Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS) was recently selected by the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (MAAA) to receive funding that will help support the Caregiver Support Group, Dementia/Caregiver Coaching, and PEARLS programs.
“These programs are critical to fulfilling our agency’s mission,” said Aging & Disability Services Director Chris Rosenthal. “Eighty-three percent of the help provided to older adults in the United States comes from family members, friends, or other unpaid caregivers. These caregivers lack critical support for themselves to ensure their capacity to manage the financial, emotional, and physical toll care giving takes on them. While caring for a loved one with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis can be rewarding, it also presents difficulties. The prevalence of depression among dementia caregivers is 30 to 40 percent.”
The Caregiver Support Group meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., in the Community Room of Sholom Home East. It is facilitated by JFS Medica Program Manager Grace Lundquist who has also earned Alzheimer’s Association certification as a support group facilitator.
Topics range greatly, but some examples include symptoms like forgetting grandchildren; the struggle of traveling with a loved one with dementia; fighting to get services covered by insurance; and deciding how, when, and where to place a loved one requiring institutional care. As a result of these meetings, participants often run into each other in the community and interact outside of the group to grab a cup of coffee or just to chat. The group is free and open to the public.
Dementia/Caregiver Coaching works with family members to guide them in making changes to improve everyday life at home; whether by promoting better self-care or by offering tips to deal with diagnosis-related behaviors. It may also include an assessment, conducted either in-home or at the JFS office; a comprehensive report and care plan; provide practical ways to cope with functional loss and/or behavioral expressions; problem solving and ways to respond to challenging situations; and help finding the right service or resource at the right time. The program also works directly with people in the early stage of their disease to plan for their own future.
Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lifes (PEARLS) is a short-term counseling/life coaching program specifically designed for adults 55+ dealing with low mood or depression. Caregivers, especially those caring for someone experiencing dementia, disproportionately experience depression and anxiety, physical health problems and challenges to social and emotional well-being.
As caregivers become depressed, they tend to engage in increasing avoidance and isolation, which maintains or worsens their symptoms. The goal of PEARLS treatment is to gradually decrease depressed individual’s avoidance and isolation and increase their engagement in activities.
PEARLS counselors meet with caregivers in their homes to provide eight free one-on-one support sessions over the course of five months. After the sessions are complete, counselors offer monthly follow up phone call sessions for an additional four months.
Contact Director of Aging & Disability Services Director Chris Rosenthal at (651) 690-8920 or [email protected] for more information about the funding or any of these programs.