Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Getting old is not always easy. Seniors rely on their caregivers to help them through the day-to-day aspects of their lives. It can be frustrating for the individual who needs and receives the care and frustrating for the person who is giving the care. To that end, last week the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades hosted a “Toolbox for Caregivers” Forum. The event was co-sponsored by the Jewish Home at Home, which is a member of the Jewish Home Family.

This program was to provide a venue to help the community learn how to better serve its seniors. Caregiving is a topic that people struggle with and it can be a real challenge when you aren’t aware of all of the resources that are at your disposal. This is especially true since Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease to have in this country. One of the first points made during this forum was the importance of using an elder care lawyer to help guide you through the financial ramifications involved.

The forum was divided into four different sessions. Choosing the right programs and services, navigating the system, tried-and-true tips for caregivers, and how caregivers can care for themselves. Each session provided helpful information with each issue. There are so many programs that are available to seniors that they are not aware of.

Chore Service is a program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. They can perform minor household repairs that the homeowner is no longer able to do. There is no charge for this service other than the cost of the parts needed to make the repairs. To schedule a service or to volunteer please call (201)489-7790. Another helpful program for seniors is [email protected] They install railing and grab bars, ramps, install and upkeep smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and other small repairs. Their number is (201)518-1175.

There were representatives from the Jewish Home at Rockleigh at the forum who explained the differences between a medical daycare program and social daycare program. The medical program helps those who can no longer go to the bathroom by themselves, who need medication administered throughout the day and who need to be constantly supervised, whereas the social daycare is for the more independent seniors. The activities in both of these programs are geared towards the skill levels involved and their first priority is keeping all of the participants engaged and involved.

Jewish Home at Home also offers a fee-based program where they will come to your home and assess all of your needs and navigate you through the different programs. They also assess your actual home to make sure your safety and physical needs are met. Do you need an aide? Are you able to function independently? Can you be responsible for your own medications? A case manager is assigned to make all of these determinations. Even when family members are the caregivers, sometimes it is easier to have an outside resource come in and be objective. No one likes to be told that they can no longer stay in their own home. These services help bring a professional eye and opinion into each individual situation.

The “Tried and True Tips” session focused on the importance of recognizing the strengths of the person you are caring for. Retirement can take an emotional toll on the person you are caring for. Find an activity that makes that person feel useful again. There are many organizations that work with senior volunteers.

The County of Bergen Department of Human Services Division of Senior Services is located in Hackensack. Their phone number is (201)336-7400 and they can help both seniors and their caregivers with any questions about what services are available. In addition, Kosher Meals on Wheels’ number is (201)837-9090 and the Bergen County Department of Human Services Division of Community Transportation’s number is (201)368-5955. This can be used for rides to doctor appointments or recreational appointments, with 7-10 days notice.

Marlene Ceragno, who is the senior activity-center program and caregiver-services coordinator at the Kaplen JCC, has also started a service for seniors who have reached a stage where they need adult briefs. She started the Adult Brief Bank and helps collect these products because they can become quite expensive and are not covered by Medicare. She has run drives, similar to food drives, and then the products are distributed to individuals in need through local agencies. For more information about this program, contact Marlene at [email protected]

By Banji Ganchrow

Sign up now!