Northwest Florida on Aging and Disabilities Resources Empowers the Caregiver

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By: Shirley Stone

On October 13th Northwest Florida Area on Aging and Disabilities Resources Caregivers Seminar was facilitated by Gwen Rhodes and sponsored by Mr. Stephen Rome, a caregiver Advocate for AARP.

The purpose of this seminar, hosted by the NWFAAA, was to empower the caregiver agencies and individuals as to where to find programs, resources and locate agencies caregiver providers.  The NWFAA coordinator, Gwen Rhodes, stated that there is a wait list for these programs and resources but you can access these programs by calling the Elder Helpline, your first stop for information at 1-866-531-8011 or 850-494-7100.   You can also access the website @ www.nwflaaa.org and they will put you in contact with providers and put you on a waitlist.

While you are on the waitlist Ms. Rhodes suggested you can go to Hospice Office for more information on dealing with the stages of caring for your family member or patient; you can also go to the Memory Disorder Clinic of West Florida Healthcare Facility for a comprehensive neurological evaluation.  The elder helpline services you with providers in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties that are contracted with the Northwest Florida Area Agency on Aging Inc. and Aging & Disability Resource Center for PSA 1.

The Elder Care Hotline also provides these discounts: Assurance cell phone applications, Telephone Discounts, ECUA Discounts-65 or older and Power bill assistance 60 or older along with 26 others available Programs and Services.  You can call the Elder Affairs Elder Helpline Systems and ask for Carlton Taylor or Marsha Holmes for an assessment for your loved one on aging and disability resources.  The Information and Referral (I &R) helps people consider solutions and make informed decisions with the help of their trained I & R Specialist.

The sponsor of this seminar Mr. Rome, a family caregiver, advocate provided these 10 tips for Caregivers from Caregivers:  Be Patient, Get Organized, make time for self,  try  to stay positive, listen, trust your instincts, keep the humor, show your love, most Important – care with dignity and respect.

AARP states that a vast majority of older Floridians want to live independently at home.  That most senior who receive assistance at home rely exclusively on unpaid family caregivers for help and that we the public, must remember that families many times forget that caregivers are not celebrated enough or given enough informational resources to help them support their loved one or patient.  Caregivers sometimes feel isolated, overwhelmed, depressed, forgotten and unsupported because they are the only caregiver for their homebound family member or patient.  Caregivers perform a variety of caregiving duties, including help with bathing and dressing, feeding, medication management, wound care, transportation, and more and without the recognition.  If you know someone who is a caregiver offer your support by asking how they are doing; can you help with time management if only for a few hours, attend support groups when you can.  Speak out and help fight for more support for family caregivers in your state.

Presenter and Co-host Gary Barth, editor and chief of Today’s Caregiver Magazine @ caregive.com, has hosted over 100 caregiver conferences across the country.  The author also of a book called Fearless Caregivers and the Ties that Bind, Mr.  Gary Barth stated that there is so much pressure on the family caregivers.  The main challenge is that we don’t even care that we are a caregiver; we are the dedicated son, daughter and caring spouse.  We think that we are doing just what we are supposed to do which is correct– but I believe we have taken on the job of managing our loved ones health care, trying to find how do we handle their medicines or getting them to take the medicine on time; dealing with their doctors, trying to get them to understand they have to stop driving; trying to get other family members to help out; how to deal with the isolated feelings of this challenge.

There are over 6. 7 million family caregivers in the world today who have become overwhelmed with this challenge.  So seminars like this are beneficial to empower the caregiver with resources and tools.

Mr. Barth suggested that if you are a caregiver, subscribe to the magazine or visit the website for support groups, hospice information, and tips on how to manage your overwhelming challenges.  Also, how to deal with your loved one’s doctors and other supportive information and how to take care of your loved one.  Also, Use the elder helpline and subscribing to AARP the caregiver magazine.

Make sure you tell people who you are around of what you are going through to see if there are ideas or other support you can reach out and get from them. Within support groups, there are vast amounts of information that can be drawn upon to get you through your difficult challenging times.  Remember, you are not alone; there are agencies, support groups, the hotline for someone to give you the information needed and most of all- friends and family who want to help but were not informed of what you are gong through.  They may be of help but you must communicate your concerns.   You cannot get help if you don’t ask.

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