Monmouth County to Hold Caregiver Retreat

Taking care of an elderly parent or loved one can be a physical and emotional drain on caregivers and their families. That’s why it’s important to care for oneself, even just for one day.

To help caregivers, the Monmouth County Office on Aging is sponsoring a free caregiver retreat from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 15 at the Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown. The program, designed for those who care for people over age 60, includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and access to caregiver resources. Registration is required due to space limitations. Register by calling 732-431-7450.

“Many people do not consider themselves caregivers,” Freeholder John P. Curley said. “But when they think about all they do for their loved ones and how much time they spend doing it, they realize that they are. They do it because that’s what families do for the people they love.”

“We teach caregivers how to care for themselves as they are caring for someone else,” said Colleen Smith, the county’s caregiver specialist. “That’s important because if you don’t have the energy or a good frame of mind to care for yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of someone else.”

“It’s very hard to see your parents or loved one decline,” said Michael Ruane, director of the Division on Aging, Disability, and Veterans Services. “Caregiving can be defined as around-the-clock care for someone at home, or someone who has already had to place a loved one in a facility and still visits them once a day or several times a week. Or it could be someone caring for them long-distance and flying to see them every couple of months. It’s all caregiving and it’s all stressful.”

The keynote address will be given by Joan Wills, RN, MPA, Regional Assistant Vice President of Geriatrics for St. Barnabas Healthcare System. Wills oversees geriatric services at Monmouth Medical Center and its southern campus at Kimball Medical Center, Lakewood. The St. Barnabas Healthcare System is routinely recognized for excellence in geriatric care.

Attendees will have access to nearly two dozen local care providers and resources, including the Alzheimer’s Association, EZ-Ride, Visiting Physicians Services, and a host of elder care providers.

Also on the program are:

• Diane Prochnow and Janet Zaranka of the Monmouth County Department of Human Services will talk about Medicaid, JACC and the application process;
• Claudine Fenniman, Registered Yoga Teacher/Reiki Master Practitioner, will help participants experience the possibilities of stress reduction, restoration of health, and relaxation by trying some gentle yoga poses; and
• Lynette Whiteman, MS, Executive Director, Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey will discuss the joys and proven benefits of interacting with a therapy dog.

Vendors that will be in attendance include:
• Alcoeur Gardens Assisted Living
• Alzheimer’s Association
• Atlantic Home Care, LLC
• Captel Captioned Telephone Service
• Care 2 Caregivers
• Caregivers of New Jersey
• Family and Children’s Services, Long Branch
• Imperial Healthcare
• Liberty Royal Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center
• Meadowlink Transportation, EZ-Ride, Eatontown
• Mental Health Association of Monmouth County
• Meridian Healthcare System Balance & Sleep Studies
• Molly MacStudy, Mary Kay Cosmetics
• Monmouth County Division on Aging, Disabilities & Veterans Services
• National MS Society, NJ Metro Chapter
• NJ State Library Talking Book & Braille Center
• Riverside Wellness Center, Red Bank
• RJ Healthcare Services
• Rutgers University Behavioral Health
• SCAN (Social Community Activities Network), Eatontown
• Senior Bridge
• St. Barnabas Health Care System
• Veterans Home Care
• Visiting Physician Services, Tinton Falls
• We Care Adult Care, Red Bank

“This is a day for caregivers to indulge themselves,” Smith said. “Quite a few vendors will be providing complimentary therapies, plus there will be raffles and gift baskets.”

The program will connect caregivers with an array of service providers who will be able to distribute information about a variety of services involving care for the aged and how to access those services. Among the services included are adult day care, respite care, and home health agencies.

The program is being funded through the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division on Aging Services.

The County’s Office on Aging offers information about the services, programs and resources available to residents 60 years of age and older. Programs funded through the Office on Aging include providing supportive services for caregivers, transportation, home care, physical fitness, education, and recreation. The Office on Aging can be reached at 732-431-7450.