Services for county seniors are expanded

Thursday, April 13, 2006

On March 16, the Barry County Senior Citizens Services Fund Board approved a request from the Barry County Council on Aging for a $12,000 fund transfer from respite care services to personal care services.

"We had $25,000 allocated for respite care services, and we asked the board to divert $12,000 to personal care services," said Ron Shook, Barry County Council on Aging president. "This will leave respite care funding intact."

Previously, the Council on Aging had not submitted a request for funds for personal care services. After receiving a record number of calls from seniors in need of personal care services, the council decided to put the request in for a transfer of funds.

"We had not been set up to offer personal care funding before," said Shook. "It had never been done before in Barry County. With the number of requests received, we decided there was a great need to arrange for it."

In contrast to respite care services, which give personal caregivers time away from the full-time job of caring for a loved one, personal care services help seniors remain in their homes and care for themselves with limited help.

Personal care services will be available to seniors 60 years of age or older who need assistance with two or more activities of daily living (ADLs), which include eating, dressing and personal hygiene.

"Even if they have a couple of things they need assistance with they could qualify," said Shook.

Although the Council on Aging already provides home-delivered meals, good neighbor transportation and homeworker house cleaning services, personal care services will help seniors with more personal needs.

"We can help with feeding, dressing, grooming, combing hair, nail clipping, shaving, bathing and oral or denture care," said Shook. "We can also change bed linens, help them get around and even assist with medications to some degree."

Personal care services' funding will also help provide transitional funding for seniors returning home from a short hospital stay, said Shook.

"When seniors come out of the hospital, Medicaid is available for a month or so, but there is a period of time and then it is cut off," said Shook. "We can try to fill that need for area seniors also."

Prior to providing personal services, a field assessment of services needed will be made by a trained staff member.

"A staff person, who has been doing this type of work for years, will come out and visit with the senior and determine what needs they have and if they qualify for personal care services based on mobility," said Shook.

Those qualifying for services will be given priority based on the results of the field assessment. Seniors needing assistance with more than two ADLs will be given the highest priority.

Seniors interested in receiving personal care services should call the Barry County Senior Center at 847-4510, the Monett Senior Center at 417-235-3285 or the Shell Knob Central Crossing Senior Center at 417-858-6952.

"There are quite a few seniors living on their own," said Shook. "Before now, these services haven't been available to any degree because of limited funding. It is so important to get the information out to the seniors and let them know what is available."

Personal care and respite care services are the core of what the community was promised when the Seniors Citizens Services Fund tax was passed in 2004.

"Our whole goal is to help seniors stay in their homes, which is half the cost of a nursing home," said Shook.

The Barry County Senior Citizens Services Fund Board has granted $88,000 to the Barry County Council on Aging this year. The board has also made several grants to area senior centers.

The Barry County Senior Citizens' Services Fund Board meets at the Barry County Senior Center at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held April 20.

There are over 7,300 residents over the age of 60 living in Barry County.

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