PHOENIX — What if a caregiver can no longer provide for an aging family member or loved one? On Oct. 10, Avondale police said a caregiver for an elderly woman dropped her off at a police station; no longer able to care for her.
In a Facebook post, police said they were able to find her temporary housing with the help of Community Services and Community Bridges along with other resources.
A silver tsunami of homelessness
Sadly, Avondale is not an isolated incident as experts see more men and women in their twilight years living on the streets.
“At CASS we’ve seen a consistent rise in senior homelessness in my four-year tenure there and it is getting worse with rising rents, the pandemic, with the lack of affordable housing," said Lisa Glow, CEO for Central Arizona Shelter Services. "A lot of elderly people are dealing with medical issues, dementia and fixed incomes.”
CASS is Arizona's largest and longest emergency shelter provider for people experiencing homelessness.
“We have a silver tsunami of homelessness in our country. It’s a huge problem and it’s a growing problem,” said Glow.
According to the organization's 2019-2020 Annual Gratitude Report, of the 5,629 clients, nearly 30% were people over the age of 55-years-old.
Resources are available for caregivers
Melissa Elliott is the Senior Vice President for the Area Agency of Aging in Maricopa County.
“People often say. 'well I learned about your agency way too late,' or 'I wish I would have known about your agency when I was caring for my mom,'” said Elliott.
The Area Agency of Aging is a national organization with eight locations in Arizona. The agency provides both home and community-based services for seniors to remain independent and living in their homes with the services they need.
“There are a lot of family members who care for their aging loved ones and that can be a very stressful experience,” said Elliott.
She said there are many resources out there including respite and case care workers to help determine if an aging loved one needs more help than a caregiver can provide. There are also programs to help financially.
The Arizona Caregiver Coalition provides information about resources to family caregivers along with programs to provide assistance.
"Regarding a family member needing help, it is always best not to let it come to a crisis," said Executive Director Jutta Ulrich. "Sometimes that is easier said than done, and there are many factors that can create a crisis. Generally, we want families to know that there are supports available, for example through the Area Agencies on Aging, which can help identify a large number of supports, from in-home care to education, meals and support groups."
Resources for Arizona Family Caregivers
AZ Caregiver Coalition Helpline: 888-737-7494
Adult Protective Services: 877-767-2385
The AZ Caregiver Coalition is developing a workbook for family caregivers to prepare for unexpected situations with aging loved ones.
"This could include the caregiver getting sick or being called away, or just needing a break. Caregivers should have certain documents in one place, along with important phone numbers," said Ulrich.
"What a tough situation to be in,” said Street Outreach Supervisor for Phoenix Rescue Mission, Gabe Priddy. “Don’t wait until it’s the day of. Sometimes it takes multiple agencies to help with one client.”
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