In Honor of Caregivers

November was National Family Caregiver Month, but at JFS, we honor caregivers all year long with programs designed to support them in the very difficult work they do.

We are very excited to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the MAAA (Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging) as part of the Older American Act Program that allows us to expand PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lives) to PEARLS for Caregivers.

Caregivers have such a tough job. To provide the best possible care for a loved one, they often sacrifice their own physical and emotional needs. The experiences involved with providing care can strain even the most capable person. The resulting feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation, exhaustion—and then guilt for having these feelings—can exact a heavy toll.

PEARLS for Caregivers is a short-term counseling and life coaching program specifically designed for caregivers dealing with their own depression. Counselors meet with caregivers in their homes to provide eight free one-on-one support sessions over five months. After the sessions are complete, counselors offer monthly follow up phone call sessions for an additional four months.

For caregivers who live outside our St. Paul metro service area or who prefer, PEARLS for Caregivers offers tele-counseling. Sessions can be video streamed from any location. For those who do not have a computer or the internet, JFS will be able to provide those tools. This feature enables delivery to rural homes to overcome geographical barriers to help.

JFS offers a variety of programs to support caregivers. 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 disease-related behaviors. Caregiver Coaching also works directly with people in the early stage of their disease to plan for their own future. This program is offered on a sliding fee scale.

We also offer a Caregivers Support Group that is free and open to the public. The group meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Sholom Home East.

You may not connect Kosher Meals on Wheels with caregivers, but think about it. If you are care-giving all day or in the evening after work, there is little time to prepare a meal for yourself or your family. Kosher Meals on Wheels can help daily, once a week, once a month, or on any schedule of your choosing.

Counseling services are also available to further support the caregiver’s emotional well-being.

JFS is a member of the Twin Cities Jewish Community Alzheimer’s Task Force. On April 7, 2019, the task force will present “Keeping the Spirit Alive.” This bi-annual conference is for caregivers supporting a loved one with dementia.

Chris Rosenthal is the Aging and Disability Services Director at JFS.