“There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” This statement from former First Lady Rosalynn Carter alludes to the ubiquitous nature of caregiving in the human experience. People, usually family members, step up when needed to support their loved ones.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, when we recognize the contributions of family caregivers in  supporting their loved ones. And just because we all have a role at least one time throughout our lives in caregiving, it does not make the job easier.

It helps for us as caregivers of family members — whether parents, spouses, or relatives — to reach out to support one another. With resources, both in the community and online, we do not need to travel the path of caregiving alone.

At Community Caregivers, our volunteers can provide respite services to those who may need a break of one to two hours to tend to their own needs. It’s common for family caregivers to neglect their own medical appointments because they don’t want to leave their loved one alone, so respite care can help.

In addition, we also offer a Caregivers’ Support Group for those caring for someone with memory loss. It meets twice monthly on Thursday afternoons at 1 p.m. at Christ the King Church in Guilderland.  There is no charge. Please call (518) 456-2898 if you might be interested in attending.

In “Caregivers’ corner” throughout the winter months, we will explore pertinent topics that can support family caregivers. In December, we will offer tips for caregivers during the holidays.

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.

Community Caregivers will hold its 22nd annual gala on Nov. 12 at the Colonie Golf & Country Club.  This year’s theme is Celebrating Service; one of our two honorees served his country and the other serves her community.

To celebrate Veterans Day, Major General Harold “Harry” J. Greene will be honored in memoriam. A resident of Guilderland, he was killed on Aug. 5, 2014, in Afghanistan. At the time of his death, he was deputy commanding general of the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan.

General Greene was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal.

The Joseph A. Bosco Community Service Award will be presented to Judith Ann Mysliborski, M.D., for her many years of service, not only as a physician, but as a volunteer with many Capital Region organizations.

A resident of Voorheesville, Dr. Mysliborski has held several academic and consultant positions at Albany Medical College, Veterans Affairs Hospital, and Albany Medical Center. As a graduate of the University at Albany, Dr. Mysliborski is a former member of the board of directors of the University at Albany Foundation where she established The Mysliborski Women’s Golf Scholarship.

Greg Floyd, news anchor at WRGB Channel 6, will be the master of ceremonies for the evening’s program. 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.

Sponsors of this year’s gala include Adirondack Environmental Services, Albany Medical Center, GCOM Software Inc., AARP, CDPHP, Glenmont Abbey Village, and the New York State Funeral Directors Association.

A silent auction will feature art, jewelry and other items made and donated by local artisans as well as gift cards to local businesses. New this year is a ”wine pull,” where each attendee will have the opportunity to choose a really great bottle of wine!

This year’s live auction includes such items as four one-day hopper passes to Disneyworld, a gourmet dinner with wine for six people at Chef Midge Bulgaro’s house, and an overnight stay at Dorset Inn in Vermont with breakfast plus $100 towards dinner.

The 2016 Gala Committee is chaired by Ellen Kaufman. She is joined by Eileen Bray, Midge McGraw Bulgaro, Michael Burgess, Ann Cantore, Richard Jung, Petra Malitz, Larry Miller, Tanette Nguyen-McCarty, Mary Neumann, Edna Mae Reilly, Arnie and Judy Rothstein, Mary Ann Anglin Singleton, and Paul F. Twardy.

The gala is one of two annual fundraising events held by Community Caregivers. All proceeds support its many programs and services to caregivers and their families. For more information, please call Community Caregivers office at (518) 456-2898. 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 the phone number above.

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

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The Village to Village Network (“Villages”), a nationwide network of neighborhoods and communities of older persons wanting to help each other to remain living in the community, has spread around the country and is seeing significant interest in the Capital District. The Albany Guardian Society, a charitable organization with a mission to improve the quality of life for older adults, has been hosting regular meetings with representatives of local communities interested in how to form and operate Villages.  In this region, these villages have been established-or are in development-in Glens Falls, Clifton Park, Albany, and Bethlehem.

Last spring, about 40 people attended a community informational meeting that the Albany Guardian Society held at the Bethlehem Public Library.  This fall, the Board of Directors of Community Caregivers agreed in September to partner with Villages in its service territory to help provide services which Village members might want. Community Caregivers, which was founded in 1994 as a community service organization of “neighbors helping neighbors,” actually provides many of the types of services that Villages is formed to undertake. So, a partnership with some of the interested neighborhoods will strengthen them and the presence of Community Caregivers.  Community Caregivers has also become a member of the national Village to Village Network.

Bethlehem Neighbors has been formed in the Colonial Acres neighborhood in Glenmont; other individuals in Bethlehem also have expressed interest in the Villages concept. Community Caregivers will be meeting with Bethlehem Neighbors as well as persons who are interested in considering the development of a “village” in Guilderland. The Albany Guardian Society will continue to serve as a catalyst providing assistance to local villages on operational issues including dues and membership.

The national organization, the Village to Village Network (www.vtvnetwork.org) has an extensive website and provides online technical assistance discussions. It is also holding its annual conference in Columbus, Ohio in October and representatives from the Albany Guardian Society will be attending.  Persons interested in exploring the Villages concept in their town, neighborhood or community can contact the Guardian Society at 434-2140 or Community Caregivers at 456-2898.

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 456-2898.

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This first day of autumn might get you thinking of apples, pumpkin pie, and changing leaves. However, the folks at the National Council on Aging also ask us to think about how to prevent falls.

They’ve designated Sept. 22, the first day of fall, as National Falls Prevention Day. In Caregivers Corner this week, we are sharing the council’s 10 common myths about falling. It turns out that we can do a lot to prevent falls.

While many people think falls are a normal part of aging, that’s simply not true. At Community Caregivers, we frequently encounter people who need help with everyday activities because they have fallen.

Falls among older adults can be a game-changer. In fact, it’s not uncommon that a person will need to give up living independently once injured by falling. So, let’s back up and take a closer look at preventing those falls in the first place.

Debunking the myths

Myth 1: Falling happens to other people, not to me.

Reality: Many people think, “It won’t happen to me.” But the truth is that one in three older adults — about 12 million — fall every year in the United States.

Myth 2: Falling is something normal that happens as you get older.

Reality: Falling is not a normal part of aging. Strength and balance exercises, managing your medications, having your vision checked, and making your living environment safer are all steps you can take to prevent a fall.

Myth 3: If I limit my activity, I won’t fall.

Reality: Some people believe that the best way to prevent falls is to stay at home and limit activity. Not true. Performing physical activities will actually help you stay independent, as your strength and range of motion benefit from remaining active. Social activities are also helpful.

Myth 4: As long as I stay at home, I can avoid falling.

Reality: Over half of all falls take place at home. Inspect your home for fall risks. Fix simple but serious hazards such as clutter, throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications, such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, a second handrail on stairs, and non-slip paint on outdoor steps.

Myth 5: Muscle strength and flexibility can’t be regained.

Reality: While we do lose muscle as we age, exercise can partially restore strength and flexibility. It’s never too late to start an exercise program. Even if you’ve been a couch potato your whole life, becoming active now will benefit you in many ways — including protection from falls.

Myth 6: Taking medication doesn't increase my risk of falling.

Reality: Taking any medication may increase your risk of falling. Medications affect people in many different ways and can sometimes make you dizzy or sleepy. Be careful when starting a new medication. Talk to your health-care provider about potential side effects or interactions of your medications.

Myth 7: I don’t need to get my vision checked every year.

Reality: Vision is another key risk factor for falls. Aging is associated with some forms of vision loss that increase risk of falling and injury. People with vision problems are more than twice as likely to fall as those without visual impairment. Have your eyes checked at least once a year and update your eyeglasses. For those with low vision, there are programs and assistive devices that can help. Ask your optometrist for a referral.

Myth 8: Using a walker or cane will make me more dependent.

Reality: Walking aids are very important in helping many older adults maintain or improve their mobility. However, make sure you use these devices safely. Have a physical therapist fit the walker or cane to you and instruct you in its safe use.

Myth 9: I don’t need to talk to family members or my health-care provider if I’m concerned about my risk of falling. I don’t want to alarm them, and I want to keep my independence.

Reality: Fall prevention is a team effort. Bring it up with your doctor, family, and anyone else who is in a position to help. They want to help you maintain your mobility and reduce your risk of falling.

Myth 10: I don’t need to talk to my parent, spouse, or other older adult if I’m concerned about their risk of falling. It will hurt their feelings, and it’s none of my business.

Reality: Let them know about your concerns and offer support to help them maintain the highest degree of independence possible. There are many things you can do, including removing hazards in the home, finding a fall prevention program in the community, or setting up a vision exam.

To learn more, ask about a Community Caregivers’ education presentation for your civic group. And, be sure to visit: www.ncoa.org/FallsPrevention.

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. 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 L. Miller is the Outreach and Education coordinator for Community Caregivers.

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This summer, I had the pleasure of serving as Community Caregivers’ intern for eight weeks. After completing my first year of medical school at Albany Medical College, I wanted to spend my summer outside of the library, gaining experience learning about the people I hope to treat someday.

Geriatrics has interested me since I applied to medical school because I had a close relationship with my grandparents and I have thought I would enjoy working with older patients. Prior to this summer, I assumed the main challenges facing this group of people was treating multiple medical conditions and finagling health insurance.

From my first day with Community Caregivers, my eyes were opened to the significant needs facing older people living in their homes or “aging in place.”  There are a vast number of older adults living alone or isolated who are trying to get by with little assistance, especially in rural Albany County where resources like public transportation and home health care are unavailable or overwhelmed.

Access to health care is only one facet of the problem. Simple needs like purchasing groceries and checking mail are crucial tasks, but not manageable for some people who lack another option aside from living in their homes.

However, as I learned about this need, I was simultaneously learning about the remarkable effort by Community Caregivers to aid this population and meet the growing need. Each staff member at Community Caregivers goes beyond his or her job description to coordinate over 150 volunteers, identify needs for hundreds of clients, direct clients to necessary resources, develop educational tools for the community, and obtain resources to maintain and expand the organization.

Witnessing the passion and skill each staff member, board member, and volunteer possesses for the people the organization serves has been rewarding to say the least.

Community Caregivers’ mission to bring older individuals in the community together into a village and help provide care, support, and relationships is both beautiful and essential.

This summer, I gained professional experience through writing, meeting clients, learning how a not-for-profit operates, reading literature, etc., but by far the greatest gain for me was becoming educated about a huge gap in our society for geriatric residents and how a group of committed individuals can band together and work tirelessly to fill that gap.

Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services, including transportation, 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.  To find out more about Community Caregivers’ services or volunteer opportunities, visit www.communitycaregivers.org, email , or call (518) 456-2898.

Editor’s note: Brandi Heinz, a student at Albany Medical College, was a summer intern at Community Caregivers.

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