On the Memorial Day weekend, we were in Austin, Texas for a grandson’s graduation from the University of Texas. You may recall that weekend had devastating flooding in Texas. We woke up on Sunday morning to hear what the damages were.
San Marcos was badly hit. The mayor came on the news to thank first responders, the National Guard, and many others, but also neighbors who helped people in need. Schools were shelters; 300 homes were reduced to slabs; 300 to 400 homes sustained damage; several hundred people were evacuated; 7,000 people were without power — all this within a 12-hour period from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. on May 24.
If you remember that weekend, you know it got worse. What struck me at the time was the mayor’s reference to “neighbors.” The San Marcos neighbors are not unlike the neighbors in our region. And, indeed, the neighbors, your neighbors, who provide the wonderful services that Community Caregivers arranges for those in need. We connect those who can help with those who need it.
Mary Morrison, Caregivers Transportation Coordinator says we need drivers for St. Vincents’ Food Pantry on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 12:30 2:30 p.m. Last week, I drove six people.
If there are two drivers, you can divvy the rides up and each spend one hour instead of two. Here is an example of literally devoting one or two hours a month to volunteering.
These folks have many groceries to get home. Some have farther to go than others. I know my help is appreciated.
There are also seven or eight people who Mary says have requested assurance calls or visits. Mary explained some clients live with families but the members work. They’re safe but they’d like company.
Some people live alone, are elderly, and need some visitors and reassurance calls. What do you talk about or what do you do? Mary said that the caregivers give suggestions for activities or conversations. Reading, playing cards, watching TV as possible activities.
Building a relationship would be a good outcome. It’s also possible you might just keep the person safe while the caregiver gets some much-needed relief.
Upcoming orientation sessions are June 16 at noon, July 7 at 1 p.m., July 23 at 10 a.m., Aug. 4 at noon, and Aug. 17 at 5:30 p.m.. If none of these times work, you can always call the office to arrange a time that is best for you. All orientations are held at the Caregivers’ office at 2021 Western Ave in Guilderland, Suite 4. Please call ahead, 456-2898, to let the staff know you’ll be there so they have enough materials.
Our lives fluctuate. If this is a good time frame, consider joining the Caregivers’ team. If you want to do something that matters, that’s another good reason.
“Falls are never ‘nothing’,” stated Kathy Greenlee, United States Assistant Secretary for Aging, at the National Council on Aging Summit on Falls Prevention in Washington, D.C. The summit took place on April 30, to inform policymakers for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging.
As many readers know, a fall for an older adult can be a game-changer.
There was a lot of discussion by experts at this summit. And it’s indisputable that fall-prevention priorities and strategies include funding and reimbursement, engaging new stakeholders, and expanding evidence-based programs known to help reduce falls. Conversely, fall prevention barriers include lack of funding, missing clinical-community connections, and low public awareness.
This is where small community-based agencies, like Community Caregivers, can help make a difference: by raising public awareness about falls and strengthening community connections. Community Caregivers has at the heart of its mission helping individuals “maintain their independence, dignity and quality of life within their homes and communities.” Preventing falls, especially among older adults, can make an independent life a reality.
Community Caregivers Inc. is committed to fall prevention education. Earlier this year, in Caregivers Corner, we provided winter safety tips to prevent falls. Underlying causes of falls, however, know no season and can occur at any time.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promote four things that individuals can do to prevent falls:
— Begin a regular exercise program;
— Have your health-care provider review your medicines;
— Have your vision checked; and
— Make your home safer.
The Community Caregivers’ website, www.communitycaregivers.org, has resources on fall-prevention education. You may also request a speaker for your community group by calling us at 456-2898.
Nora Super, executive director of the White House Conference on Aging, notes, “Prevention is better than treatment. That’s certainly true when it comes to falls and older adults.”
Clearly, the fall that never happens is the best outcome for any of us.
Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services and caregiver support at no charge to residents in Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.
Editor’s note: Linda Miller is the Outreach and Education coordinator for Community Caregivers.
It appears spring has finally arrived and area golfers are back in full swing.
Community Caregivers’ 11th annual golf outing (wow, has it really been that long?) will be held on
Monday, June 15, at Orchard Creek Golf Course in Altamont.
This year’s sponsors for the event include: Adirondack Environmental Systems Inc., Albany Medical Center, Blasch Precision Ceramics, the State Employees Federal Credit Union, and Wells Fargo Advisors.
We welcome back last year’s golfers — and many of you who have faithfully played faithfully over the past 10 years. And new golfers are always welcome. The format is a scramble with three divisions (men’s, women’s & and mixed). and This year, we will be using a team handicap.
The day is filled with great food, and skill contests (we have a new one this year — Use the Pro’s Drive on a Par 5). We also have along with many great drawing prizes and a silent auction featuring golf for four with carts at Pinehaven Country Club, Albany Country Club, Orchard Creek Golf Course, and Colonie Country Club.
This year, the live auction also includes along with a clubhouse box on the finish line for the Saratoga meet. Price per player is $145, which includes driving range, golf, carts, lunch, cocktail party,, and dinner. Tee boxes are still available.
Invitations are in the mailout. They and are also available on the website (www.communitycaregivers.org) or and at the Community Caregivers office located at 2021 Western Ave. For additional information, please call Petra @ at 456-2898.
Editor’s note: Regina DuBois is the event chairwoman for the Community Caregivers’ 11th annual golf outing.
If you have 100 volunteers and 100 clients, why would you need more volunteers?
First of all, we have more of both, but, to be able to help everyone who makes a request, according to Mary Morrison, the Caregivers’ Transportation Coordinator, there should be a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 ratio of volunteers to clients in order to be in a healthy situation. This is all by way of saying that more drivers, in particular, are needed to meet the increasing requests for transportation.
Mary cited one example that is recurring more and more frequently: “The hospital called and they need to see me tomorrow,” the client says. Mary went on, “She could be readmitted if she couldn’t make the appointment. We don’t want to say no.”
Caregivers does everything it can to honor the volunteers’ choice of assignments and times available. Clients, too, have a timeframe they need to observe when making requests. But, as Mary said, clients are asking for services the next day. That puts a strain on the driver pool.
Linda Miller, Outreach and Education coordinator, added another piece to the picture. “As a volunteer, you want to feel connected but not get burned out,” she said.
Both Mary and Linda emphasize that we don’t want to make our volunteers feel guilt if they have to say “no.” It makes sense, then, that the more volunteers you have the more you can prevent burnout and guilt.
The staff does everything it can to schedule volunteers and clients from the same area. The staff provides volunteers with important information to help the volunteer perform the service successfully, even providing directions. Mary said she has actually driven some routes so she can give good directions to the volunteer.
The next orientation is April 30 at 10 a.m. at the Caregivers’ office at 2021 Western Ave., Suite 104, in Guilderland. Please consider becoming a volunteer driver. Your generosity of time would be valued and honored.
There’s an ad on TV that shows a woman scurrying around her kitchen and saying, “When I started having back pain, my sister came to help. I don’t like asking for help.”
Most people don’t. As we grow older, in particular, the need for help increases and that’s a direct challenge to maintaining independence.
I talked with Sue Griffiths, Community Caregivers’ intake coordinator, about helping people ask for help. Sue said, “It’s a cultural thing, I think. We’re used to helping ourselves, being independent. We don’t ask for help, perhaps, out of fear, out of feeling inadequate, or maybe a person is just too independent.”
Sue urges families to have a conversation to address how life is changing. Grown children become part of the “sandwich generation,” and they may need to say, “I’m having a hard time worrying about you, too.”
Another scenario has a spouse who needs help but he or she needs to combat the, “It’s my job, my responsibility” thinking.
“Some people,” Sue says, “have a huge support system.”
I know such a family. The mom and dad need help. They live near one son and his family. That son does dishes every night. His wife prepares dinner every night. Doctor appointments are handled by other siblings who don’t live so near, yet near enough to plan for the extra driving for medical appointments.
Sue adds, though, “Other people have no one.
“The gift of asking for help is giving another individual the opportunity to be generous with their time and talents, “ Sue points out.
This is all food for thought. When you need to reach out, Community Caregivers could be there for you. The reason we always want to increase our volunteer pool is so we can help people maintain their independence as long as possible. And that means helping families, too.
April orientation sessions have been scheduled for the 14th at noon, and the 30th at 10 a.m. at the Caregivers’ office on Western Avenue.
Before my conversation with Sue ended, she asked me to share this: “Community Caregivers is a no-guilt operation. Even an hour a month would be a gift.” More food for thought.
Please call the office at 456-2898 if you’d like to do an orientation. It takes one hour.