Supporting Adult Day Clients and Caregivers

It is not an easy thing to walk alongside and provide care for a beloved spouse or loved one as he or she suffers the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. As we all know, Alzheimer’s disease is a thief – it steals not only memories, but also a person’s sense of identity and purpose as he or she loses the ability to do the things that have long been part of daily life.

Bob Gates lived this journey first-hand after his wife of more than 60 years, Audrey, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July 2011.

Bob and Audrey met in 1st Grade and had their first date at the young age of 16. After graduating from high school, the couple married in 1954 and built a life together as best friends and partners. Bob’s career with Bell of PA and Bell Atlantic, which we now know as Verizon, spanned more than 40 years and took the couple to Sunbury, Pottsville, and Altoona before they settled permanently in the Harrisburg area. Audrey was a full-time mother and homemaker, raising their three children and actively helping with grandchildren as well. The couple’s favorite hobby was traveling. They traveled to many different places on the east coast, but returned time and again to Myrtle Beach, SC where they camped right on the water. An outdoorsy family, the Gates enjoyed camping, fishing, hunting, and time spent together around the campfire. The close-knit family also practiced a strong faith, which led them to serve their church and the community out of love for the Lord.

It is no surprise then, that after receiving Audrey’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Bob and family banded together to care for Audrey at home for as long as possible. As Audrey’s needs increased and became overwhelming, Bob found respite and support through the Adult Day program on the campus of Messiah Village where Audrey became a client in January 2017. Bob’s objectives in enrolling Audrey in Adult Day were to provide her with increased socialization, keep her physically active and stimulated, and slow the progression of her mental decline. Additionally, Bob knew that enrolling Audrey in Adult Day would allow him to recharge and renew himself as her primary caregiver and give him time to downsize their home and prepare for the next stage of life – the couple’s move to their apartment in Village Square.

“Adult Day is a godsend,” Bob says. “The team members are the most compassionate, caring, professional people I have ever seen. They are genuine – it is not an act. It takes a special kind of person to do what they do, and they are just that…special.”

The Gates moved into Village Square in November 2017, and Bob continued to take Audrey to Adult Day every day until February 2018, when Audrey was discharged from Adult Day and welcomed to the Manchester neighborhood. Now, Bob visits Audrey daily, often utilizing Kibler Bridge, which connects Village Square to Village Center. In the Manchester neighborhood, Audrey continues to receive top-notch care, and Bob is grateful for the ways that team members show love and compassion to Audrey each day.

Despite the challenges and – yes, the sadness – of Bob and Audrey’s journey, Bob is grateful. “We are highly blessed,” he says. “I have met so many people at Messiah Village that I treasure, and I am blessed to be in a beautiful community surrounded by friendly, helpful, compassionate, Christ-like people.”

Written by: Rachel Pease, Director of Development at Messiah Lifeways
Originally published in “Spolight” A Newsletter for Donors and Volunteers, September 2018

 

Pumpkins and Leaves and Hay Bales . . . Oh My!

I came home from a weekend away last week to discover pumpkins, colored leaves, and hay bales adorning the neighbor’s porch. A sudden sense of sadness and indignation washed over me. It’s not fall yet! Don’t make me say goodbye to summer until I have to!

There is nothing inherently wrong with fall – crisp air and apples, comfy sweaters and boots, vibrant foliage and mums, football tailgating and soccer are all lovely reasons to embrace this season.

However, fall in Pennsylvania also means that cold weather and winter are around the corner. And for that reason, I will always have a love-hate relationship with fall.

I can already feel the dread rising up like bile in my throat. Dramatic? Ok – forget the bit about the bile.

But in all seriousness, I fight that dread throughout the cold months. I find it all too easy for complaint after complaint to roll off my tongue, for discontent to lodge itself like a stubborn splinter into my heart.

What’s a girl to do?

Gratitude is the only antidote. No, gratitude doesn’t change the weather or how I feel about the cold, but it does change my heart and my focus.

Practicing gratitude can happen in countless ways: keeping a journal or gratitude jar, thankful praying, meditating on God’s goodness, mindfully walking, writing thank-you notes to those you appreciate, and the list goes on.

Turning our focus from the negative to the positive provides a wealth of benefits – other than a cessation of grumbling. According to an article in Forbes Magazine [click here],  scientific research reveals that gratitude increases empathy and reduces aggression. It also improves

  • physical health
  • psychological health
  • sleep patterns
  • self-esteem
  • mental strength

Instead of whining about how cold it is this year, I resolve to express gratitude in some way every day.

 

We’re delighted to have Kerry Hoke, Director of Pastoral Ministries, join the blogging team. Kerry has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Messiah College, graduate credits from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Spring Arbor University. She and her husband Bryan, who is the Bishop of the Atlantic Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church, have three daughters.

Caregiver Absenteeism: a Growing Economic Burden

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

– Former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter

The Family Caregiver Alliance® defines a caregiver as, “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.” We can also define most caregivers as loving, caring heroes, who give of themselves unconditionally while in many instances sacrificing their own health and wellbeing, relationships and even employment.

According to research from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015 there were roughly 34.2 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. providing care particularly for someone over the age of 50. And the average age of a caregiver across the board was 49.2, which falls firmly in the primetime of a career and raising teens or even grandkids. Statistics also show them spending on average 24.4 hours a week providing care for a loved one. This research also indicated that 70% of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual roles. For instance, 61% of caregivers experience at least one change in their employment due to caregiving such as cutting back work hours, taking a leave of absence, receiving a warning about performance/attendance, among others. Furthermore, 49% arrive to their place of work late/leave early/take time off, 15% take a leave of absence, 14% reduce their hours/take a demotion, 7% receive a warning about performance/attendance, 5% turn down a promotion, 4% choose early retirement, 3% lose job benefits, and 6% give up working entirely.¹

Add all these stats and scenarios together, and you have a recipe for a residual burden on caregivers resulting in burnout, depression, poor health and a compromised commitment to their employers. This translates into poor work performance, loss of productivity, plus increases in absenteeism, health care subsidies, paid time-off, sick leave, and FMLA claims. Bottom line – caregiver absenteeism costs the U.S. economy an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity. ²

Employers must adapt

This problem will continue to trend upward, especially as the number of baby boomers surges and eventually grow older, frailer and more dependent. Employers will need to be more sensitive and proactive on this issue. Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers employers a number of suggestions for removing barriers to equal employment such as adopting caregiver-friendly work policies and workplace flexibility, along with providing eldercare support, resources, and referral services to caregiver employees.³ [click here for the full list from FCA]. As Rosalyn Carter summarized, the potential for caregiving can affect us all, so the likelihood of being a caregiver and an employee simultaneously is a strong possibility. Are you prepared as an employer?

Messiah Lifeways Coaching encourages these ideals from FCA to employers, especially in the area of education and support. Messiah Lifeways Coaching will be offering its annual workshop entitled “Caregiver Solutions” on September 26, 2018. This workshop is designed for those seeking options, resources, and support as caregivers, especially for those who may be struggling to balance caring for a loved one and their own busy lives. The workshop is also open for professional development and education and to employers looking to gain a better perspective on the issue. Topics include: assessing and avoiding caregiver burnout, care options, costs, and making a plan. If you or a staff member would like to attend, please call 717.591.7225 or register online at www.MessiahLifeways.org/Events.

¹National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015) Caregiving in the U.S.
²Gallup-Healthways. (2011). Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Survey: Caregiving Costs U.S. Economy $25.2 Billion in Lost Productivity. Based on the average number of work days missed per working caregiver, assuming $200 in lost productivity per day.
³Williams, J. C., Devaux, R., Petrac, P., & Feinberg, L. (2012). Protecting Family Caregivers from Employment Discrimination

Exactly What do you Need to Fix Yourself?

Before you begin your journey to wellness, you need to be clear about where you want to go! If you just say something fluffy like, “I want to feel healthier,” you need to dive deeper because casual intention won’t get you there. Goals need to be more specific. For instance, if you’re overweight, your goal (or one of them) will probably be to lose a certain amount of weight. If you get tired at lunchtime and drag yourself around all day long, you’ll probably want more sustained energy. If you’re in pain, you’ll definitely want to reduce inflammation and get rid of the pain, preferably without drugs.

You can start right now to fix the things you want to change. Whatever you strongly visualize as the newer, younger, healthier version of yourself can come true. You need to want it badly enough to be willing to work for it. It takes a can-do attitude and a warrior spirit because you’ll most likely be needing to break some very old habits.

Don’t let your age be a cover-up for inaction. Never act your age and especially don’t use it as an excuse. “I’m XX years old, so of course I can’t do that.” “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” “I’m doing pretty well for my age.” We’ve all heard them, over and over and over. Defining yourself by your age can be your downfall. If you’re too old to do anything new, you’ll stagnate and likely slip into the health problems you have learned to expect with age. So never say “I’m too old.” Take those three little words right out of your vocabulary.

True stories of a few people I know…

I have a friend from Camp Hill who has been running at least three miles a day for over 30 years, rain or shine. Incredibly, he’s never missed a day! He’s now in his 70’s, thinks he’s a kid, and has no intention of stopping.

While visiting Key West, I watched a man in his mid-80’s walk unassisted and unprotected on a 30 foot long tightrope, 15 feet above the ground. Since I teach balance classes, I know how incredibly difficult this is, especially since everyone knows that people “lose their balance as they age.” He did his tightrope walk most evenings to entertain the crowds, and so far hasn’t fallen off. Maybe nobody ever told him he was too old to balance.

Two friends of mine who happen to take my classes are the picture of health and act like they’re half their age. One rides horses, mucks their stables, and feeds them – all year long. The other is a walker and teaches dyslexic kids as well as English as a Second Language classes. What do they have in common besides a zest for life (and no meds) — they’re both about the turn 80!

The lesson … don’t allow your age to define you and hold you back. You CAN learn new things and create positive change. Too many people get motivated to improve their health a little late, like when the doctor reads them the riot act or when they collapse on the floor and have to be carted off to the emergency room. Don’t you wait for that cataclysmic event to start your fix. Get started now!

Next time we’ll talk about the first steps you can take to clean up your diet. Till then, think hard about your goals.

 

Written by: Susan Charles, MS Pennsylvania State University and Messiah Lifeways Guest Blogger. After working for 25 years in sales and marketing for IBM and Lexmark, Susan undertook a second career in Wellness with a degree in holistic nutrition along with many fitness certifications with an emphasis on older adult exercise. Her new passion has formed the foundation for public speaking, writing, counseling, and exercise teaching as a second career. 

Who am I?

Introducing Susan Charles, MS Pennsylvania State University and Messiah Lifeways Guest Blogger

After working for 25 years in sales and marketing for IBM and Lexmark, Susan undertook a second career in Wellness with a degree in holistic nutrition along with many fitness certifications with an emphasis on older adult exercise. Her new passion has formed the foundation for public speaking, writing, counseling, and exercise teaching as a second career. Let’s hear a little bit from Susan and what she has in store for our readers.


I’m a new blogger for Messiah Village. I’m 70 years old, live in Hampden Township, and have seven grandchildren. I am healthy as a horse, and whatever I share in this blog, I have tried myself. I just hate it when people preach about things they read on the internet but haven’t made any effort to find out if they really work. You can call me Wellness Grandma because the things we’ll cover will include wide-ranging “wellness” topics. Some examples are purpose-driven living, healthy holistic nutrition, getting in shape for travel, keeping your mind sharp as you age, and much more.

Why am I writing about these things? I feel like my life is fabulous right now, and I revel in getting up every morning with energy and enthusiasm. I strongly believe all of us can do better and sometimes a little guidance helps. I just returned from 12 days of hiking very rigorous trails in the Himalayas, and last fall I went scuba diving with hundreds of sharks, rays and barracudas in Bora Bora. I feel great all the time and take no meds. Although I have lots of academic credentials, I think the results speak louder than the words of advice found in scholarly articles or just about everywhere. I live the life of wellness and love every minute of it. It has paid off very well, and I am enthusiastic to share some of the insights I’ve learned along the way. My goal is to be able to help you create a better version of yourself.

In future blogs, I hope to be able to have online discussions and make this information more interesting and helpful for you! So, let’s get started…

At Messiah Village you hear about embracing life more fully, which is something I hope all my readers would like to do. This blog will generate ideas offering concrete suggestions about how to fully embrace life and improve your overall wellbeing. There will be lots of wide-ranging topics and suggestions. For example, we will discuss things about how to keep your mind sharp, how to create more energy, how to make healthier food choices, and lots more. Hopefully, you’ll want to incorporate some of these suggestions into your daily life.

Let’s get started

Healthy eating is a perfect place for us to start. In terms of results. It offers terrific odds for success because a positive change in eating habits will make you look and feel better than just about any other single thing you can do.

It’s easy to form bad eating habits, and most of us do. Many fast foods, sweet foods, fried foods, and greasy foods taste incredibly good, and so we eat them regularly. Replacing them with healthy food is a process that takes some knowledge of better options and (you will probably hate this word) willpower.

The word willpower has gotten a bad rap in the food world because of its association with dieting. But we won’t use it to mean starving yourself like some half-crazed person on a low calorie diet who beats themselves up later because they couldn’t stick with it. In fact, that kind of dieting is virtually guaranteed to fail. We’ll elaborate on this whole issue in the future because it’s worth a bit of digging in.

What we mean by willpower is about developing a willingness, and later a preference, to reach for a piece of fruit instead of a junk food snack in the middle of the afternoon. Soon we’ll dive into topics such as how to get off processed foods, a mighty hurdle but critical to success. We’ll talk about the (boring?) topic of eating your veggies and loving them, which actually doesn’t have to be boring at all.

I hope you will follow this blog. Right now, just take my word for it; the dividends for making the effort will be well worth your trouble.

Stay tuned for future blog entries as Susan shares her insight, energy and adventures – helping to “Change the Conversation About Aging and Wellness.”

Safeguarding Your Identity: Tips for Seniors

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, with a majority of it occurring online. Today, with technology and social media becoming increasingly advanced, it can be a challenge to stay safe. What can you do to prevent identity theft and fraud? Keep reading for additional information regarding this topic.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone steals and poses dishonestly as another person by using their name and their personal information without direct permission of that individual for fraudulent purposes. Such examples include: Investment Fraud, Credit Card Fraud, Passport Fraud, Telephone Fraud, Tax Fraud, Mail Theft as well as Social Security Number Misuse. The penalties for identity theft in Pennsylvania can vary depending on the total value of possessions allegedly obtained by using false identification. Plus a fine could range anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000 along with jail time from 5 years up to 10 years, yet the problem persists.

Who Is At Risk?

We are all at risk, but due to the “booming” senior population, especially in states like Pennsylvania, seniors unfortunately make up a large percentage of these victims. They’re targeted for a number of reasons. First, they may be struggling with cognitive impairments such as dementia or memory loss, which can then impair their decision-making. Also, thieves may prey on them because of loneliness and isolation. So when a senior sees “someone in need” or that person is seeking their attention, it can reel them right in. Additionally, many grew up in an era where a hand shake or someone’s word meant a lot and therefore may be more trusting than they should be. Lastly, as technology evolves, thieves have become more hi-tech, so online information is becoming much easier to steal and because many older adults aren’t as tech savvy, they may unknowingly leave themselves open for these types of attacks.

How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?

To help prevent theft and fraud, you should consider a few of these precautionary steps. First, be careful creating usernames, passwords and/or Personal Identification Numbers (PIN). Do not use birth dates, Social Security numbers, your email address, or words, names or phrases that might be easy to guess. Use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Second, if you have financial paperwork lying around that contains personal information, shred these documents before disposing them. It seems like such a silly step to take yet, it can make all the difference in the world. Third, safeguard your Social Security number as though your life depends on it because in a way, it does. Do not keep your Social Security number in your wallet, purse or handbag. In fact, don’t even write your SSN on a check, as this can put you at risk. Lastly, refrain from exchanging sensitive information through the mail, over the internet, through the phone or on other social media unless you specifically know the person you are dealing with and you are aware of why they are in need of this information.

Also around tax season, there have been a number of “IRS” scams stating they owe money and if they do not pay immediately you’ll be jailed or fined. This is a scam. The Internal Revenue will not contact you via social media, phone call or email. If they need to reach you, it will be by letter.

What Do I Do If I Suspect Identity Theft is Occurring?

One of the best things to do if you are suspicious is to be vigilant and proactive. The longer you wait, the more damage can be caused and thus the more money you can lose. The next thing you might be wondering is who do I contact? That depends. Based on the type of identity theft that is occurring, there are different organizations that are specifically geared towards eliminating that issue of identity theft and/or fraud. For instance, in order to contact someone about tax fraud, contact the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection). On the other hand, if you’re dealing with mail theft, you may want to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (www.postalinspectors.uspis.gov).

Here are some additional resources to contact if you are in need of further assistance regarding identity theft and/or fraud. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So if you are having any kind of inkling of this occurring, then please reach out to someone!

  • Investment fraud – Contact the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission at sec.gov.
  • Mail theft – Contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at postalinspectors.uspis.gov
  • Passport fraud – Contact the U.S. Department of State at passports.state.gov
  • Telephone fraud – For cellular phones and long distance service, contact the Federal Communications Commission at fcc.gov/complaints or at 1-88-TELL-FCC or write FCC/Consumer Information Bureau, 445 12th Street, Room 5A863, Washington, D.C. 20554
  • Social Security Number misuse – Contact http://oig.ssa.gov/report or call 1-800-269-0271, fax 1-410-597-0118 or write SSA Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235
  • Tax fraud – Contact the Internal Revenue Service at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection or call at 1-800-908-4490

Written by: Eliese Bjerke, Messiah Lifeways Coaching and Community Engagement Student Intern (Messiah College)

 

Carlisle Adult Day Center is enrolling new clients

The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) defines Adult Day programs as “a professional care setting in which older adults and adults living with dementia…receive individualized therapeutic, social, and health services for some part of the day.”

Carlisle Adult Day clients enjoy gardening with the Master Gardeners from Penn State.

Messiah Lifeways Adult Day services go above and beyond in providing a positive, nurturing programming to meet a variety of needs in clients, especially those with a dementia diagnosis. Music, art, exercise, gardening, service projects, a hot lunch, special events… everything is geared towards socialization and maintaining the cognitive and physical abilities of each client. We don’t dwell on what has been lost; we focus on what is still possible.

We’re also keenly aware of the difficulties facing caregivers in Central Pennsylvania. Adult children need to continue working, devoted spouses become weary with caregiver burnout, families and neighbors feel ill-equipped to help. Adult Day programs like ours provide a safety net – a safe haven – for the clients and their loved ones. The Messiah Lifeways Adult Day programs are also strongly connected to the Alzheimer’s Association which adds an extra layer of support through training, resources, and caregiver support groups that help the entire family.

If someone you love is unable to stay safely at home during the work week due to memory impairment or another age-related concern or you know someone who would benefit from the services at a Messiah Lifeways Adult Day Services, please feel free to help spread the word. Some additional points of interest about Messiah Lifeways Adult Day programs:

• They’re secured and thoroughly equipped to put the caregiver’s mind at ease.
• They employ team members, including several Registered Nurses, who are well trained in therapeutic programming, validation and remotivation therapy, and more.
• Focus on the client – their memories, their interests, their hobbies, to make each day meaningful and positive.
• May help to reduce the unwanted behaviors that sometimes challenges families and caregivers.

Our Mechanicsburg Center is currently on a waiting list but our Carlisle Center does have openings. Melissa Brandt, the Carlisle Center Coordinator would welcome the opportunity to give tours and talk about the admission process with anyone who is interested. The Carlisle Adult Day program is located at The Meeting House, Carlisle Campus, 1155 Walnut Bottom Road.

Melissa can be reached at: 717-243-0447 or via email at mbrandt@messiahlifeways.org

To learn more about Messiah Lifeways Adult Services, please visit MessiahLifeways.org/AdultDay.

 

Paying for Personal Care in PA: Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Personal Care Homes (PCH) and Assisted Living Residences (ALR) are housing options typically for older adults that provide hands-on care with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming and offer three meals a day, activities and medication monitoring. The average annual cost of a personal care home or assisted living in Pennsylvania is $41,400¹. While some older Pennsylvanians are fortunate enough to pay privately for these services, a much larger percentage simply cannot. Either way, many of those who need these levels of care are often mistaken on how it will get paid for. Many seniors and/or their families think that Medicare or Medicaid (aka Medical Assistance) will pay for some or all of personal care or assisted living. But, regrettably neither offer coverage in Pennsylvania, therefore private out-of-pocket payment tends to be the primary funding source for PA seniors. But, a fair number of states like Florida, North Carolina and Maryland do provide full coverage through their state Medicaid program. For full details on all 50 states, click [here].

For many older Pennsylvanians who begin to decline and struggle to live safely at home, moving to a personal care home can be the perfect solution. However, again due to average monthly costs of $3,450¹, it’s just not an option for many.

Of course this is nothing new, so state funded programs through Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), also known as Waiver Funded Services or Waiver Programs, were created to provide alternatives. They provide support and services that enable individuals to remain in a community setting rather than being admitted to a long-term care facility. Some of these waiver funds particularly aimed at helping seniors include adult day programs, non-medical home care, home modification grants and environmental adaptation services. While these are helpful, they may fall short for someone who cannot live alone safely 24 hours a day, for instance those with a dementia diagnosis. In cases where placement is an absolute must, the other option is nursing home placement; because if financially eligible, Medicaid will pay for them to be in a nursing home. The problem with this is that a number of these people don’t actually need true nursing care. For example, someone with moderate dementia may be in decent physical health, but because of safety or behavioral issues coupled with little income and no assets, nursing placement becomes the only option. Thus – “becoming stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Some good news

There are two direct funding sources that will provide partial or possibly full coverage for PCHs and ALRs in PA. The first is Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and second is the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Not to be confused with Social Security income that most everyone receives after retirement, Supplemental Security Income is strictly a needs-based program determined by one’s income and assets and, of course, physical need. It exists for people age 65+, as well as blind or disabled people of any age, including children.

To meet the SSI income requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income. SSI provides a number of benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. It also provides a monthly payment for the PA “Domiciliary Care or “Dom Care” program. As stated on PA Aging website, “Dom Care was created to provide a home-like living arrangement in the community for adults age 18 and older who need assistance with activities of daily living and are unable to live independently. Dom care providers open their homes to individuals who need supervision, support, and encouragement in a family-like setting.

Dom care residents are matched to homes that best meet their special needs, preferences, and interests. Dom care homes are smaller than the traditional personal care home in that home providers care for no more than three dom care residents. Unlike larger personal care homes, dom care homes are the individual providers’ homes. They are inspected annually to ensure they meet health and safety standards. If the home and provider pass this inspection, they become certified.

The local Area Agency on Aging is responsible for the initial certification and ongoing annual inspections of Dom Care homes in their area. They are also responsible for the placement of individuals into certified Dom Care homes.”

Supplemental Security Income in Pennsylvania will also cover monthly Personal Care/Boarding Home (PCBH) costs at $1,189.30 per eligible person or $2082.40 per eligible couple∗. The drawback to this funding option is that personal care homes must be willing to participate and accept these shortfall amounts. Thus, finding a participating facility can be a challenge. To get a list of facilities that accept SSI payments, please contact your local County Area Agency on Aging.

Next, the V.A. Aid and Attendance benefit provides an additional monthly pension to eligible veterans and/or their surviving spouses. Eligibility is based on income and assets, war-time service status and physical/medical need. This additional monthly stipend can be used for community based services, but can also be used to cover costs associated with placement in a personal care home or assisted living setting. To learn more click [here].

Lastly, another alternative in Pa, which falls under the category of community support is the LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) program. A person continues to live at home, but LIFE offers heavier partial day services and care to keep them there for as long as possible. “…it is an option that allows older Pennsylvanians to live independently while receiving services and supports that meet the health and personal needs of the individual [such as physician, nursing and rehab services, transportation and heavy physical assistance.]

Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) is a managed care program that provides a comprehensive, all-inclusive package of medical and supportive services. The program is known nationally as the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). All PACE providers in Pennsylvania have “LIFE” in their name. The first programs were implemented in Pennsylvania in 1998.” This is a program, if eligible, Medical Assistance (Medicaid) will pay for.

Final thoughts

In Pennsylvania, those who can afford to pay privately for the assistive care facilities, the burden is mostly on you. If you are someone who might qualify for coverage based on low income and assets, you may be fortunate enough to find a local option. But for a large chunk of older adults who fall between these two extremes, I wish I had more options to share. My advice is to be more proactive and anticipate the possibility of needing care as we age. Be mindful of unnecessary spending or gifting after retirement. Become more familiar with placement options and related costs. And most importantly, save more for retirement and earmark it for future care! We’re all living longer and care is not getting any cheaper. And although senior advocacy groups like LeadingAge™ PA continue the push to have ALR/PCHs receive partial government funding; current legislation is trending away from covering institutional types of care.

For more information or help on this topic, please contact Messiah Lifeways Coaching at 717.591.7225 or coach@messiahlifeways.org.

¹Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey 2017
∗Current SSI rates as of 2018

 

Walker & Rollator Safety Tips

Written by Christina Weber, Director of Home Care Services

Article adapted from
“How do I use my walker (rollator)? at www.walkerfacts.com

More and more older adults are using wheeled walkers or rollators to get around. And whether you are a hired caregiver or a family caregiver, you can help minimize their risk of injury by encouraging safe use of their device. There are four main activities that users need to perform safely when using their walkers. These are: standing up, walking, turning, and sitting down.

Wheeled walker

Rollator

Common mistakes made while using walkers, wheeled walkers or rollators are made during these activities and include, but are not limited to:

  • Not engaging the brakes when sitting or standing.
  • Starting to sit while still turning in front of the chair/bed/toilet/car.
  • Taking uneven steps.
  • Holding the walker too close/too far away from you while taking steps.
  • Forgetting to use the walker – walking away from the walker.
  • Holding the walker with both hands while standing up and sitting down.
  • Leaning too far away from the base of support provided by the walker.
  • Twisting away from the walker while turning.
  • Sitting on the wheeled walker or rollator while someone pushes it. (Note: Some walkers are made with this capability, but you should conform the device is designed to do this.)
  • If the user needs assistance, help them by guiding their body forward and keeping their weight over their feet. Do not pull them through by their arms or shoulders. Also they should not hold onto you, they should hold on to the furniture and walker while you support them.

This devices were created to assist and support their users, but not used properly they can potentially create more danger and increase the chance of injury. For safe and efficient use of a walker, rollator or other ambulatory devices, please consult your therapist or physician. If you need additional information, please visit www.walkerfacts.com.

 

Podcast 12: Reducing Caregiver Stress & Family Friction

Locking horns with a family member about an aging parent’s care? It can make an already stressful situation that much worse. Family dynamics, disagreement, and old wounds can make the process of caring for an ailing parent very complicated between family members, especially siblings.

This episode focuses reducing friction and caregiver stress between family members for the good of the cause by examining caregiver equity, putting aside differences and gaining new perspectives. Listen to the Coach’s Corner podcast and check out some the additional resources to make caregiving a little less stressful and more manageable.

Click here to listen to Episode 12

Additional resources to check out:

“What to Do about Mama?” by Barbara Matthews & Barbara Trainin Blank, published by Sunbury Press
www.amazon.com/What-Do-about-Mam…ers/dp/1620063158


“The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer ’s Disease, Related Dementia and Memory Loss” by Nancy Mace M.A and Peter Rabins, M.D. M.P.H. published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
www.amazon.com/36-Hour-Day-Alzhe…ias/dp/1455521159


Or visit the Family Caregiver Alliance at www.caregiver.org