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OLLI series focuses on adult care, planning


ASHLAND — The latest free public offering through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Southern Oregon University focuses on planning for adult care support and services as part of a vital-issues forum series.

“It is the rare adult who does not need to find, provide or manage care supports and services for an adult friend, partner, sibling, parent, at some point in their life, and about 70% will need care themselves,” said Anne Bellegia, member of the Ashland Senior Advisory Committee. “The challenges can be extraordinary. Many have no idea of where to find these supports, cannot afford to pay for them or to manage them effectively with the other demands on their time.”

The series, Plan4Care: Values and Choices, will be presented by Zoom on three Sundays from 2-3:30 p.m., starting Jan. 23, with a session focused on “anticipating care needs and considering personal values,” with panelists Janice Bell, Carol Christlieb and Judy Schaeffer.

The next week, Robert Good, Fred Grewe and Joanne Kliejunas will host “developing and communicating an action plan.” On Feb. 6, Brooke Fredericks, Shelly Fritz and Constance Wilkerson will speak to “identifying resources for implementing a care plan.”

Gerontological nurse Heather Young was selected to moderate the series. According to Young’s University of California Davis Health profile, her research is centered on individuals, family and health care systems, and Young co-administrates a program working to improve both support for caregivers of people with chronic diseases and care coaching offered by health care professionals.

Bellegia said for older adults, the need for care support and services may be brief, such as during recovery from an acute illness or hospital stay, or a years-long process, potentially complicated by distance between adults and family/friend caregivers.

“Care for adults can be particularly demanding because of their size, multiple health conditions and medications, and a lifetime of being independent that creates resistance to seeking or receiving help,” Bellegia said.

In Southern Oregon, identifying sufficient care supports is challenged by a “disproportionately large” population of older adults likely needing assistance at some point, distance between those Ashland transplants and family/friends who could provide care or care management, and the pandemic, which has reduced the availability of professional caregivers and raised associated costs, Bellegia said.

The vital issues forums series provides information about the types of needs seniors and families face, practical guidance for appropriate planning, communication, locating resources, and using other supports and technology to ease the ”cost and burden” of care, she said.

Bellegia said former volunteer roles in aging care underscored the need for adults to prepare “for changes in the ability for loved ones and themselves to function independently.” In hospice care, extended periods of decline were often further challenged by a lack of planning and communication with loved ones and health care providers, she said.

Currently, funding and policies aren’t meeting local needs, she said, and the pandemic has only widened gaps in care support.

“These roles made me aware of the pronounced older-age skew in Southern Oregon,” Bellegia said. “Even pre-COVID it meant that shortages of caregivers and care managers existed here that other areas of our state and nation had not yet experienced.”

For adults of all ages, anticipating care needs, familiarizing oneself with resources and crafting a plan supports continued control over value-based decisions and choices, she said.

For more details, see https://inside.sou.edu/olli/outreach/lectures.html, call 541-552-6048 or email olli@sou.edu.

Reach reporter Allayana Darrow at adarrow@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497.