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Help Available To Keep Elderly and Disabled at Home

  • St Mary's County
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ST. MARY'S COUNTY, Md. -  The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility is a difficult one. It’s further complicated by the realities of COVID-19. Nursing homes and other congregate living facilities are at a higher risk for the spread of the virus.

Visiting restrictions mean families can’t have in-person contact with loved ones. But there is help out there for families to keep loved ones at home.

TheBayNet spoke with experts from the St. Mary’s Department of Aging and Human Services about where caregivers can turn for help.

Important To Search For Options

Department Director Lori Jennings-Harris said, “It’s important for the information to be made available. Sometimes people aren’t aware things exist until they are made aware of it. It’s important to search for the options.”

Rebecca Kessler, Division Manager for Home and Community-Based Services said that among those options are respite care for family members, assistance in finding licensed professional caregivers, help with medical supplies not covered by insurance, and emotional support for stressed-out caregivers.

Money for some of the services comes from the National Family Caregivers Support Program. Kessler said the county works hard to make those dollars stretch.

While some programs do have federal income eligibility guidelines, Kessler said there can still be help out there for those who don’t meet them.  

Help To Navigate Complicated Process

Kessler admits the process of finding help can be complicated.

Director Jennings-Harris agreed. “Navigating services and programs can be very complex and confusing. They may not know what they’re looking for.” 

Jennings-Harris said families should contact the Aging and Disability Resource Centers. “It’s there to help you navigate the complex web of programs in our county, state, and even federally.”

Kessler said, “Our division as a whole tries to help people who choose to live in the community as opposed to long-term care.  Anyone that wishes to be assessed can contact our site and be assessed for services. Email  jennette.beyer@stmarysmd.com or call  301-475-4200 extension 1057.”

COVID-19 has also complicated the agencies attempts to provide support for caregivers.  Kessler said, “For over 20 years we’ve held a caregivers conference annually. This year is a little different.”

The agency is holding an online virtual caregiver symposium tackling topics like reducing stress, nutrition, self-care, spirituality, and resources for caregivers.  You can view the videos on their YouTube Channel by clicking here. 

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