WALLA WALLA—When she spoke at the Dayton Senior Center in, on March 7, Mary Cleveland who is the Local Program Coordinator for the Southeast Washington Aging and Disability Resource Center, talked about programs available for seniors, and for adults with disabilities, through the local area Aging and Long Term Care offices.
Cleveland said the cost of nursing home care is 2.6 times more expensive than care at home. Programs through ALTC help people receive care in the home setting, which is largely preferred, not only by recipients, but also as a way to control healthcare costs.
The ALTC can provide “powerful tools” for unpaid family caregivers, Cleveland said.
A workshop for unpaid caregivers that was held last fall could be offered again if enough people are interested, she said. Cleveland also said there is an ongoing support group for caregivers in Walla Walla.
“We can also help with home modifications, like installing grab bars, providing respite care, and help with obtaining durable medical equipment,” she said.
Help is available to people who are financially eligible for Medicaid, and who need help with personal care, as well. There is also help for the application process to the state, she said, pointing out that there are eight case managers in the Walla Walla office who can travel to the Dayton office.
People who are on Medicaid and Medicare, and who are high users of the medical systems, can receive voluntary and intensive case management through the home health program, said Cleveland.
People struggling with diabetes or substance abuse are eligible for that program, and they can be seen either in their own home or in an assisted living arrangement, she said.
“This is a growing program. It’s really been effective. Any cost savings are shared with the state,” Cleveland pointed out.
There is also an emergency fund that will provide one-time help each year to individuals with issues such as utility shut-offs, medications that are not covered by insurance, and needed dental work.
Also, the ALTC routinely offers six-week classes on memory loss, and offers help for people caring for loved ones with dementia.
One new program coming this summer will provide limited home assistance for people who are functionally and financially eligible for Medicaid, but who are not on Medicare.
“We have had a little introduction and training, and will be fully trained in May, for a July 1 start,” said Cleveland.
A second program, currently being developed, will delay, or prevent, Medicaid usage for people who are likely candidates for it. That program will also start on July 1, 2017.
Cleveland said her office is also interested in placing “naturally occurring retirement communities” into the ALTC database.
She said she heard about one community in which seniors donated their cars in exchange for driving services. The same could happen in a neighborhood where seniors employ the same handyman, she said.
ALTC programs are publically funded, so there is no cost to the people served, with the exception of some outside agencies that may have a cost share, or co-pay.
“Sometimes doing a little bit early-on, is more effective,” Cleveland said. “It is the fiscally responsible thing to do.”
For more information about ALTC referral and information services, contact the Columbia County ALTC at 410 East Main Street, in Dayton, by phone at 382-4787. Hours are Tues.-Fri. from 8:30 a.m. -5:00 p.m.
Or contact the Walla Walla County ALTC at 125 Cherry Avenue, Suite A, in Walla Walla, by phone at (509) 529-6470. Hours are Mon.-Fri. from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.