Stilly Senior Center honors caregivers

From left, Cathy Nairn pours herself a cup of tea while Dorothy McNeill looks on during the June 3 “Tea at Two” event at the Stillaguamish Senior Center. - Adam Rudnick
From left, Cathy Nairn pours herself a cup of tea while Dorothy McNeill looks on during the June 3 “Tea at Two” event at the Stillaguamish Senior Center.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

SMOKEY POINT — Mary Nam is used to helping aging family members.

As a girl growing up in South Korea, Nam, now a KOMO TV news anchor, lived in a large family where she was expected to help take care of her grandparents and those who needed assistance.

“It’s something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Nam told a group of caregivers and care receivers at Stillaguamish Senior Center on Thursday, June 3. “Growing up like that, you see the aging process and see the amount of care that goes on.”

Nam was invited by Adele Erbeck, outreach support services coordinator at the senior center, to speak about the importance of caregivers in many seniors’ lives during the first in a series of “Tea at Two” events.

Those events, which will take place from 2-4 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Smokey Point center, offer attendees a chance to take part in discussions regarding various health or wellness topics each month.

The program is meant to educate the public, Erbeck said. Each month a new speaker will be on hand to answer questions or help attendees find help in individual areas.

During the June 3 Tea at Two, senior center staff and volunteers served meeting attendees tea, cucumber and egg salad sandwiches, scones, cream puffs and fruit.

Once audience members were through with their afternoon snacks, Nam spoke to the approximately 25 attendees about her experiences helping seniors during her spare time.

She said she originally wanted to volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program, but due to scheduling conflicts she decided to help out with a senior driving program.

Under the program, she provides transportation for local seniors that need help running errands or getting to and from doctors’ appointments.

“It was perfect for me, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Nam said.

Nam said that Snohomish County residents, as well as caregivers and care recipients, are blessed to have a variety of resources available to them.

“Thank you for asking me to come here,” she said “I truly admire you.”

After Nam’s talk, Jessica McDougall, a family caregiver outreach coordinator for the Senior Services of Snohomish County, said people didn’t talk about being caregivers 10-20 years ago.

“You are the ones that are successful because you have gotten that help,” McDougall said.

McDougall said in an interview that many caregivers don’t recognize how difficult the process can be until it’s too late.

“Being an outsider looking in, maybe they don’t recognize the struggle until they’re burnt out,” she said.

Stillaguamish Senior Center offers a family caregiver support group, which meets on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, call the senior center at 360-653-4551.

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