A federally funded initiative now in its second year is making it a little easier for members of Marlboro’s senior population to remain in their own homes.
Greenbriar at Marlboro, a community for individuals 55 and older, is the pilot community under a two-year, $287,000 grant obtained by Rep. Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12) with assistance from Jewish Federation of Monmouth County and United Jewish Communities.
The grant has enabled the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Monmouth County — the lead agency in partnership with other private and nonprofit organizations — to offer a “wrap-around of services” for seniors living in the Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC).
The program has been “quite successful,” said Jillellen Herzog, program coordinator for NORC supportive services at JF&CS.
With the money from the grant, JFCS has been able to offer three support groups, for self-help, those going through a bereavement, and couples.
Some seniors isolated in their homes have “gone for days with speaking to people,” Herzog said. Through these programs, “they are meeting other people and they’re making social connections.”
Outside organizations, including the Arthritis Foundation, Visiting Nurses Association, and CareOne, offer monthly presentations on topics like diabetes, fall prevention, fraud protection, and Medicare.
JF&CS also offers individual and family counseling and assistance with finding home health aides. Through the Visiting Nurses Association, it makes arrangements for aides to come and perform small home maintenance tasks around the house.
JF&CS is also partnering with the American Red Cross to bring in other programs. It expects to begin offering support groups at the Jewish Community Center of Western Monmouth in Marlboro.
The agency is also looking to introduce a program in Marlboro for spouses and adult children taking care of older adults in conjunction with the Red Cross.
‘Very congenial group’
Clients appear grateful for the program’s services.
Elliot Katz, 82, a widower for 13 months, wrote in a statement to NJJN, “Coming to NORC meetings has been a wonderful experience for me. It has allowed me to participate in open discussions that brought out a way to open up my thoughts and ideas. We have become a very congenial group and have made nice friends.”
Said another Greenbriar resident, Susan Hacker: “This program has opened up many areas of information, socialization, and friendship for me. I look forward to it, and enjoy it very, very much.”
The NORC programs are in addition to a full plate of aging-in-place services offered through JF&CS, Herzog said, including a fee-for-service program in which social workers offer in-home evaluations as well as assistance with making doctors’ appointments, securing home health aides, paying bills, and general counseling.
The NORC grant will expire next summer “and then we need to find funding,” Herzog said, either through soliciting private donations, securing additional grants, or getting support from a foundation.
“We would love the community to support us in any way” possible, she said. “We’re doing the best we can to keep it going.”