HARRISBURG — A state program that provides services and benefits to primary caregivers assisting the elderly is not being used as widely as it could, state Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne said this week.
Osborne stressed the importance to lawmakers of the Caregiver Support Program to benefit those primarily responsible for assisting dependent adults aged 60 and over and adults with chronic dementia in their own homes. The caregiver program is part of an effort by the department to help seniors remain in their homes rather than resorting to more expensive care in a nursing home.
“Most folks would rather live in the community with supports,” Osborne said.
The aging department is looking for ways to increase awareness and make use of the caregiver program, said Osborne. The issues being explored are whether caregivers face barriers to enrolling, how need assessments are done and how to partner with the United Way and other organizations to promote the program, she added.
The program reimburses caregivers for certain out-of-pocket expenses up to a maximum of $500 a month and provides one-time grants up to $2,000 for home modifications such as ramps, grab bars and chair lifts.
The allowed expenses include respite care, supplies, support services and transportation. Local area agencies on aging run the program.
The first step is a comprehensive needs assessment to determine what benefits meet the needs of the caregiver and person receiving care. Eligibility for the program is based on income guidelines.
The program has 78 participants under the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging and 162 participants under the Area Agency on Aging in Luzerne and Wyoming counties, according to the aging department. The program amount budgeted for those agencies in the current fiscal year is $434,000 and $606,000, respectively.
Pennsylvania enacted a law in 2011 to broaden the program’s scope and make it less restrictive by allowing primary caregivers who aren’t relatives to receive benefits and no longer requiring that caregivers have to live with the senior.
The aging department’s budget provides $12 million in state Lottery funds for the program. An additional $10 million comes to Pennsylvania through a companion program at the federal level.
A Scranton native, Osborne held executive positions with aging agencies in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties before her appointment as aging secretary last year.
Support Group of Eastern Lebanon County hosted by: StoneRidge, Poplar Run, 440 E Lincoln Ave, Myerstown, PA 17067. Meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 6 PM in the Player's Lounge.
Who should attend?
Families, caregivers, and friends of people with memory related illnesses. Join us for a learning and caring opportunity to meet to hear information on various topics related to Alzheimer's Disease and other related dementias. An opportunity for sharing individual concerns is also available at each meeting.
Light refreshments will be provided at every meeting.
If you need directions please call 866-3200.
April 17: Cindy Klingler, PA Caregiver Support Program Care Manager, Lebanon County Area Agency on Aging; TOPIC: Service Available for a Caregiver to Those with Dementia
May 15: Jeremy Keiter, Executive Director, Traditions of Hershey (Also co-founder of Support Group); TOPIC: Dealing with Greif and Guilt. Moving a Loved One into a Community or Caregiving Facility
June 19: Jan Reisinger, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association; TOPIC: Effective Communication Strategies of the Dementia Journey
July 17: Mark Alshouse, Graduate Studies at Penn State, Harrisburg, PA; TOPIC: Anger!
August 21: To Be Announced
September 18: Ann Thompson, R.N., MSN, Clinical Nurse Specialist; TOPIC: “Roll Play” Presentation
October 16: Lori Brandt, Albright Life Marketing Director; TOPIC: Support for the Caregiver: Early Implementation before “Breaking Point”
November 20: Susan Tipton, Seniors Helping Seniors; TOPIC Caregiving Tips
December 18: Connie Ulrich, CSA, Owner/Geriatric Care Manager; TOPIC: Christmas Theme