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Caring for caregivers and community

Community: SCV Senior Center hosts annual resource day to provide informationto caregivers

Posted: May 30, 2010 11:56 p.m.
Updated: May 31, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

No one ever really knows what lies ahead in life. That guaranteed unpredictability is reflected by the many millions of adults who wind up becoming unpaid family caregivers for loved ones who cannot care for themselves. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, strokes, car crashes — these are among the many reasons why men and women require round-the-clock care and assistance.

To help nurture caregivers — who generally give greatly of themselves but often overlook their own physical and psychological needs — the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center will hold its annual Caregiver Resource Day on June 26 from 9-11 a.m. Empowering lectures, care-giving and health-related informational materials, a Continental breakfast and numerous door prizes will highlight the two-hour event. Directly following the caregiver-supportive soiree, a free health fair will run from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., offering a plethora of screenings for community members 18 and older.

Beverly Sanborn, a noted gerontologist and vice president of program development at Belmont Villages Senior Living, will deliver the keynote speech: “Seeing the World Thru Their Eyes: Understanding Alzheimer’s disease and the Tools Needed for Effective Care-giving.”

Belmont Villages, which is Caregiver Resource Day’s presenting sponsor, offers independent living, assisted living or Alzheimer’s care, with facilities throughout California, as well as in Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Tennessee.

Sanborn, a licensed clinical social worker, will help attendees’ better understand what’s happening inside the minds of those with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the leading cause of dementia. A brain cell-destroying malady, Alzheimer’s currently affects some 5.3 million Americans, accounts for nearly 10 million family caregivers within the United States, and is ultimately fatal.

“To really understand the caregiver role you have to see the world through the eyes of that person who has dementia. That will help you better interact with them in a more effective way,” stated Sanborn, whose 20-plus years in gerontology have included translating research into practical programs for Alzheimer’s and producing programs and training videotapes on aging, behavior management and dementia.

Following Sanborn, psychotherapist and humorist Judith Harris will present, “The Oy and Joy of Care-giving,” a thoughtful and chuckle-inducing look at the complexities and rewards of caregiving. A mental health consultant, author, teacher and grief counselor, Harris facilitates several support groups at the Senior Center, including those for caregivers, bereavement, and stress.

“Through my lecture, participants will learn the difference between letting go and giving up, how to improve family relationships by the ritual of ‘tongue-biting,’ and tragic optimism, or as I like to call it, ‘How to suffer in style,’” said the marriage and family therapist, who is also a two-time cancer survivor and described as “the stand-up psychotherapist who puts the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.”

Myles McNamara, a certified senior advisor and owner of Comfort Keepers In-Home Care, will emcee the therapeutic gathering. A major event sponsor, Comfort Keepers provides comprehensive in-home services to residents of the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding communities. McNamara, who also works with the elderly on issues relating to senior independence, serves on the Senior Center’s foundation board, which helps support the center’s many programs and services aimed at promoting dignity, independence and quality of life for seniors.

Following the informational talks, the community health fair will commence. Many free screenings from healthcare sponsors Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Facey Medical Group and other health professionals will be available. Diagnostic and treatment line-ups will include: blood pressure, glucose, stroke-risk education, carotid artery testing, body mass index, balance testing, hearing, podiatry, oral health, “Ask-an-M.D.” with Dr. Gene Dorio, massage, soothing hand paraffin dips, chiropractic exams, pharmacist assistance and much more.

In addition, many care-giving and healthcare-related vendors and nonprofits organizations will take part in the health fair, providing take-home information and other giveaways.

Senior Center Director of Supportive Services, SuzAnn Nelsen encourages caregivers to attend Caregiver Resource Day and gain from the experts.

“Caregivers shoulder enormous physical and emotional responsibilities in their daily efforts to care for dependent loved ones,” said Nelsen, whose department strives to keep seniors in their homes for as long as possible, as long as it’s safe and healthy.

“Oftentimes these caregivers are elderly spouses with their own health challenges, or, busy working adult children with career and family demands of their own. Their need for professional information and proactive self-care is critical so they can keep providing effective care-giving and stay healthy, too.”

Nelsen also invites community members 18 and older to make use of the health fair.

“Particularly in these distressed economic times, when many adults lack medical insurance, a free community health fair is a tremendous asset for promoting good health and the emotional security it affords,” Nelsen said. “We welcome SCV residents to visit our health fair and utilize our free screenings and information. Your wellbeing is our primary focus.” 

For businesses or other organizations that are care-giving or health-care related, event sponsorship, and screener, vendor or exhibitor opportunities are still available. Availability is first-come, first-served, and registration/payment must be completed by June 15 to receive full publicity. Tables may be shared with each participant paying half of the cost.

The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center is located at 22900 Market St. in Newhall. For information about the Senior Center’s Caregiver Resource Day and Community Health Fair including registration/vendor information please call SuzAnn Nelsen or Diana Sevanian at (661) 255-1588. The event is open to community members 18 years of age and older. Free adult day care is available during this event but requires advance registration.

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