WBOC Leading Lady: Nancy Aureli: Helping families navigate the senior care challenge

By Amisha Kohli

When she began helping her mother take care of her grandmother eight years ago, Nancy Aureli felt like she was walking through mud while trying to find the right resources she needed to take care of her elders.

As a registered nurse who had spent years working with elderly people, Aureli wondered how people who lack that experience figured out where to go and what to do to take care of their loved ones. Answering that simple question evolved into Community Living Advocates (CLA), a network of about 90 agencies and associations focused on senior care in Central New York. Aureli founded CLA in 2017.

“I had the idea that I wanted to create a clearing house so that people could have a one-stop shop to find care for seniors,” Aureli said.

Aureli describes CLA as a hub of information about classes, entertainment, events, financial planning, medical care, senior housing and living, transportation and wellness.

“I just want to provide the information so people can make better decisions I guess, and just think about all the different avenues they have to enhance their life and make it better,” Aureli said.

Though Aureli is well-versed in senior care now, she started her career in a different field, spending nine years as a geologist. As her career accelerated, Aureli traveled frequently and decided it was time to slow down and find a job where she could stay home. Although Aureli found it fun, the constant travel became tiresome, and she found the job was not feeding her soul as she desired. Ready for a change, Aureli asked herself what other career paths would be of interest and landed on nursing. She was drawn to the field because it actively challenged her mind and gave her an opportunity to help others feel better. Aureli remains a nurse, working per diem alongside CLA.

“My favorite patients have always been older adults because they’re present with you, they talk with you, they’re paying attention to you. They’re in the moment with you,” Aureli said. “That’s another reason why I love this organization: because I love touching so many families and so many seniors and so many caregivers because it’s heartwarming.”

Although the internet offers a plethora of resources, finding a suitable, accessible service can be overwhelming. CLA takes some of the difficulty out of that research process, giving people a more local, condensed center to find what they need without having to weed through the thousands of options on the internet. The organization’s events provide seniors the opportunity to get out and socialize, while also providing helpful information regarding various topics.

“We have members who are [in] transportation. We have senior living, we have in-home care, both companion care and medical care. There is insurance, there’s financial people. We have anything that any adult needs,” Aureli said. “Our members can help people who are older, or in any part of their life. … I just want to be able to touch every part that they need help with. I want to be able to fill that need.”

On Sept. 15, CLA is hosting a senior housing and care expo at the Regional Market. The event will showcase opportunities for senior living in CNY, as well as what services are available for in-home care. In the future, Aureli hopes to continue holding the events that CLA has already done, and continue adding new ones in order to further disseminate information to seniors and their loved ones.

“I’ve come to learn that we have a lot of great senior care and service organizations in this area. they are very passionate about senior care,” Aureli said. “I’m so thrilled to see so many people with such kind hearts and good intentions getting together to help our area seniors.”

“I love every meeting, every fair. You know how you got those things to just feed your soul? This is what does it [for me].”