Q: I have been taking care of a family member for awhile, I am worried we are heading for a crisis. Where can I turn to get information and maybe help with the care?
A: First, I always say ''thank you'' to all caregivers. You are making the life of someone else better.
We have so many seniors in our community who are able to stay at home through the help of family, friends and neighbors. I also want to reinforce asking for help whenever you feel you need it. For anyone who has provided care for another person, you know how draining it can be at times. It is rewarding, but it can be difficult. Don't be afraid to reach out for help!
Many times throughout our lives we face significant changes; graduations, first jobs, first car, marriage, babies, so many other things. Most of these are celebrated and these celebrations offer opportunities for others to ''share'' their expertise. When it comes to caring for a family member, we don't get this ''shower of support.'' It is usually a gradual change in expectations and responsibilities. This gradual change can lead up to a significant amount of time and energy. Don't let this overwhelm you. I say get help early and often.
There are many resources in our area. It is simply a matter of looking for the help you need and then letting them help.
The first resource I would offer is NY Connects. NY Connects is a statewide initiative that provides one number/one source for all residents of New York state, to call to get resources related to Human Services and many other items of concerns. Chautauqua County NY Connects is staffed by trained professionals, who work with you to find resources and agencies that can help in your situation. This staff does not just have answers for senior issues, but issues from birth to death. NY Connects' number is 753-4582.
As individuals retire or age into Medicare, their insurance situation can change dramatically. There are a multitude of options open to those with Medicare. The terms are different, the prices are different, the products offered are dramatically different each year.
The purpose of this column is to give those who are eligible for Medicare, or soon to be eligible for Medicare, some understanding of their insurance options and how it could impact their health and finances.
These questions and answers are meant as a guide to help you understand the complex questions you are now thinking about. Each individual's specific situation may create a different solution. You shouldn't necessarily do what your friends, family and neighbors do.
Another resource many individuals reach out to is their church family or church pastor. This group may have help available or ideas on where to turn for alternative services within our community. A church family is an extended family of sorts that is there to help when you need it.
There are also other agencies out there that can help, such as:
Office for the Aging may have support services or referral services that you could use. They have information on entitlement programs to help financially as well as programs to help within the home both personally and on repairs to your home.
Family Service of Chautauqua Region is also a good resource tool. They may have professionals who can help you through your situation.
Home Care Agencies could provide staff to help you in the home with daily chores. This may give you the extra helping hand you or your family member needs to stay at home.
Programs such as Senior Life Matters provide aides who are available to help with household chores, transportation, shopping and errands. This may help you manage you time and other tasks a little easier.
Adult Day Programs might offer an opportunity for your senior to get out of the home and socialize with others in a supervised setting. This may give you a needed break, but more importantly it adds ''quality'' to their days. Many programs provide transportation to and from the program.
Geriatric care managers, social workers and service coordinators may be useful to you as well. These professionals can offer objective opinions regarding service options, assessment of the whole situation, resolving family conflicts, and providing piece of mind to long distance caregivers. These professionals usually specialize in working with seniors and their families to cope with their life situation. Our situations and life choices change as we age and sometimes we need help to get through those things.
Ask friends and co-workers for ideas. We often ask their advice about car repairs, favorite stores and favorite books. Don't be afraid to use them as a resource for this situation also. They may have some great ideas and experiences to share.
The important thing to remember is that you are doing your best and there is help out there for you. Reach out to get some help and it will make your situation even more successful. Reaching out to help is not a sign of failure. Reaching out is a sign of strength. You don't want your family member to need something when there is a solution out there. I know that as a caregiver you helped others when they were in need. Let someone help you now when you need it. The old saying continues to be true: ''Many hands make light work.'' Let others help you to be successful.
Janell Sluga is a geriatric care manager certified and works for Senior Life Matters, a program of Lutheran Senior Housing, and has worked in Chautauqua County with seniors for more than 18 years. She is HIICAP (Health Insurance Information, Counseling & Assistance Program) counselor-trained by Office for the Aging. She does not sell insurance or represent any insurance company. She is an unbiased source of insurance and education to help seniors choose the best option for them.
You may submit questions to be answered in later columns to Janell Sluga at Senior Life Matters, 737 Falconer St., Jamestown, NY 14701, or call 716-720-9797, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember that not all questions can be answered in this format, but as many as can be, will be.