CROTON-ON-HUDSON –“ It’s so wonderful to be the one being taken care of,” said Pattie Chepiga, who is a mother, full time employee and currently caring for her husband Carl following a recent health crisis. “They made me feel so special today.” Indeed, all attention was on the caregivers this past weekend at Bethel’s Springvale Inn as teams of massage therapists, manicurists, estheticians, reiki masters, make-up artists, hair stylists and more assembled to pamper those who usually do not have time for such indulgences! Yoga instruction and meditation, water aerobics and a caregiver support meeting rounded out the day’s activities which also included a healthy breakfast and lunch.
The life of a caregiver leaves little time for anything but taking care of their loved one, often around the clock, and putting their needs first. As such, the idea to offer, “Take a Little Time for Yourself,” a day of complimentary pampering to caregivers, was developed by two not for profit organizations, Leave the Light on Foundation (LTLOF) and Bethel Homes and Services.
As a Caregiver-to-Caregiver (Peer-to-Peer) Support Organization providing support to Westchester County Caregivers, LTLOF, knows first-hand the emotional and physical strain which caregivers experience daily. Similarly, Bethel Homes and Services, which provides aging in place community services, independent and assisted senior housing, inpatient skilled nursing and rehabilitation, hospice and respite care also understands the importance of ensuring that the caregiver is taken care of as well.
Said LTLOF Co-Founder Carol Campbell, “We see, every day, how the caregiver is affected by the challenges of caring for a loved one. In some cases, the caregiver is the sole caregiver, 24/7. Or, it can be someone who is balancing a job and family, in addition to taking care of their mother, spouse, or whomever it is that needs their help. In either situation, we find the caregiver will put theirown needs on the back burner,” says Ms. Campbell. “That’s why we wanted to have a day of pampering just for them,” she continued.
The event, which was held from 9:30 – 3 pm offered numerous sessions throughout the day so that participants had an opportunity to attend multiple programs without having to pick and choose one over another.All services were designed to offer an immediate boost to the caregiver, be it a quick facial, afive minute massage, a new yoga position or even a simple way to turn a roasted chicken into five healthy meals – it was all about providing support in a setting of camaraderie and shared life experiences.
Nancy Wolin of Katonah, and caregiver to her mother, said, “I only had an hour and a half as I was coming from work, but I was able to get a beautiful manicure, which is something I never do, and as well as a facial and a make-over. I was so touched by the sensitivity of the volunteers who were just so happy to provide all these services.” Ms. Wolin’s mother is a resident at Bethel’s Springvale Inn. “I am so used to being 100% focused on my mother when I come here, but when I walked in, I had an “A-ha!” moment when I realized the event was all about me and the other caregivers! It was wonderful,” she continued.
Said Lorrie Fetonti, Bethel’s Vice-President of Community Relations, “While, of course, being a caregiver is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, done with love and dedication, it also a stressful and demanding situation which can leave the caregiver at risk for having their own health decline. Today’s event was all about supporting them and giving the caregiver a chance to relax and take a breath.”
Leave The Light On Foundation motivated local businesses and training institutionsto offer their services to create a relaxing, memorable day for the caregivers. These vendors generously donated their time and expertise: TheNew York School of Esthetics and Day Spa; Dragonfly Yoga Studio; Dragonfly Hair Studio; The Multi-Modal Healing and Learning Center (Reiki); Balance Bodywork Therapeutic Massage; Acker House – Center for Integrative Health& Holistic Physical Therapy; Eileen Absenger, MS, LMT, RM of Massage for Health; The Lighthouse Wellness and Treatment Center (Reiki); Eileen O’Hare –Shamanic Practitioner; and Capri Cosmetology Learning Centers.
The Boscobel room at the Springvale Inn was spilling over with enthusiastic caregivers exploring their spa options as well as seeking advice from Bethel’s Social Workers, Home Care nurses, Physical Rehabilitation therapists and Food Service experts. Whether they had the luxury of spending the whole day or grabbing a few minutes to enjoy a healthy lunch from Bethel’s kitchen, the caregivers soon realized that it truly was all about them.
Other sponsors of the event were Hudson River Healthcare and Hudson Valley Hospital Center. In addition, seasonal and beautiful floral arrangements were created by Bethel staff member, Mary Ruffino, and were raffled off as the event concluded.