Program gives caregivers chance to make much-needed trips alone
Janet and Bill Loring found themselves at an impasse. Janet, 80, wanted to take a trip to Southern California to receive homeopathic cleansing treatments. However, she felt she couldn’t or shouldn’t take that liberty, not wanting to leave Bill, 81, home alone.
The couple considered having Bill, who has early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, move into temporary assisted living, but that, too, didn’t feel right. The couple lives in the buffer zone between Grand Junction and Fruita, and Bill, who has relinquished his driver’s license, didn’t want to miss out on daily, long walks in the country.
“New things would be too overwhelming,” Janet said about Bill.
And so the couple took advantage of a fairly new program, Generational Solutions, offered by Hilltop Community Resources. The geriatric management service helps senior citizens and their families work through many of the difficult questions that arise with aging.
With the help of Libby Kennard, a certified case manager, the Lorings crafted a plan that allowed Janet to take her trip and Bill to be comfortable at home. Caregivers stopped by and prepared meals, and family and friends also came over to help.
“What I hope to do is be an advocate for you,” Kennard said during a meeting at the couple’s home. “It’s whatever people need. We can be flexible.”
Generational Solutions helps clients in a number of ways and situations.
Sometimes senior citizens and their children don’t know what’s best for their elderly loved ones. Snap decisions are made after an elderly person lands in the hospital after a fall. Caregivers need a break while caring for a spouse or a loved one And, questions invariably rise over how to tell a loved one they shouldn’t be driving a vehicle anymore or when it may be time to thin out belongings and consider downsizing to smaller accommodations.
“Sometimes family can get all wound up about something scary that happened, and the children step in and want to make changes. They say it has to happen now, and I picked out a place for you,” Kennard said. “Most of the time, (senior citizens) are worried about the same thing, they just want to have some say in how it happens.”
While the program is run by Hilltop, Kennard doesn’t solely refer clients to services provided by that organization. There are a number of companies in the Grand Valley that offer in-home care and other geriatric care.
Generational Solutions is a private service, but the same kind of services may be available for low-income individuals through Mesa County or other nonprofits.
Generational Solutions does not provide caregiving services, but offers counseling for families to help them come to the best conclusion to fit the lifestyles of all involved. Sometimes that means Kennard must be the “bad guy,” running interference for an elderly person and their family.
“I’ve had couples call and say they can’t even have the conversation with their spouse about moving into assisted living,” Kennard said. Her role is “kind of helping them with education about what assisted living is like and what is out there for them. It’s the process of listening to their stories. If I’m in their home I can pick up what their safety concerns are. I think they see me as kind of a friendly, nonthreatening person.”