Access to Senior Dental Care a Growing Concern
Low income older adults have limited options when looking for dental care. Only about 20% of dentists accept Medicaid and those that do are rarely accepting new patients. This forces many older adults to avoid dental care, which can cause and compound other diseases.
AAAWM has teamed up with volunteer dentists, hygienists and now students through Grand Rapids Community College Dental Clinic to provide Senior Dental Days.
Working with non-profit agencies, clients re identified based on need. Those identified receive a free dental cleaning, any necessary x-rays, screening examination and a referral if needed (efforts will be made to find a dentist to adopt them for future dental care at a free or reduced cost).
Local organizations estimated that over 1,000 seniors are in need to affordable dental care. One agency in West Michigan has a year- long waiting list and sees people line up at 4 a.m. to try and get an appointment.
AAAWM would like to expand Senior Dental Days but we need volunteer dentists, hygienists and community members to help make this a reality. If you would like to volunteer, contact the agency at (616) 456-5664 and ask for Senior Dental Days.
How Adult Day Services (ADS) Can Help Someone with Dementia
A dementia diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean packing your loved one’s bags and moving them into a nursing facility. Many older adults are being cared for at home and having dementia doesn’t have to change that decision. In fact, an Adult Day Services (ADS) program can help make this a reality while benefiting both the care recipient and the family caregiver.
What are Adult Day Services (ADS)?
ADS are offered at a location that is typically open during daytime hours and provides activities for older adults and those with developmental disabilities who are unable to be left alone without some type of supervision. Programs provide a structured environment that includes activities and social interaction. Some programs have music therapy, craft projects and social groups as well as offering a noon meal and transportation. They also provide a break for the caregiver with the confidence that their loved one is in good hands.
Benefits to the Caregiver
ADS programs offer numerous benefits for both the caregiver and care recipient. Providing care for someone can be very stressful. Often a family caregiver is also working and/or raising children while caring for an older adult. An ADS program is a safe environment for the senior and it allows both the caregiver and recipient to get a break from one another. The caregiver can use this time to simply relax, run errands or do something for themselves.
Many caregivers use an Adult Day Program while they are at work. Different programs even offer bathing services and/or other personal care options, which can be a benefit to both the caregiver and the care recipient.
“We had an elderly wife who was caring for her husband. She enjoyed the respite the adult day provided, but seriously began to think about placement in a nursing home because she could not get him to take a shower,” said Kendra Schumaker, Executive Director at SarahCare Adult Day Services. “Our staff offered to shower him while he was here during the day, but his wife was reluctant, thinking that he would not be agreeable. She agreed to let us give it a try, and when she came to pick him up she had tears of joy because he was clean and they would not have to fight about it at home.”
“Part of what adult day does is let people return to their previous life roles. In other words the wife can now be the wife and not the nursemaid, caregiver, etc. They can go home, have dinner, and she can be assured that her husband is not only clean, but he did not fall in the shower at home.”
Benefits to the Care Recipient
While at an Adult Day Program, the care recipient is able to enjoy a wide variety of structured activities that they may not be able to do while at home. Participants benefit from additional socialization and often form strong relationships with other participants and staff.
“We have an amazing staff that really bonds with our seniors,” says Teresa Schlump, Director at Side by Side Adult Day Services. “This helps the older adult feel more confident because coming to the center is like spending time with friends. It also makes it easier for the caregiver because it’s an enjoyable experience for their loved one.”
Sign Me Up! What do I do?
The best way to get started is to take time to visit an ADS program. Schedule a tour and talk with the Director or other staff. Some ADS programs even allow interested families to try the service out for a day (at little or no cost) to make sure it’s a good fit.
Because each location offers different activities and services, individuals need to contact the organization directly to find out about costs and qualifications. The Kent County Senior Millage may help offset the cost for families with lower incomes. For more information, including costs and how to qualify under the Kent County Senior Millage, contact one of the Adult Day Centers listed below.
Who to Contact:
- CareTree Adult Day Services (operated by Gerontology Network) (616) 464-3665
- Side by Side Adult Day Services (operated by Hope Network) (616) 235-2910
SarahCare Adult Day Services (616) 530-6700
November Family Caregiver Series a Success
The Caregiver Resource Network’s Family Caregiver Series was a “great success,” says Anne Ellermets, Contract Coordinator at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan and staff liaison to the group. The Caregiver Resource Network (CRN) provided a month long list of complimentary activities geared towards family caregivers. Events included everything from a pie contest to local experts, authors and family portraits. Topics included financial and legal concerns, end of life issues as well as caregiver stress and Alzheimer ’s disease. Most of all the CRN feels they were able to reach a variety of family caregivers through the series.
“Caregivers often have hectic schedules and may not feel they have the time to get additional information or take time for themselves,” says Ellermets. “The fact that we had nearly 500 people attend events over the month speaks not only to the volume of family caregivers, but to the fact that information like this is needed and wanted. The organizations involved did a great job of providing interesting, engaging and entertaining events for the caregivers to attend.”
The CRN is a collaboration of over 110 community organizations helping serve caregivers throughout West Michigan. For more information on their programs and resources, visits www.caregiverresource.net.