When you or a family member is diagnosed with a form of dementia, it can be difficult to know where to turn. That’s where Piedmont’s Sixty Plus Services comes in. Its Dementia Evaluation, Education & Support program is free of charge and coaches families and patients through the financial, mental, physical and emotional challenges of dementia.
“The Sixty Plus team is made up primarily of licensed clinical social workers who specialize in geriatrics and know a lot about dementia,” says Moira Keller, LCSW, a clinical social worker at Sixty Plus. “We’ve had a lot of training and experience. We also know the world of community resources really well in the Atlanta area.”
The referral process
Patients and families can enter the Dementia Support program through one of the following ways:
Medical referrals and patient assessments
After a patient has been referred to Sixty Plus, a social worker will begin gathering information from the patient’s physician and caregivers. The social worker may then schedule a home visit to assess the patient in his or her own environment.
“There’s always a direct flow of information between Sixty Plus, the patient’s neurologist and the patient’s primary care provider,” she says. “When I schedule a home visit, I let the internist know. When we write a formal report, the internist gets a copy. There’s open communication because we all need to be part of a team assessing and treating the patient.”
“Part of the value of our program is that family caregivers feel more surrounded with support and care for themselves when they realize all of us are connecting the dots with each other,” she adds.
The financial implications of a dementia diagnosis are huge.
“It’s expensive, whether you hire help in your home, send your loved one to an adult day program or consider a dementia unit in an assisted living facility or nursing home,” says Keller.
“All of this costs money. Many people wonder, ‘How is this going to be paid for?’”
Sixty Plus connects families with elder law attorneys and community financial resources to help manage the financial aspect of care.
“Dementia is a game-changer for families and patients,” says Keller. “Sometimes a physician will be concerned that the primary caregiver, usually an adult child or spouse, may be feeling a lot of stress or they’re not sure how to handle the fact that their loved one has been diagnosed.”
Sixty Plus offers individual and family counseling, in-home visits, and monthly support groups for patients and caregivers.
“Our door is always open to patients and caregivers,” says Keller.
For more information, visit Sixty Plus Services and the Living Better Aging & Older Adults page.