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Community Resources and the Flower of Health

Community resources are an integral part of our health and have a huge impact on how we age in place. That is my goal for myself. I want to age with grace by aging in place. That is our company’s legal name: Grace Place. I truly believe that to age with grace means aging in place. It’s a GRACE PLACE. And if you don’t know the definition of grace, I’m going to tell you in a nutshell it is unmerited favor. Unmerited meaning we don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it, but we get it anyway. We get the favor of good treatment, good everything. Loving kindness, care, good housing, good food, good health care, good non-medical care and everything good. I have seen just the opposite happen. People who have deserved the very best care but have ended up in nursing homes where they don’t get the best care. People who have been doctors and lawyers and government officials and mothers who have sacrificed their whole lives for their children and grandchildren. People who have done wonderful things to help other people in the world. They all end up in nursing homes with all kinds of people who may or may not deserve good care, but they’re all lumped together getting the same kind of care, which usually isn’t the best care because the nursing homes just don’t have enough staff. And they usually have such a high turnover of staff giving direct care that it reduces the quality of care. So what is available in our community for people who need a little help to live independently? What is available for people who need a little help with transportation, or people that need a little help with living in a safe home or people that need a little help managing their finances, or people that need a little help cooking and cleaning and doing laundry? This podcast is dedicated to listing a variety of resources; some of which are government and some are private companies and some are nonprofits otherwise known as NGOs (non-government organizations). They are resources that I have used in my life and business and have found to be useful. I’m giving them to you in hopes that they will be useful to you too. Some of these are resources that can be used by people of any age, and some are specifically for older people or people who are seeking help for an older person. The first resource I want to tell you about is Lex call 311. Oh, and of course most of these resources are local. On the Flower of Health illustration,the pot in which the Flower of Health grows Is titled Community Resources, and of course the flower represents you and wherever you live is represented by the pot in which the flower grows, titled Community Resources. So most of these recommended resources are local to Lexington Kentucky, where I’m planted. That reminds me of the saying “Bloom where you’re planted”. Which is also apt for this flower of health illustration, because if you are in a community that doesn’t have a lot of resources that benefit you, you should move to a different pot. You can’t bloom in a community that doesn’t have the resources you need to grow older gracefully. I remember when I was younger I fantasized about retiring to a  bucolic little cottage on a self substaining farm in the country, like Harlan Hubbard and his wife Anna. But as I grew older and wiser I realized that was not a good idea. I now believe we need to live where we have access to lots of resources we get older. There is no question that some communities are kinder and gentler to folks getting older than others. I think Lexington does a fair job but Kentucky the state does not. But I do believe they’re trying to get better at the state level. I need to reach out more to our legislators. I think we all do. I encourage you to contact them regularly and tell them what you need… Or what you’re not getting that you would like to get. And of course we can reach out to people in our counties and towns too…Our council members and our mayors or whoever is an elected official in your local area. No matter where you live though, you might run into what I ran into when I needed help with my in-laws. I didn’t know who to call to ask for advice or resources. I called the senior center but they weren’t any help at all back in 2007. I’m hoping they are better now but I really don’t know. So my advice now in 2022 is to call us at Aging With Grace 859-539-2147. And we will point you in the right direction. If you don’t want to call us first I would advise you to call 311. That is a Lexington and Fayette county call center that is government funded and operated, so most of their answers will be government related probably, but they are really good about trying to find out the answer to your question no matter what it is. A good non-government agency to call is 211, operated by United Way. I have never used them but I have heard that they are good. Their website says:

United Way turns innovative ideas into real community solutions. The following initiatives are tackling issues that go beyond state and national borders, improving the lives of millions of people in the process.

United Way Born Learning, our early learning initiative, offers practical tips for parents to help kids start school ready to succeed.

MyFreeTaxes.com helps people file their federal and state taxes for free while getting the assistance they need.

2-1-1, a confidential health and human services hotline, can be accessed by anyone from any computer or phone in times of need or crisis.

United Way has joined the fight to end human trafficking and modern slavery by raising awareness and providing a safe haven and protection for victims.

Our aging initiative is focused on ensuring seniors and their caregivers get the right support to lead vibrant lives.

 

Case managers in nursing homes and hospitals have a lot of knowledge about options for people who need a little help to live in their homes but they might have a prejudice toward nursing home care. If you press them though they will probably give you some other options.

 

Another good place to call is your local Area Development District. Ours is called the Bluegrass Area Development District (BGADD) and it covers 17 counties. The state’s department for Aging and Independent Living here in Kentucky has a Resource Department there and you can reach them by calling 1-866-665-7921 and be prepared to leave a message. I should also add here that if you have an emergency situation you should call 911. All these numbers and contacts I’m giving you today are for long-range planning purposes. The website says:  The BGADD’s Aging and Disability Resource Center provides information and assistance to older adults, people with disabilities, their caregivers, and professionals. We connect people with resources on aging and disabilities in our 17 county service area. It is the point of entry for all Bluegrass Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living (BGAAAIL) programs.

 

You would think that a doctor would be a good person to ask about resources to help in the community, but most of them don’t know anything about community resources.  In the medical world, Case Manager‘s, especially seasoned discharge planners, are your best bet for knowing what is available to you. 

Another resource here locally is called the SHIP program. They help people with Medicare insurance questions and legal questions with no charge and their number is 866-516-3051. Their website says:

SHIP provides assistance to Medicare beneficiaries or anyone aged 60 years old or older in 35 Central, Northern and Northeastern counties. Our mission is to help individuals make informed decisions about the programs that affect their quality of life, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Medigap insurance and other benefit programs.

SHIP has 5 goals:

To educate individuals on the benefit programs that affect their lives through one-on-one counseling sessions and outreach activities

To assist with resolving complex benefit issues

Complete applications for benefit programs

To educate against fraud, waste and abuse

To empower clients to make informed decisions

SHIP staff and volunteers receive extensive training in the various public benefit programs.

SHIP counselors can help with:

Medicare issues, including understanding all 4 parts

Applying for money saving programs

Medicare Supplemental Insurance

Medicaid issues

Social Security/SSI

Energy Assistance

SNAP benefit

Veterans Administration Benefits

Applying for prescription drug assistance programs

Long Term Care Insurance

Understanding paperwork from doctors, hospitals and insurance companies

Through funding from the National Council on Aging, SHIP is considered a Benefits Enrollment Center. As such, SHIP is a one stop shop by providing assistance to individuals with resolving benefit issues, as well as helping to apply for money saving benefit programs such as Extra Help; Medicare Savings Programs; SNAP benefits; Medicaid Spend Down; Homestead Exemption; and patient assistance programs through drug manufacturers.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I am sorry to say they are unable to help approximately 60% of the peoplethat call them because they don’t have the staff.

Our local lexington Senior Center’s number is 859-278-6072 but you have to call them between the hours of eight and 4:30, M-F. You will get a live person however if you call between eight and 4:30, and they do have Case Manager’s that work there. The Lexington Senior Center is a city funded resource for people 60 and over. Participants must be functionally independent or attend with their caregivers. They have wonderful exercise, educational, and artistic programs. They also offer a reduced fee lunch and commodities program.

Here in Lexington if you call 911 when you have fallen and can’t get up the fire department will come and help you up for no charge. If they take you to the hospital you will have to pay for it and Medicare does not cover it. Of course this service of helping people off the floor costs the city a lot of money and the city prefers people don’t fall and instead get help regularly from other agencies like ours to keep them from falling in the first place.  A lot of people go to the emergency room when they need help too when they should really be going to their primary care physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician you need to get one ASAP. I’m all about preventative medicine, and if you go to your doctor regularly, hopefully they will catch things before they get worse and you have to call 911 or go to the emergency room. Aging With Grace’s Fountain of Youth Clubhouse is also a great place for people with medical needs to hang out during the day M-F and have regular tests and screenings to prevent an emergency.

Another resource is the Community Action Council. Here in Fayette county the number is 859-233-4600 and they serve Fayette County, Bourbon County, Harrison, and Nicholas counties. Community Action Councils are funded by the Federal government and the state, so it’s a government organization. Their website says:

Community Action Kentucky is the statewide association representing and supporting all 23 Community Action agencies across Kentucky. Collectively, we work to empower individuals and families to attain greater economic stability and long-term success.

With outreach offices in all 120 Kentucky counties, Community Action agencies provide life-changing resources to support a wide array of service areas, including food security, transportation, home energy, early childhood education, senior support, emergency services, housing, workforce development, family advocacy and more.

I appreciate our government. I really do, but I also know that sometimes people can get lost in the system and you have to be aware of that. You have to realize that government employee’s motivation for helping you is minimal. If they don’t have a natural desire, an altruistic character that selflessly wants to help others, you are less likely to get the help you need from a government employee. The best way to get help from the government is to be the squeaky wheel and keep calling and calling and calling. The same goes for non-government non-profit agencies. They don’t …that is the individuals that work for them …don’t get rewarded for doing good work, for going above and beyond the call of duty. Hopefully they have a big heart, enjoy their work, and naturally like helping other people. That kind of employee is the kind of employee any agency wants to employ because I’ve always said you can teach people skills, but you can’t teach them to have a caring heart. But we do try to reward our employees at Aging With Grace for doing a good job and staying with us longer than a year. And of course for-profit companies are motivated to try and try and try to be better and better and better so that they can stay in business and support themselves. Government agencies get their money from taxpayers, and non-government agencies that are not-for-profit get their money from donations and grants from the government. It’s just not on their agenda or on their radar screen to think of doing a good job so that they’ll get paid. They feel like they will get paid no matter what kind of job they do. So I’m really grateful for a government or a non-profit agency employee that goes above and beyond and does a great job and treats people like they’re special. It makes me think that they’re special. And they are special, no matter what I think!

Lawyers and financial planners can also be good resources depending on what you need. Most of them offer a first free consultation session. My advice for finding good legal and financial advice is to go with a practice that has 3 or more professionals working together and who have been in practice for a long time. I have some favorites that I have interacted with over the years and trust if you would like to know who they are, please call me. 

Another good resource here in Lexington is the Sanders Brown Center on Aging. They are a branch of the University of Kentucky’s College of medicine.They are world renowned but little known locally. Their number is.859-323-5550

They have a website with a page that says: How can we help?

Are you interested in research participation for yourself or a loved one? Participate in a study!

Are you seeking a clinical evaluation for yourself or a loved one? Reach out the the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute.

Are you a caregiver seeking information or support? Get in touch with our Family Caregiver Support Specialist, or contact the Alzheimer’s Association.

Are you interested in education about Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment? See our YouTube Channel or request for Community Presentations.

Are you interested in a brief memory screen to start the conversation about brain health? Visit our Memory Concerns page.

An especially cool thing that they do is Family Caregiver Workshops. And this is what their website says about them:

In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, Baptist Health Neurology, Bluegrass Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living (BGAAAIL), and the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, these workshops are held every three months.

This program is specialized for family caregivers and will offer information about Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving, and will also provide an opportunity to reflect, regenerate, and gain a new perspective on your caregiving issues. Local and statewide experts who specialize in aging and Alzheimer’s care will present topics that are valuable to family caregivers of persons with dementia. This training is designed specifically for family caregivers and is therefore only open to those who are family caregivers.

There is a limited amount of grant money to cover the cost of respite care while a caregiver attends the training. This is on a first-come, first-served basis and is eligible to those in Fayette, Scott, Jessamine, Madison, Clark, Anderson, Woodford, and Shelby counties. Please call Kelly Parsons, CSW at 859-323-5550 for more information.

These workshops are FREE but registration is required.

To register for the next workshop, call 1-800-272-3900.

I participated in these workshops and it was good to know I was not alone in what I was going through with my in laws back in 2007 and it is a place to learn from others. 

The Alzheimer’s association helped me a lot back then too in the same way…support and education. They also have a hotline that I called in 2012 when my husband then exhibited bizarre behavior and short term memory loss. Their advice saved me a trip to the emergency room. Their  number is 800 272 3900

Speaking of emergencies: During an emergency or to prepare for an emergency especially for a disaster the Red Cross is the place to call. Their number is 502-589-4450. Their website says:

Mission Statement

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

Vision Statement

The American Red Cross, through its strong network of volunteers, donors and partners, is always there in times of need. We aspire to turn compassion into action so that…

 

…all people affected by disaster across the country and around the world receive care, shelter and hope;

 

…our communities are ready and prepared for disasters;

 

…everyone in our country has access to safe, lifesaving blood and blood products;

 

…all members of our armed services and their families find support and comfort whenever needed; and

 

…in an emergency, there are always trained individuals nearby, ready to use their Red Cross skills to save lives.

I recently took a CPR recertification class online through the Red Cross and it was very good. I have also used the Red Cross in the past when my father-in-law died I contacted them to help get my deployed son home for the funeral. He was in the Navy on an aircraft carrier at the time and they flew him home. Very impressive!

My father was in the Navy too and when he needed help during his last years I contacted the VA. The local contact person here is Ashley Tew and her number is 8594096485. For an overview of veterans benefits, please listen to my podcast episode 12 titled, For the Love of Veterans Like My Father. The VA also helped me care for my father in law in 2007 and 2008 through another program.

Hospice is a helpful resource especially for the time leading up to the death of someone you care about and the time after they pass away. Medicare pays for their services. They helped me when my mother was dying and also when my mother in law was dying in my home. If you are caring for someone and you wonder if they are dying, call Hospice and they will do a free in home assessment and help you every step of the way if they determine that the person you are caring for has 6 months or less to live. They used to not help people with dementia because it was too difficult to determine how long that person might live. They would not help me with my father in law in 2008 but they have since changed their policies, and are more lenient and generous about helping families caring for those with dementia. Their phone number in this area is 855 492 0812 and they call themselves Bluegrass Care Navigators to be more user friendly.

Geriatric Care Managers can be a helpful resource too, but they charge by the hour, and they have their own set of values. If you work with a geriatric care manager, you need to make sure their values are the same as your values. Aging With Grace employs geriatric care mangers too (we call them Consultant Care Managers), and they will try their best to keep people in their homes and communities and avoid institutional care. Also beware of free senior living placement services. Know that they are compensated when one of their clients enters the institutional living community. In other words, their motivation is to get older people to move out of their private homes and communities and into an institutional congregate community. The same motivation is also true for some realtors.

As with everything in life, fore warned is fore armed, and knowledge is power. Don’t wait until you have a crisis to contact these agencies. Get to know them now so you will have trusted resources when you need them. Notice I said when you need them, not if. Statistics show that not needing them is the exception. I do hope that you are the exception, but even if you never need them yourself, it would be good to get educated so you may help others when they need help.

I have covered some pretty heavy stuff during this blog, so lets end on a lighter note. Here is a joke for you:

A man runs into a doctor’s office, shouting “Doc, I need your help!”

The doctor asks what’s wrong, the guy says “I think I’m a moth”.

The doctor says “Sir, I’m a primary care physician, you need a psychiatrist. Why did you come in here?”

The man says “The light was on.”

At Aging With Grace our light is always on for you. If you need help, please contact us. If we can’t help you, we will make sure to get you to where you can get the help you need. But as I said before, planning ahead is the best policy. Aging With Grace can help you with that, too. In fact, that is our unique specialty. Please call 859 539 2147 for more information. 

Until next time, I’m wishing you well and hoping you make some good memories this week because memories are everything! Bye for now!

 

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Call Us At: (859) 539-2147