April 4th, 2023
Here at the Area Agency on Aging 1-B, our communications team has been spending a lot of time working on the next edition of connect—our award-winning information and resource guide. It’s not quite ready for distribution yet, but we’re close (look for more information next month). We’ve spent the last few months writing articles and poring over the resources available to help older adults and family caregivers in our six-county region.
This started us thinking about resources. There are some interesting ones in our region. There are innovative and novel approaches to help all different kinds of caregivers—from those caring for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s to grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren. We thought it might be nice to highlight a few.
We’ll admit that we’re a little biased because this is one of our own. It pairs volunteer coaches (most of whom have been caregivers themselves) with family caregivers for one-on-one support. Coaches can help connect caregivers with resources and be a listening ear. The program is completely personalized, flexible and built around the caregiver and their situation. It’s also free. If you’re interested in learning more, visit micaregivercoach.org or call 800-852-7795.
This program from Jewish Family Service of Metro Detroit is focused on brain health. Mind aerobics classes walk participants through a series of fun, interactive exercises that target six cognitive areas of the brain. It has sessions geared for both those who are experiencing cognitive decline and those who would just like to keep their mind sharp. Your loved one will do an assessment first to see which level of exercises are appropriate. Classes are offered in person or via Zoom. Each session is 12 weeks long, and classes meet twice a week for an hour each time. Classes are affordable at $10 per class or $240/12-week session. (They do ask that you pay up front, but also offer options for those who may have trouble affording the fee.) Free monthly Gray Matters workshops are also offered on different brain-health topics. Mind University offerings are open to people of all faiths. For more information, visit the Jewish Family Services of Metro Detroit website or call (248) 788-6463.
These programs help kinship caregivers—who are typically grandparents raising their grandchildren. They offer support groups and education, along with help connecting to resources. Two programs are available in our six-county region. The OLHSA Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program supports kinship caregivers in Livingston, Macomb and Oakland counties: (248) 209-2721. Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County offers a program that serves Washtenaw County: (734) 971-9781. Statewide, Michigan State University’s Kinship Care Resource Center can also help kinship caregivers find resources: (800) 535-1218.
If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association is a fantastic resource. Its national, 24/7 Helpline can be a godsend: (800) 272-3900. The Michigan Chapter offers support groups, along with social engagement groups that help people living with dementia and their caregivers access free social and cultural experiences at places like the DIA, the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, the Detroit Zoo and the Henry Ford. Visit the Michigan Chapter website to learn more.
The main focus of a memory café is helping people living with dementia and their caregivers stay social. It’s a place where people with memory loss can interact in an environment where they feel safe and accepted. Caregivers can also connect. Memory cafes usually meet once a month in a community setting like a church or a senior center. There are often activities, like games and crafts. There are four memory cafes in Washtenaw County and one in Macomb County:
Also a program of the Area Agency on Aging 1-B, myride2 helps older adults and people with disabilities connect with transportation options and schedule rides. It can be especially helpful when people need to take longer trips that take them outside the service area of local transportation options. The program serves Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. While myride2 can help you find and schedule transportation, you must pay for the transportation yourself. Myride2 also offers mobility options counseling to help caregivers build a plan to help an older adult get around after they can no longer drive. Travel Training, which helps people learn how to ride public transportation, is another offering. And a partnership with Lyft lets older adults and people with disabilities access Lyft by calling myride2 to schedule and pay for rides, instead of using the smartphone app. Visit the myride2 website or call (855) 697-4332.
Offered by Elder Law of Michigan, this program helps egible seniors access Bridge Card benefits that can help them receive between $16 and $192 in food benefits. MiCAFE can help people see if they qualify (some people are surprised to learn that they do) and then walk them through the application process. It might be worth checking in to see if your loved one might benefit. Call (877) 664-2233 or visit the MiCAFE website.
This statewide program offers coupons that seniors can use to buy fresh produce at local farmers markets. It offers $25 in coupons along with free nutritional counseling. Financial eligibility requirements apply.
Every caregiving situation is unique, and there are clearly some equally unique programs for caregivers in our area. We hope you’ve seen something that piques your interest. For other programs and services that can help on your caregiving journey, call our Information & Assistance Phone Line, at (800) 852-7795 or visit our Caregiver Resources page.