Community Living Services – October 2020

October is Resident Rights Month

[October 2020 | By Sandy Walker, Lead LTC Ombudsman – Region 10]

Connection Matters now more than ever. There is no one who hasn’t been touched by this pandemic. Staying home, avoidance of friends and group meetings, socially distancing ourselves, and the masks are all inconveniences to be tolerated for the greater good. Yet, there is one group that has not had the touch or connection from their loved ones. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, took the unprecedented step of removing visitation to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities by all family, friends, and community members. I want to stress unprecedented because. since the beginning of the Older Americans Act and the Ombudsman Program, Residents Rights have been promoted and protected under law. The Federal Nursing Home Reform Law requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident” and stresses individual dignity and self-determination including the Right to Access Visitors of his or her choosing, at any time.

It soon became apparent that there were unintended consequences of removing visitors to spare our most vulnerable from possible exposure to the virus. Within 2 months, this Ombudsman was hearing of the rise physical, emotional, and psychological consequences.

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Your Vote Counts

[Fall 2020 | By Eva Veitch, Region 10 Community Living Services Program Director]

The combined percentage of older adults in Montrose, Delta, and Ouray counties is over 78%. The percentage of people over the age of 65 in Montrose is 24.1%, Delta 26.8%, Ouray 27.3%. When we look just at the impact of the votes in these three counties it is huge, why wouldn’t you want to be heard? The decisions made in the upcoming election will impact all of us for many years to come at every level of government, National, state and local. The outcome has the potential to impact Medicare and other health insurance programs, prescription drug prices, social security benefits and other important issues that those who we give power to will be given the authority to address.  Be informed, watch the debates, do your homework about the issues, fact check, be aware of fake news.

Older people are more likely to view voting as a responsibility and to care about a broad range of issues, not just those commonly associated with aging. They are more connected to their communities, which also makes them more likely to vote. Encourage your friends and neighbors to vote, it has never been truer that if you don’t vote you don’t get to complain about the outcome.   VOTE! YOU NEED TO BE HEARD!!!!!

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Kinship Connection

[September 2020 | By Amy Rowan, Tri-County Health Network.]

Today one in ten children lives with a grandparent. With the lack of parents receiving benefits like paid vacation, paid sick leave, paid family leave, and affordable daycare, coupled with low wages and part-time positions this leaves many families turning to grandparents for help.

This shift is leaving grandparents to provide more exhaustive financial and custodial help with  50% of grandparents providing financial assistance to their adult children and grandchildren, 39% providing grandchild care, and 31% help with errands, housework, and home repairs.

Depending on the situation, parents may leave children with grandparents for extended periods of time and the grandparent gradually takes on more responsibility. This can occur when the parents are incarcerated, have mental health or substance abuse issues or the children are abandoned. Grandparents may get an unexpected call from social services stating their grandchild needs a place to live because of the death of a parent(s), physical, sexual, emotional abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Interesting enough, poverty is the most common underlying reason. Generally, grandparents providing custodial care have lower incomes and do not access public benefits. For example, only 12% of custodial grandparents and other kinship families access Temporary Assistance to Needy Families TANF and most would probably be eligible for the benefit.

[Read more, find out about local resources.]