CMC launches Personal Care Attendant training to meet needs of community |

CMC launches Personal Care Attendant training to meet needs of community

When Edwards resident Evie Rosen-Budd and her husband moved to Eagle County in 2000 from a larger California community, they struggled with finding enough services for Bill, who suffered from a primary progressive type of multiple sclerosis.

One of the important services the Rosen-Budds needed was personal care assistance to give Evie and their children breaks from caring for Bill, who eventually became a quadriplegic. After an extensive search, they finally decided to mentor an acquaintance to help the family with consistent assistance until Bill died at age 81.

“I could not have done it on my own,” said Evie, now 78.

The Rosen-Budds are just one example among the growing population of aging individuals and baby boomers in Colorado who need more help than a friend, neighbor, family member or volunteer can provide, but whose needs are not serious enough to require assistance from a nurse, assisted living care facility or nursing home.

To help meet training needs in one of the fastest-growing health care fields in the country, Colorado Mountain College in Rifle and Edwards will launch a Personal Care Attendant Training class this fall semester.

The continuing education course provides hands-on training for individuals to become a home care aide, patient care provider, volunteer or family caregiver for elderly, chronically ill, injured or disabled individuals.

The two-month class is scheduled for Thursday afternoons in Rifle starting Sept. 1, and Monday and Thursday evenings in Edwards starting Oct. 13.

“It is important to let family members who are caring for another family member know about the course. They would definitely learn some ways to manage the physical requirements,” Evie Rosen-Budd said.

The senior population in Colorado is predicted to rise significantly every year for the next 20 years due to the state’s disproportionately higher percentage of baby boomers age 47 to 65, explained Cindy DeGroen, projections demographer for the state of Colorado. DeGroen said the population aged 65 to 74 in Colorado should increase 7 percent each year for the next decade, compared to 4 percent across the U.S.

Debera Stewart, the regional representative for the Colorado Commission on Aging, said an increase in the availability of personal care attendants would allow more Colorado seniors to “age in place” with some support, either living at home or in a senior housing complex.

“I think it’s desperately needed,” Stewart said. “We have a very large aging community throughout the college district, and in some places, we don’t even have nursing homes. If we are training PCAs, this takes a lot of pressure off the baby boom generation.”

Jean Hammes, the director of the regional Alpine Area Agency on Aging, said seniors or disabled individuals may have a strong support network of friends and family members, but many do not feel they can ask others for more help as they age or become ill, or as more needs arise.

“They feel they have already tapped those resources and don’t feel they can ask them to do more,” Hammes said. “A personal care attendant is another home- and community-based service option to choose from.”

The needs of seniors and disabled individuals range from help with household chores to monitoring of medication schedules and physical condition. A trained personal care assistant could intervene in a medical situation before a patient becomes seriously ill, Hammes said.

Stewart said the personal care attendant training is a faster option than training to become a certified nursing assistant and can provide a good starting point for individuals thinking about entering the health care industry.

According to a Colorado Workforce Center report on job projections in western Colorado through 2019, personal and home care aides are the second-highest workers in demand.

The personal care attendant class is not currently offered anywhere else in the central Colorado region. The course at Colorado Mountain College is open to those age 16 and older, and a high school diploma or GED is not required.

The class at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle runs Sept. 1-Nov. 3. To register, call 625-1871.

The class at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards runs Oct. 13- Dec. 8. To register, call 970-569-2900.

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