Rhawnhurst NORC shows appreciation for caregivers

Vir­gin­ia Harr presen­ted three vign­ettes to guests at the Decem­ber meet­ing of the Rhawn­hurst Nat­ur­ally Oc­cur­ring Re­tire­ment Com­munity.

Harr man­ages CARES, a pro­gram sponsored by Fishtown-based Luther­an Set­tle­ment House that as­sists care­givers. It’s an ac­ronym for CAre­givers RE­du­cing Stress.

A li­censed so­cial work­er, Harr spoke of Mary, who checks in daily with her ail­ing moth­er while rais­ing a fam­ily; Bill, whose wife of 40 years, Janet, is show­ing early signs of de­men­tia; and Ra­mona, who sac­ri­fices time with her boy­friend to per­form chores for her uncle, who has chron­ic back pain.

All are care­givers, even if they are do­ing every­day tasks for an eld­erly or dis­abled loved one without a second thought.

“A lot of people don’t see them­selves as care­givers,” Harr said.

In the United States, there are some 50 mil­lion care­givers, ac­cord­ing to Harr. These good folks work for noth­ing, help­ing out re­l­at­ives, friends and neigh­bors on a daily or oc­ca­sion­al basis. Some live with the per­son re­ceiv­ing care; oth­ers do not.

Harr offered a box of as­sor­ted chocol­ate candy to the per­son who could cor­rectly an­swer the most ques­tions on care­giv­ing.

It was former first lady Ros­a­lynn Carter who said that there are four kinds of people in the world: those who have been, are cur­rently, will be, or will be in need of a care­giver. 

The term is “Sand­wich Gen­er­a­tion” for people caring for aging par­ents while sup­port­ing their own chil­dren.

Sixty per­cent of care­givers are wo­men.

Twenty per­cent of care­givers suf­fer from de­pres­sion, a fig­ure that rises to 40 per­cent for those caring for an in­di­vidu­al with Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Per­haps the most eye-pop­ping num­ber is $306 bil­lion — the amount of money care­givers in Amer­ica would earn each year if they charged for their ser­vices.

Harr, whose of­fice is at 1340 Frank­ford Ave. (at Mas­ter Street), said CARES helps care­givers age 60 and older in the Phil­adelphia area.

Coun­sel­ing can take place either one-on-one or with a fam­ily, at Harr’s of­fice or in a home set­ting. Par­ti­cipants can gain emo­tion­al sup­port and in­form­a­tion about res­pite care, day pro­grams and oth­er avail­able re­sources. There is also a weekly sup­port group that meets on Wed­nes­days. And the pro­gram of­fers a monthly lec­ture series.

All of the ser­vices are free.

CARES can be help­ful, Harr said, be­cause so many care­givers battle burnout, anxi­ety, frus­tra­tion and stress.

“It will be bet­ter for you and the per­son you’re caring for,” she said of the as­sist­ance.

Harr said she’d work with NORC mem­bers if there is enough in­terest among care­givers.

The NORC of­fers ser­vices for seni­ors in the 19111, 19149 and 19152 ZIP codes. Pro­gram man­ager Abby Gil­bert said the group could be ex­pan­ded to in­clude care­givers in oth­er parts of the North­east.

“We’d be happy to work with Vir­gin­ia on a sup­port group for care­givers,” she said.

To reach Harr, call 215-426-8610 or e-mail vharr@luther­anset­tle­ment.org

In oth­er news from the Dec. 27 meet­ing:

• Jack Be­l­it­sky, a friend of the NORC, will lead a dis­cus­sion on the book The Buddha in the At­tic on Thursday, Jan. 31 at Klein JCC, at 10100 Jam­is­on Ave. Au­thor Ju­lie Ot­suka tells the story of a group of young wo­men brought over from Ja­pan to San Fran­cisco as “pic­ture brides” nearly a cen­tury ago.

Lunch will be served at 11:45 a.m. The dis­cus­sion starts at 1 p.m. Call Shel­ley Geltzer at 215-698-7300, Ext. 129.

• The NORC, a pro­gram of Cath­ol­ic Health Care Ser­vices and the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion of Great­er Phil­adelphia, is look­ing to ex­pand its list of pre­ferred ser­vice pro­viders. Any­one who wants to re­com­mend an elec­tri­cian, land­scaper, plumb­er, roof­er or oth­er vendor can call Abby Gil­bert or out­reach co­ordin­at­or Alan McHale at 215-320-0351.

• The group is look­ing for vo­lun­teers to shovel snow for seni­or cit­izens. Any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing the Philly Snow Corps can e-mail Abby Gil­bert at agil­bert@jfgp.org

• Rhawn­hurst NORC will meet again on Thursday, Jan. 24, at noon, at Samuel Ta­bas House, at 2101 Strahle St. There will be mu­sic, dan­cing, and a hot lunch.

The group will hold an­oth­er “lunch and learn” on Feb. 28 at Con­greg­a­tions of Ner Zedek, at 7520 Bustleton Ave. Mark Michel­man will speak on “A Guide to Cov­er­ing Your Med­ic­al Ex­penses: Health­care in Re­tire­ment.” A box lunch will be served.

A St. John Neu­mann Nurs­ing Home nurse will do blood pres­sure checks start­ing at 11:30 a.m. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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