News & Press: General News

LeadingAge Texas Board Member Profile Series

Thursday, October 17, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Julianna Ems
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LeadingAge Texas is profiling a board member each week who dedicates their time, energy, and perspective to our collective mission.


We are kicking off the series with the newly elected Chair of LeadingAge Texas, Marsha Cayton. Over the past three decades, she has served in multiple capacities for the association always seeking ways to improve care and services for seniors across the state.  We are honored to have her leading our association.

The best advice I could give…
1. Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated.
2. Team work and high level collaboration.
3. Exercise the power of forgiveness.

The best advice I’ve ever received…
Came from my Mom - When you are overwhelmed or stressed, try this: Take a moment, consciously take a few slow deep breaths and reflect. This simple 1 minute break will deliver a powerful restart.

What is the best article or book you've read recently?
7 Men and 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. He explores the question of what makes a person great. I found it an enlightening read! Some of the men and women were unknown to me and I am glad that I read their story.


The best advice I could give…
Give grace and receive grace, to others and yourself.  Mistakes and failure are part of the process. Good people make mistakes and fail, and use those experiences to grow and expand forward. Let go of the ideal of “perfection” and embrace the journey – there will be bumps in the road.  

What do you wish other people knew about aging services?
The rewards of serving this population will impact and enrich you in ways you could never imagine. You are inspired daily with reflections and life experiences of our seniors, and reminded, regardless of your chronological years, youthfulness and living are a state of mind

What is the best article or book you've read recently? 
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Should be required reading for anyone serving in healthcare, as well as all of us as we face aging and struggle with quality of life versus quantity of life. Superior writing and insight into the aging, illness and medical approaches currently in America and how often they work in opposition versus in unison. 


Why do I belong to LeadingAge Texas?
I belong to LeadingAge Texas for multiple reasons but the biggest one is the networking that is available with all of the experts in our association. As a stand-alone ministry, we do not have a corporate office to inform us of all the changes in our field. LeadingAge Texas and the networking opportunities it provides, helps fulfill that role for us.

What have I done for fun lately?
I grew up on a farm loving the outdoors. Now in an office most of the time, outdoor time is limited. I always try to work some outdoor time in the form of fishing and kayaking into my schedule.

What is the best article or book you've read recently?
Although not so recent, I believe one of the best books I have read is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. In it, he talks a great deal about aging and end of life issues and how to improve those experiences. I thought it was so relevant, I gave copies to all of our executive team as well as Board members and we discussed it at our Board meeting.


Why do you belong to LeadingAge Texas?
I belong to LeadingAge Texas because of the incredible network of similar, mission-driven organizations and colleagues from which to learn and with whom we can collaborate. The association looks out not only for the best interests of its members, but also for the population we serve. It is important for members to take an active role in the association because we are stronger influencers by our engagement in obtaining and promoting public policy favorable to the people we serve.

The best advice I’ve ever received…
“Always hire people far smarter than you are and support them in their drive for success.”

Why do you love your job?
There are few careers today that allow you to be involved in such a diverse number of business practices, all at the same time – healthcare and financial management, event planning, culinary services, social and spiritual wellness, property management – and the list goes on. At the same time, we get the honor of working in peoples’ homes. It is a sacred responsibility and gift. It gives me great joy to do what I love and share in the lives of the people we are here to serve.


Why do you belong to LeadingAge Texas?
I belong to Leading Age Texas because I have a strong commitment to the aging individual.  I want to help people and improve the quality of life for all of us as we age.

The best advice I’ve ever received…
The best advice I have ever received is to just take one day at a time when I am feeling overwhelmed. It is best to just take a deep breath and realize everything is not an emergency and step back and look at things differently.

How I got into aging services…
I got into aging services because of an experience I had with my Grandmother. It was a horrible Nursing Home and she had bedsores so bad they had to do a surgical procedure to close the site. I knew there had to be a better way to take care of the aging person so I was excited about delving into this field while I was in Nursing School. I love Leading Age Texas and working with the committed individuals that have the same goal of improving quality of care and quality of life!!


How I got into aging services…
My parents owned a small grocery store that provided home delivery. The majority of our customers were elderly and many were shut-ins. While our customers where thankful for our delivery service, seeing how they were living so isolated and declining conditions, I felt there had to be a better alternative for them.

If I could change one thing about our field it would be…
I wish the survey process with our licensing/regulatory agency was collaborative rather than punitive. I believe our field would have much better outcomes if we worked together rather against each other.

Why do you love your job?
I have the opportunity to work with veterans across the State of Texas. There is no higher honor than to serve these heroes on a daily basis. Less than 1% of the US population has served in the US military and as a veteran myself, it is especially important to see that the veterans receive the benefits they have earned with their service.



Why do you belong to LeadingAge Texas?
I find the relationships and networking opportunities to be priceless. There are so many professionals that are great for peer to peer growth, as well as, opportunities to mentor the newer members. The educational opportunities and support from the advocacy is also a huge benefit.

How I got into aging services…  
I was in school at TWU in Denton where I was helping on a needs assessment for the City of Denton. I met the CEO of the local housing authority and she asked me if I had an interest in managing an affordable senior living apartment complex. I had never worked directly with older adults, but I found my passion!  I loved each of the residents and went home every day knowing I had made a difference in their lives and they in mine.

What have you done for fun lately?
I have fun each and every day when I go to work! My husband and I are empty nesters now and we are enjoying our weekends with our grands; junking in the small towns around us; we bike and hike; we cook together and sometimes we binge watch movies.


What inspires you?
A compelling mission, vision and values.  Many companies proudly post mission-vision-and -value statements, but only in not-for-profit communities can these things come together for a greater good.  A good which benefits residents, staff, and the greater community.  Not-for-profit history and tradition is to do the right thing, especially in tough times and when money is tight; a social footprint is important. 
Why do you love your job?
I have never thought of my 35 years in senior living as” a job”.  I feel privileged to serve mature adults and their families as they navigate the complexities of aging while managing limited resources.
What do you wish other people knew about aging services?
The outstanding job that hundreds of not-for-profit providers (across the spectrum), provide each day and the difference in the quality of life these providers make possible for so many.  I tell everyone who will listen that the 1970’s memories they have of “nursing” or “rest” homes are non-existent in our (LeadingAge) world and that the future of Aging Services is bright!


How I got into aging services…
I got into aging services rather by chance. I simply applied to a job ad in the local newspaper and got the job not knowing how much I would love working with older people and their families and would make a career of it.  Working in this field has been a wonderful fit for me. I have found so many blessings being a part of the lives of residents, learning from their vast experience and wisdom and feeling like I’m making a difference for them as we all navigate the path of getting older.

The best advice I could give...
To be honest and to be kind. People deserve to hear the truth even if it isn’t pleasant to say or to hear. They also deserve to be respected, so give them the honest truth with as much kindness and love as you can muster.

My favorite moment so far in my career...
The day I was blessed to perform a wedding ceremony for an 85 year old man and 92 year old woman. Their relationship had been the buzz around the community for months and it was such a blessing to get to celebrate that special moment in their lives with them, their families and their community friends.


Why do you belong to LeadingAge Texas?
The Bivins Foundation has been involved with LeadingAge Texas for many years. When I joined Bivins in 2018, Judy Day told me that being involved in LeadingAge Texas would provide valuable education and networking opportunities. She was absolutely correct.

The best advice I’ve ever received…
Listen more than you talk. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes before you respond to a situation. Always be kind.

Why do you love your job?
I love working for the Bivins Foundation because we serve those who have blazed the trails for others. It is important that we care for those who often cannot care for themselves any longer. One of my favorite activities is visiting one of our facilities to chat with a resident. Those visits confirm that I am where God intends for me to serve.


Why do you belong to LeadingAge Texas? 
I belong to LeadingAge Texas because of the opportunities to network with mission driven colleagues and to become better educated, as well as for the benefits such as Value 1st and the new association Health Plan (HPI)!  Because my organization operates with federal funding, our membership to LeadingAge is critical for advocating with HUD and Congress to fund affordable housing with services for low income seniors.   

Why do you love your job? 
My job is all about serving our senior residents which brings me joy and personal satisfaction each day.  Serving with my teammates is a blessing and working with the most dedicated and caring people as I do, provides motivation & accomplishment that strengthens me to keep serving in Aging Services.  
What is the best article or book about our field you've read recently? 
It’s been a few years since I was a fellow in the LeadingAge Leadership Academy where I first read Sabbath, by Wayne Mueller.  We all know how stressful working in our field can be and this book reminds us of the importance of renewing our Spirits regularly. I refer back to Sabbath often.