Mar
14

Community Resources for Older Adults

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Yesterday I completed phase three of the six workshop series on geropsychology.  This time we focused on community resources, legal issues, and practice models.  I won’t review everything here, but I do want to pass along some very useful information about community resources.   This is a topic I have been looking forward to.  It definitely helps to know the resources and services that are available to older adults and their families.  Now I can feel much more confident in directing my clients to the right resources, saving them time, and helping them obtain the right services.

Where to look for help and information:

If you are an older adult living in Illinois, or are helping one and need resources, the best place to start is by contacting your area agency on aging.  Here are some additional sources of information:

  • Illinois Senior Help Line at 1-800-252-8966.
  • Illinois Department on Aging
  • Listing of agencies and organizations serving seniors
  • Cities, villages, and townships often have additional resources provided through their own budgets and organizations.  When looking for help on this most local level, you will want to ask for your city’s department of human services or department of senior services.
  • Additional information on programs, activities and supports, is abailable through park districts, senior centers, libraries, faith communities, hospitals, and associations dedicated to specific illnesses.
  • Your doctor or psychologist can also be a source of information and help.

What types of help are available?

It is hard to give a comprehensive list of the types of help that are available, because it often depends on local organizations.  However, here is an overview.

Health Programs and Illness Prevention: There are exercise programs and subsidies available, wellness and health screening programs, hospital based education programs, chronic disease self management courses, congregate meals and home delivered meals, as well as programs and subsidies available through the YMCA.  Private duty care providers, like Bright Star, can provide home health care, including visiting nurses.

Social Programs: There are senior and community centers, park district outings, as well as social programs through non-profit organizations and faith communities.  Some specific organizations devoted to helping seniors live rich and fulfilling lives include Mather Lifeways, CJE Senior Life, the Center for Creative Aging at Harold Washington College, Chicago Life Opportunities Initiative, Senior Corps Volunteers, and Executive Corps (the last two offering volunteer opportunities for seniors).

Transportation Services: This is probably the highest need area, and unfortunately the resources are limited.  However, in the Chicago area, multiple programs are available.  These include: the RTA Reduced Fare Permit/Free rides program, ADA paratransit Services, Medicaid funding for transportation to medical appointments, as well as volunteers, city based services, and private pay caregivers like Bright Star.

Social Services: Social services include psychological services such as assessments, therapy, and support groups.  Also, a therapist, counselor or case manager can help you find resources or information on in-home care, housing, legal help, access to benefits, and other services.  Private pay geriatric case management has become a specialty, and can be especially helpful in cases where caregivers live far away from the senior they are caring for.

Caregiver Programs: These are programs that help manage the impact of caregiving.  They provide information, respite care, support groups and referrals.  Examples include the Illinois Caregiver Support Program, various diagnosis-specific support groups (e.g.: the Alzheimer’s Association), Website courses (e.g.: Powerful Tools for Caregivers), as well as national organizations and websites (e.g.: Family Caregiver Alliance, National Family Caregivers Association, and National Alliance for Caregiving).

In-Home Care: An effort is being made to help people continue living at home for as long as possible.  In-home care is often provided by family.  Help can also be given by paid or subsidized professional caregivers (for listing see National Private Duty Association), adult day services, home health care (like visiting nurses), home delivered meals, emergency response systems, geriatric case managers, and respite stay at assisted living facilities or nursing homes.  The VA and some state resources can help to subsidize family caregivers.

Senior Living Communities: There are many levels of care available in senior living communities.  Retirement communities and subsidized apartments offer care that is similar to living at home with a caregiver.  Assisted Living and Supportive Living communities offer a higher degree of care.  Skilled Nursing Facilities (nursing homes) offer full care.  And Continuing Care retirement communities offer all levels, from the least intensive to the most, adjusting their services to the needs of the resident.  When looking for a living community, always ask what is included in the general fee versus what costs additionally.  Also, look for communities that advertise patient centered care or “the pioneer movement.”

Benefit Programs: Lastly, there are groups that help you reduce the financial impact of senior services.  These include online questionnaires like Benefits CheckUp, volunteer based advocacy services like Senior Health Insurance Program and Red Tape Cutters, and online guides like this one.  Of course the best known benefit programs are Medicare and Medicaid.

Whew!  That’s quite a lot of information to get familiar with.  Having worked at a community mental health center, I have always seen it as important to be able to connect my clients with the right community resources.  I intend to continue getting even more familiar with what is available, so that I can best serve my older adult and caregiver clients.

If you’re looking for counseling and mental health services in Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, and the surrounding area, please call 708-429-6999 to set up an appointment or to ask questions. Tinley Park counseling service, Oak Forest counseling service, Orland Park counseling service. Call today.

Anda Jines MS, LCPC, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Offering counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago

Comments

  1. […] a very useful link at the bottom.  I decided to post it here as a follow up to my previous post on Resources for Older Adults, as it is even more exhaustive than my list was. Many of you have clients, friends, or family […]

  2. […] Community Resources for Older Adults […]

  3. keep up the good work

  4. Anda Jines 708-429-6999 says:

    thanks!

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