Amy Feder has always found seniors fascinating. At weddings, she says, “I talk to the grandmother no one else pays attention to.”
Helping people is in her DNA. Her father was a child psychiatrist; her mother taught special ed.
Amy found her calling in social work. She earned a master’s from New York University, and is certified as a dementia practitioner and geriatric care manager.
She moved to Westport 20 years ago, and raised her children here. “This town has been so good to me,” she says. “I’ve never felt alone.”
After working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYU Medical Center, Norwalk’s Family & Children’s Agency and, for the past 8 years, Jewish Senior Services as a care coordinator helping people stay in their own homes, Amy is now a private practitioner.
Her niche is eldercare and aging. She’s in the right place at the right time.
“I was getting calls from friends for help with elderly parents or spouses,” she says. “They needed knowledge, advocacy and support. I became a concierge for eldercare.”
Their questions were real, and crucial: How do I find an assisted living community? How do I talk to my parents about driving? How do I figure out the Medicare maze? I’m burned out from being a caregiver — can you help?
COVID has amplified senior issues. Isolation is bad enough; add the need for conversations about end-of-life care, and Amy has been busy since spring.
She has been pleased — but not surprised — by how well many senior have coped with the coronavirus. “They’re less restless than younger people,” Amy says. “They’re resilient.” Of course, isolation is tough for everyone, at any age.
Sometimes she consults for an hour. Other times she provides ongoing counseling.
Over the past several months, Amy has helped families set up technology for loved ones, to keep connected. She’s found communities where they can engage with others. She’s offered strategies to combat loneliness.
Always, she listens. Often, Amy notes, “people just need someone to talk to.”
A while ago, she had to have end-of-life discussions with her own mother. They were painful, she admits. But Amy found solace that her mother died with “all of her wishes known.”
The pandemic hastened trends that Amy had already noticed, like telemedicine. She finds the future exciting — for seniors and their families.
She believes Westport is a “great town” for seniors. “The Senior Center is fabulous — it’s closed now, but they still run great programs. And there are plenty of resources all over town.”
Still, she adds, “we could use more senior housing. We’re an aging population, and this is an expensive town and state to age in.”
Having had a vaccine, Amy is available for home visits.
“It’s important to engage now and plan ahead,” she says. “No one wants to get into an emergency situation.”
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