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Caregivers for Seniors Find Help, Resources at 'Boomer' Event

This informational session hosted by the Enumclaw Senior Activity Center and King County Veterans Tuesday connected those struggling to care for senior loved ones with the help they need.

Ida Marie Demster loves her mother -- 96-year-old Ida Demster who was in Enumclaw.

So much so that for the last year, the younger Ida has moved in with her mother to be her primary caregiver after her father passed away. 

This means Ida, 59, cooks all of her mother's meals, cleans their home, answers the phone when her mother can't hear, and to the extent possible, entertains her with outings and church activities.

At the same time, the senior Ida still values what independence she has all the while relying on her daughter heavily. As a result, it makes the job of caregiving a stressful one, Ida Marie said.

She, along with roughly 20 other people, came to the 'Boomers with Parents' meeting at the Senior Center Tuesday because she needed help.

Jobyna Nickum, manager at the Senior Center, said typically, it is an adult daughter or other female relative who serves as the prime caregiver.

Ida Marie said she had once pursued possibly hiring an outside caregiver to but the bottom line was she couldn't find anyone she could rely on; and more importantly, she couldn't find someone she'd trust with her mother's care. Still, "I need something," she said. "I need freedom but at the same time I feel guilty about it."

She was glad to have learned of a state-funded program called Family Caregiver Support Program that offers free consultations in terms of what the caregiver needs and provides services including referrals to local support groups, advice on supplies and equipment, practical caregiving information and respite care -- if you need a break.

A representative for the program said that in spite of budget cuts, this program continues to receive funding because the state has realized that "caregivers are the backbone of the older community," and the support for caregivers costs the state much less than funding nursing homes.

In all, the event was very helpful, said Ida Marie, who was surprised that more people didn't turn out for the information. There are a number of adults caring for their aging parents in this community, she said. "There's got to be more of us out there."

The Boomers with Parents event also included presentations from AARP, Social Security, Veterans of Foreign Wars regarding VA benefits, and King County Veterans Programs.

If you missed this event but would like more information, below is a list of important points/contacts for you.

Veterans of Foreign Wars - For questions about VA benefits for veterans and their surviving spouses:

Contact: Cindy Kartes, credited service consultant at 253-205-5883

Some points:

  • When a veteran dies, his/her claim dies also. A spouse seeking assistance may be entitled to certain benefits but will have to file new claims. 
  • The veteran and his/her spouse should ensure that they know where all relevant paperwork is, such as discharge papers, in the event the spouse needs to file her own claim.
  • The VA's contribution to a veteran's burial is very minimal.
  • There is a difference between a veteran's pension and compensation.

Basically, "VA law is complicated," said Court Fraley, director of veterans services for the Washington state VFW. "But we have staff that are motivated, highly skilled and well-trained in the subject."

King County Veterans Programs - For assistance in matters including emergency funds, housing, employment, case management, and more.

Contact: Joel Estey, regional veterans services manager for veterans and community services at 206-263-9066.

Social Security

Enumclaw Office Location: Suite 401, 321 Ramsay Way, Kent, WA 98032 

Phone: 866-931-7671

Bonney Lake/Buckley Office Location: Suite A, 811 South Hill Park Dr., Puyallup, WA 98373

Phone: 253-845-4537

Both offices are open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

There is also a toll-free number available at 1-800-772-1213 with operators to answer between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Or go online at www.ssa.gov 24 hours a day for information. 

AARP - AARP's popular Driver Safey Program has a promotion through the month of November for veterans: it is offering a FREE classroom course to all veterans regardless of age between November 1 and November 30. For more information, call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669).

Nearby courses in November (courses are two days):

  • Nov. 3-4 at the Enumclaw VFW from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. both days
  • Nov. 7-8 at the Auburn Senior Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days
  • Nov. 8-9 at the Enumclaw Senior Center from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. both days
  • Nov. 28-29 at the Auburn Senior Center from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. both days
  • Nov. 29-30 at the Black Diamond Senior Center from 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days

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