Complexities of Care

From AAI Program Director Linda Jackson:

linda-jackson-headshot

The light is changing, the sky is full of streaks of clouds, and the leaves are looking ready to call it a day. Fall is here. At AAI, we are getting ready for our 2018 leading-edge workshops all about resources for older people in Marin. The first Inform&Connect workshop, about basic resources for older people, will be Tuesday, October 2, and a second workshop, about resources for people 85+, will be Wednesday, November 7. Both workshops are for anyone who works with older people: front-line staff, volunteers, board members, and community and neighborhood leaders. Both workshops are free, include morning and afternoon sessions, and will be at Homeward Bound in Novato.

Inform&Connect is not just about resources. It’s about meeting colleagues in the field from different sectors. Participants tell us that “networking” is the number one reason they enjoy our workshops. We look forward to seeing you there!

AAI Steering Committee member Michelle Javid is a member of the workgroup that produces the Inform&Connect workshops. In her article this month, we learn about caregiving resources in Marin. I am struck by the complexity of our community’s system of caregiving. The process of finding the right care at the right time is different for each of us, and may include:

  • The joy of caregiving and the reward of being present in a unique time of life. When time together is short or tender, these precious moments can be brilliantly unforgettable. As the novelist Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
  • The loneliness factor. Feeling isolated can be bad for your health. The recent Economist article “Loneliness: Alone in the Crowd” is a look at the spread of loneliness internationally and at some of the innovations and approaches to alleviate it, such as “social prescribing.” The article even mentions Homeshare, which we have in Marin. Homesharing can “disrupt loneliness” by matching older people with rooms to spare with young people looking for a place to live.
  • The array of caregiving available: IHSS providers, nonprofit support, faith-based community members, private-hire and/or family members. There is no one right approach to care, as we are a diverse population in income, background, and household. With the range of options, entering the world of caregiving is overwhelming at first, comforting once connected to the right assistance, and stressful if help is hard to find. Through our network we can help people know their options that best fit their situation. And if we don’t know, there’s always 415-457-INFO to find out more.
  • The importance of home. Because of the shortage of housing in Marin, many of the people caring for older people in the county have commutes of over an hour each way to their homes in Contra Costa and Sonoma counties. Public agencies, nonprofits and healthcare providers all face challenges in recruiting and retaining caregivers to come work in Marin.

AAI is working on a JADU fair this winter to help homeowners create a junior accessory dwelling unit. A JADU can provide extra income, a companion, or a place for a caregiver. I lived in one as a newlywed. Our landlady was my mother. She lived in the ‘big house.’ We lived in the apartment over the garage. She had a little more income, a lawn mower, and someone to share a cup of tea; we had a built-in dog-sitter and someone to watch the Giants games with at the end of the day. With JADUs across Marin, we can help older people stay in their homes longer!

Each month I attend the Marin’s Commission on Aging meeting, (check out our calendar: first Thursdays at 10am). Last week, the Commission met in Marin City and heard about the importance of storytelling. It is through stories that we learn anew, successfully advocate for change, and remember people and places. Do you want to tell a better story about your mission? Check this out!

In writing this, I think of one caregiver in particular: my brother who is caring for his wife with a variety of difficulties. It’s time to give him another call, to simply say ‘thinking of you.’ Sometimes all we can do is be present, and sometimes that is all that’s needed.

Here’s to a brilliant fall, a bit of rain, and time with the ones we care about.

~ Linda

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Categories: AAI