Caregiver Stress: Not Something New to Tioga’s Aging Department Director

Murray is the Director of the Tioga Opportunities Department on Aging, the main resource for seniors and their caregivers in her area. She joined the Department of Aging in Tioga County in February 2012.
 
 
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Sept. 12, 2012 - PRLog -- Albany, NY (September 2012) - Jill Murray was about to enter an MBA program in 2012 when her father became ill in Florida. He was the primary caregiver for her mother. He wasn’t paying attention to his own health and ended up in the hospital himself – a scenario Murray now knows all too well.

Murray is the Director of the Tioga Opportunities Department on Aging, the main resource for seniors and their caregivers in her area. She joined the Department of Aging in Tioga County in February 2012.    

There are so many new Directors and Commissioners for the Departments of Aging – 20-plus in the past 18 months – “we wanted introduce them to the aging services network and learn a bit about them and the agencies they lead,” said Laura Cameron, Executive Director of the NYS Association of Area Agencies on Aging (NYSAAAA), an umbrella organization for aging organizations. Each month another new Director is profiled in NYSAAAA’s newsletter.

Murray wasn’t expecting to land in the Department of Aging when she left her job in a nursing home business office to complete her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, but the job opened up and she applied.

This Department of Aging is under the umbrella of Tioga Opportunities, Inc., a private, not for profit, human service agency that serves Tioga County in New York.  There are 59 Area on Aging Departments in New York State and Murray’s Department of Aging is one of four in the state that does not fall under the county government.  

“We have EISEP (Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program) case mangers. We do contract out home care for level one and level two needs,” she said. “Our NY Connects and Information Assistance program is growing rapidly. We have a HIICAP (Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program) Benefits Specialist who is out in the community doing one-one-ones with residents, and preparing for the fall and that Medicare Advantage change.”  

With the help of the State University of New York at Binghamton Program for Aging, Murray and the Department of Aging are introducing a new program for caregivers in Tioga this fall. It is not uncommon for caregivers to ignore their own health because they’re focusing so much on the person they’re caring for, a situation Murray is all too familiar with.

Paul Gould, PhD, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and college professor with SUNY Binghamton, has developed multiple interventions – both school- and community-based – to address the needs of vulnerable populations within the community, including older adults. He’ll offer a host of activities and forums in cooperation of the Department of Aging at the Countrywide Community Center in Owego for caregivers in the area.

The goal is to reduce stress behaviors and caregivers’ feelings of isolation, Murray said. Caregivers are in many ways the backbone of the health care system, representing a $375 billion annual income value by providing informal caregiver services, according to a National Alliance for Caregiving survey from 2009.
Tioga Opportunities was established in 1965. As with all but one county in New York State, Tioga’s senior population is growing at a much higher rate than the overall population.

“A lot of the people who moved out of the county because of the 2011 flooding are moving back in. As we work harder and harder to be a better resource for people we’re going to get more phone calls. We know that for a fact. We have become the first call from family members who live outside the state or county with parents still living in the area. We’re getting a lot more of that.”

For more information, contact the NYS Association of Area Agencies on Aging at us at (518) 366-6148.

About NYSAAAA

The New York State Association of Area Agencies on Aging represents the state’s local offices for the aging established under the federal Older Americans Act to respond to the needs of Americans age 60 and over. The Association provides professional development and education that includes the annual Aging Concerns Unite Us (ACUU) conference, webinars, regional caregiver forums and a fall Leadership Institute. The Association works to strengthen and expand long term services and supports to individuals so they may age in place in the community.  A core philosophy is to work in collaboration with other agencies, which is accomplished through the Aging Alliance, a coalition of organizations representing Older New Yorkers. Looking to the future, the Board of Directors has approved a new name, the Association on Aging in New York, to create a more cohesive and inclusive network to address the diverse needs of an aging population, as well as individuals of all ages needing long term services and supports. For more information, go to http://www.nysaaaa.org The new web site will soon be operational at www.agingny.org
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