TELL CITY – Lincoln Hills Healthcare hosted an event in honor of National Caregiver Month with a series of speakers, activities and a meal for local caregivers in Perry County and surrounding areas.
Topics ranged from items that could be used to those being supported and also the services that are being provided. One topic that really caught the attention of carers was the winter blues and how it affects them and their loved ones.
Tenee Kelly from AseraCare Hospice discussed dealing with depression and holiday stress. It’s something big they see in their business as the holidays approach. Kelly discovered that loved ones fall into stress depression.
“We all have loved ones passing through and it can be difficult for us. When Christmas comes around, we think of that person who used to sit next to us while we opened our presents,” Kelly said.
The holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration, but for many people it can be a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures, and anxiety about an uncertain future. Many seniors are affected by loss and these losses can be greater during the holidays. The demands of shopping, parties, family gatherings, and house guests also contribute to feelings of tension.
Headaches, overeating and trouble sleeping can all be signs of stress. It might not be obvious to someone that what they’re dealing with is the holiday blues, according to Kelly.
“We even see the holiday blues right after the holidays. Sometimes thinking and looking at old photos of a lost loved one can be part of the stress,” Kelly said.
Cold winter months and early dark hours also contribute to depression. Often people don’t say they feel depressed or lonely. This is something that should be observed in relatives. Weight loss and weight gain can be a sign of stress. Seniors are very prone to fall into depression and suffer from it alone.
Kelly advised talking to loved ones. Ask for help. The loss of a loved one is difficult and the loneliness of winter is stressful. It is normal to get services to help you. One of the services that can help alleviate some of the stress is senior link nursing homes.
Caregiver Homes is support for caregivers. They don’t send caregivers home. They are the ones who support the caregiver. Account manager Nicole Hearn explained that nine out of 10 times it’s a spouse or adult child caring for an aging parent.
The support caregivers receive from the program is two-fold. The first wave is with a nurse and a social worker. They form what is called the care team. The idea is to come alongside the family caregiver and provide coaching, education, emotional support, basically whatever the caregiver needs. The team is designed to accompany them. They don’t help physically but are available for things like questions and concerns. Communication is daily.
The nurse is there to make sure that if something happens the carer can avoid things like trips to the hospital. Help will be for things like making doctor’s appointments or emergency care.
Perry County is part of the SWIRCA (Southwest Indiana Council on Aging) and other communities. It is with him that Caregiver Homes works closely in the region. They do what is called a waiver assessment. This is a Medicaid waiver. It’s for people who need help with everyday tasks like getting dressed, getting out of the bathroom, and that sort of thing. To be eligible for the exemption, the person need only need help with three things in daily life. It’s not just seniors who participate in the program.
For people who need help with these tasks, SWIRCA goes out and sends a case manager and they do an assessment to see how much help someone needs. Regardless of caregiver income or insurance, Medicaid depends solely on the person receiving care.
Caregiver Homes helps navigate the process and find out if people are eligible for Medicaid. If this is not the case, the organization directs them to other organizations capable of providing the necessary assistance. They help move the process forward as quickly as possible. They can also talk about how to become eligible for Medicaid, and then SWIRCA comes along and does their part. Once Medicaid is covered, nursing homes step in and provide their services.
“We want to make sure caregivers get the support they need,” Hearn said.
Hearn said the best part of the program is that the caregiver gets paid. Depending on the outcome of the waiver assessment conducted by SWIRCA, the caregiver can get between $900 and $1,200. It is tax free.
Many caregivers pay for care costs themselves. This amount can be of great help to the caregiver. This can ease a financial burden for the caregiver.
“If you’re not a caregiver, you probably know someone who is,” Hearn said.
Anyone interested in services can contact them at 866-797-2333 or check them out at caregiverhomes.com.