The Games of the XXX1 Olympiad in Rio have kept us riveted to our T.V. screens or devices for three weeks. From the very beginning we watched young people from 200 countries of the world compete.

We learned how much families sacrificed to give their athlete the privilege of going to Rio once they qualified. And, whether they won or not, qualified for their event or not, each was still a winner, a hero, because their dedication and sacrifices paid off.

Caregivers volunteers are heroes, too. Especially to the people they take to the doctors, or help shop, or provide companionship to, or take home from the food pantry.  Admittedly, our volunteers don’t undergo the strenuous workout that the athletes do, but they do give their time, keep their commitments, and enhance the life of the person they work with.

One story that stood out for me was the athlete who wrote a story, and drew pictures, of his dream to be in the Olympics when he grew up. Most of our volunteers probably didn’t always dream of being a volunteer. Most came to a point in their lives when they recognized they wanted to do something to help others. They had time to give to others.  They could make the sacrifice of time.

So, if you’re looking for something to do that will help others and be satisfying to you, check out our website: Communitycaregivers.org, or Facebook. Or call the office at (518) 456-2898 to find out when the next orientation is. Be an Olympian for someone in your community.

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There are some encouraging signs that the health-care system is finally embracing the kinds of at-home care that can focus on the patient’s needs and keep the individual out of the hospital.

Local insurance companies are working with a new provider, Landmark Services, which sends doctors to the home on a regular basis to make sure those at-risk patients who have recently been in the hospital get the follow-up care and monitoring they need.

Doctors making house calls returns us to the kind of person-centered care that we remember in our younger days. These changes are being driven by health-care policies that seek to cut down on re-admissions to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

Hospitals in our area as well as around the state and country are also embracing community supports.  In addition to in-home medical care provided by doctors and nurses, it is also clear that community services and social support are essential to successfully remaining at home.

“Community Supports Patient Navigators” are being used successfully in some areas to assist patients, their families, and caregivers navigate the complex medical and social-services systems following hospital discharge. Community Caregivers participated in one such program a few years ago and is now exploring re-establishing a volunteer-based community supports navigator program to work with local health providers.

What does a community supports navigator do?

Once the patient returns home from the hospital, the navigator’s primary tasks would include assistance in arranging follow-up appointments, transportation, and medication self-support.  Support would also include health literacy by providing information to support the patient’s self-care and linking to health promotion, chronic disease self-management programs, health care proxy forms and support groups.

Referral to community services through the Albany County Department for the Aging’s NY Connects program and other services would also be a role of the navigator.

Secondary tasks might include grocery shopping assistance, sorting mail, arranging for needed durable medical equipment, home companionship, caregiver support, and advance planning for emergency situations.

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 thorough a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

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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Plans are well underway for the 12th annual Community Caregivers Golf Outing, scheduled for Monday, June 20, at Orchard Creek Golf Course in Altamont. Player invitations have gone out and we look forward to a full field.

This year’s format is the same as in prior years: a scramble with three divisions — men's, women's and mixed. There will be prizes for closest to the pin and longest drive. And Lia Motors is offering a lease on a car for a hole in one on the 17th hole, which is par 3.

A big thank-you to our dedicated sponsors: Adirondack Environmental, Blasch Precision Ceramics, PhRMA, the State Employees Federal Credit Union, the American Association of Retired Persons, and Albany Medical Center.  Price Chopper/ Market 32 and Northway 8 are also offering hole-in-one prizes.

We have some great silent-auction items again this year, including a clubhouse box at Saratoga, a foursome of golf with carts at Leatherstocking Golf Course, a signed photo of Arnold Palmer, a cooking lesson with Chef Gio at Gio Culinary Studio in Voorheesville, and many others.

The player fee of $145 includes range balls, golf cart, box lunch, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a chicken-and-rib dinner.

Please visit our website for more information — www.communitycaregivers.org  — or call our office at (518) 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 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.

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Do you recall that Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke died earlier this spring, on March 29 ? And do you recall the cause of her death? The cause listed was sepsis — brought about by a ruptured intestine.

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Yet, according to the Sepsis Alliance, a national patient advocacy organization, only about 44 percent of adults have even heard of sepsis, much less know how to recognize it.

So, if you had a chance to learn more about sepsis, which can strike at any age but is most life threatening for infants and vulnerable adults, would you take it?

Well, here’s your chance.

On Thursday, June 9, Community Caregivers Inc. is teaming up with IPRO to offer a vital health education program entitled, “Recognizing Sepsis as a Medical Emergency.” IPRO is a national organization providing health-care assessment and improvement services.

This program will be held at the Guilderland Public Library, 2228 Western Avenue in Guilderland, beginning at 11 a.m.

The expert presenter will be Eve Bankert who is the IPRO Quality Improvement Specialist and project leader on the Community-Based Sepsis Awareness Initiative. As just noted, sepsis can be life-threatening and Eve will inform you about its early signs and symptoms.  And, just as importantly, she’ll tell you what to do.

Whether you are a community member, family caregiver, or service provider, you can learn valuable information about sepsis that could save a life. Eve will show a brief video followed by a presentation on the following:

— Recognizing early signs and symptoms of sepsis;

— Knowing who to call and what to do;

— Identifying high risk groups; and

— Simple things you can do to help prevent sepsis.

There will be plenty of time at the end for questions and answers. All are welcome and pre-registration not required. Again, please mark your calendar for Thursday, June 9, at 11 a.m. for this vital health education program. If you have further questions, you may call Community Caregivers Inc. a (518) 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 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 our services or our volunteer opportunities, please visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call (518) 456-2898.

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

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The Van Praags, Art and Julianne, live in Clarksville. They’ve been volunteering for Community Caregivers since 2007. They’re one of nine wife-and-husband teams that make up the volunteer pool.

Julianne regularly, weekly, assists an elderly client who still likes to do her own shopping. “She’s visually impaired,” says Julianne, “and she lives by herself.”

In addition to the weekly shopping, Julianne also waters plants, writes greeting cards, sorts mail, and even cleans out the fridge when it needs it. Julianne says she gets “satisfaction” out of helping.

“It’s nice helping people,” she said. “They appreciate it; you just get a good feeling from doing it.”

Julianne said, when she first started volunteering, the first three people she provided service for passed away. It was discouraging. Fortunately, she didn’t give up.

Reflecting on the nine years she’s been volunteering, she says, “I’ve met great people, both clients and staff.” While Julianne has a regular assignment, she will accept others if Mary Morrison, the Client/Volunteer Coordinator, calls and she’s available.

Art Van Praag volunteers to “make people’s lives much easier.” He said, “Whatever day I sign up for is their day. The time is theirs.”

Art has an assignment every Thursday, but, if he’s available, he’d volunteer as much as he’s called. He says, “I hate to say ‘no’.” Art has no problem taking people grocery shopping, to the bank, to the hairdressers, clothes shopping, or to the doctors.

Both Art and Julianne came to Caregivers as a result of Susan Cable’s recommendation. Susan was a former executive assistant for Caregivers. They also read about the organization in The Enterprise.

Art enjoys being with people and helping others. He said, as a kid, he did “stuff to help neighbors — raking, putting up screens, shoveling snow.”

As he looks back over his life, he says his parents were good role models. Art says he enjoys meeting different people. At the same time, he also enjoys working with the same person.

“You get to know them,” he adds. He’s been working with the same clients for two, three, or four years.

His philosophy? “Instead of sitting in a chair, get out there and do something.”

Julianne said she’d encourage others to think about volunteering and could tell them about her experiences, which have been wonderful. “Volunteering,” she said, “is a good use of time.

Julianne and Art have two calendars and boards visible to each other so they keep their assignments straight. When I planned to interview this couple, I wondered if they ever got their calendars confused. In our house, confusion does reign sometimes because one of us doesn’t put a date on the calendar.  They are clearly organized.

When people sign up to become volunteers, one of the questions asked is how they heard about Community Caregivers. Frequent responses are reading about us in The Enterprise and hearing about us from a friend or other volunteers.

Julianne and Art hardly skipped a beat after they retired — Julianne from being a secretary at Clarksville Elementary School, and Art from the painting/wallpapering line. It’s probably not surprising to learn they’ve also volunteered with other agencies: the food pantries; the town of New Scotland; and Julianne, as an aide at Clarksville Elementary before her school closed.

New volunteers are always needed. People move, they go away on vacation, their lives change; they may even become clients. Consider helping your neighbors as Julianne and Art do.  You can choose your day or days, your time, and the kind of service you’d like to provide.

Volunteering is very much a part of the Van Praags’ lives. Make it a part of yours. Call the office at (518) 456-2898 when you’re ready to join the team.

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