Aging Well: Haven happenings highlight community

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Volunteer Landscape Day

Volunteers are invited to join Hayden Middle School students and Master Gardeners to help landscape outdoor community space at The Haven Assisted Living and Community Center on Tuesday. Projects, including seeding, sod work and some planting, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers should take gloves and gardening tools if available. For more information, call 871-7676.

Community garden

The Hayden Garden Club is organizing a community garden outside The Haven Assisted Living and Community Center. A club member will be at the site from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the project with residents interested in having their own plot. For more information, call Anne Daugherty, 276-2167.

Caregiver support group

A new support group for individuals caring for older adults or adults with disabilities is from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the adult day services space at The Haven Community Center. The group will provide peer support and resources for those facing the many challenges of caregiving. For more information, call Karen Burley at 875-1888.

The new expansion of The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden has two foundations: One is concrete, the other is community.

Completed in the fall, the facility's community focus has been building steam.

Hayden Wellness Days, offered every Wednesday, provide residents 50 and older with lunch and a variety of Aging Well activities including guest speakers and wellness and foot checks.

This week, staff at The Haven and Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, which operates Haven facilities, is adding community programs focused on outdoor landscaping and gardening projects and a caregiver support group.

"We hope these projects and future programs at The Haven Community Center provide new opportunities for older adults and local residents of all ages to come together for wellness support, education and social connections," said Donna Hackley, coordinator of the VNA's Aging Well program.

Digging in

Hayden area residents will have the chance to help bring to life the outdoor community area at The Haven Community Center on Tuesday during a volunteer landscape day.

In honor of Global Youth Services day, Hayden Middle School students, along with mentors from AmeriCorps and Partners in Routt County will alternate between jobs cleaning up at the Hayden Cemetery and planting shrubs and plants outside the Community Center.

Employees with Windemere Landscape & Garden will coordinate seeding, sod and digging work among the students and community volunteers. Master Gardeners with the Routt County Extension Office also will be on hand to help with the effort.

With the community's help, the courtyard area soon will be transformed into a serene setting where Haven residents and community members can enjoy the peace of the outdoors, exercise and activities such as gardening.

The outdoor space includes a large garden plot for Hayden residents to grow their own vegetables, herbs, flowers and other plants. It's an ideal opportunity for residents who may not have the yard space to garden, as well as for green thumb experts to share skills and tips.

"The whole idea, with gas and food transportation costs high, is to keep things local," said Anne Daugherty, a member of the Hayden Garden Club, which is organizing the effort. "We really want to draw the community together."

Daugherty is asking anyone interested in planting a garden within the community plot to visit The Haven courtyard between 4 and 6 p.m. Tuesday. Daughtery will be on hand to answer questions and help residents choose their garden space.

In addition to having fresh flowers and vegetables, the process of sharing skills, information and gardening time, as well as opportunities to trade and even sell goods, is a valuable and healthy experience, particularly within a tough economic climate, Daughtery said.

"We're really trying to get as many people involved as we can because it's a community thing," she said.

Peer support

Only caregivers truly understand the challenges of caring for a disabled adult child or an older family member with dementia or chronic conditions.

Sharing these challenges with a network of others in similar situations is among the most important ways caregivers can help themselves through an overwhelmingly difficult job.

About 44 million adults in the U.S. provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities, according to a 2004 survey conducted by the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Research shows that most of these caregivers are not prepared for the demands of this role and, as a result, are at heightened risk for mental and physical health problems such as depression, heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Caregivers face a difficult dichotomy: Their own ill health can compromise their ability to care for a loved one, yet they rarely have the time or energy to tend to their own health needs.

Haven staff and the VNA's Aging Well program want to help reduce caregivers' stress and start them on the path toward better health with a support group of their peers. The first meeting is Saturday at The Haven Community Center.

"We want to fill a need that's not being met and provide support for people doing this very important job," said Haven director Karen Burley, who will help lead the group.

In addition to encouragement, helpful resources and tips, participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the adult day services program at The Haven.

The program, housed in the Community Center expansion of the facility, will provide caregivers respite from caregiving responsibilities so they can work, volunteer, run errands, go to appointments, exercise or just enjoy time alone or with friends.

The adult day program will operate daily, providing disabled or older adults meals, wellness checks and activities.

Burley hopes the support group fuels interest in the adult day program among caregivers in addition to providing an outlet to express their frustrations and successes.

Caregivers throughout Routt and Moffat counties are invited to attend the group, which will be co-led by Regina Grinolds, a case manager for Northwest Options for Longterm Care.

Grinolds formerly led a support group in Craig for family members and caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease. She is glad to have another option for participants of that group, which disbanded in 2007.

"Who knows better than peers who are going through the same situation," she said.

This article includes information from the Family Caregiver Alliance Web site, www.caregiver.org.

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org or 871-7606. Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults ages 50 and older. For more information or to view past articles, log onto www.agingwelltoday.com.

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