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As a caregiver coach for CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, I’ve seen many new caregivers suddenly in need of information about Home and Community Based Service (HCBS) or other resources for optimizing quality of life for a loved one. Without any preparation at all, new caregivers can find themselves stressed over what to do, where to go, whom to call, and how to start. Fortunately, many of them are directed to CICOA—often on the recommendation of an attorney, physician, or member of the clergy—and are able to get the information they need from our Aging & Disability Resource Center.

However, I also have observed situations in which anxious caregivers look for answers about services from external sources, e.g. casual acquaintances, and the results were frustrating, at best. I recently was contacted by a caregiver very much in need of help, who had done just that.  Whereas he might have received a clear explanation in one phone call with a CICOA Phone Options Counselor, the caregiver had instead been collecting misinformation from others. His friends really wanted to help; however, their information was false (or did not apply to his situation). This resulted in the caregiver’s disappointment and loss of precious time.

A certain sensitivity grows in me when I believe caregivers are hearing erroneous information or missing critical pieces of the puzzle, whether the information has to do with services for their loved one or the caregiver’s own stress management and self care.  A few years ago I was participating in a day-long seminar, when the speaker before me provided a one-hour presentation on the Medicare waiver.  Oh, no!  In order to appreciate just how awkward this situation was, you need to know that there is no such thing as a Medicare waiver. I was next at the podium and unsure how to handle this problem. Should I let it go, and allow a room full of people to be misinformed?  Should I risk embarrassing the speaker in front of the entire audience?  Mustering my diplomacy, I thanked him publicly for a very comprehensive and helpful presentation, stating that I was sure he was referring to the Medicaid Aged and Disabled Waiver (one critical funding source for services provided to some of CICOA’s clients), since there is no Medicare waiver. I then proceeded to explain what the Waiver can do when one engages our agency.

Your local Area Agency on Aging, which for Central Indiana is CICOA, should be your first call for any questions about caregiving responsibilities and resources. Please call us at (317) 803-6131.