Archive for Older Adults

May
18

Hoover and Associates Collaborating with Peace Village

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Anda Jines at Peace Village Tour

Hoover and Associates, the group of psychologists and counselors that I work with, has been collaborating with Peace Village for about a year now.  Peace Village is a wonderful independent living and assisted living community in Palos. We offer psychological services for their residents.

Recently Peace Village, along with Alden of Orland Park and Autumn Leaves of Tinley Park, hosted a progressive tour of all three facilities.

We were invited to present an informational table at Peace Village, along with four other affiliates of Peace Village.  Each facility had several affiliates present informational tables, to supplement the tour of their facility.

It was interesting to learn more about the various older adult services available, and I appreciate the opportunity to share our information with other professionals.  The turnout was also pretty good, considering how cold and rainy it was that day.  And the lunch offered by Alden of Orland Park was an excellent example of their chef’s abilities.  Although Peace Village is known for their excellent dining as well.  Hmmm… maybe we could get them to do a cook-off some day?

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Mental Health
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Dec
09

The Rewards and Challenges of Caregiving

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I had the pleasure of presenting on the rewards and challenges of caregiving at St. George parish in Tinley Park yesterday.  I was glad to see such a good turnout, especially in the midst of Chicago’s first winter storm.

Rewards of Caregiving

We often hear about the difficulties of caregiving, but not so much about the rewards.  Of course there are very challenging aspects of caregiving, but I felt it was important to emphasize the rewards, which are so often overlooked.

I will not go into all the details of my presentation here, but I’m happy to give you a quick rundown of the main points. We can categorize the rewards of caregiving as follows:

  • Positive Emotions:  Research has found that caregivers report approximately three times more positive than negative emotions related to caregiving.  96% report feeling “loving”, 90% report feeling appreciated, and 84% report feeling proud.
  • Relationship Rewards:  Caregivers can experience increased closeness with their care recipient, other caregivers, and their own support network.  Caregiving provides an opportunity for meaningful discussions, resolution of old issues, and expression of forgiveness and love.
  • Sense of Purpose and Meaning:  People find it meaningful to care for someone, to reduce someone’s suffering, to fulfill their role as a family member or friend, to rise to a challenge, and to achieve important goals.  Therefore caregiving can be a very life-enriching experience.
  • Spiritual Growth:  Caregiving can help clarify one’s beliefs and deepen one’s sense of their own values, compassion, and patience.  It can cause one to reconnect with their spiritual community or spiritual practice.  Also, seeing the care recipient coping in a spiritual way can be inspiring.
  • Logistical Savvy:  While caring for someone, the caregiver learns how to help with medical care and activities of daily living.  They also learn about dealing with various helping professionals, about services and resources and how to access them, about legal and financial planning, and about managing their own time and delegating.  These skills can come in handy in the future.
  • Self Confidence and Self-Esteem:  All of the above rewards can help the caregiver to improve their self confidence and self-esteem.
  • Posttraumatic Growth:  Even traumatic events can be followed by posttraumatic growth – a positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with a highly challenging situation.

Challenges of Caregiving

Ironically, many of the above rewards would not be possible if caregiving were not challenging in the first place.  No matter how well you cope with a caregiving situation, its very nature is challenging – because it involves the loss of independence, comfort, ability, health, and ultimately, life.  Here are some examples of the challenges of caregiving:

  • Logistical Challenges:  Finances top the list of logistical challenges for many people, especially with the recent changes in the economy.  Additionally, it can be a challenge to manage time, coordinate care, learn about options, and make difficult decisions.
  • Relationship Challenges:  Caregiving can be an isolating experience, especially if you are the primary caregiver and are not getting any help.  Also, relationships may be strained due to disagreements with other caregivers or unresolved family conflicts, and friends may pull away because they feel awkward or don’t have the time to help.  In the case of dementia, the caregiver also gradually loses their companionship with the care recipient him or herself.
  • Emotional Challenges:  More than half of caregivers experience significant worry and anxiety.  Over a quarter report feeling depressed or sad, and almost a quarter feel overwhelmed.  Caregivers may also struggle with denial, over-involvement, anger, and guilt.
  • Physical Challenges:  Caregivers take worse care of themselves by eating poorly, exercising less, skipping their own doctors appointments, and sleeping poorly.  Eventually, the chronic tension of caregiving can impact your health, diminishing your immune system, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, and (for elderly caregivers) even increasing the risk of mortality.

The Good News

The good news is that caregivers can decrease their stress, increase their effectiveness, and reap more rewards if they educate themselves about coping, utilize their support system, and access community and health-care resources.  Positive ways of coping and helpful ideas include:

  • Active Coping and Problem Solving: learning logistical skills
  • Positive Re-Focusing: focusing on meaningfulness or positive aspects of caregiving
  • Communication: clear and open communication with care recipient and other caregivers
  • Self-Care: taking breaks, delegating, attending to own nutrition, exercise, and sleep
  • Informing Yourself: about services, the illness, coping, legal issues
  • Spiritual Community:  emotional support, volunteers, guidance, spiritual perspectives
  • Counseling/Support: individual or family counseling, support groups, classes, community
  • Geriatric Case Management: professionals who help you with logistics and resources
  • Respite: finding ways to take breaks from caregiving and to relax or enjoy yourself
  • Supplementary Services: home alterations, home delivered meals, volunteers, etc.

Want To Learn More?

Here are some links to additional resources about caregiving:

Community Resources for Older Adults

More Resources for Older Adults and Their Caregivers

Family Caregiver Alliance

National Family Caregiver Association

National Association of Geriatric Care Managers

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Oct
08

Money Problems Signal Dementia

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Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging.  This leads to confusion about how to know when a person is starting to have more trouble with memory, thinking and decision making than is normal.  This article addresses one possible warning sign of dementia.

Money Problems Precede Alzheimer’s

Declining financial skills are detectable in patients in the year before they develop Alzheimer’s, according to US researchers.

The researchers say this could be a useful indicator for doctors supporting people with memory problems.

Previous studies have shown that problems with daily activities often precede the onset of Alzheimer’s.

But charities said most people having trouble working out figures should not be alarmed by the study.

Financial skills

The research from the University of Alabama in Birmingham is published in the journal, Neurology… (click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

 

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Jun
18

Lack of Specialists in Geropsychology

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Workshop on Helping Older Adults

Anda Jines MS LCPC and Lynda Behrendt PsyD, IPA Director of Professional Affairs and coordinator of the recent series of workshops on geropsychology

Anda Jines MS LCPC and Lynda Behrendt PsyD, IPA Director of Professional Affairs and coordinator of the recent series of workshops on geropsychology

I once more had the pleasure of attending a workshop on geropsychology (psychology of aging) in downtown Chicago.  This was the last of six workshops aimed at training psychologists and counselors like me to effectively help older adults.

Mental Health Medications for Seniors

This time we focused on the very important issue of psychopharmacology with the older adult population.  In other words, we got information about the use of mental health medications for seniors.  As complicated as medication issues can be for the general population; drug interactions, changing metabolism, memory problems, sleep problems, pain, and age related illnesses can make it even more complicated for older adults.

We also discussed delirium, dementia, and psychological (rather than medication) approaches to helping individuals who face these issues;  We discussed Medicare rules, as well as stereotyping of older adults.

Lack of Specialists in Geropsychology

Through the course of these six workshops, one point was made over and over again.  There is a lack of specialists in geropsychology!  Most young psychologists and counselors entering the field are simply not interested in it.  Therefore there are few graduate programs which offer it as a specialty.  Those of us who are interested in helping older adults therefore need to seek out training opportunities like this series of workshops, or seek out the few post graduate training programs available.

This has become a great concern, especially because the baby boomers, who make up about a third of our population, are entering their senior years.  Not only that, but people are living longer than ever before.  For example, the average life expectancy in 1900 was 47 years.  Today it is approximately 77 years in the US.  Big difference! Additionally, today’s young seniors are much more familiar with and receptive to psychological services.

Currently there are various efforts in the psychological community, to prepare us for the increased demand for older adult services.  That is why this workshop series was organized.

The Basics of Geropsychology

Counselors can be effective with most older adults even without specialized training.  But to ensure quality care, it is important for therapists to be familiar with the following areas of information:

  • Adult Development and the Aging Process
  • Neuropsychological Considerations in Geriatric Mental Health
  • The Aging Body
  • Assessment of Older Adults
  • Promoting Self Care Behavior in Older Adults
  • Community Resources for Older Adults
  • Home, Residential and Office Based Practice Models for Working with Older Adults
  • Ethical and Legal Issues Related to Providing Services to Older Adults (e.g.:  health care agents, powers of attorney, guardianship, incapacity)
  • Dementia and Delirium
  • Substance Abuse and Dependence in Later Life
  • Mental Disorders in Later Life
  • Psychotherapy Issues and Interventions with Older Adults
  • Billing and Medicare
  • Loss and Grief
  • Caregiving
  • Psychopharmacology for Older Adults
  • Stereotyping and Cultural Issues

These are the areas that we covered in this six workshop series.  Clearly this is a lot of information, much of which overlaps with previous training that I have had.  Admittedly, there are some areas (of those listed above) that I do not consider myself an expert in.  However, I am now more aware of many factors related to counseling older adults.  And I know when to screen specific problems, and when to refer out for specific testing or treatment.

If you are an older adult, are concerned about an older adult, or if you are a caregiver; and you are in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, feel free to give me a call to set up an appointment or ask about services.  If I cannot help you personnaly, I will help you find someone who can.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Oak Forest, Orland Park, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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May
14

How to Avoid Doubling Your Dementia Risk

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Real Age is an interesting website that can assess your real age, as opposed to your chronological age.  I encourage everyone to take their real age test, not only out of curiosity, but also because it will then identify specific things you can do to slow your aging process.  They also have many great tips, like in this article on the connection between blood sugar and dementia:

If you’re hoping to dodge age-related dementia down the road, best get a handle on your blood sugar now.

Both chronically high blood sugar (prediabetes) and diabetes increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. And that risk more than doubles if diabetes strikes in middle age rather than later in life.

Timing Matters
How does diabetes hurt cognition?…  (click here to read entire article about dementia)

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May
10

Problem Solving Therapy

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Once again I got hop on the train to downtown Chicago, for a workshop on psychotherapy with older adults.  This was the fifth in a series of six workshops I am attending on geropsychology.  This time, we discussed research findings about various approaches to psychotherapy, and how effective they are with seniors.  I would like to take a moment to tell you about just one of these approaches, called problem solving therapy.

Problem Solving Therapy

Erin Emery PhD, presenting at IPA Geropsychology Workshop on 5/8/09

Erin Emery PhD, Director of Geriatric & Rehabilitation Psychology at Rush University Medical Center, presenting at IPA Geropsychology Workshop on 5/8/09

We all make an effort to solve the problems we encounter in our lives.  But some people are more successful than others.  Psychologists studying problem solving have found that there are two factors affecting how likely you are to be a successful problem solver.

The first factor that determines success is your “problem orientation.”  In other words: whether or not you believe that you can succeed, what attitude you have, and how you feel about problem solving. Having a positive attitude about problem solving helps you to be an effective problem solver.  However, if you have struggled with problem solving in the past, you might feel pretty pessimistic about your abilities.  If this is the case, then problem solving with the help of a Chicago therapist can help you become more confident.

The second factor that determines success is your problem solving style.  There are three general styles:

  • Rational Problem Solving Style:  thought out, systematic, planful, and constructive (recommended)
  • Impulsive/Careless Style:  impulsive, hurried, and careless attempts at problem resolution (not recommended)
  • Avoidant Style:  procrastination, passivity, and over-dependence on others to solve your problems (not recommended)

Problem Solving Steps

In therapy, I would start by exploring your problem orientation (how you feel about problem solving), and discussing how you got to feel that way, and how that may be affecting you now. We may also discuss how to change your feelings.

Then we would start identifying a variety of problems that may need your attention, and specifically define one that you want to focus on first.

Next, we would brainstorm solutions to this problem, and weigh their pros and cons to help you decide which solution might work best for you.  We would plan how to implement this solution by creating a SMART action plan.  SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timebound

Once you had implemented this plan, we would review how well it worked, and make adjustments as necessary.  Usually you would need to implement an action plan several times, and probably making adjustments each time, until you feel you have solved the problem.

Problem solving therapy typically lasts 8 to 16 sessions, unless of course you decide to address more than one significant problem.  This therapy has been shown to be effective with the general population as well as with older adults.

If you are interested in problem solving therapy in the Tinley Park area, or if you are concerned about the emotional health of a senior, please feel free to call me at 708-429-6999.

Anda Jines offers mental health counseling services in south Chicago, including Tinley Park (60477), Oak Forest, Orland Park, Mokena, and the surrounding area.

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Apr
30

Memory and Aging – Special Report

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When I find a great resource, I like to share it with everyone.  Here’s a link to a free special report on memory loss and aging from Johns Hopkins.   Whether you’re concerned about your own memory or that of a loved one, you don’t want to miss this report!  It also discussed depression and normal aging.

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Memory Loss and Aging is designed with YOU in mind, to give you a basic overview of the reasons why memory loss often occurs as we age, and what you can do to prevent it.

You will learn the difference between the memory loss commonly associated with aging, and dementia. Your copy of The Johns Hopkins Guide to Memory Loss and Aging also outlines how some people are able to train their memory to preserve it.

You will also discover some of the more common reasons for memory loss, including depression.

Learn how to distinguish between dementia and depression. Discover more about your treatment options, for safe, effective relief of the symptoms if you do suffer from depression. You’ll also learn the steps you can take toward your goal of complete remission of your depression, to improve your overall health and regain your sharp memory.

Anda Jines offers therapy services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago including  therapy services in Tinley Park, therapy services in Oak Forest, therapy services in Orland Park and the surrounding area.

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Apr
11

Depression in Older Adults

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Yesterday I attended the fourth in a series of six Illinois Psychological Association workshops about counseling older adults.  As usual, I will share a few highlights from the extensive materials that were discussed at the workshop.  In this post, I will focus on depression in older adults.

The workshop presenters included Timothy McManus PsyD, who presented on dementia; Joseph Troiani PhD, who presented on prescription drug abuse, misuse and addictions; and Sally Ryan PsyD, who presented on mental disorders in later life, focusing primarily on depression and anxiety.

Sally Ryan PsyD, Joe Troiani Phd, and Anda Jines MS LCPC at Geropsychology Workshop on 4/10/09

(from left) Sally Ryan PsyD, Joe Troiani PhD, and Anda Jines MS LCPC at Geropsychology Workshop on 4/10/09

The Good News

The good news is that older adults (as a group) have fewer problems with depression and anxiety, compared with the general population.  They are relatively happy and well adjusted. This runs contrary to the image many people have of old age.

Indeed, these research findings support the notion that there are advantages to age.  According to my previous reading, seniors have had a chance to learn from life experiences, have had time to reflect on what they believe, want and value, and tend to be more direct in pursuing what is important to them.  It is no wonder that elders are respected for their wisdom in many cultures.

How To Recognize Late Life Depression

But what if you’re worried about a senior you know?  How can you tell if they’re depressed?  It can be hard to tell because depression symptoms can overlap with medical symptoms or normal reactions to life changes.  Dr. Ryan suggests the following:

Which symptoms best distinguish depressed from non-depressed older people?

  • loss of interest
  • lack of energy
  • disturbed sleep
  • suicidal thoughts
  • feeling blue

However, fatigue and changes in appetite and sexual activity may be due to physical problems or normal aging.  As always, it is important to first rule out physical causes of depression symptoms.

Treatment Is Available

If you, or someone you know, have the above symptoms, then you may want to set up an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist who can make a correct diagnosis and provide treatment if necessary.

This is especially important with seniors, because although they are less frequently suicidal than the general population, they are much more likely to succeed at suicide if they attempt it.  But even if the situation is not quite so dire, therapy can do a lot to help improve an individual’s quality of life.

If you have questions about depression or treatment, feel free to call me at 708-429-6999.  I will be happy to answer your questions, whether or not you decide to make an appointment with me.

Helpful Links

Here are few helpful links to more online information about depression and older adults.

Depression and Older Adults: What It Is and How to Get Help (FamilyDoctor.org)

Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly: Recognizing the Signs and Getting Help (Helpguide.org)

Facts about Depression in Older Adults (American Psychological Association)

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

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I recently got this e-mail, with 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 members who will need additional services to continue living at home, will need to move into a nursing home or hospice, or will face other end-of-life challenges.It can be hard to find appropriate resources quickly, especially when there is a crisis.

Ken Pope has just updated and expanded a web page of resources that includes searchable online directories of facilities & services, 24-hour helplines, guides, books, articles, and sources of support.

These resources are meant to be of help to those who face end-of-life issues and/or may need nursing homes, home health care, palliative care, hospices, assisted living, continuing care, geriatric care managers, living wills, special programs for veterans, advanced directives, hospital visitation authorization for unmarried partners, web connections with other family caregivers, and so on.

The expanded web page now identifies helpful resources in the following sections:

1) Descriptions of and links to 34 online resources (e.g., Nursing Home Directory; National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization: Find a Provider; Children’s Hospice International: Directory; Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association; Mayo Clinic: Anticipating end-of-life needs
of people with Alzheimer’s disease; National Cancer Institute: End-of-Life Care; Veterans Coalition Senior Veterans Initiative; Consumer Reports: “Form 2567: How to read this very important document”; Nursing Home INFO)

2) 48 books (e.g., *End-of-Life Advisor: Personal, Legal, and Medical Considerations for a Peaceful, Dignified Death*; *When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home Care: The Complete Guide, 2nd Edition*; *Hospice Care at Home: A Guide to Caring for Your Dying Loved One at Home*; *Living Well in a Nursing Home: Everything You & Your Folks Need to Know*; *Eldercare 911: The Caregiver’s Complete Handbook for Making Decisions*; *Dying at home: a family guide for caregiving*; *Being With Dying: Cultivating Compassion And Fearlessness In The Presence Of Death*)

3) 95 articles & chapters on hospices

4) 105 articles & chapters on nursing homes

5) 100 articles & chapters on facing end-of-life challenges

This expanded web page is at:
http://kspope.com/hospices/index.php

Please forward this announcement to any lists or individuals who might find this resource helpful.

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

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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

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