A look inside Winnebago County’s aging and disability programs

Chloe Strand, Intern, UWO Center of Civic and Community Engagement

Editor’s Note: The Center for Civic and Community Engagement at UW Oshkosh is working with local nonprofits to raise awareness about critical issues our community faces and the groups working to make a positive impact. Through this monthly series, you will learn about the challenges and ways you can help.

Aging and disability resources are facing several difficult issues when it comes to the proper care for our loved ones. These challenges include caregiver shortage, elderly resident hygiene training, isolation, and finally a lack of education and awareness on these issues in the wider communities. The Board of Aging and Longterm Care, Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), BEAMING Equine Assisted Services, Disability Rights of Wisconsin, and Covey are all working to address these issues in our community. If you would like to learn more, or become a volunteer, attend the Open House at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at Father Carr’s Place 2B, 1062 N. Koeller St., Oshkosh, to learn more and meet these agencies.

Caregiver shortage is a growing problem due to the lack of available staffing, and difficulty in paying staff a livable wage.  As our population ages, the lack of caregivers will continue to get worse. Another issue facing this industry is senior living resident hygiene training. Caregivers are not receiving proper training to adequately care for senior living residents. This needs to be improved to ensure proper healthcare. This includes personal care of their bodies and their living spaces. A great example of this is laundry upkeep. Many individuals do not have resources or family members to help them in keeping their clothes clean. This results in unclean living spaces.

Isolation is another key issue in this industry. Many individuals are at great risk of enduring isolation leading to different mental and physical health issues. A great volunteer opportunity for our community is reaching out to these individuals: engaging in activities with them, asking them questions about their life, helping them create friendships, and exploring new hobbies. The elderly and disabled members of our community need to feel the same value as every other community member. Showing them that they are appreciated and loved can help tremendously.

Lastly, the lack of education on care giver shortage, shortfalls in training, and isolation is not known to families until it personally affects them. We hope that, through community involvement and more community members volunteering for this cause, the quality of care for these individuals can be greatly improved.

Chloe Strand is an intern for the UW Oshkosh Center of Civic and Community Engagement.