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Dementia assistance, information critical for caregivers

Submitted Photo There are plenty of resources to help people with dementia and those assisting them.

As we see our community aging, it is imperative that we become aware of services that are available to assist us. Most are not aware of all the programs available to them, and that is why I organize and implement the Service Providers of Chautauqua events throughout the county — to enable the people of a community to come to one place and visit with Service Providers regarding what they offer and how they can assist.

Through my position as the No Wrong Door representative at Southwestern Independent Living Center, I am able to assist persons of all ages (birth to elders), regardless of income, disability or ability, to find services they may be eligible for, and to support them in various ways with the issues they are facing.

The NY Connects / No Wrong Door System is set up to assist everyone in the county by helping them find the correct programs for their situation, make referrals on their behalf and gather information that is relevant to their issue and share it with them in a timely fashion. Within my position, I am also able to assist with Person Centered Counseling, Person Centered Planning and Case Management.

Due to a recent event in Chautauqua County, I find myself wanting to share some information on Dementia issues and programs that are available to the individual who is diagnosed with dementia, and also to the families, and others, who are the caregivers to someone with dementia.

If someone is diagnosed with dementia, of which there are varying types, and you are not sure of what this actually means or how it is going to effect the person, yourself, your family and others who are close to the person, please call me at 450-3960, or call Office for the Aging, NY Connects at 753-4582.

Another resource you may want to contact is Nancy Dunbar, Chautauqua Opportunities Dementia Care Program. Nancy works closely with families and individuals who are diagnosed with dementia and she is a wonderful resource to connect with. Nancy can be reached at 366-3335 x1236 or 410-0595. Nancy’s program includes support groups for caregivers, referrals, complete home care assessments, community presentations, and free respite care.

The WNY Alzheimer’s Association in Buffalo also is available to assist people in Chautauqua County and other surrounding counties. Lauren Gill, LMSW, is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association. Lauren can be reached at 241-0348 or 626-0600. Lauren is a compassionate person who listens to the caregivers and the person who has been diagnosed with dementia to ensure she finds the services that would be beneficial to them. There are a myriad of programs available through the Alzheimer’s Association, so please, take a few moments to visit with them if you have any concerns or questions, or just would like some guidance on what comes next.

Your family physician is also a good resource for information and referrals to organizations who can assist you. If you find yourself in the physician’s office, facing the diagnosis of dementia, please ask for information.

Once you are caring for someone with dementia, you will soon notice there are various stages to the disease. Some people are completely surprised at the changes that occur in the person who has been diagnosed. To assure you are ready for these changes, and are able to handle them, please educate yourself. You can get information from my office, WNY Alzheimer’s Association, Nancy Dunbar, OFA, The Chautauqua Center, The Resource Center Community Medical Center, your physicians office, and many other agencies.

Some people will need a great deal of care, and in this instance the caregivers then begin to wonder how the costs are going to be met for the care. If you are needing assistance in applying for Medicaid for the elder who is in need, please contact Robin Knepshield at Southwestern Independent Living Center. Robin works with the Medicaid Application Assistance Program through the state of New York. This program ensures that the aged, blind, and disabled have access to comprehensive, affordable health Insurance. Robin is a Facilitated Enroller who is experienced and ready to assist with the application process for Medicaid. All services provided by Robin are free.

For families who are caring for elders, but still have to work and live their own lives, there are Senior day programs that are available to ease the concern of how the person is doing while you are working, running errands, have other things to tend to. Lutheran’s Warner Place Medical Model Adult DayCare Program is unique as they are the only facility in Chautauqua County that is able to assist persons who need skilled nursing care during the day. Please call 720-9430 for more information.

Another resource is the Chautauqua Adult Day Programs with locations in Jamestown, Westfield and Dunkirk. Please call 665-4899 for more information on the programs they offer.

Tanglewood Manor also has a great program for seniors while their caregivers are at work or have things they need to do. You can reach Tanglewood Manor at 338-0500.

All of these adult day programs offer a safe environment for the person they are caring for, as well as a time of respite for those who are the caregivers. Each program is unique in its own way and I suggest you call them all, visit a bit, and decide which would best suit your needs.

There are many programs available in Chautauqua County for those who have been diagnosed with dementia and by no means have I touched on all of them in this article.

Please feel free to contact any of the agencies / people who are mentioned to get the assistance that you, and those involved with your care, deserve and can benefit from.

If you would like more information or need assistance, you can call me directly at 450-3960 or at my office at 661-3010. You can also call OFA NY Connects at 753-4582. The NY Connect / No Wrong Door System in available to everyone, regardless of age (birth to elders), disability or ability, and income. If you need help, please reach out and let us see how we can assist you.

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