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Whether you’re a caregiver searching for support or who needs extra help, use this list as your guide for making life easier.
Glenda Hodges Cook, an instructor at Passionist Earth & Spirit Center, is showing people how to face aging with acceptance instead of fear. Her Unpacking the Gift of Aging Meditation class is divided into two 4-week sessions. Part one is a group discussion about the myths of aging while the second part uses mindfulness meditation as a method for embracing the aging process and understanding how to live in the moment. “The point is to let go into aging rather than resisting it,” she says. Glenda says most people feel uncomfortable talking about aging and death, but this class gives her participants an opportunity to address these topics in a constructive and healthy way. The class, which began last October, has been postponed because of COVID-19, but the center plans to resume the class in January 2021 and will be partnering with the University of Louisville Trager Institute and the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic.
The Thrive Center is introducing the community to innovative technology and solutions that promote healthy aging. Sheri Rose, CEO and executive director, says the center’s objective is to give older adults the empowerment and independence they seek as they age. The center features multiple technologies that are changing the scope of aging, such as an assistive eating device. With the press of a button, it maneuvers food around the plate and lifts it to your mouth. The Audio Cardio is designed to improve hearing, and their Samsung Smart Home features an induction cooktop, which prevents people from getting burned. The center also has partnered with Bellarmine University to develop Strive to Thrive. “One of the biggest issues is mobility. In this program, we show people how to fall to avoid a fracture and how to get up if they fall,” she says.
FILLING IN THE GAPS
The Kentucky Area Agency on Aging wants caregivers and their loved ones to know help is not out of reach. KIPDA is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of programs for older adults, which include meal delivery, transportation, in-home care services, and caregiver support services. KIPDA serves Jefferson, Oldham, Henry, Trimble, Shelby, Bullitt, and Spencer counties. Jessica Elkins, director of the division of special services at KIPDA, says the organization also provides case management and referral services for caregivers. When needed, the organization will refer caregivers to a support group or provide vouchers that allow them to purchase incontinence supplies for their loved one and medical assistive technology at a discounted price. Providing the right type of resources for families, says Jessica, has become more important in light of the pandemic. “We are looking for ways to partner with other organizations, and we are working to establish relationships with care coordinators and transitional services.” She adds, “We work with local hospitals and health plans to ensure that we are there from step one. When you are taking your loved one home, we want to make sure you are aware of the services that are available in this COVID-19 environment.”
EAT FOR CHEAP
The Jewish Community Center’s senior adult program offers a congregant lunch program, Jewish-based cultural programs, fitness classes, and entertainment for older adults throughout the year. Although most of these services are on hold because of COVID-19, their staff continues to provide meals for a donation of $3 to anyone 60+ regardless of whether they are homebound. As a designated Meals on Wheels site, they can deliver meals weekly and have served over 6,000 clients since the pandemic began. Members also have the option of participating in virtual fitness classes on Facebook Live.
HEALTHCARE WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH
Using a holistic approach is how Dr. Anna Faul, executive director of the University of Louisville Trager Institute and the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic, ensures that older adults receive the best care possible. “We asked ourselves, ‘how can we make this a good experience — an experience of value?’” she says. Dr. Faul says her staff examines all of the factors that can influence a patient’s health and well-being. “Your doctor could tell you that you need to lose weight and exercise, but you might not know how to do it if you don’t have access to healthy food or transportation,” she says. The clinic pairs patients with navigators who identify their barriers and connect them with pertinent resources. The clinic, which opened in September 2019, has a laid-back environment featuring a demonstration kitchen, fitness classes, meditation classes, behavioral health services, and caregiver support. Their team meets weekly to discuss patient cases and develop care plans. Currently, they are developing mini-virtual clinics that will be located in senior centers within the rural areas of Kentucky and in West Louisville. People who use one of these virtual clinics can check their own blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Dr. Faul’s team receives the results remotely and can arrange a telehealth visit with the patient. “You are one person, but you have so many parts that play a role in your health and well-being, and we want to be there for you in that journey,” she says.
Empowering older adults to live independently and with dignity is the cornerstone of ElderServe. Drew Hight, director of development and marketing, says the organization has developed programming based on four pillars: supporting independence, overcoming social isolation, protecting seniors from crime, and promoting wellness. Through their care management program, on-staff social workers help clients find food, housing, and other resources to achieve stability. Caregivers who are in need of respite will be able to use their ElderServe Adult Day Health Center when it reopens in 2021. The center serves medically fragile people who aren’t ready for a nursing home or assisted living community. Their friendly-visitor program — now done virtually through Zoom or by phone — matches volunteers with an older adult based on proximity and common interests. Or clients can receive phone calls from a volunteer three days a week as part of their Telecare program. The senior companion program matches older adults with volunteers who are their peers and can assist them with housekeeping or other tasks. The organization is also committed to advocating for victims of scams, abuse, robbery, and neglect. “We can help them navigate the court process, file an EPO, and work with the Louisville Metro Police Department,” Drew says. For active older adults, ElderServe offers fitness classes, quilting classes, bingo, and provides meals for clients based on their income.
CONVENIENCE YOU CAN COUNT ON
Highland Community Ministries is filling the void for people who don’t have basic essentials. Their individual family and assistance program helps clients of all ages with paying their LG&E bill, water bill, rent payment, and certain medications. The income-based program is available to applicants who have a 40204, 40205, or 40218 zip code. HCM, which works with Meals on Wheels to deliver food to clients, makes it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle despite the pandemic. In-person fitness classes at the Highlands Community Campus have been canceled, but members can request to receive exercise videos through email. HCM staff are also using telephone reassurance as a way of keeping clients socially engaged. Volunteers call clients weekly to check on them and give them tips on how to cook nutritious meals and stay safe at home.
PLAY FOR A WHILE
If you’re looking for an escape from the mundane, a Jeffersontown Senior Center membership might add some excitement to your days. Typically, the center offers congregant meals, fitness classes, leisure activities, and overnight trips, but in adherence to social distancing guidelines, the staff has developed a new activity schedule. The center is now open daily for breakfast from 8-10:30am, and members can participate in a workout session where they are able to view an exercise video at the center. The staff sanitizes in between events to ensure the safety of their members. “We encourage social distancing and wearing masks. For activities such as Bingo, members bring their own dauber. We want them to have something to look forward to,” says Julie Guerin, center director.
THE MEMORY SAVER
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is life-changing, but the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging provides opportunities for those who are either at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s or are experiencing symptoms of dementia. They give patients the option of trying many of the leading experimental therapies in the world. “We’re here to understand aging and the potential for cognitive change, which robs older adults of their functional abilities,” says Dr. Gregory Jicha, professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky and director of the center. The center’s research program, Dr. Jicha says, also recruits people for annual memory and thinking testing — the majority of which are cognitively normal but may have a family history of Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. “While they are contributing to their own understanding, we’re also serving as a vital watchdog for them and assisting them should we see early signs of decline,” he says.
KEEPING YOU INDEPENDENT
Improving the quality of life for caregivers and their loved ones is one of the main objectives of SeniorCare Experts. “We help seniors and adults stay at home to remain safe and independent, which allows them to maintain their self-respect and dignity,” says Patty Dissell, executive director. While the organization serves older adults, their client base includes people who are disabled or have other debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s. “We take a holistic approach, because we are very person-centered. When someone needs any kind of assistance, we are going to learn about the individual and recommend various services and programs for them,” she says. Their social workers work with clients and their families to examine all areas of the client’s life to develop a better living situation for them. “This includes their support system, psychosocial [issues], and finances. We determine what other resources they need and how we can help them get those resources,” she says. Their programs include home-delivered meals, which also serve as wellness checks, medical alert devices with GPS tracking, and programmable medication dispensers.
EMPOWERING CARE PROVIDERS
The Kentucky Senior Living Association is doing its part to ensure that residents in long-term care communities are receiving optimal care. “It is the only association in the state that represents assisted living, personal care, memory care, and independent living communities,” says Bob White, executive director. Long-term care communities that join the association participate in conferences and workshops. “We do a lot of staff development and staff training, because they are the key to our operations. On the clinical side, we go over a lot of training regarding executive directors who are in charge of those communities by teaching best practices and frequently asked questions,” he says. The association is also politically active in efforts to lobby bills that might affect the industry, and they encourage members to do the same.
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