Q: Missouri has a plan that pays people who care for handicapped or disabled relatives. Sometimes, it is so time consuming, they can’t hold down a regular job. Does Illinois offer similar help for family caregivers?
L.S., of Belleville
A: You’ll have to wrestle through a little red tape, but if you qualify, your daughter could seek compensation as your preferred caregiver through the Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program.
Established in 1979, the program is designed to help senior citizens who might otherwise need nursing home care to stay in their own homes by providing in-home and community-based services. It’s open to any Illinois resident 60 and older who meets certain financial guidelines and who is at risk of being placed in a nursing home as measured by a Determination of Need Functional Assessment. The goal is to help seniors maintain their independence and provide cost-effective alternatives to long nursing-home stays.
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To explore this option, call the Southwestern Illinois Visiting Nurse Association at 618-236-5800, ext. 141. If the association finds you may qualify, it will seek authorization from the state to send a case manager to your home for a free in-depth assessment.
“They will talk about all the other services that might be available to her, too, which is a good thing,” said Joy Paeth, chief executive officer of AgeSmart Community Resources in Belleville. “It’s nice sometimes to have that third party in to kind of offer other solutions that the family might not be thinking of.”
The case manager could also discuss how your daughter might qualify to become an employee of one of the care-providing organizations, so that you then request her as a preferred caregiver. The case manager would then decide on just how many hours your daughter would be allotted.
“So it’s doable, but it’s a little more complex,” Paeth said. “Or maybe her mother might be eligible for a lot of services so (the daughter) can go out and get gainful employment and she’s not like a 24/7 caregiver anymore.”
Paeth urges anyone else in similar circumstances to call AgeSmart at 618-222-2561 or the visiting nurse association. For a comprehensive look at the Community Care Program, go to www.illinois.gov/aging/CommunityServices/caregiver/Pages/program.aspx or http://sivna.com/services-for-seniors/
“There is a lot available for people,” Paeth said. “It’s just difficult because people seem to always look for help in a crisis rather than knowing what’s available so they can plan ahead. That’s always helpful.”
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Answer to Monday’s trivia: Nuts about squirrels? Then Jan. 21 is your day. In 2001, Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator at the Western North Caroline Nature Center, established the date as National Squirrel Appreciation Day, a chance to show your love for the more than 200 species of squirrels in the United States. Looking for ways to share your fondness? Try http://blog.nwf.org/2011/01/7-ways-to-celebrate-national-squirrel-appreciation-day.