Spending time with family during the holidays is a heartwarming tradition. It can also be a bittersweet experience when you are caring for parents or other loved ones. Whether you live close by and see each other regularly or live far away and visit occasionally, the holidays are gatherings where we tend to notice changes in the physical, cognitive, or emotional well- being of our loved ones. Perhaps we see that Mom is slowing down or that Dad isn't driving as well as before. We may observe memory issues or physical changes that we hadn't noticed until now.
With the slew of Jewish holidays on the fall calendar, stress can spike around this time of year, especially for the "sandwich generation," who attend to the needs of both aging parents and children at the same time.
What do we do when we notice changes in loved ones? How do we deal with our own holiday stress? Where can we turn for help?
The first step is tobring any noticeable changes in your loved one to the attention of others .
Perhaps our in-town siblings may not notice gradual changes in Mom because they see her regularly. Perhaps it is time to accompany a parent to a doctor's appointment and express our concerns. Is it time for an annual review of medications? Do new tests need to be performed? Bringing the family together for a discussion-including Mom or Dad- while everyone is in town can be difficult, but critical.
"Family gatherings at holiday time are opportunities to take measure of changes in a loved one's well-being."
~Joan Richman Ente, Manager, CJE SeniorLife Your Eldercare Consultants
Two JUF agencies - CJE SeniorLife and Jewish Child and Family Services, are particularly well-positioned to help.
- CJE SeniorLife (CJE): CJE can help in many ways. One of the most effective ways is through family consultations with CJE's Your Eldercare Consultants service. "When invited to help, our staff of experienced care managers can jumpstart family conversations about practical matters such as housing options, financial planning, homecare, transportation, driving, health, and safety, and can offer many pragmatic, affordable solutions," says Joan Richman Ente, Manager of Your Eldercare Consultants. She adds: "When it comes to talking about tender topics like loneliness, quality of life, forgetfulness and risk, we try to help all family members find the words and find their way through times of change."
- Jewish Child and Family Services (JCFS): Through Tikvah: The Jewish Chaplaincy Initiative and the Jewish Healing Network, you can connect to a Jewish chaplain for easily accessible spiritual support. "Whether you or a loved one is impacted by illness, addiction, end-of-life, loss, loneliness, or other life challenges, we are here for you. Our professionally trained chaplains provide compassionate support to individuals and families in hospitals, private homes, assisted living, or nursing facilities. Currently, Tikvah primarily serves the north side of the city, but is available to the entire Jewish community when needed." ~Elizabeth Cohen, LCSW, Manager Jewish Healing Network
Remember that the stress of everyday life, plus the responsibilities of caregiving, can take its toll. Some suggestions for dealing with stress include regular exercise, making time for ourselves, joining a caregiver support group, and simplifying our work load. The JUF system also provides helpful services to make like easier for you and your loved one. To learn more about Your Eldercare Consultants, Adult Day Services, Counseling, and Support Groups, or Respite Care at Lieberman or Weinberg Communities, contact CJE at (773) 508-1000. For information on how to access spiritual support through Tikvah: The Jewish Chaplaincy Community Initiative, call (847) 745-5404 or Tikvah@jcfs.org.
JUF, JCFS and CJE SeniorLife wish you and your family a happy, healthy new year.
To read a prayer for caregivers, visit bit.ly/CareJCFS.
Call CJE at (773) 508-1000 for more information and visit CJE's website at www.cje.net to explore the full continuum of care.
Call JCFS at (847) 745-5404 or email Tikvah@jcfs.org for more information about chaplaincy support and spiritual care.
Susan Buchbinder is the director of Religious Life at CJE SeniorLife; and Karen Galin is the assistant vice president for JUF/Federation; and Amy Rubin is the senior director of Community Services at JCFS.