Caring for the caregivers | January 30, 2015 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - January 30, 2015

Caring for the caregivers

Meet and Move program aims to improve fitness and emotional support

by Rachel Lee

Caregivers who need to stretch their legs, and talk about their challenges, have a new outlet.

The Meet and Move program, founded by a collaborative effort between El Camino Hospital and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, was launched in October 2014 and aims to provide care for the caregivers. This "walk and talk" program offers opportunities for adult caregivers in Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale and other neighboring communities to come together and connect while staying fit and healthy.

Meet and Move is open to caregivers who attend to friends, family, or aging relatives and seeks to emotionally and physically assist caregivers. The program was created when staff at the David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation at Palo Alto Medical Foundation decided there was a need to promote the well being of caregivers and form a support network for them.

"So many people are now looking after their loved ones, that now they, themselves, need support. The idea of the Meet and Move program is to literally take care of the caregivers," John Williams said, spokesman for the Innovation center.

Members of Meet and Move get together two to three times a week and walk around local parks and trails for an hour, giving them a chance to release stress and find comfort in the presence of other caregivers. Participants also receive Fitbits to track their steps and progress. Occasionally, speakers are scheduled to come in and talk about different aspects of caregiving.

"This program sees the importance of both emotional and physical demands of caregiving," Cyndi Mariner, the program's project consultant, said. "(Caregiving) can drain you from an emotional and physical standpoint. So you've got to fill up your own reservoir with physical activity."

Tracey Durrett joined Meet and Move in October, shortly after her mother-in-law moved in with her.

"Meet and Move has been very instrumental in getting me out of the house, getting me to move around, and getting me to track my fitness. You don't feel as isolated and just knowing there's that support there and you're not alone in a situation like this is very valuable," Durrett said.

In the future, the program hopes to expand and become a more widespread and accessible program for caregivers in other regions.

"We're currently at a base number of 40 people. Our goal is to get up to 100 people because the more people you can get involved with this group the wider the support group becomes — and there are more people have similarities amongst each other and it's just a greater support network," Mariner said.

The program is part of the linkAges system, an Innovation Center program designed to bridge the generations and connect community members of all ages.

Email Rachel Lee at rlee@mv-voice.com

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