JFS Conference for caregivers at UJA Federation
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JFS Conference for caregivers at UJA Federation

When an elderly parent or spouse begins needing daily assistance, the caregiver faces often overwhelming dilemmas: How can I manage a balance between my own young family and responsibility for my parent? How can I find time for myself? What options exist for respite and long-term care?

Sheila Steinbach, director of clinical and adult care management at Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson, is familiar with these questions on both a professional and personal level.

“It can be a complex, overwhelming situation and we receive quite a few inquiries on this subject from ‘sandwich generation’ children and spouses,” said Steinbach, who is herself in the position of helping to tend older and younger family members.

On Nov. 15, the agency will present “Caring for a Loved One: You are Not Alone” at the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, 50 Eisenhower Drive in Paramus, 12:45 to 4 p.m.

The conference is co-sponsored by UJA-NNJ, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, the Bergen County YJCC in Washington Township, and Jewish Family Service of North Jersey in Wayne.

“So many of us are dealing with this situation, and it was clearly larger than our client base,” said JFS Bergen & North Hudson Executive Director Lisa Fedder, who travels frequently to Baltimore to see to her own mother’s needs. “This is a community-wide problem, and we wanted to reach out to as many community partners as we could.”

Fedder added that the economic crisis has contributed to the stress felt by many family caregivers. “What pushed this issue to the forefront now was the fact that money has become tighter and many people are no longer able to juggle all the balls by themselves. If we can help answer their concerns, we hope they will be able to be more effective in providing care.”

Steinbach and Debbie Turitz, director of Senior Adult Services at the Kaplen JCC, will present a workshop on creating a balance specifically for members of the so-called sandwich generation – a term coined in 1981 by sociologist Dorothy Miller to describe a segment of the middle-aged generation that cares for both young and older family members without receiving reciprocal support.

Other breakout workshops will include “Accessing Community Support Services” by Patty Stoll of JFS Bergen and North Hudson; “Caregivers are Important Too” by Ann Pogolowitz of JFS Northern New Jersey and Devra Kanter of the Bergen County YJCC; and “Creative Planning: Legal and Financial Issues” by Ridgewood elder-law specialist Michael Manna, who also will give a presentation on legal and financial planning.

Stoll will make a presentation on care options in and out of the home. Dr. Terri Feldman Katz, director of the Center for Dynamic Aging in Hackensack, will speak on medical issues of the elderly.

The conference, which is open to the general public, is not only for those already providing care.

Steinbach said that many clients have told her they were suddenly plunged into the caregiving role and were caught unprepared.

“One day the parent is doing fine and then something happens overnight and the adult child or spouse needs immediate answers and resources,” she said. “So we are also hoping to attract people who are not yet in the situation so that they can learn what’s available to them.”

Registration costs $12 by Nov. 10 or $15 at the door. Kosher refreshments will be provided. For information, call (201) 837-9090 or go to jfsbergen.org.

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