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Family Alliance adding support groups for grieving, caregivers

WOODSTOCK – Family Alliance built a business on providing home care to the elderly. But sometimes the caregivers themselves need help.

The always-evolving adult day care center added a grief and loss support group this month. It’s led by Nicole O’Dea, a social worker who joined the staff in September. And in coming months, it will add a caregiver support group for the Spanish-speaking population.

The new groups are part of an effort to grow into the community’s needs. New Director Kim Larson is putting her stamp on the center founded and methodically grown under Carol Louise, who retired this year.

“The population of 65 and better is growing by 10,000 every day, so that’s enormous,” Larson said. “There’s going to be a lot of needs that we can’t even identify yet. We’re just trying to stay ahead of the curve.”

The older population is expected to double between 2000 and 2030. By 2030, nearly one in five people will be 65 or older, according to the Administration on Aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We’re prepared and we want to be visionary,” Larson said. “We know we want to grow. We’re just trying to identify what those needs are and what direction we should be going.”

The center has facilitated free support groups, but it wasn’t until late last year that the need for support for grieving caregivers became apparent.

“We realized some of these caregivers really have lost their spouse or partner, and are really in a grieving process,” Larson said.

The new support groups continue the strategy Louise used to expand Family Alliance over a period of 30 years – identify a gap in community service, then bridge it.

Today, the center employs about 50 people and serves adults who are experiencing mental, physical, emotional or social challenges.

“The clinical staff here has been meeting on a weekly basis,” O’Dea said. “Right now, our focus is on identifying services that we don’t offer, what the needs are in the community and how we can provide services to meet those needs.”

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