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Pennsylvania Working to Help Caregivers

2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report concludes that loneliness and social isolation in older adults are serious public health risks.
Pittsburgh Alzheimer's & Dementia Care Planning

A Pew Research Center study from last year found that 27% of adults in the U.S., ages 60 and older, live alone compared with 16% of adults in the 130 countries and territories studied.

In many countries in the Asia-Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa regions, less than 5% of seniors live alone, says Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s article entitled “Pennsylvania is expanding some options to help caregivers.”

As a result of living alone after the loss of a spouse (in most cases), risks are created that can impact the health and mental condition of a significant number of people in our country. The Keystone State has two initiatives to help with this type of situation.

The first is an expansion of eligibility to a current law that will permit more flexibility to the state’s Department of Aging in managing the Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Act. The law is designed to provide additional support to caregivers of older adults (along with adults living with a disability). The aim is to help relieve stress on the caregiver (and the care-receiver) and to maintain a healthy ongoing caregiving relationship, while promoting both parties’ well-being.

The law modified the maximum amount of reimbursement available to a qualified primary caregiver for out-of-pocket expenses incurred for services and to the lifetime amount for home modifications or assistive devices.

The second initiative is the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (Share) Program. It’s designed to bring together “home hosts” (like someone living alone in his or her house) with “home seekers.”

The intent is to match home hosts, willing to share their homes with home seekers who would be willing to pay rent, provide some help around the house or some combination of both.

This program can make a lot of sense for seniors who don’t want to leave their home until they absolutely must. The new program requires an application by either interested party to help to guarantee a good match and the rules to follow for both parties.

A shared housing counselor performs the reference and criminal background checking, matches the parties and arranges a home sharing trial. If it works, a written contract is drawn up, and the counselor maintains contact and ongoing support for the relationship.

Reference: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Oct. 25, 2021) “Pennsylvania is expanding some options to help caregivers”

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