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Pandemic highlights the challenges facing caregivers

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Renew Senior Communities

Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, is co-moderating the Friday webinar.
Free webinar on the challenges facing caregivers

What: A special webinar discussion, “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19.”

Who: Nadine Roberts Cornish, gerontologist and author; and co-moderated by Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado and Renew Senior Communities CEO Lee Tuchfarber.

When: Friday, May 8, 1 p.m.

Where: Online. Register at www.renewsenior.com.

Cost: Free

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to give up on some of life’s simple freedoms, making an experience that caregivers have endured all along a sudden reality for just about everyone.

COVID-19 has sort of leveled the playing field, said Nadine Roberts Cornish, a gerontologist and author. It has given us an opportunity to experience what our lives might be like if we have to take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one.

“It’s important that we understand the role of a caregiver, but also our role in supporting the caregivers in our lives,” she said.

That’s why caregivers and anyone who anticipates caregiving in the future are encouraged to join a special webinar discussion, “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19,” hosted by Renew Senior Communities in partnership with The Aspen Times, on Friday, May 8 (see factbox).

The discussion will feature Cornish and will be moderated by Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber and Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado.

An opportunity to have tough conversations

Many caregivers find themselves in the role suddenly, Cornish said — they’re going about their lives and then the phone rings and it changes everything.

“Individuals who have had those conversations in advance understand and know what their loved ones’ wishes are — and they’re better equipped to handle the responsibility of caregiving,” she said.

With the situation we’re all facing due to COVID-19, many people have found themselves thinking about all the things they should have taken care of, Cornish said.

“Let’s come to grips with our mortality and have those difficult conversations and put our affairs in order,” she said. “It makes caregiving so much easier because you don’t have the responsibility of deciding those things for someone.”

Cornish cared for her mother for the last 15 years of her life and was uniquely qualified to navigate the waters thanks to a background in public health. She always knew she’d be her mother’s caregiver someday — they had many conversations about it over the years – but she didn’t know how long it would last or exactly what to expect.

After her mother died, Cornish realized there were so many caregivers out there who needed guidance; she launched The Caregiver’s Guardian to provide caregiving consulting and education about a year later.

The importance of self-care

The work Schafer does at the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado largely focuses on supporting and educating caregivers. There are an estimated 16.3 million Alzheimer’s caregivers in the United States, roughly 5 percent of the population.

“We call them unpaid caregivers, because almost always these are people – family and friends – who are not getting compensated,” Schafer said.

Schafer uses the analogy of the safety briefing on an airplane to describe the importance of self-care for caregivers — the flight attendant tells us to put an oxygen mask on ourselves first before assisting someone else.

“We try not to lecture people to take care of themselves, we just try to make those resources available to them,” Schafer said.

Cornish calls self-care for caregivers “non-negotiable.” She said it’s such a necessity that it’s the foundation for all of her work.

“If you’re claiming to care for someone else and you’re neglecting yourself, then you’re not really taking care of that person,” Cornish said. “You’re under the illusion you’re taking care of somebody.”

Cornish said self-care takes on different meanings for different people. She has one client who gets outside every day to pull weeds in her yard, while another client enjoys sitting by the window undisturbed to enjoy the view.

Whether it’s exercise, reading books, listening to music or something else, “nobody can tell you what your self-care looks like — you get to define it for yourself,” Cornish said.

Impacts of isolation during coronavirus pandemic

Nadine Roberts Cornish, gerontologist and author, is the guest speaker in a May 8 free webinar discussion on “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19.”

Because of the danger coronavirus presents to elderly or sick people, Cornish said many of the caregivers she works with have reported feeling extremely isolated since the pandemic began.

Caregivers usually have some support throughout the day during normal times. Maybe their loved one is in an adult day care program, or they get a break from caregiving when they head off to work for the day.

Many of those breaks have stopped during the pandemic. Some caregivers are even avoiding trips to the grocery store out of fear they could bring the virus home and put their loved one at risk.

“There’s a heightened sense of protection and a need to isolate more than everyone else,” Cornish said.

And for those caregivers who don’t live with the loved one they are responsible for, not being able to check in on them at the long-term care facility or senior care housing where they live can be extremely isolating for both caregiver and patient, said Jim Herlihy, senior director of marketing and communications for the Colorado Alzheimer’s Association.

“It can be very disconcerting for the person living with disease — they don’t understand what it all means and wonder if they’ve been abandoned,” he said. “We’ve heard from some caregivers who are saying the disease seems to be advancing (during this period of isolation).”

Focusing on the positive

From structuring your caregiving environment to using technology to connect the person being cared for with other loved ones, it’s possible to find peace and even joy during the caregiving journey.

Schafer said education about the person’s disease or illness is important, as well as connecting with other caregivers who share similar experiences or circumstances.

“There’s power in people not feeling like they’re the only ones going through this,” Schafer said. “It might not change your circumstances, but it helps change your mindset.”

Cornish said there’s joy in the caregiving journey, you just have to know where to look for it.

“Caregiving allows us to stop and shift and really make caring for a loved one a priority,” she said. “I think our ultimate purpose on earth is to care for each other.”

Tips for caregivers separated from loved ones during COVID-19

  • FaceTime (or WhatsApp) calls
  • Reading to them over the phone
  • Doing some breathing exercises with people over the phone
  • Watching a movie together over the phone and talking about it

From outside the loved one’s window:

  • Talking by phone from outside the window
  • Holding up signs
  • Singing and dancing from the window
  • Play games from a window, like cards or charades. (It may sound silly, but we have seen some really cool videos of people doing these things.)

Sending supplies to staff and residents, such as:

  • Favorite snacks
  • Stuffed animals
  • Weighted blankets
  • Heating pads (they even have heated stuffed animals)
  • Aromatherapy supplies including diffusers and essential oils
  • Sending letters or cards
  • Scheduling virtual visits with residents and families via the community computers (usually need to have a staff member available to help residents get connected during scheduled times)

More tips and tools for caregivers can be found at alz.org/help-support/resources/online-tools.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

Real estate broker launches “office on the road”

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Rimkus Real Estate

Dyna Mei Rimkus is excited to travel the valley, from Aspen to Parachute, to provide convenient service to her real estate clients from her Mercedes Airstream mobile office.
Rimkus Real Estate “on the road”

Launching in June, the Rimkus Real Estate mobile office will service clients from Aspen to Parachute. Look for advertisements announcing hours and locations or check Rimkus Real Estate’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RimkusRealEstate, for updates.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the real estate industry, Dyna Mei Rimkus had already been thinking outside the box about ways to service her wide variety of clients throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

Rimkus, a licensed real estate broker and owner of Rimkus Real Estate, works with English- and Spanish- speaking clients from Aspen to Parachute, spanning all demographics and income levels. She wanted to find a way to conveniently deliver her services to such a large geographic region and that’s when the light bulb went on.

“No one really goes into a real estate office that often,” Rimkus said. “I started looking for other options and found this Mercedes-Benz Airstream touring van and now it’s my mobile office.”

From showings to closings to video conferencing, the 9-passenger van is equipped with a full kitchen and bathroom and can handle just about anything — including social distancing.

“It’s so spacious. I took an elderly friend to Costco recently and she felt safe and comfortable because she was in the back with plenty of space between us,” Rimkus said. “It was a great option for her.”

Serving the community

The mobile Rimkus Real Estate office, officially launching in June, is meant to provide convenience for working families who juggle many responsibilities. Rimkus said she plans to announce the mobile office’s traveling locations and hours each week when she knows where she’ll be parked.

“I think this will be a way to better service clients all over the valley, especially those who work long hours and don’t always have time to go to the actual office,” she said.

Serving the community has always been a priority for Rimkus. Rimkus Real Estate started offering free home buyer seminars in 2019 at local libraries. The goal was to teach community members about the advantages and responsibilities that go along with home ownership, including information about building equity for retirement.

Rimkus Real Estate’s next big decision as it expanded its offerings in the valley was its office location.

“The main goal in determining a new office location was, ‘how can we be most approachable and accessible to anyone thinking about home ownership —and how can we continue to reach out to anyone who might not yet have started thinking about all the benefits of owning versus paying rent or leasing land,” Rimkus wrote in a recent email to clients.

Rimkus will offer coffee and tea, and she’ll be baking her mom’s secret scone recipe to make the experience as welcoming as possible. She hopes the casual environment will encourage people to ask questions and share their real estate needs and wants.

Concierge-style showings

Dyna Mei Rimkus and husband Tobias Rimkus have converted a Mercedes Airstream van into Rimkus Real Estate’s mobile office for showings, closings and more.

In-person real estate showings were on hold until Gov. Jared Polis announced they could resume beginning April 27. Rimkus intends to use her mobile office as a concierge-type shuttle service for clients.

“For my clients in Aspen, I can pick them up from the airport and take them to luxury homes, park outside and make a nice picnic for them,” she said. “The 25-foot Sprinter van is equipped with comfortable seating for up to nine passengers — when we get to the stage of looking at properties with the whole family — and has two wide screen TVs to look at the listing details while driving to the next location, plus a few other conveniences.”

Using the van to help others

During the pandemic, Rimkus is also utilizing the van to support her philanthropic efforts. From driving seniors to pick up groceries to packing the van with bags full of supplies for underserved children, the mobile office sprinter van is helping Rimkus do more for the community.

On April 23, she used the van to deliver 600 bags of items, mostly toys, for underprivileged children from El Jebel to Glenwood Springs. And whenever she learns of someone who needs help shopping, she’s happy to use the van to pick up the items and deliver them.

“With this pandemic, the van has been a great tool for us to be able to help and serve the community however we can,” Rimkus said.

Social isolation and loneliness: a talk about coronavirus’s effects on mental health

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Renew Senior Communities

Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado.
Courtesy Photo
Live panel discussion on loneliness during coronavirus

What: Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with The Aspen Times, presents “Coronavirus Isolation and Mental Health,” a webinar panel discussion.

Who: Ami Rokach, a clinical psychologist and a member of the psychology department at York university in Toronto, and who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years; Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado; Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities.

When: Thursday, April 23, 11 a.m.

Where: Online. Visit www.renewsenior.com to register.

Cost: Free

As the global coronavirus pandemic upends our lives and forces us to stay in our homes, it also highlights and increases the experience that many adults were already facing before the pandemic: loneliness.

A January 2020 Cigna survey of more than 10,000 working Americans revealed that 61 percent — or roughly three in five people — reported feeling lonely. The National Poll on Healthy Aging reports that about a third of seniors are lonely. And these statistics measured loneliness before a global pandemic mandated social isolation.

An April 23 webinar hosted by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with The Aspen Times, aims to explore the relationship between coronavirus isolation and mental health. Ami Rokach, the author of “Loneliness, Love  and All That’s Between,” is a clinical psychologist who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years, and Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado, will discuss the pandemic’s effects on mental health and the tools that can help people of all ages and backgrounds cope.

Alone vs. loneliness

The state of being alone, or social isolation, is the physical separation from other people, while loneliness is a distressed feeling of being alone that can happen with or without social isolation. People talk about loneliness as if we’re experiencing the same thing, but loneliness is actually a subjective experience which may differ from person to person, Rokach said.

“While subjective, it’s always very painful, very distressing and something we don’t choose to experience,” he added. “There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness may be experienced when we are, or are not, alone and is always painful and unwanted, while solitude is being alone because we chose to be alone to do what we can best do alone, such as reflect, take a walk in the woods, write, compose, etc. Solitude is very refreshing and a welcome experience.”

The negative feelings associated with loneliness and isolation are what led Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities, to want to explore this and similar topics in a series of online discussions. He hopes the events can lead to meaningful social impacts in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.

The loneliness stigma

Ami Rokach, the author of “Loneliness, Love and All That’s Between,” is a clinical psychologist who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years
Courtesy Photo

Rokach has seen hundreds of patients who suffered from loneliness, yet only one patient in all those years initially reported feeling lonely, though later many admitted to feeling so.

“That indicates that we don’t admit, even to ourselves, when we’re lonely,” he said. “If I’m lonely, it means nobody wants to be with me, and if that’s the case, it must mean I’m not good or I’m inadequate, hence a ‘loser.’ There is a serious stigma about loneliness in our culture.

“Sometimes, loneliness and depression are seen as one and the same. We can differentiate between them by what they make us want. When people feel lonely, they’re often yearning to get closer to others, yet those who are depressed often tell others to ‘leave me alone,’” Rokach said.

That’s how psychologists know the experiences are not one in the same. In loneliness, people can slide into depression, but not all people experiencing depression are lonely.

“Loneliness became now a ‘hot’ topic, due to COVID-19. The reason that people now openly discuss it is that we can ‘blame’ the virus for our loneliness, and that eliminates the stigma that is usually connected to loneliness,” Rokach said.

Loneliness and health

In the last five or so years, loneliness has been linked to increased risks of serious health problems such as hypertension, sleep disturbances, enhanced dementia in seniors and even death. Chronic loneliness is as bad as smoking, obesity and diabetes.

“Loneliness can predict morbidity and mortality,” Rokach said. “The less stress we have — and loneliness is stressful — the better our immune system behaves, and the stronger it is.”

Using technology to conquer feelings of loneliness

There’s good news for social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic in that technology is helping us stay connected. It’s also creating a petri dish of innovation, McFaul said.

The use of telehealth — where patients can meet with providers virtually — has been surging during the pandemic after the healthcare industry as a whole has been working on making it more mainstream for more than a decade. Beyond telehealth, McFaul’s work at the National Mental Health Innovation Center is looking into ways that technology such as virtual reality can be used in both physical and mental health care.

“We’re already testing virtual reality with seniors,” she said. “With any isolated community, virtual reality is about taking them into an immersive world, somewhere they couldn’t go on their own.”

Rethinking loneliness during COVID-19

Loneliness is a concept that wasn’t really legitimized until research has substantiated its risks on physical health, McFaul said. Loneliness was only talked about in traditionally isolated populations until about the last 10 years.

“And now with COVID, it has become a universal topic,” she said. “But the cause and duration of it are different, which is interesting. I don’t know how this will lead to differences in how we recover from loneliness because for those who weren’t already experiencing loneliness, it is temporary in some ways.”

Rokach said the way we think about current circumstances can help us overcome the experience of loneliness. Even the term “social distancing” should really be “physical distancing,” he said.

“When you hear ‘social distancing,’ think of all things that can conjure up — ‘I’m alone, nobody is getting close to me, people prefer to stay away,’” Rokach said. “We can get wrapped into those thoughts and end up being depressed and experience loneliness.”

Instead of feeling as if something has been imposed on us and we have no control, Rokach suggests thinking of the current situation as a choice.

“Being alone is just physical — much of the way we feel about it is influenced by how we look at it,” he said. “By turning loneliness into solitude, we can understand that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. It will not feel lonely, but a period where we could do and experience things that we usually cannot.”

7 formas en las que tu participación en el censo beneficia a toda nuestra comunidad

Presentado por el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute

Asegúrate de que tu voz se escuche

Ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. es una forma de hacer que tu voz se escuche a nivel local, estatal y federal. Tu participación influye en todo, desde la representación política hasta importantes servicios públicos de la comunidad. ¡No te quedes en silencio, ayuda a tu comunidad! El censo de EE. UU. es completamente seguro y su información personal es confidencial.

Para obtener más información, visita a2pcensus2020.com o 2020census.gov.

Si vives en los Estados Unidos, independientemente de si naciste aquí o de cuál es tu estado migratorio, la ley te exige ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. 2020. Hay solo 10 preguntas, que se estima toman unos 10 minutos en completarse.

Desde 1790, el recuento del censo de EE. UU. ha influenciado todo, desde la representación política en el congreso hasta la financiación federal para servicios públicos esenciales.

Los condados del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley, así como otras partes interesadas formaron el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute como un esfuerzo de colaboración para aumentar la participación en el censo en nuestro valle. A través de su campaña “Juntos contamos”, el objetivo del comité es desacreditar los mitos y calmar los temores sobre el censo.

Dado que el conteo del censo solo ocurre una vez cada 10 años, deja que esta lista sirva como recordatorio de por qué no debes ignorar el censo: la participación de cada residente es esencial para la vitalidad de nuestras comunidades.

Ninguna pregunta sobre ciudadanía

En toda la comunidad, el efecto a largo plazo del clima político actual y la confusión en torno a la cuestión de la ciudadanía daba diferentes matices a las percepciones de las personas sobre el censo, dijo Phillip Supino, director de desarrollo comunitario de la ciudad de Aspen y miembro del Comité de Conteo Completo.

Los tribunales federales bloquearon permanentemente los planes de la administración Trump de agregar una pregunta al censo que habría consultado si tu eres ciudadano estadounidense. El comité está recordando a todos los residentes del Roaring Fork Valley que no habrá tal pregunta en el censo 2020.

Tus respuestas al censo son confidenciales.

Las respuestas del censo se utilizan para producir estadísticas, y nada más. La oficina del censo de los EE. UU. tiene la obligación legal de mantener la confidencialidad de tus respuestas.

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información acerca de la cantidad de personas que viven en tu hogar, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellos. El censo no te preguntará acerca de tu religión, afiliación política o ingresos.

Además, todo el personal de la oficina del censo hace un juramento vitalicio para proteger tu información, y cualquier violación trae consigo una multa de hasta $250,000 y/o hasta 5 años de cárcel.

Los datos del censo NO se pueden usar en tu contra por ningún motivo

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información sobre el número de personas viviendo en tu casa, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellas. El censo no te cuestionará sobre religión, afiliación política o ingreso.

La ley federal garantiza que tu información personal y tus respuestas no puedan ser utilizadas en tu contra por ninguna agencia gubernamental. Eso significa que tus respuestas al censo no pueden ser compartidas por la oficina del censo con las agencias de inmigración o policiales.

“Sin lugar a dudas, bajo ninguna circunstancia, los datos del censo se pueden compartir entre las agencias”, dijo Supino.

Conteo insuficiente conduce a un financiamiento insuficiente

Los números del censo equivalen a fondos federales para servicios comunitarios vitales como: carreteras, transporte, hospitales, servicios de emergencia, alimentos subsidiados, atención médica y más.

Por cada persona que se cuenta en el censo, Colorado recibe alrededor de $2,300 en fondos federales. Eso es por persona, por año, durante los próximos 10 años.

Eso significa que solo una persona que no se cuente podría resultar en la pérdida de $23,000 dólares federales hasta el próximo conteo del censo en 2030.

“Con solo unos minutos de tu tiempo, puedes ayudar a garantizar fondos para servicios comunitarios importantes como educación, mejoras de carreteras y servicios de salud y humanos”, dijo Jenn Ooton, subdirector de la ciudad de Glenwood Springs. “Además, nuestras comunidades del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley están en mejores condiciones para planificar el futuro cuando tenemos recuentos de población precisos”.

Alex Sánchez, director ejecutivo de Valley Settlement, una organización que trabaja para mejorar las vidas de las familias inmigrantes, dijo que la comunidad latina del Roaring Fork Valley fue muy poco contada en el censo de 2010. Esto lleva a una incapacidad a nivel local para apoyar completamente a todos los miembros de la comunidad con los recursos necesarios.

“Esperemos que este año el conteo del censo pueda ser un verdadero reflejo de esta comunidad”, dijo.

Mejor representación política.

Cuando una comunidad se cuenta con precisión, puede representarse de manera más efectiva. Colorado es uno de los cinco estados en occidente que podrían obtener un escaño adicional en el congreso después del censo 2020, pero primero necesitamos una participación exitosa en el censo.

“Todos tenemos un interés personal en asegurarnos de que estamos participando”, dijo Sánchez. “Independientemente del estado migratorio, este es nuestro deber cívico”.

Participar en el censo es fácil

Tu invitación para participar en el censo 2020 se entregará entre el 12 y el 20 de marzo. Una vez que la recibas, puedes responder en línea (www.2020Census.gov), por teléfono (llama al centro de llamadas del censo utilizando el número de teléfono que figura en tu postal de invitación) o puedes enviar tu formulario de respuesta por correo postal.

Día del censo (1 de abril) y otras fechas importantes

Cada dirección postal física recibirá una postal con instrucciones sobre cómo participar en el censo de EE. UU., además de cartas recordatorias, desde hoy hasta el 27 de abril.

El censo de EE. UU. comenzó a aceptar respuestas en línea, por teléfono y por correo el 12 de marzo. El 1ero. de abril se considera el día del censo, lo que significa que todas las preguntas que respondas en el formulario del censo deben incluir a las personas que viven en tu hogar a partir del 1ero. de abril.

De abril a junio, se realizarán recuentos de instalaciones grupales como dormitorios y residencias para ancianos.

En mayo, los trabajadores del censo visitarán los hogares de los no encuestados.

Y finalmente, en diciembre, los datos del censo serán entregados al presidente y al congreso.