An older resident is ailing and can no longer shower or cook a meal without help. An exhausted caregiver is reaching the breaking point, but there’s little money to pay for outside help.
In each scenario, the need for elder care assistance is getting desperate – but the task of trying to find it can feel
like another added burden in what are already unmanageable days.
If only someone could explain the different options, give advice on how to pay for them and steer older adults or their caregivers through the long and confusing applications for government assistance.
Many may not know it, but there are guides to help people through the acronym-filled maze of elder care programs in New Jersey. They are called geriatric care managers.
The Bergen County Division of Senior Services contracts with several non-profit agencies to provide care management services to low- and moderate-income seniors. One of those agencies - Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey – has offices right here in Teaneck, and its non-sectarian services are available to anyone referred by the county.
“People in situations like this are often living in the moment and feel like they only have time to manage what’s in front of them,” said Patricia Stoll, Director of Senior Services for JFCSNNJ. “They don’t know what options are out there or where to even start looking.”
Care managers can more than just explain the options. They can help determine how much and what type of help an aging resident needs and qualifies for.
If an older adult, for example, is deemed eligible for long-term-care services under Medicaid, then a care manager might spend as many as 20 hours over a period of months to help a client assemble the needed documents and complete the lengthy application.
“It’s complicated to try to apply for some programs on your own, and it can be very intimidating,” Stoll said. “But our care managers are familiar with the requirements and can help someone avoid a situation where their application is rejected because information is missing or a step wasn’t followed.”
Not every client referred for care management services is deemed eligible for long-term-care or government assistance in paying for it. In those instances, however, care managers can usually advise on a host of other local or faith-based programs that offer such things as chore services, companionship visits or home-delivered meals. They can also advise a senior struggling to make ends meet on how to apply for food stamps or for assistance in paying their utility bills or prescription drug co-pays.
“If we can’t help them, then we always give them referrals to organizations that can,” Stoll said.
Where to Find a Care Manager: Call Bergen County Senior Help Line for a referral: 201-336-7400
Or contact these agencies, which serve people of all faiths and backgrounds, directly:
Who We Are
Age-Friendly Teaneck formed in 2016 with this mission in mind: A great place to grow up should be a great place to grow old.