Thursday forum will explore continuing care options for local aging populace

Are you or someone you care for eligible for help?

The next Eldercare Forum topic will be “Clinical Eligibility for: New Swingbed Unit, Nursing Homes, Home Health Care and In-home Services.” The forum will be presented by Bev Mowrey, Long Term Care Director, Experience, Inc., Warren/Forest Area Agency on Aging, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Allegheny Community Center (ACC), 42 Clark St., Warren. All interested persons are urged to attend. A question and answer period will follow the presentation, and light refreshments will be provided.

The staff at ACC sometimes fields questions about elder care from those who use the center, according to Susan Himes, ACC Community Development Director, and sometimes people call the center, too.

“We direct people to Experience Incorporated, Area Agency on Aging,” Himes explained. “They can talk to the intake staff there to set up a meeting or to get referral information.”

Getting that information is very important and can help caregivers receive the most time and the most appropriate assistance. When caregivers aren’t getting the help they need – help that is available locally – they often “burn out,” Himes said. “It can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able to do physically and/or financially.”

“Being as well educated as possible concerning how we age and how we take care of each other is critical,” Himes added. “There is very good help for us all if we know where to look for it. The first step is to call their local Area Agency on Aging. The staff is highly trained in helping not only the person who is in need of direct service, but also families that are caring for their loved one.”

Mowrey – who is one of those highly trained staff at Area Agency on Aging.

According to Mowrey, help includes, but is certainly not limited to, facility care.

“There are three nursing facilities in Warren County (one in Forest County) and four personal care homes in Warren County (none in Forest County). There are no licensed assisted living facilities in our two-county service area. There is one adult day center in Warren County.

Area Agency on Aging offers many services that can help, from home care to nursing home assistance.

The Aging Waiver program (this is a nursing home placement alternative in one’s own home) which offers personal care, home support, nursing, lifeline, tele-health, home modifications, home delivered meals, adult day center services and professional service coordination to those who qualify medically and financially

The Options Cost Sharing program which offers personal care, home support, home delivered meals and professional care management

The Caregiver Support Program which offers financial reimbursement of services or supplies already paid for by eligible caregivers in order to help reduce their stress and burden

Home Delivered Meals – known to many as Meals on Wheels – provides well balanced and nutritious meals to individuals age 60 and older in their homes

Outreach is a program to seek out and contact older persons in the community who may not be aware of what services are available, and that includes this Eldercare Forum.

Experience, Inc. is the responsible entity for performing Level of Care Determinations for individuals seeking Medicaid payment for Long Term Care supports and services, Mowrey explained. This would be for Nursing Facility or personal care home placements or home and community based Waiver programs

Long Term Care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of long term care facilities. The program is designed to investigate and help resolve complaints about violations of resident’s rights.

Older Adult Protective Services investigates reports of abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect by caregivers or self neglect against adults age 60 and older.

Nursing Home Transition is a program for older adults or people with disabilities who reside in nursing facilities. This program offers residents counseling about options for long term care services and supports outside of the nursing facility.

Area Agency on Aging also offers information and referral with information to all those who reach out to the AAA about services available through their agency and throughout the community

Apprise provides insurance counseling and clarification, as well as, assistance with Medicare enrollment.

Senior centers provide a congregate meal site and socialization activities for seniors 60 and older and persons with disabilities.

For more information, attend the Eldercare Forum Thursday, or call Area Agency on Aging referral department at 723-3763 (press 2 at the prompt).

Seniors and caregivers are assured that starting the process to get help is not complicated, Mowrey said. “However, when other state agencies have to become involved at different levels of the process (for the Aging Waiver) the process can become more complicated. Unfortunately, there is a lot of paperwork, but our professional care managers will walk them through every step and it should not be too hard to navigate with their assistance.”

Mowrey urges caregivers to get help and gather as much information as possible, absolutely.

“Having caregivers in the loop is essential in order to assist their loved ones with making informed decisions,” Mowrey explained. “However, it is always the right of the individual seeking care to make the final decisions about their care unless they have been deemed incompetent or incapacitated.”

Area Agency on Aging, other programs in the county and public presentations like these Eldercare Forums are provided to help the aging and their caregivers face the unavoidable challenges of increasing care.

Caregivers are faced with the “emotional challenge of watching your loved one deteriorate,” Mowrey said, and “feelings of inadequacy in the care giving role; loss of time for yourself; and financial difficulties in affording care.”

Area Agency on Aging is here to help local residents face those challenges.

Reservations are not necessary to attend the Eldercare Forum. For more information, call the ACC at 723-3237

The event is being sponsored by the Eldercare Council of Warren and Forest County, which “does a great job in coordinating these forums for the public,” Himes said. “We have speakers who are specialists in their field talk about all aspects of aging. The council is made up of representatives from both non-profit and for-profit social service organizations in our area.”