Buncombe County expects a large increase in its elderly population in the coming decades. The need for more nurses will increase as the population ages.
According to a report by the NC Department of Health and Human Services Division on Aging and Adult Services, the county will see a 23.1% increase in population from 2020 to 2040, from 270,224 to 332,660 people. The county’s most dramatic increases will be in its aging population. The population aged 65 and over is expected to increase by 49.3% from 2020 to 2040, while the population aged 85 and over is expected to increase by 121%.
“We actively seek ideas and feedback from our community on how best to empower this population and their caregivers,” he says Jennifer Teague, Program Manager for Aged and Adult Services. She adds that Buncombe County doesn’t have a current estimate of caregivers for people age 65 and older.
Caring – especially for the so-called sandwich generation, who care for both the elderly and children – is stressful. “I often see a lot of isolation, a lot of loneliness” among caregivers, she says Audrey Morris, Clinical Director of Healing Solutions Counseling at WNC’s Jewish Family Services, a nonprofit organization serving the needs of older adults. “Depression is very common in caregivers [from] Coping with grief and the stress of losing someone they love.”
Nurses don’t have to solve every problem on their own. “No single person can always be everything for everyone,” he says Carrie McGuire, case manager at WNC’s Jewish Family Services. “It’s really important for caregivers to assess their boundaries and be open about that.”
Xpress spoke to several local grooming experts to get their best advice and tips.
A family affair
Experts emphasized setting boundaries between the person in need of care and other family members or loved ones providing care.
McGuire recommends putting schedules on a calendar that everyone can access. Family or friends may want to share a digital calendar, like the CaringBridge Care Calendar or Lotsa Helping Hands. But if access to the Internet is difficult for the person in need of care or a rotation of home medical staff needs to see it, all information should also be updated in an analog calendar.
Asking for help is not always easy; People may believe that they should be willing and able to do anything for their loved ones. However, experts emphasize that life cannot stop completely. Caregivers need to take care of their own health and finances and pursue their own careers or education as much as possible.
Edward JonesFamily Care Specialist at the Land of Sky Regional Council’s Area Agency for Aging, recommends being specific when asking others for help, e.g. For example, for help with grocery shopping or driving to a doctor’s appointment.
There should also be a centrally located list or folder of health and pharmacy contacts that carers, loved ones and loved ones can easily access. “Knowing who your support system is, and knowing who the providers are who work with your elders, will not falter in a crisis,” says McGuire.
Have conversations early
When caring for an aging person or another person who may be experiencing cognitive decline, McGuire emphasizes the need to talk about finances and health decisions early on. Relatives should learn the wishes of the person in need of care before they are unable to communicate these wishes.
In North Carolina, an individual can designate a health care representative who grants power of attorney over medical decisions. When a caregiver is unable to share their health care choices, including mental health, and life-prolonging decisions, a Power of Attorney can do so.
Pat Hilgendorf, a care program worker at the Land of Sky Regional Council’s area agency for aging, recommends checking out Pisgah Legal Services’ elder legal department. It can help with end-of-life planning, cases of financial exploitation, consumer fraud, or elder abuse.
Money is important
Caring for a loved one requires everyone to be transparent about finances, says Morris, the clinical director. She says money talks can be “very sensitive, but it’s really, really important.” She underscores the need to have sensitive conversations about finances before cognitive decline sets in. Caregivers should know details about income and insurance, including Medicaid. Wills and trusts should reflect current desires.
Shrouded in the discussion of finance is the cost of future healthcare. Caregivers should know whether the dependent person desires home care or an in-patient facility that can provide care and should understand how that care will be paid for.
Support comes in many forms. McGuire notes that some loved ones can provide hands-on care while others can contribute financially. McGuire notes that she lives closer to her parents while her siblings live abroad. This means that most of the personal help is provided by her, while her siblings contribute financially. “It can be a little awkward [to talk about support] but there’s only benefit to doing this in advance,” she says.
transportation and household necessities
A caregiver should also anticipate how their loved one’s transportation and home needs might change.
Jones recommends a medication organizer that comes with either manual-opening lids or electronic lids with locks. Some pharmacies also package medicines by dosage, such as morning, afternoon, and evening, he says.
If the care recipient has mobility issues, they may need ramps to replace indoor and outdoor stairs, or both. (According to NCDHHS data, thirty-one percent of people age 65 and older in Buncombe County have a disability.)
Mountain Mobility is a service for Buncombe County residents age 65 and older who meet eligibility requirements. Rides must be planned online in advance, which can be done by a supervisor, and require, among other things, the day and date of the ride and the destination. (See avl.mx/by8 for more information.)
In addition to family and relatives, there is further support for caring relatives. The Buncombe Aging Services website lists numerous resources from Meals on Wheels of Asheville Buncombe County for home delivery meals, Mountain Housing Opportunities for home improvement, and OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling for credit counseling.
According to Jones, a great resource is the NCDHHS North Carolina Caregiver Portal, a free service that provides in-depth video lessons about caring for people who are aging or have dementia, Alzheimer’s, or cognitive decline. He recommends videos from Teepa snowwho has made a name for himself in the field of early dementia care.
Another resource Jones recommends is the Duke Caregiver Support Program, which you don’t have to be a Duke Health patient to access. The program can provide caregivers with guidance on their options for caring for a loved one, and staff stays with the caregiver for 90 days.
Jones also says the US Department of Veterans Affairs has many resources for veteran caregivers. Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville provides Nurse Support Services and Nurse Support Coordinators can assist with accessing services. The program can also help arrange respite care, allowing the caregiver to take a break while someone else cares for their loved one.
The NCDHHS project, Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty, can also connect caregivers to respite care funds, based on eligibility.