support groups, and Coffee with a Cop events where seniors can discuss things going on in the community or in their neighborhoods with a law enforcement officer. These events offer opportunities for seniors to meet new people and socialize, and perhaps share information with each other on One Senior Place services they have used.

One Senior Place in Altamonte is one of two locations run by founder and CEO Don Kramer, who has served in many leadership roles for various senior-related boards. He co-founded the Seminole Health and Human Services Network and the Brevard County Elder Abuse Task Force. Don has won many awards from area business publications for his work with One Senior Place. In 2008, One Senior Place was named Florida’s Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Don attended a White House reception as part of the honor.

With senior planning, it pays to be proactive, says Michelle.

“Many people don’t want to be a burden,” she says, and starting the learning process earlier – before a crisis hits – gives seniors and their families more options and more control.

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