Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks has launched a Family Caregiver Support Center, which includes a mobile unit for outreach to churches, senior centers, places of employment and other sites throughout east Ventura County.
“Stressed caregivers already have so few hours in the day for themselves,” said Andrea Gallagher, president of Senior Concerns. “By coming to the caregiver, we can reduce their stress, as well as provide the support they need.”
The center, made possible through a grant from the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, celebrated its grand opening this month on the grounds of Senior Concerns at 401 Hodencamp Road. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The effort serves those caring for seniors 60 years old and up or someone of any age with a neurological disorder or dysfunction such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. The caregiver can live anywhere, although the care recipient must live in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Ventura County’s portion of the Westlake Village area, Simi Valley, Moorpark or Oak Park.
Services include consultations to help resolve and plan for immediate and long-term care issues, as well as information and resource referral and support groups.
“These services are all offered at no cost,” Gallagher said.
The idea to add a mobile unit came about after a community-needs assessment indicated the best way to serve caregivers in a broad geographic area is to bring resources to them, Gallagher said.
The mobile unit is a vinyl-wrapped van intended as a marketing piece for caregiver support.
It carries team members from Senior Concerns and contains handout materials, such as information on caring for a person with dementia and referral lists of services such as assisted-living facilities. The van also has books, brochures, fact sheets and articles.
“Sometimes caregivers work full time and can’t find the time to come to Senior Concerns,” said Janet Young, director of development at Senior Concerns. “We’re bringing the services to them. For instance, if you were at work and caring for your mom, you can go to the mobile unit at lunch and meet with someone for a half hour.”
The mobile unit recently made an appearance at a United Methodist Church in the Westlake Village area, where Gallagher gave brief presentations about the effort during three morning services.
The talk inspired Janelle Sanders to inquire about volunteering.
“I had my husband at Senior Concerns when he was failing in his health,” said Sanders, of Thousand Oaks, whose husband died in November. “When I heard what they were doing … I thought it was perfect to volunteer with them.”
The mobile unit is a wonderful concept, she said.
“I know about the need out there,” Sanders said. “It was hard for me, and it’s still not an easy thing to go through. So any services out there are beneficial.”
Studies have shown that problem-solving help for the caregiver may slow the progression of dementia in the care recipient, Gallagher said.
“We have seen firsthand that caregivers are not aware of the resources available to them,” Gallagher said. “So it’s important that we not only help caregivers to self-identify, but that we also help them get the support they need.”
The mobile unit will be present during Gallagher’s next talk, “It’s YOUR Turn: Self-Care for the Caregiver,” from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Goebel Adult Community Center in Thousand Oaks. Call 381-2744, toll-free at 855-318-5921, or visit for reservations. More …

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