My Name Is: Kelly O’Connor

Consultant helps people find senior care homes that fit their needs

Posted 7/15/20

A helping hand I live in Denver and have for the past 14 years, and I am 54 years old. I am an elder care consultant specializing in senior living placement. I help people stay at home safely until …

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My Name Is: Kelly O’Connor

Consultant helps people find senior care homes that fit their needs

Posted

A helping hand

I live in Denver and have for the past 14 years, and I am 54 years old.

I am an elder care consultant specializing in senior living placement. I help people stay at home safely until it’s time to move to senior living — then it’s my job to match them with the communities which match their preferences and needs. Navigating the health care, senior care and senior living industries can be a daunting task.

It’s much more complex than people expect, especially with assisted living and memory care. … For example, some assisted livings don’t do transfers — helping someone up from a chair or bed — whereas some have mechanical lifts. That’s a wide difference. I help people understand the differences and nuances so families can make the best decision possible. 

Her second wind

Senior living is my second career, and about 10 years ago, I was contemplating what the second half of my life might look like. One day, while I was volunteering at a local hospice, someone called and said, “You should be in senior living.” It was as simple as that, but what happened is I started talking about my beliefs concerning elders in society, and about my own family caregiving experience, and how I wanted to help families and seniors make confident decisions about their next steps. I’ve worked in almost every area of the senior industry with some amazing people. I couldn’t be happier in my life and career right now.

When COVID-19 struck

My job has stayed the same, but COVID changed everything in our industry. I had families move their loved ones home to live with them; I had others rush to move to senior living because staying home wasn’t safe. I’ve had quite a few clients pass away with COVID and others who have miraculously recovered. More of my clients are bringing me in to help facilitate conversations so that everyone is on the same page with the decisions. I’ve missed visiting my clients in person and am looking forward to seeing them in the near future. 

It has been very difficult for family members who haven’t been able to see their loved ones (since March), but communities have done a great job setting up video visits and hosting hallway trivia and door-to-door happy hour delivery. It took a while to shift gears, but we learned how to connect and stay safe at the same time. Our elders are more resilient than we think they are sometimes, and these are some wonderful stories that have warmed my heart. 

I work with all of the care communities throughout (the Denver metro area); there are more than 400, if you can believe that. I’ve enjoyed seeing photos of the window visits, the courtyard serenades, the crazy hat spirit days, and the chalk art and signage left by neighborhood organizations. Imagine walking into your job at a care community, to residents you love and care for, not knowing what you will face each day. That courage alone is inspiring and worthy of a hero’s applause.

What’s in a name?

My clients love the fact that my name is Kelly O’Connor and I was born on St. Patrick’s Day. I proudly wear green every single year.

If you would like to suggest someone for My Name Is ..., or if you would like to be featured in the segment, contact Ellis Arnold at earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com or 303-566-4109.

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