Honoring Aging & Disability Resource Centers
by Sue Mroz
Honoring Aging & Disability Resource Centers
By Sue Mroz
Sheboygan County senior citizens, 60 and older, are you aware of your ability to access transportation for physician, dentist, eye doctor, laboratory and hospital appointments within the area or as far as Milwaukee or Green Bay?
This service, the Sheboygan County Volunteer Driver Program, is one of dozens of resources available through the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Sheboygan County, 650 Forest Ave., Sheboygan Falls.
ADRCs are clearing houses or one-stop shops, offering a multitude of information and resources, free- of-charge, to senior citizens 60 and older; adults, 18 and over with physical or developmental disabilities; teenagers with disabilities, between 17½ and 21 about to transition into the adult services system; and caregivers.
May is designated in Wisconsin as Aging & Disability Resource Center Month through a proclamation by Gov. Scott Walker.
“Know us before you need us …”
is the motto of the ADRC of Sheboygan County, open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
“The hope is that individuals can remain as independent as possible and remain in their own homes, as they face health issues and/or the effects of aging,” said Marie Seger, supervisor of the ADRC.
She stressed the importance in the motto’s phrase, “before you need us,” noting she is on a quest to get the word out about the resources and programs available through the ADRC.
“Many county residents, including caregivers and health-care providers, are unaware of the services offered here,” she said “ I want to stress that our services are available to people of all income levels.
“We encourage consumers to seek information in being prepared for the future,” Seger said. “Many calls we receive are from families or consumers involved in a crisis. We have information and resources available to communicate to consumers before a crisis occurs.”
The goal of the ADRC is to give individuals the support and understanding they need in order to plan for their changing needs.
Toward that aim, the ADRC’s mission is to empower and support seniors, adults with disabilities and their families to ask for help, find a way to live with dignity and security and achieve maximum independence and quality of life.
For example, consumers can find a sense of security through the ADRC’s Telephone Reassurance program. “This program provides daily phone calls from our center on Monday through Friday to check on consumers who may not have family or friends in the area,” Seger said.
She noted the local ADRC had more than 12,000 contacts last year with consumers. Some of the more frequent inquiries were related to medical transports, meal deliveries or adult children who do not reside in the area and who have noticed a decline in their parents’ functioning. “They call to ask what resources we have available,” she said.
Staff members of the ADRC of Sheboygan County are available to provide information through walk-in visits, phone calls, emails or home visits, free-of-charge. As a statement on an ADRC brochure points out, “We answer simple questions, and we assist when you are faced with making decisions during confusing and difficult times.”
In detailing the services of the ADRC of Sheboygan County, Seger noted that staff members assist consumers in sorting through their options to make informed decisions with issues and questions such as: resources for remaining in their own homes; maintaining independence in the community; making plans for future housing and care needs; locating health and housing assistance; applying for public benefit programs, determining eligibility for publicly funded long-term care programs, such as Family Care; accessing adult protective services; fulfilling a role as a family caregiver; providing information about the Center’s workshops or assisting consumers with information about the eight meal sites for senior citizens at Adell, Plymouth, Cascade, Cedar Grove, Howards Grove, Oostburg, Sheboygan Falls and Sheboygan.
Benefit specialists assist in sorting through the maze of benefits, the varying eligibility requirements and application processes to apply for government benefits and programs for which some consumers are eligible.
The ADRC of Sheboygan County publishes a resource guide, updated regularly. It lists resources in the county such as adult day care services, assisted living facilities, volunteer programs, and many more. The guide can be accessed online by Googling ADRC of Sheboygan County, then clicking on “resource guide” on the drop-down menu. Copies are available upon request at the Center.
Also, ADRC-sponsored workshops are available on a variety of topics. One of these is “Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance” -- a 12-week workshop for those over 60 -- to reduce the fear and risk of falling, by improving balance and physical performance.
“Stepping On” is a seven-week workshop for those who have had a fall or are fearful of falling. Other workshops include: “Powerful tools for Caregivers,” “Healthy Living with Diabetes,”
“Living Well with Chronic Conditions” and “Walk with Ease”.
These evidenced based workshops provide attendees support, opportunities to network with others, form new friendships along with information for living a healthier lifestyle.
With positive feedback from clients and their families, Seger and other staff members at the ADRC affirm they have found their niche in serving clients through their specific roles.
“The most rewarding aspect for me is seeing consumers who were struggling prior to calling us now thriving in the home environment of their choice -- their own homes, group homes, or assisted living facilities -- due to using our services,” Seger said.
As for Christine Jeske, outreach worker for the ADRC, “I enjoy having the resources with which to connect consumers and to help them utilize what is available,” she said.
In her responsibilities, Cindy Sook, transition specialist, assists clients with developmental disabilities, between ages 17½ to 21, transition into the adult-services system. “Helping individual consumers recognize their dreams and potential, is most rewarding,” she said.
“I find empowering consumers with the knowledge to succeed and having a say in their futures is beneficial to them and to society.”
Pat Hafermann serves as benefits specialist. She said she enjoys meeting clients at the office as well as at the county’s eight meal sites and dealing with the variety of issues and challenges she encounters.
Monica Froh is the disability benefit specialist. “What makes me happy and satisfied is when people are given the correct information to help them navigate systems, so they can receive their proper benefits,” she said.
“A large part of my job is educating people about the benefits they can receive, so that they understand,” Froh added. “When they understand and receive the correct information, they can make better decisions.”
Lisa Hurley is the agency’s caregiver coordinator. “The most rewarding part of my position is meeting with families and caregivers, learning about their challenges and successes and being able to offer them the resources and support needed,” she said.
Dale Deterding is the elder services supervisor for the ADRC. “I find getting to know seniors here and at the meal sites and through their health promotion classes to be rewarding,” he said. “I enjoy hearing their stories. They all have a story.”
Note: This is the first article in a three-part series, focusing on the ADRC of Sheboygan County. The next two will feature consumers whose lives have improved through services received from the ADRC.