This is a guest blog written by the CEO of AffirmiCare, Paula Enrietto. AffirmiCare is one of our partners who provides home care services in the Boulder County area. You can find more information on AffirmiCare’s website about their personalized care options. The information and opinions shared here are Paula’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Cultivate.

Paula Enrietto
Paula Enrietto, of AffirmiCare

Welcome to the last in our series on How to Survive and Thrive While Caring for Others. We’ve talked about the team and tools you need to survive the caregiving journey and what it means to thrive under somewhat difficult circumstances. Now we will talk about the community resources available to help you thrive!

Senior Centers: Local senior centers have an array of programs and support services that you can access. Here’s just one example from the City of Boulder Seniors Services: Their senior resource specialists can help you understand your needs and options and then create a plan of support. They also offer a variety of health, wellness and lifelong learning opportunities, including SilverSneakers® and other fitness programs and preventive health screenings. Ongoing educational classes, seminars in technology, life skills and aging issues, creative pursuits and day trips are available to enhance your life and provide healthy social engagement.

Area Agencies on Aging: These agencies are a wonderful resource for services and information. The Boulder County Area Agency on Aging mission statement sums it up beautifully: “Our mission is to deliver, fund, and advocate for services that promote well-being, independence, and dignity for older adults, people with disabilities, family caregivers, and veterans in Boulder County.”

They offer a variety of programs to support caregivers including the annual caregiving symposium, an educational event for caregivers. They sponsor caregiver training through the National Caregiver Training Program that teaches family caregivers how to provide safe care with confidence. Respite programs are available to provide temporary breaks for caregivers as well as a companion volunteer program that provides companionship to older adults and their caregivers who are experiencing isolation.

PACE programs: If your loved one needs skilled care and qualifies for Medicare and Medicaid, they can live safely at home with the services provided by PACE. These include adult primary care, dentistry, emergency services, home care, hospital care, laboratory and x-ray services, meals, nursing home care, caregiver training, respite care and support groups. In Colorado there are several PACE programs available through organizations like InnovAge, Rocky Mountain Pace, and TRU Pace.

Alzheimer’s Association: This well-known national, voluntary organization has a very active Colorado chapter. They provide numerous services but also support research into Alzheimer’s disease through grants funded through donations. Example programs include support groups and educational programs. Of particular note are the social engagement opportunities offered through the association.  Dementia is an isolating disease for both the individual experiencing the disease and their caregivers. Social engagement is an important component of caregiving to preserve the health and well-being of the caregiver and enhance the quality of life of those with the disease.

Memory Cafés are held monthly in a variety of locations around the state. They engage those with dementia and their caregivers in a supportive environment to socialize and learn.  The SPARK! Programs (Early-Stage Social Engagement Programs) offer an engaging and comfortable way for people living in the early stage of Alzheimer’s or other dementias to get out and stay connected. For example, there is a SPARK! Program at the Denver Botanic Gardens where horticulture therapy teams focus on engagement through creativity and hands-on projects.

National Caregiver Support Organizations: The National Family Caregiver Support Program is a national program that was created by the federal government as part of the Older Americans Act of 2000. The goal is to provide services to caregivers with individual counseling and training, respite care and supplemental services including home modification, assistive technologies, and emergency support. Information about these services is available through your local Area Agency on Aging  

Private Duty Home Care: Private duty home care agencies provide services to individuals who need assistance with day-to-day activities. A private duty home caregiver visits your home or the home of your loved one and helps with activities such as meal preparation, housekeeping, personal grooming and hygiene. In Colorado, these agencies are licensed by the state as non-medical Class B agencies. They are subject to significant regulations and standards and are surveyed by the state to ensure quality of care. These agencies create customized care plans specific to the needs of the individual requiring services and work closely with the families to provide support and respite.

You are not alone! You can survive and even thrive with a good plan, the right resources and a social circle to help you flourish. It’s been a privilege to share these thoughts and resources with you. I hope you found them helpful as you travel the caregiving path!