Observing 25 years in a PandemicPosted: July 7, 2020, 8:48AM
When I was hired by Altenheim as Resource Services Coordinator of their new division Altenheim Resource & Referral Services in March 1995, I didn't know where this new position would lead. I knew that this position was a great opportunity to help older adults and their caregivers. I had just finished 6 years with a Federal research and demonstration project focusing on Alzheimer's and related dementias, so I knew the anxieties that caregivers faced. After many years in geriatric social work, I was also aware of the services that could help older adults remain independent or help them determine a level of care appropriate to their needs.
In the 25 yers since, Resource Services has helped literally thousands of older adults and caregivers find services as well as information on aging issues. We have offered hundreds of hours of continuing education workshops for social workers and nurses as well as informational programs that were free and open to the community. We have been honored to partner with many of our local colleagues to offer other programs for the community. We have been involved with the Older Adult Expo (formerly the Caregiver Support Fair) since its inception in 2000. This would have been our 21st Annual fair but like so many other events, we had to cancel.
We have had the privilege of fielding questions from older adults, family caregivers and professional caregivers across the globe. A caller from England needed information on the nursing home system in the US. A student from Poland asked for information on aging statistices in the US and services that were available. A contact from India was interested in geriatric programs in colleges and universities. We have also served callers from across the US, and of course those in our tri-state area.
What does this tell us? Information for older adults and caregivers remains a much needed service. Research still asserts that caregivers need information in order to provide optimal care. People are more informed, thanks in part to Internet, but they are still caught in the quandry of caregiving. It's challenging. Caregiving is hard emotionally and physically, and it's exhausting. The exhaustion and frustration can impair our thinking. What do I need? What services are out there? Where do I start?
Many people rely on Internet which is a great place to get basic information. Keep in mind that much of that information is very general and quite often, websites offer information that is not accurate. Agencies come and go, and often websites are not updated. Services may be listed that are inaccurate.
Despite this global pandemic and working from home, Resource Services is still here to help you determine what you need and to help you locate services. Our colleagues continue to offer assistance to those in need, and we are here to help you connect with them.
You can reach me through this website, through email (firstname.lastname@example.org), through our FB page (IM me at www.facebook.com/altenheimresourceandreferral) or call 304 280-8701 and leave a message.
Prayerfully, we will come out on the other side of this. It will have been a tiring, frustrating, frightening and sad journey. We will have lost thousands of lives, and those souls were friends, family members, or others that we knew. These souls crossed all lines: rich, poor, race, ethnicity, famous people, and everyday people. They were young people and they were older adults.
We will have new ways of interacting with each other, new ways of conducting business, new ways of helping. We will adjust and adapt.
Remain strong. Stay safe. Stay well. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Pay attention to the experts.