Event highlights long-term care for seniors and disabled | TheUnion.com

Event highlights long-term care for seniors and disabled

Nevada County is a paradise for most of us who live here. We look out our windows at tall trees, grand oaks, high mountains and abundant wildlife. But what if, because we’re old or disabled, we can’t appreciate this amazing place? Perhaps we’re worried all the time about whether we can continue to live in our home or get the services we need to have a good quality of life. Maybe we worry we may even have to move away from the county to receive the care we need.

Well, there’s good news. Nevada County is rich in resources and services for its citizens who need assistance to maintain their independence and for those who are caregivers for seniors or the disabled. Just take a look at the “Western Nevada County Community Resource Guide” or the “County Guide to Elder Care Resources and Services” (both available at HelpLine Information & Assistance, 273-2273). There are pages of agencies to contact whose goal it is to serve seniors and people with disabilities.

The bad news is that many of the citizens who need services don’t know how to access them. Enter the Long Term Care Implementation Council. The council, an entity of the county Board of Supervisors, is made up of long-term care service consumers and agency service providers, such as FREED and the Lutz Center. In fact, more than half of the council are consumers (disabled, elders and family members and other caregivers) who, with full support from the provider members, are intent on making Nevada County a model of service delivery that emphasizes the dignity of the consumer.

Many, when they hear the phrase “long-term care” think “nursing home.” But in truth, care in a skilled-nursing facility is at the farthest end of the continuum of long-term care. The focus, in fact, of almost all of the long-term care service providers in the county is to assist people in ways that will keep them, or those they care for, independent and living in their homes and community.

The continuum of services ranges from the relatively simple, like making sure seniors have transportation to their doctor appointments or church services, to the more complex, such as helping caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients coordinate their loved one’s care while at the same time receiving some respite from that duty.

Long-term care, as envisioned by the Long Term Care Implementation Council, also is about making sure that people with disabilities, including seniors control their own lives. Certainly there are instances, most notably in end-stage Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, when individuals are incapable of making their own decisions. But most of us who need assistance are completely capable of deciding what we need and who can best meet those needs. It is, indeed, an affront to our dignity to have others assume they “know best.” To that end, the Implementation Council has developed an “empowerment” model that will provide:

— Easy access to a system of coordinated services among providers.

— Extensive information about home and community services.

— Assistance in locating service providers.

— Access to advocacy assistance.

On Thursday, at the county fairgrounds, a free community event will be held that will focus on providing information on long-term care services. Co-sponsored by AARP, Nevada County and HelpLine, the day begins at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast and ends at 3 p.m. A service fair will give participants access to more than 40 long-term service providers. Local people will share their stories as consumers.

The director of rehabilitation for California, Catherine Campisi, will be the keynote speaker. The model developed by the Implementation Council to coordinate long-term care services will be introduced. Called Services Assuring Independent Living (SAIL), the model includes a computer database that consumers and providers will have access to. There will be entertainment by the Chord Miners barbershop quartet, and door prizes will be given away.

You must preregister by calling HelpLine (273-2273). So mark your calendars, call HelpLine, and come and learn about what is available to you if you’re a senior or disabled or care for someone who is.

You may not only be surprised by the wealth of services, but you may find exactly the assistance you need – or may need in the future.

Sam Dardick is chairman of the Long Term Care Implementation Council. Cynthia Schuetz is associate services administrator for the Long Term Care Integration Project.

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