MSW, LCSW, CMC
I grew up in a small town in south Louisiana surrounded by grandparents and great- grandparents . I spent many hours with my grandparents. I loved hearing their stories and interacting with the older generation. I studied psychology at Belhaven College then completed a Master’s in Social Work at Washington University with a concentration in gerontology and a specialization in family therapy. My 20 year career in social work in the St Louis community includes work with psychiatric, medical and geriatric settings.
Aging Gracefully beautifully marries my education and passions. Geriatric care management is an individualized and personalized service. I collaborate with you to tailor services to the circumstances and needs of your family. I love spending time with families and individuals and really knowing their stories. I enjoy collaborating and advocating with others including doctors, nurses, home health agencies, caregivers, etc. With years of experience, I have knowledge of competent geriatric medical professionals and facilities in the St. Louis area. I am a willing and capable advocate for clients and families because of my passion for them and my professional experience.
Aging often refocuses our attention from activity and busyness to self-reflection and relational healing. It is my privilege to assist families to finish well during the twilight years of the older generation. My desire is to free families from daily care management tasks so they are able to relate as son, daughter, husband, wife, friend, etc. It is my pleasure to take care of the details of life and navigate systems so that your time as a family can be spent enjoying one another.
Often, I am contacted by families at a point of crisis. You may be facing difficult medical dilemmas and significant transitions. My skills, resources and experience help you deal with a crisis and plan for the future. I provide a road map and guide you through transitions. You are likely here because you are overwhelmed. My work reflects my love for another generation and is my legacy to my loving grandparents and I look forward to coming alongside your family.
Michelle Mayo, Concierge/Assistant
I grew up in Destin, Florida, and later moved with my parents to Huntsville, Alabama to be closer to our extended family. I studied at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, completing my Bachelors in Accounting. While in college, I worked as a dental office coordinator where my passion for helping others started. I got to know each and every patient, learning about their families and hearing about their unique life events. Our patients were wonderfully diverse in culture, age and personality. I learned to communicate with a wide range of people, to be patient and have an understanding of different perspectives.
I met my husband while living in Huntsville, AL where our journey together started, but soon after we moved to Melbourne, Florida. Both of my children were born in Melbourne and we try to get back to the Florida beaches every year to recharge. In 2009, my husband’s work brought us here to St. Louis. Since being in St. Louis, I took the time to raise my children and worked in an accounting position where I realized I was ready for a career move - wanting to follow my dream of helping others. I became very involved in our children’s elementary school PTO, including chairing our largest annual fundraiser.
Over the years, I have developed my skills as a caregiver by caring for my family and those around me. I helped my mother care for my ailing father for many years and more recently I have helped care for my mother-in-law when we moved her to St. Louis to be closer to her youngest grandchildren. I understand the overwhelming emotions attached to downsizing and dealing with complex medical issues. In addition, as a breast cancer survivor I recognize how stressful treatment can be for the patient as well as the family. In my experience, having people to support you can bring about a better quality of life for all involved.
At Aging Gracefully, I am here to provide support to our clients and our team. This support can be as simple as running errands or as meaningful as sitting and having a conversation or holding a hand through a difficult situation. I also bring my skills of organizing and accounting to help with tasks such as managing mail and documents, balancing a checkbook or cleaning out a closet. I am here to assist with things big and small and hope to make each day a little brighter for each person I help.
As a young woman, I earned my bachelor’s degree in social work at Valparaiso University, and worked in family assistance until I married and had children. When my fifth child was three, I went back to work as the counselor at their school for several years, working with students and families under stress. Later, when my children were young adults, I went to seminary and completed a masters in pastoral care and counseling at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, and did some post grad work in gerontology at UMSL. It was towards the end of my graduate studies that I began my clinical pastoral education at the hospital, which segued into a hospital chaplain residency after receiving my masters. That residency led to increased compassion for those who are very ill, and eventually to ten years of providing spiritual care, end of life education, and grief support to hospice patients and their families.
It was while working in the ICU at Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis that I became aware that many seniors aren’t prepared for medical emergencies and decision-making. I was a chaplain resident (like a medical doctor resident), and Iris had been lying in bed, unresponsive, for over two weeks. Her best friend, Laura, was sitting next to her, having just finished talking with a surgeon. “They want to put a feeding tube in her,” she said, “and I don’t know what to do.” She was Iris’s only “family” and support, and they had not talked about the “what ifs” of aging. Laura was overwhelmed, under prepared, anxious, and emotionally spent. Throughout the ICU that year, similar scenarios played out, and it was my privilege to accompany patients and their caregivers throughout the course of their illness, and to offer grief support in the months that followed.
I am proficient in client assessments, care-planning, crisis intervention, life review, and education on the aging process, end of life, and the grieving process. I strive to facilitate healthy communication with and within the family, can be a liaison between the medical staff and the family, and will advocate tirelessly for patient needs with medical staff. Over the years I have gained knowledge of the medical system, options for care, and supportive living arrangements. I have come to see caregivers as the unsung heroes of our society, and the fabric that holds fragile individuals and families together, and coming alongside them is a privilege.
I provide comfort, caring presence, emotional support, and work toward helping our clients have peace of mind about the present and the future. I love hearing people’s stories about their childhood, courtship, careers, disappointments, joys and struggles. As we age, we can feel increasingly invisible. Part of my mission is to listen well, and be an empathetic companion during times of stress and transition. I hope to give this kind of support to every individual and family I work with.
Born and raised in St. Louis, my social work career began over 25 years ago with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Marquette University and a Master of Social Work from Tulane University. After working with children, families and individuals with developmental disabilities in both medical and community based settings, in Milwaukee, Atlanta and Nashville, I moved back to St. Louis with my husband and two children. For almost 15 years now, I have worked here with seniors and their families as both a hospice and home health social worker before joining Aging Gracefully. I love listening to seniors’ stories of the past and joining them in finding meaning and purpose in their present.
My goal is to help families build on their strengths and experience to adapt and thrive as they manage the challenges of aging. My strengths are providing care in a personalized and compassionate way, an extensive knowledge base of community resources, and a passion for helping seniors to maximize their independence and quality of life as they age. In addition to my professional experience, I have been the primary caregiver for an aging parent. I know its joys, rewards, and sorrows and I understand the frustrations and exhaustion that can sometimes arise from trying to meet ever-changing needs. I enjoy creative problem solving and completing tasks big and small that can ease some of the burdens of caregiving. My hope is to bring peace of mind to loved ones as well, whether they need guidance or support or just someone to lighten their load. I am continually grateful for the opportunity to work in this field and I am often inspired by the love, perseverance, and resiliency demonstrated by those we serve.
I grew up in Chevy Chase MD., outside of Washington DC, the eldest of 7 children. Our parents raised us to know that many options were open to us in life and that we also had a responsibility to contribute something back to the world, a value I wholeheartedly internalized. I earned my BS in Psychology at UMSL and my M.Ed. in Special Education at Loyola University of MD. I raised my two children here in St. Louis and returned to the DC area for 11 years to assist my parents in coordinating the supports they needed and then their choice of a move to a continuum of care residence. I then returned here to St. Louis in 2014 to be near my children and four grandchildren, who bring me so much joy!
I have happily found work in social services as a case coordinator and in special education as a transition specialist, which has allowed me to fulfill my passion for supporting people, especially people with developmental disabilities and their families, to explore their options with informed choice, at different stages of life and to help open the doors towards their dreams. This has often been achieved through person-centered planning with the individual, their families and support circle to define the next steps, the supports needed, the action plans and pathways to achieve those life goals. There is no greater joy to me than listening to people speak about their dreams and fears for themselves and their children and then helping to define the next steps to take. They are then able to live the next stage with ease, contentment and fulfillment.
Through my work in the St. Louis area for 23 years, I have extensive knowledge and partnerships with the agencies and community resources available to serve individuals with disabilities, the funding streams available and the steps needed to make the needed linkages to services. It is wonderful to be a part of this organization that has demonstrated such a high commitment to creatively enhancing and ensuring the dignity and joy in life for each person being served.