CHA Commemorates Social Work Month

03/03/2020
Staff at CHA’s PACE program offer advice for caregivers

March is Social Work Month! The National Association of Social Workers selected "Social Workers: Generations Strong" as the theme for 2020. Social work is a profession that allows people across generations to make a positive impact on the lives of others, especially those who are most vulnerable, each day. CHA is proud to partner with numerous community organizations in its service area to help connect patients to care and other resources so they can lead happy and healthy lives.

It takes a village to care for an aging parent but for many caregivers, the road can feel quite lonely, especially when balancing a career and family obligations. Alison Horowitz, MSW, LICSW, Malden Site Manager from CHA's Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) program, shared a number of suggestions for folks who might be providing care to an aging parent.

Safety is always first. Aging comes with its own unique set of challenges, including falls and memory concerns. Make sure the home of your loved one is set up in a way that reduces the risk of falls and allows them to call for help easily (push pendant to call for help). Be sure that risks are addressed. For example, if cooking is a challenge, some housing units will turn off the stove for tenants. Furthermore, if there are concerns about wandering and getting lost, help your loved one get a bracelet ID and try to ensure that there is an appropriate amount of supervision in different situations (trips to the grocery store, walks, etc.).

Know the care team. Consider switching to a geriatrician who specializes in work with older adults and may be able to advise your family regarding care options. Meet some of the providers at CHA.

Set realistic expectations of yourself and your loved one. Conditions like dementia are progressive and require a plan. Changing behaviors, like acting out and wandering, can cause concern and require plans to manage.

Some sort of food delivery system is a great way to guarantee a loved one is getting proper nutrition. Adult day health programs and/or local community senior centers provide free meals (usually breakfast and lunch) and also serve as a way to socialize. Learn more about senior nutrition programs in Massachusetts.

Help older adults remain connected. There are a variety of support groups in the community designed to help caregivers. The local Aging Service Access Point is a great place to start.

Ask for help. Adult day programs, as mentioned above, provide a great way for older adults to connect and make friends while giving caregivers a much-needed break. Socialization has positive impacts on mental health, physical health and memory.

Care for the caregiver. Remember to take time out of every day to care for yourself when you are trying to support an older adult. It may seem like a luxury you can't afford but it is critical to practice self-care. Try to go out and take a ten-minute walk around the block or set aside five minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness. These precious moments alone, practicing self-care can, recharge our batteries and make us better caregivers.

Do you know someone 55+ who needs extra support to stay healthy in their home and community? The Cambridge Health Alliance PACE program provides the health care and social support that older adults need. Visit www.challiance.org/pace or call 617-575-5850 and ask for a member of the Enrollment Team to learn more.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.