When there is a health crisis with a parent or family member, we become motivated. Family comes into town and personal leave from a job is taken to assist with the health care issues and to work with experts to develop a plan for the future.
We want our family members to be safe. We want them to be healthy. Whether the need for care is short term or long term, the interest in long-term care services is crisis driven. As a result, it is important to have information and resources available so that good decisions can be made for a family member needing extra support.
We often refer to the process of seeking help as “navigating the system.” When someone is in the hospital and ready to be discharged or if they are living at home and need help with their daily care needs, someone needs to be the navigator. The navigator is the person who has taken on the role of finding the help that supports an older adult or a person with a disability.
In our region, we have a program that provides the expertise and the information to be a navigator for your family member. The program is called the Aging and Disability Resource Connection, or ADRC. Most people have never heard of an ADRC, but in a time of crisis the ADRC is a place to seek information, schedule an assessment or make an appointment with an Options Counselor to talk about making a plan that meets the needs of an older adult as their health and long-term care needs change.
In consultation with ADRC staff, there is help to make decisions about care needs and about how to use the programs and services that are often confusing and difficult to understand.
Often a family will seek what they may think is the best solution for mom or dad only to later realize that the more expensive program that made sense in the crisis will not be affordable for the long run, and the family resources are exhausted long before they would have predicted. The ADRC staff, in consultation with family members, will offer a range of options as well as explain the financial implications of each option.
Oregon is one of eight states receiving new resources that are funded through the Affordable Care Act and the Older Americans Act. The funds have been awarded through the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and will expand services for Oregonians over the next three years.
The grant funding will expand the ADRC Program to the entire state, working with agencies serving older adults and people with disabilities. The new funding will help to expand partnerships with programs serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The grant will also open up new opportunities to partner with the Veterans Health Administration. The plan is to assist veterans with disabilities and their family caregivers to gain access to home and community-based services. These services will be based on a service plan that is developed to support the veteran in their own home and fund the cost of in-home caregivers.
There is help available now and regional services will be expanding in the near future. If a family health crisis is dealt with quickly and with expert advice, there is a greater chance of creating a safe and stable care plan for the long term. Visit the ADRC website at www.ADRCofOregon.org or call the office at 541-967-8630.
Scott Bond is the Director of Senior and Disability Services for Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments, the Area Agency on Aging for Benton, Linn, and Lincoln counties. He can be reached at 541-812-6008 or by e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.