It is amazing to me that even after seven years on this caregiver journey, I continue to learn about people who are making it their life’s work to serve family caregivers and assist in the very necessary job of finding solutions to so many problems encountered when taking care of a loved one. On a recent Zoom call, I met with a team of professionals at the Florida Department of Elder Affairs who work in the Division of Elder Opportunities. One of those “opportunities” is help with Care Navigation. While I know firsthand that caring for a loved one with a live-altering and progressive illness takes a lot of navigation on the part of the family caregiver, I had no idea that the State of Florida funded resources who will help us answer questions, problem-solve challenging situations, recommend community resources, and walk beside us to ensure our care plans can be achieved. And the caregiver seeking help does not have to even reside in Florida – they must only be caring for an individual who is a Florida resident. That means even long-distance caregivers qualify to receive help from this program.
In a direct conversation with one of Florida’s Care Navigators, this is what he told me: “I like to imagine my role as an advocate, cheerleader, and supportive person in ensuring caregivers are seeking the right services for their loved ones, are feeling heard, and are taking care of themselves.” He labeled what they do as being a “one stop shop for any caregiver”. WOW! Isn’t that just what everyone of us needs at some point on this journey?
This is the process for getting in touch with a Care Navigator within the Florida FACE program: Call their helpline at 1-800-963-5337. The operator will gather a few facts and then put you in touch with your local Area Agency on Aging. Once that connection is made, tell them you need to speak to a Care Navigator. That’s all! With the Navigator’s in-depth knowledge of multiple state agencies and community resources to draw upon, and the promise of regular check-ins with the caregivers they are serving, this might just be the best place to go to regain control over any given situation.
Up for Discussion: Could you use a Care Navigator? Give the FACE program a try and let us know how it worked for you.