How Social Workers Can Help

Rita Greenfield
Social Worker

During calendar year 2018, the Social Work Services department conducted 1,800 client consultations. Most of these consultations were with family members or close friends of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Some of our clients have been caregivers for years, while others are just starting their journey. Although our clients come from varied backgrounds, and every caregiving situation is unique, there are some common themes among our conversations with clients.

Oftentimes, a family member or close friend contacts CaringKind because they just learned that someone they care about has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. To many people this is frightening news. They call CaringKind and ask to speak with a social worker because they want to talk about the significance of a diagnosis and to plan for the future. CaringKind social workers are able to talk to caregivers about practical matters such as the impact of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease on daily functioning. We are able to spend more time speaking with family caregivers than a doctor’s schedule typically allows. By providing family caregivers with time and a safe space to ask questions, the planning process can begin.

Family caregivers also call CaringKind when the person they are concerned about appears to need additional help. In many cases the caregiver has noticed new behaviors or symptoms that need attention, but they are not exactly sure of the type of assistance that is needed. In these cases, a CaringKind social worker can help the person assess the situation and identify the type of additional care that is helpful. Social workers can explain the different types of home care available, where to find home care workers, how to introduce a home care worker, and how to pay for home care. They can also discuss what types of institutional care are available and when it may be appropriate to consider this option.

Due to the high cost of providing on-going care, many family caregivers eventually speak with a CaringKind social worker in order to learn about Community and Institutional Medicaid. A CaringKind social worker can provide family members with an overview of how Medicaid works including how to qualify for it financially, where to go for help in applying for Medicaid, and how a pooled income trust works. Of course, it is always advisable for caregivers to attend one of our Legal & Financial seminars. But, when that is not possible, or the family caregiver has unanswered questions, a CaringKind social worker can help.

Perhaps the most common theme our social workers discuss with family members is the stress associated with caregiving. Many family caregivers seek out our social workers because they know they can talk to them honestly about their experiences. Others may feel resentful of their situation, or financially burdened. And other family caregivers are grieving the gradual loss of the person with dementia.

Whatever your reason for wanting to speak with a CaringKind social worker, please know that we are available to assist you through your journey. Just contact the CaringKind Helpline at 646-744-2900 and ask to speak with a social worker.

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