• Timothy Lewis

Caring For Our Seniors

Whether you are 30, 40, or 50 something, caring for seniors is in your future and sooner than we think.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, seniors (65+) will outnumber children (under 18) by 2035, and by 2040, the number of seniors in the U.S. will increase by 46%. Caring for seniors oftentimes happens suddenly and is life changing. Many of you can relate to my story. I am the caregiver for my 97-year-old mother – Amen! Two years ago, she broke her hip in a fall. She is still in good health, and I often joke that she has the blood pressure of an Olympic athlete. As Mom’s caregiver, I’ve had to bird-dog (i.e., doggedly investigate) the hodgepodge of for-profit and not-for-profit agencies and services available to support senior healthcare concerns. Here is what I’ve learned about the gaps in what is not available (locally) for senior care. 1. Navigating the Medicare nightmare! Medicare rules, regulations, and bureaucratic mumbo jumbo is complicated, frustrating, and contentious. Here we have two gaps: First is the gap in low-cost, affordable healthcare services available in rural areas, and second is the cost of healthcare for our elderly who are most often on a fixed income. 2. Medicaid provides many medical services (both for-profit and not-for-profit) that help the elderly, if you’re eligible. 3. A one-stop omnibus person is needed to help seniors and caregivers navigate a menagerie of services, including coordinating my mother’s emergency surgery, personal healthcare provider, three rehab facility stays, in-home OT and PT therapy, home health aides, insurance company gatekeepers, and friends and family to sit with Mom when I had to leave the house. I’ve also come across other gaps in how we care for our seniors. Here are a few: • It’s next to impossible to find a contractor to build a wheelchair ramp to code. • There is a real need for home repair services for disadvantaged seniors. • Mobile barbering and beauty services for home-bound seniors is a wonderful way for them to maintain dignity and feel good about themselves. • A true public/private/community (e.g., faith-based) partnership could service our most vulnerable seniors.

In the meantime, check out the following organizations for advice on caring for you senior adult: • The S.C. Department on Aging (SCDOA) (www.aging.sc.gov). • Dorchester Seniors, Inc. (DSI) (DorchesterSeniors.com). • Get Care SC providing help finding assisted living, transportation, financial assistance, or other services for seniors (www.GetCareSC.com). In closing, I’d like to also thank the many passionate and dedicated healthcare professionals, administrators, and volunteers who service and care for seniors throughout the county. It is because of you that my mother continues to recover.

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