MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. - Caregivers are everywhere. You work, live and socialize with them.  They run businesses, they live in your neighborhood and they sit alongside you on the train or bus or at work.  They are some of the hundreds of family caregivers in Mercer County who provide physical, social, emotional and financial support for grandparents, parents, and spouses who have dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.  They are the hidden heroes of day-to-day life, trying to make it through the day assisting someone who can no longer care for themselves.

Through a grant from the federal Administration on Aging and the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes announces a new program for caregivers of people with dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.

“Knowing the daily challenges with which dementia caregivers are confronted, we are eager to offer a program that helps them develop coping skills to make their job easier,” Hughes said.   The Mercer County Office on Aging will team up with researchers and practitioners from Thomas Jefferson University to offer a free program titled Skills2Care.  By pairing a trained Occupational Therapist with a caregiver, this home-based program will help families learn and practice skills to help them manage the behaviors that can make caregiving overwhelming at times.  Repetitive questioning, purposeless wandering outside the home and resisting personal care are some of the behaviors that cause caregivers stress and uncertainty.

The County Executive also reminds residents that the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office participates in Project Lifesaver, a program that identifies those people who might get disoriented, wander and become lost. By attaching a small transmitter to the person with memory problems, an officer is able to conduct quick searches for the individual should he or she go missing. Hughes said the Sheriff’s Office will spend time speaking with family members to assure their loved ones live safely in the comfort of their own homes.

“I hear from family caregivers who feel they have no place to turn when dementia behaviors become unpredictable,” added Hughes, who urges caregivers of those with dementia to call the Office on Aging to learn about the Skills2Care program and Project Lifesaver. Both programs are free to family members.  To learn more about these programs and other services through the Office on Aging, call (609) 989-6661.