As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we come together to give thanks for the abundance and goodness in our lives and for each other — the family and friends who sustain us. November is also National Caregivers Month.

We assist one another in many ways as we grow and age. Parents raise children often with the help of grandparents and extended family. That natural occurrence is accepted and celebrated by our society.

For the eldest members in our families, not only can there be a stigma in accepting help, there’s less recognition of the one providing care. Caregiving for our elders also needs to be acknowledged and supported.

Family members who help the older members of their family often do not realize that they are considered “family caregivers.” It’s simply what we do for one another. However, it can be exhausting to struggle alone — or nearly alone — with the multiple needs of an ailing spouse or aging parents. Yet, it’s a nearly universal struggle.

Former First Lady and caregiver advocate, Rosalynn Carter, observed: “There are only four kinds of people in the world — those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

At Community Caregivers Inc. we are grateful this holiday season for the dedication of family caregivers. Without them, services provided through the public and not-for-profit health and human services sectors would buckle and collapse. There simply are not enough programs, services, and facilities to replace what families do for their loved ones — and with little fanfare.  

In 2010, Kathy Greenlee, former United States Assistant Secretary for Aging, said: “Families are the core of the system. They always have been. They are both the center and the soul of the system. We need family caregivers — we need them because there is no replacement. You can’t make this a commodity. But we also need them economically as a nation, because we can’t afford to buy this care from strangers.”

As crucial as they are, families need a lot more support than they usually get. The saying goes that family caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s important for caregivers to reserve strength for the long haul. One of the strategies for the long haul is to enlist a team of helpers.

Community Caregivers has as its mission support for family caregivers. So, if you are helping a loved one who needs support to live at home, we hope to be on your team. Despite our desire to “do it all ourselves,” forming a team of support and care — around your loved one and you — can make a positive difference on your journey.

Through our volunteer network of “neighbors helping neighbors,” Community Caregivers can provide rides, friendly visits, and help with shopping or errands. We also offer support groups, information, caregiver education, and referrals. All of this is provided without charge. Call us at (518) 456-2898 to find out if we can be of assistance to your family.

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Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of 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.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call us at (518) 456-2898.

Editor’s note: Linda Miller is the Outreach and Education coordinator for Community Caregivers.

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There are 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day. Like every other phase in our lives, we Baby Boomers will change what retirement is.

Previous notions were a period of leisure and travel as a reward for a long career, perhaps with the same employer. However, 42 percent of new retirees said in a recent survey that they plan a phased retirement where they will continue to work part-time or work in a completely different field; 82 percent expect to continue working in some capacity.

With a longer lifespan of perhaps an additional 20 to 30 years after retiring, this phase of life has been called “the third age,” which offers opportunities for creativity and new endeavors after the responsibilities of career and parenting. Some people who want to keep working actually start that business of their dreams they always wanted.

Though these possibilities exist, there are some retirees, especially men, who find themselves having trouble adjusting to this new phase of life after the initial euphoria. Often, men have defined their lives by their careers and suddenly that whole lifestyle and schedule are gone.

For men whose wives are younger and still working, they find themselves alone in the house all day.   That is why retirement planners are available not just for financial advice but for coaching. They can help retirees look at life options that could include leisure as well as continued part-time work, volunteerism, and other community activities.

It is important to think it through and have a plan for this next phase. The plan can include not just activities to keep busy but thinking about inner peace and personal and spiritual development. The plan should also get into the nitty gritty of sketching out a schedule for the week when you will be golfing, working, volunteering, grandparenting, and having social contact to balance all the hours of private time.  

At Community Caregivers, we see many recent retirees who are looking for a rewarding volunteer opportunity, helping their neighbors by offering rides to medical appointments or friendly visiting, shopping, and chores.

We offer volunteer orientation sessions, with no obligation to sign up, twice monthly. The next session is Nov. 16 at noon in our office. Please let us know if you would like to attend by calling (518) 456-2898.

Earlier this year, we participated in a workshop on “meaningful retirement.” If we can help you with volunteer placement or referral to other resources regarding retirement options, please feel free to contact our office.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services, including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of 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.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call us at (518) 456-2898.

Editor’s note: Michael Burgess is a policy consultant for Community Caregivers Inc.

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“There’s no place like home.”

While that saying is probably best known as a line from the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” it also expresses Community Caregivers most basic goal — to help people remain in their homes­­. Fittingly, the organization has chosen “There’s No Place Like Home” as the theme for its 23rd Annual Gala, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Colonie Golf & Country Club in Voorheesville.

Greg Floyd, news anchor at WRGB Channel 6, will be the gala emcee again this year. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the presentation of awards. Dancing to the music of the Bluz House Rockers will begin at 9 p.m.

In keeping with the theme, the Joseph A. Bosco Community Service Award will be presented to Susan Hennessy and Mark Hopper, co-directors of the Guilderland Food Pantry. Prior to marrying, both Sue and Mark had spent decades volunteering for various causes — local, national, and international.

Clearly, community service is very important to each of them. So, when they retired from their careers as teachers, they looked for a ministry they could share. They chose the Guilderland Food Pantry. Under their direction, the GFP, which was formed in 1979, incorporated in 2015.

Last year, the gala featured a “wine pull.” This year, there’s a new twist. Great bottles of wine will be paired with restaurant gift cards — a “wine and dine pull!”

There will be a silent auction featuring art, jewelry, and other items as well as gift cards to local businesses. There will also be a live auction, featuring auctioneer Ralph F. Passonno Jr., president of Uncle Sam Auctions & Realty.

This year’s live auction includes such items as a Disney World package (including Park Hopper tickets and a week at an Orlando timeshare), two season tickets to the Siena Saints 2017-18 basketball season (includes several premiums), and a two-night stay at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid (with breakfast and a gift certificate toward dinner at the inn).

Sponsors are important partners in the success of the gala. We are extremely grateful for the support of this year’s sponsors: Adirondack Environmental Services, Albany Medical Center, The AYCO Foundation, GCOM Software Inc., The New York Business Development Corporation, American Association of Retired Persons, Capital district Physicians’ Health Plan, Glenmont Abbey Village, and an anonymous donation honoring all caregivers and volunteers.

The gala is one of two annual fundraising events held by Community Caregivers. All proceeds go to support the programs and services it provides to caregivers and their families. Tickets are $125 per person.

For more information please call Community Caregivers office at (518) 456-2898. The deadline for reserving your ticket is Nov. 9. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of 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.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call us at (518) 456-2898.

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Our area farm stands and farmers’ markets seem to burst with abundance in October.  The pyramids of pumpkins, apples, and squash remind us that it’s harvest season. And each autumn the leaves inevitably fall from the trees. It’s a reminder to me that this season once again is an opportunity to highlight fall prevention strategies for older adults.

The National Institute on Aging offers common sense ideas which apply to people of all ages — except, I might add, for toddlers, who seem to tip over, giggle, get up and do it all again!

The statistics for those of us who are six or more decades older than toddlers are more serious: one in four adults age 65 and older will have a fall during the year. And falls can result in injury; every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in a hospital emergency department for fall-related reasons.

And yet, falls are not an inevitable occurrence in aging. So what can we do? Here are six tips that may prevent you or a loved one from falling.

— Have your eyes and hearing tested often. Always wear your glasses when you need them. If you have a hearing aid, be sure it fits well and remember that it does not help if you do not wear it;

— Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist;

— Try to get enough sleep. When you are sleepy, you are more likely to fall. And, if you get up during the night, use nightlights along the path to the bathroom;

— Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount can affect both balance and reflexes;

— You might not have thought about this tip. Stand up slowly after eating, lying down, or sitting. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop, which can make you feel faint and lead to a fall;

— Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fully support your feet. Wearing only socks, slides or slippers with smooth soles on the stairs or floors without carpet present a hazard; and

In our office, we also have a Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults, “Check for Safety.”  Please call (518) 456-2898 for more information on how to receive a copy.

Community Caregivers, Inc. is a not for profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of 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.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging and the U.S. Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call us at (518) 456-2898.

Editor’s note: Linda Miller is the Outreach and Education coordinator for Community Caregivers.

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Neighbors helping neighbors. Friends helping friends. Even strangers helping strangers. We’ve heard these phrases in the last two months too many times in the aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes and tornadoes and shootings. The generosity of people helping each other in these catastrophic episodes has touched us all.

It’s not uncommon for people far removed from these events to reach out to local helping agencies. Community Caregivers would welcome you. Let me tell you exactly what’s involved to help you decide. In June I sat through an orientation session, which is required of all volunteers.

Linda Miller, Outreach and Education coordinator, had four new recruits. She began by asking them why they were considering volunteering for Community Caregivers.

One said she had the summer off and wanted to help. She was also nearing retirement and thought she would explore the organization for possible retirement activities.

A gentleman said he wanted to drive for a food pantry. We drive for two.

Another woman said, “I want to give back. CC helps me. I can help them.”

The last woman said she was new to the area and, since she had volunteered where she lived before, she wanted to continue here. Her daughter, she added, went online to see what volunteering opportunities were available in the Guilderland area. She chose CC.

After the introductions, Linda proceeded to give some history of the organization. She told the group what Caregivers does, the services it provides, the area we serve, how clients reach out, what volunteers do, and how our staff connects client and volunteer.

You fill out some papers. You give some references and indicate what services you’re interested in providing and when you’re available. It’s emphasized that you can change the day or days you volunteer. You can change the service or services you provide. You can say, “No, I can’t today.” We’ll call again.

Once you’ve had your orientation, and your references and Department of Motor Vehicles checks are made — this takes about two weeks — Mary Morrison, the client/volunteer coordinator, will call with an assignment.

Mary says a volunteer has an average of two to three assignments a month. “We don’t want to burn them out,” she says.

Once assignments are made, confirming emails with the client and appointment information are sent via email so the volunteer has all the relevant data. Lastly, the volunteer is asked to give a report to the office regarding time and mileage. Forms are available online. The staff also requests that volunteers inform Caregivers of any change they observe with the client.

Caregivers is very strict about 10-day notifications/requests from clients. The purpose is to insure the request can be filled. Mary emphasized that she tries to keep the location of client and volunteer near each other to keep mileage down.

Why do we always need new volunteers? Mary says there are many reasons for people to drop out. Their lives change. They move. They get sick. They go on vacation. Family issues come up.

Right now, we have 160 active volunteers and 200 active clients. Since 1996, we have had 1,200 to 1,300 volunteers in the database. Mary said, “That means all the volunteers who have ever ‘passed through the portals’.”

The more volunteers you have, the more leeway you have so you don’t have to overload anyone. That’s it. Think it over. If you have the time, others, your neighbors, would appreciate your help. Call the office at (518) 456-2898 to find out the next orientation date. You’ll make a great addition to the team.

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Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of 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. Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call us at (518) 456-2898.

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