- by Mount Saint Mary College

Mount Saint Mary College’s Center on Aging and Policy (CAP) was recently awarded a $600,000 grant to launch the ProActive Caring initiative for families of individuals with disabilities.

The grant was secured by Lawrence T. Force and Jeffery S. Kahana, CAP co-directors and longtime professors of the social sciences at the Mount.

Awarded by the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council over the course of three years, the grant will be used to provide 1,000 family caregivers of individuals with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities with continued support and training. Participants will include those aiding individuals across the lifespan, from birth to end-of-life.

CAP will collaborate with Access: Supports for Living in Middletown, N.Y. and Independent Living, Inc. in Newburgh, N.Y. to build the infrastructure to educate caregivers, who will be immersed in two evidence-based training models – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Positive Adult Development.

“There is a growing need nationwide to address the stress that caregivers face day-in and day-out when helping with loved family members who experience disability,” said Kahana. “We hope the training will assist family caregivers, and position the college as a valuable community resource.”

Force and Kahana have already begun the planning and implementation of the project, with a full launch planned for early fall 2017. They intend to create a program model that could be copied nationwide.

“We are so pleased and honored,” said Force. “Not only is this a tremendous opportunity for the community, but also for our students, the Center on Aging and Policy, and the Mount.”

Force and Kahana look forward to utilizing the skills of Mount Saint Mary College students in the ProActive Caring intuitive, creating experiential learning opportunities in both research and hands-on care. The scholars will be culled from the college’s Division of Social Sciences, the student-run civic engagement organization Aging United, and those who wish to serve the community.

“That’s the nature of our students – they’re driven by compassion, heart, and knowledge,” Force explained.

Force and Kahana thanked their Mount colleagues for their support with the ProActive Caring project: David Kennett, Mount president; Michael Olivette, vice president for Academic Affairs; Arthur Glass, vice president for Finance and administration; Joseph Valenti, vice president of Advancement; Carolyn Quoma, director of research and grants; Elaine Sproat, CAP grant writer; Yasmine Kalkstein, assistant professor of psychology; Nancy Mazza, controller; Debbie Meissner, Division of Social Sciences administrative assistant; and more.

In addition to their work with CAP and ProActive Caring, both Force and Kahana have published books related to caregiving in the last year: The Detoxing of Caregivers: Key Tips for Survival, Strength, and Patience by Force and Disability and Aging: Learning from Both to Empower the Lives of Older Adults by Kahana.

Force, a gerontologist, has worked in the field of aging and disabilities for more than three decades as an administrator, clinician, and educator.

Kahana, in addition to teaching at the Mount and working with the Center on Aging and Policy, is a prolific author on subjects ranging from academics to social issues in the United States.

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