Written by Annette Morrison, M.S., CRS-A/D; CCSI Case Coordination LLC
Don’s holiday gathering was an eye-opener when his aging Mother, Dee, leaned over to lift the roaster with ham out of the oven and nearly fell. He offered to help, but her terse “Oh, no, I can get this!” made him step back. She had insisted she cook the ham because, “she always cooked the ham.” Don couldn’t help think, if Mom is struggling with balance, what else might she be needing help with?
Nearly everyone wants to stay in their own home where they are familiar and comfortable. Aging at home isn’t always easy. Staying comfortable entails being able to manage both personal care and maintaining our environment. Some health conditions require additional personal care, like putting on a brace or taking medications on a strict schedule. Keeping up a home can also be daunting; from scheduling home maintenance, to routine grocery shopping, to cooking and cleaning. Coping skills for these tasks rely on strength, flexibility, and stamina. Chronic health conditions can take a toll on our ability to cope, both physically and mentally.
After the holiday visit and witnessing the very real struggle, Don grudgingly nudged his brother and said, “Are YOU going to talk to Mom?” They saw one unmet need on this special occasion; what about all of the unmet needs that must come up on a daily basis? It’s a difficult topic to broach, so having someone to help answer questions—such as, “What exactly does Mom need?” to “Where do we find that resource?”—is priceless.
There is a whole sector of services, called home and community-based services, designed to help keep people in their homes as long as possible. The Community Care Program helps those 60 years and older avoid premature nursing home placement, lessen isolation, and encourage independence. Every county in Illinois has a Case Coordination Unit (CCU) contracted through the Illinois Department on Aging to provide Comprehensive Case Management with Person Centered Planning and in-home assessments for home and community-based services. The Community Care Program is also known as the Aging Waiver to assist those who might not have the resources to pay for private help. In McLean County, CCSI Case Coordination LLC is your CCU.
After Don saw mom struggling with the ham, Don asked how willing she might be in accepting a little help now to avoid needing a lot of help later. He explained his fear—if she falls and breaks a hip or scalds herself in meat juice, she may end up needing surgery and rehabilitation in a facility. The best-case scenario was to have services set up before things get that bad—before declining health or poor management result in crisis—to help avoid injury and be proactive rather than reactive.
It’s hard to accept that Mom and Dad might need extra help. It’s hard to see and ultimately, not be able to do a darn thing because they still choose to manage on their own. No one wants to interfere with their independence. Calling to have a Case Manager come out to educate them on what options are available can introduce them to available resources and make the idea of change less intimidating.
Every participant’s needs are different. Joe only needed help with meals, laundry, grocery shopping, and transportation to doctor appointments. Linda tends to isolate herself and benefits from a combination of homemaker assistance, money management, and emergency home response services. A CCU representative contacts her monthly to do a wellness and service satisfaction check. Her Case Coordinator contacts her face to face quarterly to check up on her and sees her for a redetermination at least once a year; more frequently if she goes into the hospital or requests a change in her services. Most importantly, Linda is able to stay in her own home and her son, who lives in California, knows that if she struggles, she has a Case Coordinator that they can contact to help her access the services she needs.
The Community Care Program has eligibility requirements as set by the IL Department on Aging. No one is denied an in-home assessment for services and all services discussed are available privately from community agencies/businesses. Ultimately, your holiday visit should be joyful. If you find your parents struggling, home and community-based services may be part of an in-home solution. You can be a part of helping your parents stay home for the holidays—and beyond!
To make an appointment for an assessment for services, contact CCSI Case Coordination LLC at 309-661-6400. We are located at 3601 G.E. Road, Suite 2, Bloomington, IL 61704. Assessments have no cost, but donations are always graciously accepted. No one is ever denied assistance based on the inability to pay. Funding is provided through ECIAAA and IDOA.
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