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Posted on: February 23, 2021

Grant Provides Resources to Help Family Caregivers During COVID Crisis

pet and activity kit

Many Resources Available to Those Caring For Older Adults

Are you a caregiver?   A family caregiver is any family member, partner, or friend who regularly and without pay, provides support or care to an older adult that is 60 years of age or older and who has a significant or persistent health problem or loss of autonomy.  Often times, the older adult may be living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.  

There are more than 65 million people in the United States serving as a family caregiver.  Without necessary supports, many family caregivers experience burn out and declining health, which is even more striking during this stressful time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Family Caregiver Support Program, as part of the Older Americans Act, has served and supported caregivers in Davie County since its inception in 2006.

Thanks to funds from the Coronarvirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Davie County Senior Services has been able to expand their offerings to family caregivers of older adults with three new services – robotic therapy pets, activity kits, and GPS systems to help alleviate some worries regarding wandering.  Each of these services are offered at no cost to all eligible caregivers.

Does your family member love animals, but can no longer care for them?  If so, you may be able to get a robotic cat or dog from Davie County Senior Services.  Research show that robotic therapy pets can help seniors struggling with loneliness, isolation, and dementia.  Robotic pets are so “lifelike” and designed to give seniors a sense of companionship and comfort.  These pets are calming and soothing and often times create a sense of purpose for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  

Many people will name their robotic pets and form attachments to them.  The relationship that each person forms with their pet will be unique to their abilities. Some may treat the pet as a real dog or cat, while others may understand that they are robotic stuffed animals but still benefit from the companionship of them during this time of social isolation.  Currently Senior Services has a golden colored dog or three different colors of cats available.  

The extended time at home can put a strain on relationships as caregivers are called upon even more to provide activities for their loved ones.  Senior Services has activity kits that are designed specifically for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  There are two different levels of activity kits – one for early-mid stages of Alzheimer’s and one for mid-late stages of Alzheimer’s.  The kits are designed to be loaned out to caregivers for 2 – 4 weeks, although longer periods may be allowed.  The kits have a variety of activities to provide stimulation and entertainment for the caregiver and care recipient to enjoy together, or for the care recipient to enjoy on their own in order to allow some respite time for the caregiver.  The kits contain products that are infection control compliant, which means they are safe to be cleaned and reused by other caregivers, allowing even more caregivers to be served.  

In the early-mid stage Alzheimer’s activity kit, there is a coloring book (not reusable), a 35 piece puzzle, a 63 piece puzzle, an appropriate word search book (not reusable), a marble maze game, a magnetic creative scene for reminiscing and dexterity skills, a wooden fidget widget, and a sensory engagement/relaxation cd.

In the mid-late stage Alzheimer’s activity kit, there is a reusable aquapaint book, a 13 piece puzzle, a marble maze game, a magnetic creative scene for reminiscing and dexterity skills, a wooden fidget widget, a tactile sensory snap set, and a sensory engagement/relaxation cd.

The third new service is the distribution of personal locator GPS systems to those caregivers who have loved ones prone to wandering.  Senior Services has 25 of these devices and will pay for a one year subscription for each of these.  These devices will be loaned to caregivers to use for as long as they are needed.  

Caregivers can set up the devices to best suit their needs.  There is an option to set up a perimeter and the caregiver can be alerted any time it is crossed.  It can also be set up to alert anytime the loved one has traveled to a place not previously named in the settings, or to alert if there is a late arrival.  The system allows the caregiver to check in at any time to see an accurate location on a live map.  In addition, the system has the option for communication with your loved one for remote support and an SOS button so your loved one can easily contact you with one button push.  

These devices can bring peace of mind to caregivers and allow more independence for their loved ones.   Should a loved one wander or become lost while out, they can be easily located.  In an emergency, others can also be granted access to the GPS, including friends, family, neighbors, and law enforcement.  

In addition to the new services, Senior Services also provides other supports to family caregivers. These include respite, incontinence supplies and nutritional supplements, a resource library, and a caregiver support group via Zoom.  

If you or someone you know is currently a family caregiver providing care for a loved one at home, and you are interested in learning more about the Family Caregiver Support Program eligibility, the robotic therapy pets, activity kits, GPS trackers, or any other caregiver services, please contact Kelly Sloan at Senior Services at 336-753-6230.  You can also follow Davie County Senior Services on Facebook to get up to date information, including videos of family caregivers introducing their loved one to a robotic puppy.   

Click here to watch the interactive video.

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