February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?February can often feel like the darkest month of the year. It is not the time of the shortest day, but it is often cold and dreary with too much bad weather that keeps us confined to home. Those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are clearly feeling the lack of light. It is a time when many feel isolated and lonely. Many people stay in when the weather could be treacherous, fearing (with reason) slipping and falling on poorly maintained sidewalks and parking lots, or auto accidents that can be threatening to one’s long-term independence. We can’t wait for warmer, sunnier weather.
During these dark months, it is important to get out when you can. Recent research shows that just 15 minutes in the sunlight will give you the Vitamin D you need. It also helps combat the feeling of being confined. Take the dog for a walk or make a date with a friend to walk around the block.
Fighting the instinct to just hibernate, PSRC is offering a full array of programs through the winter. We have truly become the adult community center for Princeton. Coming into the Suzanne Patterson Building is a great way to combat the feeling of isolation. During the months that Evergreen Forum classes are not meeting, we have space for other programs such as the opera videos and special lectures. Enroll now to take an Evergreen class in March! Bring a sandwich and share conversation before a class.
Do you have an hour a week that you could give to help someone else? Many of us know people who can’t easily get out of their homes, even in good weather. The PSRC HomeFriends Program matches adult volunteers with people who need a little help to maintain their independence. HomeFriends do grocery shopping, help with mail, share a passion for opera or science lectures, or other tasks that help a person who has mobility or vision problems, no longer drives or needs other assistance. Imagine how much it helps when you stop at the drug store to pick up a prescription because your friend no longer drives. Your hour-long visit over a cup of tea or the Scrabble board flies by and brings a breath of fresh air as you share news of families, talk about community issues or discuss the book you brought last week. Many of us do this for friends and family, but there are many people in the community who do not have family nearby, and other family caregivers who welcome your visit so they can do their own errand. The HomeFriends program is seeking new volunteers and people who would like a visitor. Please call Susan Friedman at 252-2362 to find out more.
I know that my in-laws could not have stayed in their home as long as they did without the support of neighbors, church, and paid caregivers as well as family. It was reassuring to know that there were eyes watching when we were not there. My mother-in-law lived for the visits and conversations. Many of you have followed my journey as a family caregiver. Both in-laws passed away in 2011, peacefully surrounded by family in my sister-in-law’s home. I learned a lot while traversing this road, much of which I have been able to pass along to other family caregivers and apply as my own parents need more attention. The family conflicts have been intense and painful. The siblings got together at the family home during the holidays for the first time without the parents and began the work of rebuilding relationships that have been strained. The challenges do not end with death, as they still have to make decisions about final resting place and find ways to co-own the cottage amicably. Meanwhile, my attention is pulled back to the other side of the sandwich generation: college applications are due this week!
Susan W. Hoskins, LCSW, Executive Director