SAC hosting caregiving workshop
As local programs and activities for Block Island's elder population continue, Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich told the Senior Advisory Committee that “the larger part of our activity this month focused around caregivers, and people needing caregivers,” resulting in a public program next week to engage in a community dialogue with and about caregivers and how to support them.
Mary Ann Seebeck, RN, will be the facilitator of a workshop and meeting for caregivers at the Community Center on Monday, April 24 at noon. The Senior Advisory Committee is sponsoring the workshop and will host a luncheon.
Seebeck, a nursing administrator, clinical researcher and diabetes educator in the Providence area, will lead the workshop and “do a needs assessment for the island,” Redlich reported to the Committee at its April 18 meeting, “which seems to be critical if we are to sustain our goal of maintaining seniors in their homes for as long as they wish to remain on island.”
Redlich outlined three goals for the workshop: “We are hoping to gather as many caregivers as we can on island in order to first, draw them into a dialogue for those of us attempting to help seniors; second, to learn from them what their experiences have been, what insights and ideas they’ve drawn from their experiences and how they feel they can fit themselves into a caregiver resource for island seniors; third to explore possibilities for training and the willingness of island caregivers to take advantage of it.”
Seebeck will stay to meet with the SAC members after the workshop, and “has agreed to work with us in whatever ways we may need her assistance in the future,” Redlich added.
Support for caregivers, and contacts with families of people needing care resources, have been a major focus of Redlich's work. She told the SAC members that she had been “responding to the needs of individual seniors on island: people wanting to remain in their homes, some of whom have caregivers attending them several times a day. In some cases we’ve been asked to augment that care with persons to help with errands in town and at other times asked for persons to substitute for caregivers who are taking a day or more off. At yet other times, we’ve been asked for help taking people to the Medical Center.”
“The caregiver issue is important,” Redlich continued. “While there are a number of persons undertaking this role on island, they seem to have a wide range of skill or expertise level. Some are persons caring for a loved one, others who began with assisting loved ones, and then channeling their kindness and experience into care for others. Then there are some who have a wide range of skills, developed by experience and/or training.”
Other areas of concern highlighted in her monthly reports for March and April included housing on-island dedicated for seniors, social services, medical care, and both “uncovering resources” to meet financial and other needs and “advocacy” to encourage people to take advantage of those resources.
Encouraging participation is important, all agreed. “We have all met people who don't want help, but need it,” Redlich said. “There was a generation on this island who don't want help,” member Dottie Graham opined, but “the next generation does want help.”
Participation has been an issue for the bi-weekly on-island shuttle service. “There continues to be reluctance on the part of some islanders, who may construe the town shuttle as inferring their lack of independence,” Redlich reported; however, she “will continue to promote it, especially as a social event tied into the [movie] matinee at the library.”
Committee Co-Chair Gail Pierce added that she had spoken to Library Director Kristin Baumann about expanding opportunities for combining respite care for caregivers with library programs. Pierce and Redlich will follow up with Baumann, hoping to start activities before the summer.
Redlich also cited recent conversations with individuals and families about financial issues; a recommendation for a program on how to deal with depression and anxiety; and “exploring the development of affordable rental housing for seniors” with Cindy Pappas, Chair of the Block Island Housing Board. Committee members added concerns about in-home health care and ensuring safe on-island transportation to the Medical Center.
The Senior Advisory Committee's next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 16, 9:30 a.m. at the Town Hall.
A followup to the Asset Protection and Estate Planning Program presented by Attorney Matt Mercer in January is being planned for either May 18 or 22. The first personal consultation with his firm is gratis.
The SAC will continue to offer its on-island shuttle (bi-weekly on Wednesdays). The last off-island shuttle for the spring from the Point Judith boat landing to shopping and other destinations is scheduled for Thursday April 27.
Seated strengthening exercise and Tai Chi classes will continue at the Community Center.
A demonstration of how to use automatic defibrillator devices for cardiac emergencies will be rescheduled.
Psychotherapist Kerri Gaffett will resume a support group for caregivers in the spring.
Social programs being considered are a party celebrating spring “for returning snowbirds,” and an off-island theatre trip to Matunuck or Warwick.
For more information on the Senior Advisory Committee's services, contact Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich at at email@example.com or at 401-486-9278.