FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2008

CONTACT: M. “Peggy” Salisbury 908-771-5730;
Norma T. Sheld 908-771-5815

Union County Observed Older Americans Month with “A Check-up for Caregivers”

Sheriff’s Officers Kevin J. Buckley (left) and Sergeant Brian Howarth (second from left) explain how Project Lifesaver works to locate individuals who wander to Bela Schmidt of Mountainside (center), Fran Benson, Director of Union County’s Division on Aging (second from right) and Freeholder Chester Holmes, liaison to Runnells (right)

Union County Sheriff’s Officers Kevin J. Buckley (left) and Sergeant Brian Howarth (second from left) explain how Project Lifesaver works to locate individuals who wander to Bela Schmidt of Mountainside (center), Fran Benson, Director of Union County’s Division on Aging, from New Providence (second from right) and Freeholder Chester Holmes, liaison to Runnells Specialized Hospital (right).

Older Americans Month was celebrated at Runnells SpecializedHospital of Union County with “A Check-up for Caregivers,” an informational, educational and self-care event for county caregivers. Union County Freeholder Chester Holmes, liaison to RUNNELLS SpecializedHospital joined county caregivers at the salute to older Americans and their caregivers in Union County.

“RUNNELLS SpecializedHospital and Union County’s Division on Aging presented this essential event for caregivers,” said Freeholder Holmes. “It is vital that caregivers who spend so much time and effort caring for their loved ones have the information and support that they need.”

Caregivers could speak with experts in areas of interest to them from the community. The representatives and the subjects of their presentation were:

• The director and staff from Union County’s Division on Aging distributed information about community resources.

• The director of Occupational Therapy at RUNNELLS spoke about safety measures to decrease dangers in the home including demonstrations of adaptive equipment.

• A Registered Dietitian from Union County’s Division on Aging advised caregivers about ideas for nutritious, easy meals to make when time is limited.

• Alzheimer’s Association staff discussed the difference between normal age-related memory changes and abnormal ones associated with Alzheimer’s or related dementia disorders.

• Union County Sheriff’s Officers informed caregivers about Project Lifesaver. They included a demonstration of how this electronic tracking device is used in Union County to locate persons who might wander, such as those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related disorders.

• The Director of Social Work Services at RUNNELLS, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker focused on the caregivers’ maintenance of their own emotional health. Symptom checklists were available to evaluate the caregivers’ emotional well-being. Additionally the director was available to make suggestions, offer possible solutions and advise caregivers about resources to address current problems or avoid future issues.

“RUNNELLS and the County’s Division on Aging want caregivers to have the knowledge they need to assist loved ones and themselves,” noted Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “Caregivers often leave one person off the list of special care…themselves. Caregivers need a little pampering. The information available for them at this special event was important, as was the opportunity to learn their Body Mass Index, blood pressure and hand grip strength, but I hope that many of them took the opportunity to enjoy the relaxing complimentary massage therapy. If caregivers compromise their own health, the result can be caregiver stress, burnout, and in some cases depression.”

RUNNELLS SpecializedHospital of Union County is situated on a 45-acre mountain top tract of land in Berkeley Heights with breathtaking, panoramic views of the Watchung Mountains. The facility is accessible from Routes 22, 24, and 78.