Heights offers many referral services for senior adults

Mike Cosmo, Senior Comfort Guide Vice President (left), talks with a client about thier services (photo courtesy Senior Comfort Guide)

Many families feel confused, pressured, and frustrated when it comes to deciding how best to care for an aging parent who is becoming more dependent. There are many questions that need to be answered: How will we make the time? How do we decide between home care and assisted living? How do we know when a parent has dementia or Alzheimer’s? What legal and financial issues do we need to be concerned about?

Fortunately, Heights-area families have local resources to help with such difficult issues. One is the Cleveland Heights Office On Aging (216-691-7377), which employs two social workers. “We are an information and referral service that directs families to the apprpriate resources, based on the needs of the individual and the family,” said social worker Cathy Katz. Recommendations cover such issues as home healthcare, housing, legal issues, finances, meal assistance and home repair assistance. 

The Senior Comfort Guide (www.seniorcomfortguide.com), founded in Beachwood, is an online guide to help families compare available options. Its extensive list of housing, home healthcare, day care, counseling, and providers of other services enables families to compare the features and benefits of each without having to make individual visits. “This is especially helpful for busy working families, and families that live out of town,” said Max Compton, ipresident o the guide. Families can search the database by city or zip code, and do not need to enter any personal information in order to use the website.

For people seeking more than resource referrals, Eldercare Coaching is a new service available to families. Kelsey Loushin, president of Eldercare Professionals of Ohio (440-212-4987), helps families navigate the maze of senior adult agencies, businesses, hospitals and living communities to come up with an actual plan for care.

Loushin gathers information about the senior’s physical and mental medical history, living situation, and the family’s short- and long-term goals. She then develops a plan to help the family take the most appropriate action. “Families get a tremendous amount of relief and hope when they realize they’re not alone,” said Loushin.

Other local referral services include First Call For Help (211 on the phone or www.211.org), a telephone hotline operated by The United Way. The Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services  (216-420-6750), located downtown, operates several senior programs. The Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (216-621-0303) publishes a comprehensive guidebook, The Older Adults Resource Guide.

The most important advice that all of these services offer is the recommendation to start research early. “Most eldercare decisions are crisis driven,” Loushin said. “It’s an emotional time, and it’s easy to make a wrong decision.”

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with mobility challenges through www.LovingHandsGroup.com. She may be reached at 216-408-5578 or Judith@LovingHandsGroup.com

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Volume 4, Issue 7, Posted 2:41 PM, 07.04.2011