Goal is to provide information, respite for those caring for older loved ones 

FREEHOLD, NJ – Taking care of an elderly parent or loved one can be a physical and emotional drain on caregivers and their families. That’s why it’s important to care for oneself, even just for one day.

To help caregivers, the Monmouth County Office on Aging is sponsoring a free caregiver retreat from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown. The program, designed for those who care for people over aged 60, includes a continental breakfast, lunch and access to caregiver resources. Registration is required due to space limitations. Register by calling 732-431-7450.

Every day in the United States, 65 million caregivers balance multiple roles while providing crucial, unpaid care to help their loved ones, according to the AARP. They support their own families and go to work, but they still find time to help Mom with cleaning the house, or getting Dad to the doctor.

“Many people do not consider themselves caregivers,” Freeholder Amy A. Mallet said. “But if they think about all they do for their loved ones and how much time they spend doing it, they’ll realize that they are. They do it because that’s what families do for the people they love.”

“We teach caregivers how to care for themselves as they are caring for someone else,” said Colleen Smith, the county’s caregiver specialist. “That’s important because if you don’t have the energy or a good frame of mind to care for yourself, you’re not going to be able to take care of someone else.”

“It’s very hard to see your parents or loved one decline,” said Thomas Pivinski, director of the Division of Aging, Disability and Veterans Services. “Caregiving can be defined as around-the-clock care for someone at home, or someone who has already had to place a loved one in a facility and still visits them once a day or several times a week. Or, it could be someone caring for them long-distance and flying to see them every couple of months. It’s all caregiving and it’s all stressful.”

Keynote speaker for the event is Teena Cahill, director of Wisdom and Beyond, Princeton. Cahill holds  a doctorate in psychology and is an internationally acclaimed humorist and motivational speaker. She will speak about resilience and tell her experiences with the stresses and strains of being a caregiver.

Attendees will have access to two dozen local care providers and resources, including the Alzheimer’s Association,  EZ Ride, Visiting Physicians Services and a host of elder care centers.   

Also on the program are:

  • Margaret Elliott and Patricia Mikulis, who will talk about Medicaid;
  • Carol Walkner, a writer who uses her craft to resolve conflict, relieve stress and share stories;
  • Meg Mindell, executive director of Halcyon Elder Care, Middletown;
  • Diane Todd, a holistic health practitioner who practices self-growth and well-being focusing on positive thinking, managing worry and manifesting desires, and
  • Andy Lee, a licensed Qigong teacher, Qi healer and coach who places a strong emphasis on the health benefits of exercise.

Vendors that will be in attendance include:

  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • American Red Cross, Jersey Shore Chapter
  • A Place for Mom, Brick
  • Care Alternatives Hospice, Cranford
  • Chapin Hill Nursing Home, Red Bank
  • Comfort Keepers, Red Bank
  • EZ Ride, Freehold
  • Farmingdale Pharmacy
  • Formula for Excellence, Red Bank
  • Family and Children’s Services, Long Branch
  • Fox Rehabilitation, Cherry Hill
  • Halcyon Elder care, Middletown
  • Homewatch Caregivers of Central New Jersey
  • Kensington Court, Shrewsbury
  • Lakewood Blue Claws
  • Meridian at Home, Neptune
  • MOCEANS, Long Branch
  • Nutrition and Healing Arts
  • St. Barnabas Health Care System
  • The Best You – Fitness for Active Aging
  • Visiting Physician Services
  • We Care Adult Care, Red Bank

“This is their day to indulge themselves,” Smith said of the caregivers. “Quite a few vendors will be providing complimentary therapies, plus there will be raffles and gift baskets.” 

The program will connect caregivers with an array of service providers who will be able to distribute information about a variety of services involving care for the aged and how to access those services. Among the services included are adult day care, respite care and home health agencies.


The program is being funded through the National Family Caregivers Grant.