By Ana Sancho Sama, Ph.D., licensed psychologist
Depending on the source cited, it is estimated that somewhere between 44 and 66 million Americans ages 18 years and older provide unpaid assistance and support to older adults in need of care while saving billions to our national health care system. The average length of a caregiver’s involvement is approximately 4.3 years.
The altruistic sacrifices made by caregivers are an invaluable gift to those in need and exemplify the most noble human virtues of loyalty, respect, compassion and love.
Rosalyn Carter once said, “There are only four kinds of people in the world — those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who need caregivers.”
Because being a caregiver is inherently stressful and, at times, overwhelming, a support group can have significant positive outcomes for the caregiver’s overall health. Caregiving brings about many, if not all, elements of a chronic stressor over long periods of time and can affect the individual’s functioning in other areas such as family, social or workplace relationships.
Our support group is free of charge and is facilitated by Ana Sancho Sama, Ph.D., licensed psychologist. Those attendees who made a reservation and attended the first group will meet again for our second meeting on Friday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center, 451 Hot Springs Blvd. Please arrive at 2:45 p.m. to socialize and to start on time.
Due to the overwhelming success of our first group meeting, the group is currently closed, having reached its maximum group size. If interested in attending future meetings, please call the Senior Center to include your name on a waiting list. As space becomes available, you will be called on a first-time, first-served basis.
2019 Senior Discount Club Memberships are now offered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
VITA tax preparation
VITA will be returning to prepare federal and state income tax returns at no charge as part of the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
The planned dates are Feb. 23 and March 16, by appointment only. The gross income limit this tax season is $54,000.
Please call 264-2167 for more information or to make an appointment.
Free legal document preparation
The San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging provides legal services for seniors through the program attorney, Daniel Fiedler. Fiedler will be spending the day at the Senior Center on June 14.
Following are the legal services Fiedler can assist with:
• Public benefits and utilities shut off.
• Landlord-tenant problems, such as persons being evicted.
• Simple wills, power of attorneys, medical durable power of attorney and living wills.
• Consumer issues such as advocating for persons harassed by debt collectors.
• Emergency limited long-term care guardianship and domestic problems, such as abuse.
Please come by or call the Senior Center office (inside the Ross Aragon Community Center) located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. or call 264-2167 to schedule an appointment.
Health and wellness
The Senior Center has a pilot program expanding health and wellness services to Archuleta County seniors. The program includes wellness and blood pressure monitoring, or allows individual area seniors to discuss two subjects of their choice.
There is no charge for Medicare enrollees. Participant IDs will include Medicare card, photo ID and, if necessary, any supplemental insurances. No Medicaid is accepted at this time. Participants are encouraged to bring a list of their current medications.
Clinical assessment will be provided by Tabitha Zappone, FNP-C.
The goal of the outreach clinic is to provide care to those who are not able to travel.
The next health and wellness date is Feb. 20.
San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging: Resident and family councils
By Kay Kaylor
As the part-time long-term care ombudsman for Archuleta County, I advocate for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence. Federal and state laws protect residents to promote quality of care and quality of life.
Among the resident rights supported by such laws is the right to organize and participate in resident councils. These monthly meetings empower residents to express their needs and to feel connected to their community. They can participate in decision making, voice grievances and resolve differences from their perspective, with feedback from staff members who attend. Resident councils also provide opportunities to praise staff, suggest activities and menu items and comment on changes.
However, for the past three years it has been discouraging how few residents attend the meetings held at Pine Ridge on the final Wednesday of the month at 2 p.m., currently in the back end of the dining room. The date is shown on the large activity calendar in the hall. All residents are invited to attend, and, for those who cannot, others may speak for them. Staff members help bring residents to these meetings.
Similarly, in assisted living residences, quarterly family councils are more common, attended by residents, family members and friends, with the benefit of linking residents to the outside world. In smaller homes, residents might be more reluctant to voice concerns, and councils give them and family members a forum to share problems and suggest changes. BeeHive Homes had one scheduled last weekend.
If you know a resident and others close to them, please encourage attendance at these meetings, which also are a means to lessen feelings of helplessness.
For further information, you may call me at 403-2164 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your day.
Medical alert system
Medical alert monitoring systems are available for seniors. We can help you get set up with a system and assist with the monthly service charges or, if you already have a system in place, we can help supplement the monthly service fees.
Everyone is welcome to join us for lunch. If you are a senior (60 years and older), for only a $4 suggested donation, you are eligible for a hot meal, drink and a salad prepared by our kitchen staff.
The guest fee for those 59 and under is $10 and children 10 years and under can eat for $8.50 each. Access to the salad bar is only $6 for those under 60.
Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 31 — Chicken broccoli rice casserole, squash medley, milk, salad bar and blueberry sour cream pie.
Friday, Feb. 1 — Beef Philly cheesesteak, split pea soup, milk, salad bar and brownie.
Monday, Feb. 4 — Shrimp and grits, yellow squash medley, milk, salad bar and poached pears.
Tuesday, Feb. 5 — Turkey Rachel sandwich, potato salad, baked beans, milk, salad bar and butterscotch blondie.
Wednesday, Feb. 6 — Sliced ham with pineapple sauce, baked sweet potato, roasted cauliflower, milk and salad bar.
Thursday, Feb. 7 — Chicken cacciatore with whole-wheat penne pasta, eggplant medley, breadstick with butter, milk and salad bar.
Reservations and cancellations are required. You can make a reservation at 264-2167 by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to dine in the Community Cafe at the Senior Center.
For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always attend. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days.
By Ana Sancho Sama, Ph.D., licensed psychologist