How Caregivers Can Find Time for New Experiences

By Faith Unger, Program Director for CaregiverU

national_caregivers_month_2016_logoThe fall months are traditionally thought of as back to school time. Just saying that phrase, “back to school,” evokes a ton of special memories—new clothes, new school supplies, and new things to learn.

What if caregivers could begin a new school year? Learn something new totally unrelated to caregiving? What a concept! What a soul feeder! The thought intrigues many a caregiver, but that thought is usually followed by another: no time for that luxury.

But wait a minute! There are numerous ways to meet that quest for new learning. Let’s explore a few that could be done during a few hours of regular respite care, during a longer time of carefully planned respite care, or during those special moments in the schedule when the care recipient is otherwise occupied as in sleep time.ut_library_pic

Museums: Many Central Texas museums have free days, so that cuts the cost—and if there is no cost, one feels freer to have a short stay!

Libraries: Is there a topic from the museum or the news that you wish to learn more about? The library is a treasure trove of information with books on a variety of topics. Checking out the books and bringing them home allows for reading during the short snippets of free time.

Lectures: Local colleges and universities offer a plethora of learning events. Some of those events are one-time lectures on a specific topic. Watch for announcements of these in the local media, research on the college web site under “events”, or just call the college. Continue reading

30 Years of Serving Central Texas

AGE of Central Texas co-founders Bert Kruger Smith (left) and Willie Kocurek
AGE of Central Texas co-founders Bert Kruger Smith (left) and Willie Kocurek

As AGE of Central Texas celebrates its 30th Anniversary Year during 2016, here is a look back the historical moments that guided the humble organization, founded in 1986, to grow into a leading community non-profit that today serves senior adults and family caregivers across four Central Texas counties:

1984: Dell Computer Corporation is founded in Austin.

1985: Austin Groups for the Elderly established by Austin civic leaders Bert Kruger Smith and Willie Kocurek, to expand services to the elderly and provide them in the most efficient, cooperative manner possible.

historical-building1986: AGE purchases the vacant School for the Blind from the State’s General Land office; opened in 1907 as the Confederate Woman’s Home, the facility cared for more than 340 indigent women during a period of 55 years, and was popular site that hosted many Austin community events throughout the years. On Dec. 10, 1990, and the AGE Building mortgage is paid off. Continue reading

3rd Annual Williamson County Caregiver Conference Returns September 17th

wilco_conference_2016_logoAGE of Central Texas will host the 3rd Annual “Williamson County Caregiver Conference” on Saturday, September 17th, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Wingate by Wyndham Round Rock Hotel & Conference Center.  Sponsored by AARP Texas, the free Conference includes a keynote presentation by Dr. David Zuniga, break-out sessions, and community resources to support family members who are caring for a senior adult.

The annual event was created to help ease the challenges of caring for an aging family member by providing unpaid caregivers with relevant information and vital resources.  The attendees will discover local resources, acquire skills to better manage their caregiving situation, and connect with other caregivers and local experts on aging.  The day also includes workshops on topics related to caregiving, with experts available for questions. Continue reading

15th Annual “Striking a Balance” Caregiver Conference Coming Aug. 20th

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AGE of Central Texas and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area are again partnering this year for the 15th Annual “Striking a Balance” Caregiver Conference on Saturday, August 20th, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Austin.  The free seminar includes keynote presentations, breakout sessions, and community resources to support family members who are caring for a senior adult.

The largest, longest-run free caregiver conference in Central Texas, the annual event helps to ease the challenges of caring for an aging family member by providing unpaid caregivers with relevant information and vital resources.  The attendees will discover local resources, acquire skills to better manage their caregiving situation, and connect with other caregivers and local experts on aging.  The day also includes workshops on topics related to caregiving, with experts available for questions.

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Tips for Surviving the Sandwich Generation Gaps

July is National “Sandwich Generation” Month, but if you’re a member, you probably feelsandwich_generation_month_logo more like the rope in a game of tug-of-war than a PB&J!

The “Sandwich Generation” refers to the more than 9 million Americans, typically in their 30s and 40s, who are squished in the middle – the meat or the cheese – as the primary caregiver for their children and an older adult, often a parent – the bread. As anyone who is tuna salad between two slices of whole wheat will tell you, they are endlessly being pulled in multiple directions trying to make sure that everyone is safe, healthy, and, at least most of the time, happy.

Instead of thinking of caring for the children and the older adult in your life as two separate roles – parent and caregiver – here’s a little secret. The thing is, although distinctly different situations, some of the same techniques used with kids can do double duty to help the older adult reach a happy place. Use those parenting skills to manage the whole household and feel like a hero sandwich! Continue reading

AGE of Central Texas Partners with City of Austin to Provide Transportation Options for Older Adults Living in HACA Properties

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To provide additional support for senior adults living in City of Austin housing, AGE of Central Texas has partnered with the City and fellow community non-profit partner Family Eldercare to provide transportation opportunities for low income senior adults living at seven of the Housing Authority of City of Austin (HACA) residential properties.

As a member of the City’s social services “Living Well! Collaborative,” AGE of Central Texas will offer free, ongoing weekly routes to area shopping centers and group activities to the residents, utilizing the non-profit organization’s existing handicap-accessible vans.  AGE will help “promote self-sufficiency across the Life Continuum” as described as the purpose of the City grant after the original provider was unable to fulfill the responsibilities of the contract. Continue reading

Misconceptions About Dementia

dementia_umbrella_graphicBy Lisa Daly

Yesterday, I overheard a health professional describe her own mother as not having “Alzheimer’s” but just “dementia.” I have heard this many times throughout my career in the memory care field, and it is something that I would like to clarify.

“Dementia” is actually an umbrella term used to describe a severe degeneration in the brain function of adults. This degeneration is progressive and extreme enough to interfere with a person’s Instrumental Activities of Daily Life (IADLs) – such as driving, managing finances, and cooking. As the dementia progresses, it most often will affect a person’s ability manage their own Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – such as bathing, dressing, and toileting.

Alzheimer’s disease is one category under the dementia umbrella. There are many types and categories of dementias. I ask families to think of it this way: if a doctor says your loved one has cancer, what would your next question be? “What type of cancer?” As with cancer, dementia is the general term.

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