A Message From Social Services

Welcome Kathy O'Grady, LCSW
A note from Kathy...

It is with great pleasure that I have been given this opportunity to introduce myself to you.  My name is Kathy O’Grady and I am the new full-time social work coordinator in senior services at the senior center.  Instead of an article this month that focuses on social services, I would like to tell you a little about myself and how I came to become a social worker.  

My biggest influence came at a young age when my mother and I would walk across the street every morning to take care of a lady I will call Mrs. N.  Mrs. N. was an older lady who was married and whose family had a very successful Chicago business.  Mrs. N suffered from what I later came to learn was cancer and she required help with cleaning the wounds that were a result of the radiation she was receiving.  This was in the early 1970’s and neither radiation or hospice were services that were as well known or as widely used as they are today, and her family was inexperienced when it came to taking care of a loved one.  Thus every morning, my mother and I would walk over to Mrs. N. and I would watch as my mother cleaned Mrs. N’s wounds and applied new bandages.

Ultimately Mrs. N. succumbed to cancer, but my daily visits to Mrs. N. taught me several life lessons.  One, that we as individuals and many times, as families have limitations that hinder us from caring for our loved ones.  The limitations may include not feeling that one is adequate or able to take care of a loved one, especially when they are ill.  In many cases, it is better that a spouse or children take a step back and let a person with more knowledge or experience help a loved one.  It is often hard to let a stranger in, not only to the home but into one’s daily experience, but it can make the world of difference for a spouse or the children to just experience their loved one as their father, mother or sibling instead of the continuous caregiver.  

The social services department at the senior center has many types of referrals that could be of help to you.  This includes information about the Community Care Program (CCP) through the Department on Aging, which can offer up to 20 hours of care in the home at no cost if a person meets financial criteria.  Additionally, the department has referrals for private duty agencies in the area that are licensed, bonded and have experience taking care of individuals that have memory loss, end stage illness or if a person is just in need of companionship.  We also have information on facilities that provide independent living, assisted living and skilled care if you are thinking of long term care planning for yourself and your spouse.

As I mentioned, I learned many life lessons from my mornings with Mrs. N. and my mother.  One of which is that it is certainly OK to ask for help.  It may come in the form of asking your younger neighbor to shovel your walkway, asking a relative to pick up medications at the drug store or asking a friend for a ride to church.  Mrs. N. taught me that asking my mother for help was not an imposition.  Mother knew that by helping , Mrs. N. she would be able to live in her own surroundings for a longer period of time.  Mrs. N. taught me that help can be right across the street.  In the case of village residents, help can be found on the second floor of the senior center.

I look forward to meeting you and assisting you where I can in your life endeavors.  

Kathy O’Grady, LCSW