In our community and all across the country, older Americans form the backbone of the volunteer corps that keeps our civic, social, health, veterans, community, and faith-based organizations going. Being retired, many are eager to offer their time for programs and causes that they are interested in.

While many retirees volunteer informally when time permits, there are other structured volunteer opportunities like the federally-funded Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Community Caregivers is one of a number of volunteer-based programs that participates in this region’s RSVP.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the importance of the “social capital” of older volunteers, that is, the valuable resource that their volunteerism provides in the community.  More and more, there are examples of the importance of using volunteers and peers to address social needs.

New organizations have sprung up like ReServe (www.reserveinc.org), which is now in many larger cities, where older persons with professional skills earn a stipend for working in a community agency.  Using this social capital is increasingly becoming a strategy for organizations working with ReServe, such as a dementia coaching project that has several ReServe volunteers working with a health provider in the New York City area.

Community Caregivers, which started in Altamont as a not-for-profit community organization, has approximately 150 volunteers actively helping their neighbors live independently in the community. For many, volunteering with our organization is not only a service to their neighbors but a personally rewarding and gratifying experience.

And, volunteering also impacts health and wellness. A lot of research shows that volunteering is good for your health and can lead to better health and even perhaps a longer lifespan.

It is important to recognize, support, and honor our volunteers. Like other volunteer organizations, Community Caregivers does so at volunteer recognition events during the year. It is an honor well deserved.

We continue to seek more volunteers and more ways that volunteers can help both their neighbors individually and also further improve the quality of life in the community.

Please consider joining us for a new volunteer session this fall. Adults of all ages and teens with their parents are welcome:

— Volunteer orientations are scheduled at the office of Community Caregivers the first Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. and third Thursdays at noon, or upon request.

— To register or to request more information, please call (518) 456-2898 or contact us by email:   .

You also may contact the RSVP Coordinator, Susan Napierski, to learn of diverse area volunteer opportunities for volunteers 55 years of age and older. Her number is (518) 459-2857 X308.

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 health policy consultant for Community Caregivers Inc.

 

Community Caregivers began in 1994 in the village of Altamont. The co-founders — Dr. Joel Edwards, Victor Ross, and Mary Therriault — were ahead of their time by creating an organization dedicated to “neighbors helping neighbors.”

With lots of caring and generous individuals, we have grown and flourished for the last 23 years. We like to say that Community Caregivers represents a “village” of caring neighbors. However, credit for starting the “Village Movement” nationally goes to Beacon Hill Village in Boston.

In case you are not familiar with the term, “villages” are membership-driven, grassroots not-for-profit organizations run by volunteers and/or paid staff that coordinate access to a variety of programs and services to help older adults stay in their own homes for as long as possible. The “Village Movement” began in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston in 2001 with Beacon Hill Village.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, the Albany Guardian Society will be hosting a daylong community forum entitled “Aging in Community: The Village Movement” at the Hearst Media Center in Albany. The forum includes national speakers on the Village Movement, including Susan McWhinney-Morse, co-founder of Beacon Hill Village.

The forum will include an overview of the future of aging in community, the origins of the Village Movement, the components of operating and developing a Village and presentations by six Villages on the unique programs and services they offer. The goals of the forum will be to provide information on incorporating and operating a Village, to review best practices, and to allow for networking opportunities.

The Sept. 14 forum will also serve to introduce the Capital Region Villages Collaborative, which is comprised of individuals, agencies, organizations, and Villages interested in forming, operating, and supporting Villages in the New York State Capital Region. Community Caregivers is an active partner with the Albany Guardian Society in launching the Capital Region Villages Collaborative.

Anyone who is interested may attend the forum, but space is limited and registration is required no later than Sept. 7. The time is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; registration begins at 8:15 a.m. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The location is the Hearst Media Center, 645 Albany-Shaker Road, Albany, New York 12211, which is at the north end of Wolf Road in a new conference venue at the Times Union building.

You may register either by calling Albany Guardian Society’s registration phone line at (518) 269-3976  or by sending an email to the Albany Guardian Society at with your name, phone number, and email address. Please note “September 14 Village Forum” in the subject line.

Albany Guardian Society is one of the Capital District’s oldest not-for-profit charitable foundations. Founded in 1852, its mission is to engage in a wide range of endeavors including education, research, information, and community engagement that will improve the quality of life for seniors, family members, and their caregivers.

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 Inc.

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On three consecutive Tuesday evenings this August, anyone who is interested in understanding memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease can attend a free workshop series.

The Alzheimer’s Association, in partnership with Community Caregivers, Bright Horizons Adult Day Services, and the Guilderland YMCA, is presenting a workshop series that offers valuable and practical information.

All sessions will be held at the Guilderland YMCA at 250 Winding Brook Drive in Guilderland from 6 to 7 p.m. on the following Tuesdays: Aug. 15, Aug. 22, and Aug. 29. Please register for one or more sessions by calling Tonya at (518) 967-4999, ext. 200.

Here is the schedule:

— Week One, Aug. 15, The Basics of Memory Loss, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease: This program is designed to provide basic information that everyone needs to know about memory-loss issues and what they mean for all of us. It explores the difference between memory loss brought about by normal aging versus Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The appropriate audience for this session is anyone interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia;

—Week Two, Aug. 22,  Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behavior: Behavior is a powerful form of communication and is one of the primary ways for people with dementia to communicate their needs and feelings as the ability to use language is lost. However, some behaviors can present real challenges for caregivers to manage. Attendees will learn to decode behavioral messages, identify common behavior triggers, and learn strategies to help intervene with some of the most common behavioral challenges of Alzheimer’s disease;

— Week Three, Aug. 29, Recognizing and Coping with Caregiver Stress: This program discusses what causes stress for individuals who care for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Topics covered include how to handle the stress of caregivers effectively. The appropriate audience for this session is anyone who is actively caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia or knows someone who is a caregiver.

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 help 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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We all know that exercise is good for our health and that it helps us feel younger than we would otherwise. And summer is the perfect time to exercise outdoors.

But still, if you’re like me, it’s hard to make the time to exercise. The National Institute on Aging, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has tips which might help you (and me) find the time for physical activity and stick with it. Remember to check with your physician before beginning a new exercise program.

Making the time:

— Establish a new morning routine by exercising early in the morning before your day gets too busy;

— If you don’t have 30 minutes to be active, look for three 10-minute periods throughout the day instead. You might walk at lunchtime for 10 minutes or more;

— Combine physical activity with a task that is built into your day. This might include walking the dog and doing household chores or yard work.

In addition to setting aside the time, you are more likely to adhere to your fitness plan if you keep exercise interesting and enjoyable;

— Try new activities to keep your interest alive. Consider signing up for an exercise class through a health and fitness club or your school district’s continuing education program;

— Try swimming outside this month at a local pool; and

— If you are an older adult, your local office of senior services sponsors exercise programs at a modest cost.

Experts disagree on how many days or weeks it takes to create a habit, like exercising regularly. Charles Duhigg, who wrote “The Power of Habit,” suggests that the easiest way to implement a new habit is to write a plan. He writes that, to form a habit, a cue needs to trigger a routine that then leads to a reward.

Personally, I believe that the process might work as long as my fitness reward does not include ice cream!

The National Institute on Aging sponsors a Go4Life campaign which has excellent information on exercise and physical activity for older adults. The website can be found at www.nia.nih.gov/health.

Community Caregiver, 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 Inc.

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Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy will host a stakeholders’ meeting for over 200 representatives of area agencies on Wednesday, July 12, for the Age Friendly Albany County initiative he announced in October.

A World Health Organization representative from the United Nations is scheduled to attend to make a presentation along with a state representative of AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, which leads the initiative in the United States for the World Health Organization.

State officials will also provide a welcome and speak about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal to make New York State the first age-friendly state in the country. County leaders will discuss plans for the initiative.

The stakeholders’ meeting is the first large public meeting for the Age Friendly Albany County initiative. The meeting is to discuss the initiative’s goals and the process that will be used as the initiative unfolds over a multi-year period.

A Community Council will be formed with representatives of the towns and municipalities in the county. Committees will be formed from those interested persons regarding the eight “domains” of livability that the World Health Organization has identified for an age-friendly community.

The eight domains are:

— 1. Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings;

— 2. Transportation;

— 3. Housing;

— 4. Social Participation;

— 5. Respect and Social Inclusion;

— 6. Civic Participation and Employment;

— 7. Communication and Information; and

— 8. Community and Health Services.

Community Caregivers will be supporting the county’s initiative by attending the July 12 event, providing our input and expertise through our staff and volunteers, and participating in the committees. We will be reaching out to members of the community where we serve through local events and community meetings to gain as wide a view as possible into what makes a place age friendly.

We hope readers might be interested in joining these discussions; please look for notice of these events beginning in the fall.

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 the Health Policy Consultant for Community Caregivers Inc.

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