Caregiving for an aging loved one can be both rewarding and challenging. We find that many caregivers don’t know about resources and services that can help make their jobs easier and improve the quality of life for their loved one. Below is information and a list of services from Deaconess, community programs/agencies, and even governmental resources. Use this information to find the services and resources best suited to your family and situation.
Caregiving is a big part of many families' lives
Caregiving is an increasingly-common role in America. Seniors are living longer, and often there are family members and friends who are helping to look out for their health and well-being.
Currently in the US:
- There 66 million total caregivers, including 45 million adults caring for someone over the age of 50
- 86% of those caregivers are caring for a relative
- 66% of all caregivers are female
- And the value of all this? It’s estimated that the total value of unpaid caregiver services is about $470 BILLION dollars.
In our roles here at Deaconess, we work with many caregivers, especially those who are caregiving seniors. Often those caregivers are adult children who are still working, and may be finishing up raising their own children as well. People in that situation are often referred to as being in the “sandwich generation.” So, how can we best help these caregivers? Connect them to resources.
Deaconess Primary Care for Seniors (DPCS)
DPCS is a doctor’s office specially designed for patients age 65 and older. The providers specialize in the care of older adults, and we’re staffed by gerontologists and other senior care experts. Switching from a regular family physician to a gerontologist may be an excellent choice for primary care services, especially as aging-related health issues arise.
Care Coordinators like myself (Lorrie) also help patients and families at DPCS. We are specially-trained social workers who can answer extensive questions about senior care, and help make arrangements for many of the services we’ll list below.
Deaconess VNA Home Care
Deaconess VNA offers home care services for individuals who have had a change in their health that requires in-home care and therapy. This often happens after a hospitalization, and can be short or long term depending on the need of the patient.
Receiving care at home can be very helpful because caregivers are no longer as concerned about transporting their loved one to the doctor’s office, physical therapy, or other health care appointments. Home care also provides both the patient and caregiver with hands-on learning opportunities that will ensure success once home care services are no longer needed.
Some of the home care services provided by Deaconess VNA include:
- Disease Management
- Self-Care Education
- IV Therapy
- Wound Care
- Tube Feedings
- Colostomy Care
- Dressing Change
- Medication Education
- Monitor Vitals, Blood Pressure, etc.
- Foley Catheter
A referral for home health care from a physician is needed, so we encourage anyone who may be wondering about whether home care is appropriate to contact their family doctor.
Deaconess VNA also offers supportive services that do not require a physician’s referral. These include:
- Medication management dispenser, which dispenses the right medicines at the right times automatically.
- Monthly support groups—for anyone in the community—including grieving support groups, a crochet group that makes blankets for veterans, lunch outings, etc.
For more information about home care services and help with referrals, please call us at (812) 425-3561. You can also learn more at www.deaconess.com/VNA.
Deaconess VNA Hospice Care
Deaconess VNA also offers hospice care. Hospice care is growing in both need and demand, as people are increasingly recognizing its value. Hospice care is appropriate for patients who have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than six months, and who are no longer seeking curative treatment. Hospice services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance at 100%.
Hospice helps the patient, but also their family and loved ones. Once referred into hospice, an entire team of providers become involved in caring for the whole family. A few benefits include:
- In-home care
- Coverage of cost of medications and other needs for symptom management
- Home medical equipment
- Spiritual and bereavement services
- Many services from caring hospice volunteers
Hospice care can also provide a “break” in caregiving that family members may need, up to 5 continuous days. This can allow caregivers to go on a trip, attend a major family event (like a wedding) or just take some time for self-care.
While the majority of hospice services take place in the patient’s home, hospice can also include in-patient care for particular circumstances like uncontrolled pain. In-patient care at Deaconess is typically provided at the Linda E. White Hospice House or Charlier Hospice Center.
For more information about hospice, call (812) 425-3561. You can also learn more at www.deaconess.com/VNA.
Community, Government and Agency Resources
SWIRCA—the Southwestern Indiana Regional Council on Aging—provides a wealth of services for seniors and their families. Some are social, such as hot lunches, games and bingo, and trips/activities. Others services help meet more extensive needs, including:
- Nursing home placement
- Respite care, so family members can have a break from caregiving
- Case management and advocacy for seniors
- Arrangements with Meals on Wheels, which delivers hot lunches to seniors on weekdays.
SWIRCA also offers an extensive online resource database of MANY senior-related services in the community and region. Visit www.swirca.org to see the database.
Companion care is a service that can benefit many families, and is offered by several community agencies. This type of care does not require a physician’s order and is not really related to health care. Companion care is what it sounds like – having someone around to help meet day-to-day needs.
Examples of this type of care/service include:
- Dressing and bathing
- Light housekeeping
An important difference to note is companion care services must be paid for by the patient or family and are not covered by insurance or Medicare; however, some long-term care policies may cover aspects of private duty care and nursing.
To find agencies locally, we recommend the SWIRCA Aging and Disability Resource Center http://resources.swirca.org/.
Adult Day Care/Treatment
Adult day treatment (sometimes called adult day care) offers companionship, structured activity, socialization and more for adult individuals who can’t spend a full day alone. This is a private pay service, but it’s a great option for many families. Those who are in the “sandwich generation” we mentioned—who still need to work during the day—may find that this option helps them continue to work. It may also be more cost-effective than other options.
Again, the SWIRCA online resource guide can connect you to these services. http://resources.swirca.org/
Many local churches, non-profit organizations, nursing homes and skilled care centers offer caregiving support groups and specific health condition support groups. Check with your place of worship or residence for see what they offer or look at the SWIRCA online resource guide at http://resources.swirca.org/.
Indiana Family and Social Services Administration
On their website, you can find extensive information about a variety of senior and caregiving issues, including:
- Home/community-based supports for the elderly
- Transitioning from home to other housing, including community based settings, assisted living or nursing home
- Understanding Medicare benefits
- Assistance with transportation, meals, medication, mobility concerns, etc.
- Finding elder law attorneys
- Learning about long-term care insurance
The link to the Indiana FSSA page specializing in issues of aging is http://www.in.gov/fssa/2329.htm.
Indiana Legal Services
Indiana Legal Services (ILS) is a non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income people throughout Indiana. ILS helps clients who are faced with legal issues that impact their basic needs such as shelter, income, food, medical care or personal safety.
The local chapter here in Evansville includes specially-trained senior ombudsman staff that can answer many senior-related legal questions, and help with legal matters including needed forms and other resources. For more information, visit http://www.indianalegalservices.org/
National Institute on Aging
One of the best online resources for information about caregiving is from the National Institute on Aging, part of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Topics on the site include:
- Long-term care
- Advance care planning
- Long distance caregiving
- Taking care of yourself as a caregiver
That last point is really important, as you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. Many caregivers struggle with depression, frustration, guilt, fatigue and various untreated health disorders.
Learn more about all these topics at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/caregiving.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resources
While not all caregiving situations involve Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, those that do are often the most challenging. The local (and national) Alzheimer’s Association offers extensive help and resources, including support groups for caregivers, social gatherings for those with memory loss, etc. Visit www.alz.org to learn more.
United Way of Southwestern Indiana
United Way 2-1-1 connects individuals in need of social services with the appropriate service providers in the Southwestern Indiana community. 2-1-1 resource specialists are available 24 hours a day to confidentially help people in need of a wide variety of services, which include but are not limited to:
- Legal Aid
- Utility Assistance
- Health Care and many more services
If you need help, call 211, 1-800-639-9271 or 812-421-2800.
2-1-1 is also available for text messaging. Text your zip code to 898211 to have basic information about community resources sent directly to your cell phone. Text 2-1-1 is available from 8 AM – 5 PM Monday – Friday. Learn more or use the online database.
Caregiver Homes, from Seniorlink, supports caregivers and their loved ones with expert in-home care teams, providing guidance and insight to help them continue providing care at home. Financial assistance, in the form of a tax-free stipend, can be part of this program. The local branch manager is at SWIRCA, 812-464-7800 or www.swirca.org.
The site, www.caregiver.org, is an excellent website that covers very complex caregiving issues.
The AARP stays current on many issues facing seniors and their caregivers. Learn more about a variety of health, financial and legal topics at www.aarp.org.
We could keep listing resources, but that quickly becomes overwhelming. The services and organizations listed above are trusted sources of information for your caregiving journey. We hope they are helpful to you and your loved ones.