MetroWest CARES (the Committee Addressing Resources for Seniors), coordinated by United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ (UJC MetroWest), brings together leaders from MetroWest agencies to promote independence and support vitality among older adults. Each month, a MetroWest CARES agency has an opportunity address a critical eldercare issue. This month’s column on using the winter months as a time of renewal is presented by UJC MetroWest.
As winter weather approaches and days grow shorter, many people find themselves at home more. This can be especially true for older adults. However, winter doesn’t have to be a time of hibernation or isolation — rather, it can be a time to renew and recharge. In terms of body, mind, and spirit, winter offers opportunities to expand one’s possibilities by taking advantage of things that come to you, rather than you going to them!
Taking care of your body
Winter is a great time to investigate and use delivery services for groceries, medicine, and other essentials. It is worth a few phone calls to see if your favorite stores can deliver — many do, especially local pharmacies. Drug stores can bring medication and other dry goods and essentials with an order. Delivery charges are often minimal or free.
In recent years, there has also been major developments in on-line shopping and delivery services in the MetroWest area. Fresh Direct, the door-to-door food delivery service that launched in Manhattan, now has many New Jersey zip codes in their service area. Also, Peapod (linked to Stop & Shop) and Shop Rite From Home provide home delivery, often for less than $10 per order. Larger orders pay less, and some on-line grocers offer free “introductory” deliveries to acquaint new users with their services. Information is available at freshdirect.com, peapod.com, and shoprite.com. There are mail order services as well, which can be excellent choices for stocking up on routine medications or other necessities.
Keeping your mind sharp
There is nothing like a good book or movie on a cold winter day. Let them come to you by using your local library. Many local libraries have volunteers who will deliver materials to homebound or less mobile seniors. Librarians can select books and DVDs based on your interests. For older adults with visual impairments, the New Jersey State Library loans out listening equipment and sends out books and periodicals in accessible formats. The services of the New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (TBBC) are available without charge to anyone living in New Jersey who for any physical reason cannot read regular printed books. For more information, visit njsltbbc.org/about. Local and state library services can be a low-cost alternative to Netflix or on-line services like Hulu.
For many people, intellectual stimulation and conversation is the key to staying connected and staving off feelings of isolation. Through DOROT, you can take classes from home on a broad range of topics such as art, history, current events, Jewish studies, literature, and health education. The classes are all offered over the phone at a very affordable cost and scholarships are available. Many classes span a number of weeks and create a sense of community among participants who live not only in the greater New York/New Jersey area, but also in Florida and beyond. No special equipment is required, and since DOROT calls you, long distance phone charges are incurred from New Jersey. DOROT can be contacted at 973-763-1511; a catalog of classes is on-line at dorotusa.org.
Nurturing your spirit
Connecting with others in a meaningful way feeds the soul. In addition to phoning friends and family, sending e-mail, or writing letters to stay in touch, there is a local telephone reassurance program offered through National Council of Jewish Women, where trained volunteers reach out to homebound elders each week to offer companionship and a personal connection to someone who cares and listens. To receive an information packet about the NCJW Telephone Reassurance Program, call 973-740-0588. And homebound elders can volunteer too, to provide contact to others.
For older adults living in Essex County who need more support, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest offers the Friend Advocate program. Volunteers trained by JFS can provide assistance with monthly bill paying, reading mail, arranging for medical appointments, making phone calls, helping to arrange for transportation, assisting in completing benefits paperwork, and offering companionship for frail older adults. Friend Advocates help foster independence and enhance the quality of life for seniors living alone in the community.
While the winter can be a challenge, it can also be a time of growth. Like the bears, we can use hibernation as a time of preparation and renewal to explore new programs, services, and opportunities that can expand our world — all from the comfort of home.
Families and caregivers with broad eldercare questions and who need help with community resources can contact Elderlink, a portal to all MetroWest services for older adults and their families. Elderlink can be reached at 973-765-9050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Elderlink is on-line at elderlinkmetrowest.org.