One-stop site helps Boomers care for elderly parents

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Laurel Ledford, who cares for her 75-year-old father, reviews articles on Network of Care website, launched this week by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. One of the site’s primary audiences is Baby Boomers who are caring for elderly parents.

Laurel Ledford cares for her 75-year-old father in her home.

At times, it has been overwhelming trying to find a doctor and services, she says. A search for information can take hours a day, she adds.

This week, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging launched a Network of Care Seniors and People with Disabilities website. The idea is to put all services available for seniors and people with disabilities on one website, said Guy Dutra-Silveira, PPACG director.

The goal, he said, is to save people time and frustration and be a one-stop site on searches for information on Medicare, types of medication, treatments and assistive devices for seniors and for people with disabilities. The site also offers users a place to keep health-care records, which could be assessable by the family doctor.

“It’s a system that is user-friendly,” he said. “It is extremely robust. In addition to local information about the three counties we serve — El Paso, Teller and Park — it holds information useful to people on subjects about health, diseases and it’s kept up to date.”

Ledford, who has medical power of attorney for her father, says she’s always nervous about the responsibility of being her father’s medical care giver and wants to ensure she is making the right health care decisions for him. She’s been worried about possible prostate cancer in her father due to his age and all the required exams needed to determine it.

The first time she went to the Network of Care site, she found an article about elevated Prostate-Specific Antigen levels and new blood tests that can determine if levels are too high, without the more invasive exams. (High PSA is a sign to look for in prostate cancer.)

“It’s great,” she said. “I can cut to the chase and get to the issues that affect my dad.”

Colorado is one of four states that use the Network of Care website. Funding for the program comes from the Older American Act and Older Coloradans Act, Dutra-Silveira says. Boulder set up its site three years ago. Last year, the site had more than 1 million hits.

Boulder found that the site was being used primarily by caregivers, even those who live out of state.

“This way, a person in California can get information for their folks without delay,” Dutra-Silveira said.

The website is operated in partnership with Pikes Peak 211, Silver Key and the Independence Center. Dutra-Silveira says information about transportation, health care, prescription assistance and abuse prevention will continually be updated on the site.

The website will especially be useful to people who wish to stay in their homes, instead of moving to an assisted living complex or retirement community, Dutra-Silveira says.

“The growth of the aging population will present challenges,” he said. “If we can give them information and services to help them stay in their own homes, it will be less expensive and keep the person where they have a better quality of life.”

Network of Care

Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging has launched a Network of Care Seniors and People with Disabilities website, pikespeak.co.networkofcare.org