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Caring for those we love

By Bryan Goodland

At some point everyone has to come to terms with aging relatives. Are you prepared to take on the care for an aging parent, grandparent or relative? Where do you go for help?

There are a myriad of choices when it comes to elder care. You can choose home care, retirement living, assisted living and an assortment of options in between. There are also state and government facilities that can offer everything from rehabilitation to long term care.

Finding the right care can be a long and arduous process. You have to take into consideration the needs of your relative along with what you as a caregiver can realistically offer. For those looking for care for a loved one, there are resources and help at the local, state and even federal level.

In Douglas County, people can turn to Aging Resources of Douglas County. The organization started in 1998 as a county program called the Neighbor Network. That changed last year, as the organization became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Karie Erickson, the executive director said, “We try to be a one-stop shop for aging services.” The nonprofit partners with Douglas County government, other nonprofits and paid-for services to offer people a variety of choices. Erickson said, “I believe in building partnerships. Circumstances change, and we reach out to other organizations for help.”

Local resources are important as the population ages. The 2010 census tracked changes over a decade and Douglas County’s population of 65 and older grew by 178%. To put that in perspective, Colorado as a whole had a 32.1% increase in those 65 and older. The 65 and older group accounted for 7.1% of the total population in Douglas County and 10.9% of Colorado as a whole. The census also noted that the largest age group was between 35 and 44 in Douglas County, but those figures are now a decade old.

“Our mission is to help navigate this next phase in life and to help make those years successful, happy and good,” Erickson said.

“I would recommend the same things I would for my own family,” she added. Erickson explained that Aging Resources of Douglas County also offers a free resource guide that can point people toward the appropriate services. And even though they don’t provide recommendations on nursing homes and assisted living facilities, they can do research through their connections and the Ombudsman’s office to see if any complaints have been filed.

Finding the right care for someone you love will make it easier on everyone involved. Help is available and as Erickson said, “Aging is tricky, we all do it, but we haven’t done it before.”

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