Caring for Community, with the Community
This month’s newsletter features an interview with Becky Basch and Carol Constant, two local leaders who have played key roles in advancing the Aging and Dementia Friendly (ADF) work undertaken by many cities and towns across the Commonwealth. WestMass ElderCare is proud to shine a light on this important work, and to be a partner in our region’s ADF efforts. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts joined the AARP Network of Age Friendly States and Communities in 2018, and since that time many communities have undertaken local planning and improvement efforts that respond to the unique needs in their communities.
Age- and Dementia- friendly communities strive to become more supportive and inclusive for all with a focus on improving the physical and social environment for older adults and people living with dementia. This is crucial because people want feel connected to their communities, and as we grow older, it’s common that people travel less and spend more time locally. ADF initiatives seek to offer older adults a wider range of choices that make it possible for them to “age in community,” including enhanced access to options in housing, transportation, and social engagement. WMEC is pleased that these efforts are well underway in many of our local communities including Holyoke, Chicopee, Ware, Belchertown and South Hadley.
At WMEC, we support ADF efforts through our work with individuals and their caregivers who spend more time at home and have services and supports coming into the home. Our staff meets with our consumers and their caregivers to plan and help fill in any service gaps in order to meet their priorities and highest needs. This may be physical care, help with household tasks and/or respite time to allow the caregiver to leave the home to shop, run errands, visit a friend or spend time in their garden. There are also assistive devices and equipment that can help families manage care at home including medication dispensers, comfort pets and safety devices.
There are other resources we can connect caregivers with including Caregiver Support Groups in English and Spanish, workshops to help caregivers successfully manage their role as a caregiver while also caring for themselves, Memory Cafes for both individuals with dementia as well as their caregivers, and/or financial resources to help with emergent needs. WMEC staff also help families access more resources and care at home as their needs become greater. We can help navigate transitions to other living and housing arrangements if care at home is no longer possible or safe. We work with our community partners to provide care in the home with skilled workers, some of whom have received additional training to understand and best serve people with dementia. Contact us anytime for information or services. We can come to you! 413.528.9020 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about Age and Dementia Friendly communities, go to https://mahealthyagingcollaborative.org/age-friendly/.