Margaret wants to continue to live independently in her senior apartment complex. Her arthritis pain is getting worse and she is unable to scrub her floors, change her bed linens and clean her bathtub like she used to. If Margaret could find a chore worker, the worker could help with those housecleaning tasks so that her apartment can remain relatively clean and sanitary. Chore services (sometimes called homemaker services) include help with paperwork, grocery shopping, laundry and housekeeping.
Fred, who is 85 years old, has Alzheimer's Disease. He lives alone with his wife Ethel who takes care of him seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Recently, Fred has begun to wander off in the middle of the night, so Ethel is afraid to go to sleep. As a result, her health is suffering and she needs a respite worker to stay with Fred at night. Respite includes providing mental and physical activities while ensuring the safety of the senior.
Sarah, who lives alone, was just released from the hospital after falling and breaking her hip. In order to be able to stay at home safely, she needs someone who can help her with activities of daily living such as bathing and skin care. The hospital social worker has arranged for a personal care attendant (PCA) to come into Sarah's home three times a week during her recovery period.
Chore services, respite and personal care are critical services for those seniors who want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. In Juneau these services are provided through Center for Community, Cornerstone Home Health, and Hospice and Home Care. The Care Coordination Program (Senior Information Line) also keeps a list of private in-home care workers.
Unfortunately, there is a shortage of chore, respite and personal care workers at a time when more and more seniors are needing these services. Because these services are so important for seniors, a task force of Juneau service providers recently formed to address the problem: What are the reasons behind the shortage of in-home workers and what can be done about them?
The Alzheimer's Association, Center for Community, Cornerstone Home Health, Fireweed Place, Hospice and Home Care, and Southeast Senior Services are meeting this month to develop a plan for attracting and retaining chore, respite and personal care workers. By joining their resources, they will have more ability to solve this challenge than if they tackled it alone.
Glen Ray of the Alzheimer's Association has offered to serve as facilitator of the task force. He is currently interviewing seniors who receive chore services, respite or personal care to find out where these services need improvement. Glen explains, "The goal of the task force is to provide Juneau seniors in-home workers who are dependable, trained caring, consistent and available."
Seniors or their family who have received these services are requested to contact Glen at 586-6044 to give him ideas on how in-home services can be improved. Persons who are currently working or who have worked as chore, respite or personal care providers are also invited to call Glen with suggestions on what's needed in order to attract and retain in-home workers.
Marianne Mills oversees senior citizen nutrition and transportation programs in Southeast Alaska as a member of Southeast Senior Services, a program of Catholic Community Services. CCS assists all persons regardless of faith.