Sunday Seniors: This winter may be tough for caregivers
By Liz Sauchelli
Valley News Staff Writer
In the spring and summer, there was a bit of a reprieve. The warmer weather made it easier for many older adults — and their caregivers — to spend time outside and socialize.
But as the temperatures drop, senior service providers worry about the impact of “going into winter, when isolation becomes more acute,” said Alice Ely, director of the Public Council of the Upper Valley. She spoke during the Aging in Community Quarterly Forum & Town Welfare Officers Symposium, which was held via Zoom last Tuesday.
Melissa Grenier, regional manager for New Hampshire with the Alzheimer’s Association, emphasized that isolation impacts caregivers. READ MORE
PHC Hosts Meeting for Aging in Community Groups and Town Welfare Officers
Numerous towns across the Upper Valley host groups of volunteers dedicated to supporting older adults living in their communities. Some of these towns even have Community or Parish Nurses. According to the Upper Valley Community Nursing Project, the goal of community nursing is to “add a health professional to the informal network of volunteers already providing care for elders, and to facilitate the placement of a nurse in a community to address non-acute needs of elders at home.” These community groups host local events to bring people together, such as monthly luncheons, educational events, and social gatherings. They also work hard to connect people to resources available across the region, such as at Senior Centers and the Aging Resource Center at Dartmouth.
The Public Health Council (PHC) has hosted a quarterly forum for these groups for several years now, with the goal of sharing good ideas, learning about new resources, and building a network.
PHC also hosts periodic meetings for the Town Welfare or Service Officers in our towns who carry out a Town’s mission to support residents in their times of need. These Town Welfare and Service Officers may provide temporary assistance to residents. They also connect people with resources available in the region. Because the issue of isolation for older adults, and especially for people living with, or caring for someone with , dementia is pervasive, our recent Forum, Accessing Dementia Friendly Communities Through Understanding, included these Town Welfare and Service Officers, too.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many older adults are heeding the warnings to stay home and avoid gatherings. This is a wise choice on their part, however, it comes at a cost. The lack of social interaction increases the risk of depression. And when we are not being seen by family members, friends, health care providers, changes in our health status may go unnoticed for too long, as a form of self-neglect sets in. The purpose for the November 10th Forum was to explore the impact of dementia and the needs of caregivers, especially during the pandemic. Over 45 people people from our the region joined the conversation and a number of resources were shared. Several of these resources are listed below.
Understanding Dementia and Supporting Caregivers During the Pandemic
To find your local (state) chapter or find resources: alz.org
24/7 Helpline: 800-272-3900
Upper Valley Community Nursing Project
To learn more about community and parish nurses — or to find one in your community: uvcnp.org
Senior Centers Adapt to Pandemic
Grafton County Senior Citizens Council
Upper Valley Senior Center (Lebanon)
Mascoma Senior Center
Orford Area Senior Center
Bugbee Senior Center
White River Junction, VT
Thompson Senior Center
Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont