New social services programs help seniors, caregivers |

New social services programs help seniors, caregivers

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

It can be a challenge for those needing ongoing care to live in their own homes. And it can be equally challenging for people who take care of others to get the support they need.

That’s why Garfield County Department of Social Services recently started two programs: the Senior Equipment and Support Program and the Caregiver Support Program.

Funded in part by the Area Agency on Aging and the Older Americans Act, the programs provide resources to the elderly and services to those involved in an ongoing caregiving relationship.

There’s only one eligibility requirement: Either the person seeking assistance or the person giving care must be at least 60 years old. And there’s a limit on spending: Clients are allowed $500 per year worth of services or products.

Social worker Linda Byers, who has worked for Social Services for 20 years, has been supervising both programs since they started last August.

“These are such exciting programs,” she said. “They are really meeting people’s needs.”

Evelyn and Keith Masters of Carbondale can attest to that. Keith, 82, has a bad ankle and needed a heavy duty walker. He learned of the Senior Equipment Program from his physical therapist, Peg Holmes, at Columbine Home Health Care in Glenwood Springs.

“She contacted the program for us,” said Evelyn, 86. “Keith had a walker, but it was a small one with only two wheels. They brought another one out to us to see how it would work for Keith.

“Now he has another walker. It’s got four wheels, and a basket to hold Keith’s oxygen tank. It also has a seat and brakes so it doesn’t slip out from under him when he sits down,” she said.

Evelyn said the walker is a real plus, and the price was right, too.

“We didn’t have to pay anything,” she said.

Linda Byers explained the program can provide medical equipment and anything that can help make life easier to live independently.

“We’ve purchased eyeglasses, lounge chairs, dentures, and even washers and dryers for clients,” she said.

Support for caregivers

Byers said the Caregiver Support Program offers another kind of support to those caring for others.

“We had one instance of a caregiver who never left the person they were caring for,” she said. “She used the money we provided to try out a nursing home. That experiment let her see if a nursing home might be another option.”

Byers said caregivers can also get some relief help so they can leave the house.

“Sometimes, just two or three hours a week for a period of time is really helpful,” she said.

The program also connects caregivers with care providers.

“We can hook people up with, for example, adult day centers and assisted living facilities,” she said. “We provide options.”

Byers said since the programs started this summer, she’s had about 20 people utilize them. The programs are administered through Garfield County government, though they are also available in Moffatt, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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