With one phone call, Salt Lake County matches caregivers with resources
By Michael Evans
One of the inevitabilities of life is getting older, and caring for a family member is more and more common. All of the counties in Utah offer a family caregiver program. In Salt Lake County it is known as a Respite Education Program. It is not just about providing services, it is about educating the family on where other resources exist, and how to create a long-term plan together as a family or as a group of friends to solve their caregiving issues.
“Maybe they have a father who has dementia, and he was diagnosed five years ago. The family is getting really fatigued providing all the care he needs. Maybe they need a senior companion, maybe someone to bathe him. We might be bathing the care receiver, but we are doing that on behalf of the care giver to give them a break,” says Kathy Nelson of Salt Lake County Aging Services, “Everything is on behalf of the care giver, taking the stress and extra work out of their life.”
The Caregiver Support Program provides short-term respite assistance to unpaid caregivers who are the main caregivers for their spouse, parent, adult child, friend or neighbor. It does not need to be a biological connection.
“We know that many seniors once they reach that age may not have family left, or any family that is living close,” said Kathy Nelson of Salt Lake County Aging Services.
“One of the main mandates for Aging and Adult Services is supporting independence, said Nelson, “and people DO like to stay in their homes to age, so our program supports individuals who are still in independent housing.”
It does not matter if the person who needs care is living in a family home or renting an apartment.
“These are in-home services for those who are trying to stay independent,” said Nelson. “Aging in place at home is really the goal of most everybody we meet. They don’t want to be in a facility prematurely, so our programs help them stay at home longer.”
Caregiver Support is Aging and Adult Services’ most popular service, and there are plenty of slots available in 2019. Before a customer calls, Nelson advises everybody to check to see if they are qualified. The following specific populations of caregivers are eligible to receive services:
Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals 60 years of age and older; adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders; older relatives (not parents) age 55 and older providing care to children under the age of 18; older relatives, including parents, age 55 and older providing care to adults 18-59 with disabilities.
However, anybody is eligible for information and assistance, support groups and consultation. There are no financial eligibility tests or fees required to participate with the Caregiver Support Program.
To start getting In-home services for independent living, Ms. Nelson enthusiastically recommends setting aside 20 minutes to a half hour to speak with someone in the Caregiver Support office, who will gladly walk them through the application process.
This powerful and useful number is 385-468-3280, and their website is www.slco.org/caregiver.
“We don’t want to create dependence, we want to promote independence,” said Nelson, “We want you to do so much more than you know about by the end of our year.”
In-person appointments are welcome at the office on 2100 S. State Street, but the applicant needs to call ahead. Applicants will develop a broader network of assistance and knowledge that will serve them well over the upcoming years.
Aging and Adult Services also helps meet other needs. To find out more, call 385-468-3200.