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If you are an older adult, and you are working to help make ends meet, but your spouse needs some assistance during the day, what can you do?

Daphne Gooding turned to the Adult Evaluation and Review Services (AERS) program located at the Garrett County Health Department. The mission of AERS is to evaluate adults, or those with disabilities to find out what assistance programs they may qualify for in Garrett County.

“I don’t know what we’d do without all their help,” said Daphne Gooding. “I really don’t! People need to find out what support is available for assisting them in living the most independent lives possible. It means a lot to maintain the maximum possible independence.”

Daphne’s husband, John, really does pretty well with taking care of himself most of the time, but he just needs a little assistance. If he’s alone for more than a few hours he gets confused as to what time it is and what he should be doing. He just needs someone to come in occasionally and keep him on track.

AERS was able to connect John with a personal care company who schedules time with John during the critical times when he needs the help the most. His caregiver helps with daily tasks as well as light housework as needed.

The program also recommended a special medicine dispenser with locks and alarms for when doses are due.

“It was so hard for me to keep his medications straight, and impossible for him,” Daphne said. “Now the pharmacy delivers his filled dispenser each week. An alarm goes off when he’s supposed to take his next dose, and only that dose is dispensed. The rest of the pills for the week stay locked up. It works so well, and it keeps us from worrying if we are making mistakes with his meds.”

AERS is a Maryland Medicaid funded program that provides comprehensive evaluations for anyone 18 or older, and also for older adults and functionally disabled adults who need connected to resources, need long term care, or are at risk for institutionalization. AERS staff are nurses and social workers. They identify services that can help individuals either remain in the community, or in the least restrictive environment, where they are able to function at the highest possible level of independence.

A team member does a free evaluation of the clients medical and social services needs by doing a basic routine check-up, reviewing all of the medications, talking to their doctor, and determining the need for assistance. Team members then talk to the client and their family about services available to assist the patient.

“We spend a big percent of our time connecting patients to resources,” said Kim Powell, RN. “For example, we do our AERS assessment to determine needs, but then we do additional paper referrals for meals, glasses, dentures, etc. A considerable amount of time is also devoted to phone calls to medical professionals concerning client health history and needs. One of AERS goals is to prevent premature placement in a nursing facility.”

AERS also does the medical eligibility for Community First Choice/ Community Options Waiver programs which provide attendant care, equipment, etc. for Medical Assistance clients. The program also provides Nurse Monitoring/Quality Assurance for the Residential Service Agencies which provide the direct care for the clients who are receiving services under the waiver.

Visit the Health Departments website for a complete list of referral agencies and services: GarrettHealth.org/aers or call AERS at 301-334-7746.