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Eldercare expert Joy Loverde

Joy Loverde

Joy Loverde

When Joy Loverde was just 14 years old, she volunteered to help out at a nursing home on Thanksgiving morning. Coming as she did from a loving Italian family, she was shocked by what she saw.

“I couldn’t understand why seven people were sitting in the dark with no one around them, when I was going home to a large, wonderful Italian fest,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘Something is terribly wrong here. How could this happen?’”

Many years later, Loverde would keep that moment in mind and heart when she wrote “The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Questions to Ask, How to Find Help” (Random House). Revised and updated since its original publication, this comprehensive guide addresses questions from the most basic (responding to an emergency) to the most profound (saying goodbye). In between, Loverde’s book also takes on the stickier issues, such as when and how to address the topic of asking elderly parents to stop driving.

The American Medical Association praised Loverde’s book as “the best we saw” on the topic, and Loverde boasts close to 30 years experience as a media spokesperson. She’s been featured on the Today show, CBS’s Early Show, CNN Headline News, Fox News, and National Public Radio and in Consumer Reports, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

“I’m an advocate for the quality of life for all people as they age,” says Loverde, who has roots in Tuscany on her mom’s side (in Segromigno Monte) and Sicily on her dad’s side.

Aside from her work as an author and advocate, Loverde makes her career as a marketing consultant to companies that cater to the elderly. “They call and ask me to help them with whatever they’re selling–products and services of any kind–and package it for a mature market. For example, a senior housing association might ask me to be part of their marketing, so people can understand what it’s like to live in their community setting.”

Yet just as she tries to educate families, Loverde also works to teach her corporate clients as well. “One misconception is that they think people make decisions in a void, and that’s not true,” she says. “Most of the decisions are made by family, and people also surround themselves with others such as an attorney, a financial planner, or a parish priest to address the spiritual concerns. These people all become very important.”

For those dealing with the issues of an aging parent or relative, Loverde urges a similar team approach.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to get family involved,” she says. “Usually people don’t bring up the subject of long-term care because it’s not pleasant. But the earlier you plan, the more choices you have — so start talking early. Those conversations are so important. The worst thing that can happen in a family is that they never take place. But if you have them, you help each other, and everybody benefits.”

As for the best part of her work, “I make money being a marketing consultant, but my mission is fulfilled when other companies hire me,” Loverde says. “And when you meet people who have a good network around them, it’s very rewarding: the people who make good choices, aren’t aging or dying alone, and surrounded by family and friends.”

To contact Joy Loverde, call 312-282-3714, email jloverde@elderindustry.com, or visit elderindustry.com.

About Lou Carlozo

A former longtime staff writer, editor and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Lou Carlozo is a personal finance contributor to Reuters and the proud writer of Fra Noi’s Lou&A column, which spotlights important Italian Americans. He is currently studying for his master’s degree at National-Louis University, where he teaches journalism and writing on the graduate school level. He also writes for the Tribune Content Agency and a variety of other freelance outlets including DealNews, Money Under 30 and Yesware. He lives in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago with his wife of more than 17 years, Amy (a hospice chaplain), and two children.