It takes a village. This saying certainly rings true when it comes to taking care of an older loved one with a chronic condition.
In Allegheny County and across Pennsylvania, caregivers and receivers alike are fortunate to have access to a program called Caregiver Solutions, offered by the Northern Area Multi Service Center (NAMS), headquartered locally in Sharpsburg. It provides informal caregivers and care recipients with a proactive and realistic approach for reducing the stress of caregiving, as well as improving outcomes for care recipients.
Best of all, the program is free of charge for any member of the community age 60 or older who has a chronic condition; it also supports seniors who are caring for individuals of any age with disabilities or special needs.
Funding is provided by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. “The person providing the care can be any adult age, and can be living either locally or long distance,” explains Diana Hardy, associate director for NAMS’ Home and Community Based Programs. “Caregiver Solutions is especially good for someone who, for example, is living in Florida and has a loved one here in Pennsylvania. The program helps them connect with local resources. Folks are often amazed at how rich our senior services are here in Allegheny County; they just may not know about them even if they are familiar with the area.”
The program’s Care Consultants act as organizers to help caregivers prioritize their concerns. “We then help them develop a step-by-step plan specific to their life and helps them navigate through their care giving journey.” These trained Care Consultants also provide emotional support. “Our care recipients can still be active in the community—they don’t have to be home bound,” Diana points out.
One of the program’s participants, Sonya Newsome, 51, of Pittsburgh had this to say: “Caregiver Solutions is like having a personal assistant who listens, provides effective suggestions and valuable information, while understanding my challenges as a caregiver.”
How to Enroll in the Program
Enrolling in the program is easy. “All initial consultations are done by phone so you don’t have to worry about transportation for yourself or the person you’re caring for; and email can be used any time as questions arise,” Diana comments. “Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to share more about the program. We want to hear your story, learn what your challenges are and help you come up with an action plan. We’re a great clearinghouse of information on local programs and services available for older adults and their families. Our Care Consultants know about both local and national resources and can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions.”
To enroll or to learn more, call NAMS (412) 781-5002 or visit buildingindependence.org/caregiversolutions.