Each September, the Striking a Balance Caregiver’s Conference brings information, support, and resources to families caring for an older loved one. Over 150 caregivers attended this year’s conference, the 10th anniversary of this collaboration between AGE (Austin Groups for the Elderly) and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area. Striking a Balance combines the best of informational conferences, with practical information and emotional support for family caregivers. Family caregivers often feel isolated, stressed, and overwhelmed. The Striking a Balance event reaches out to provide them a safe place to learn, engage, and grow.
Our keynote speaker, James Huysman, PsyD, who educated, entertained, and encouraged us as we travel down the long and sometimes difficult path as caregivers. All attendees also received a free copy of his book “Voices of Caregiving”.
Here are some notes from Dr. Jaime’s presentation:
• Caregiving is a team sport. Just as winning a football game takes the efforts of all 11 players on the field, caregiving requires the time, talent, and resources of many players.
• Caregivers are a family’s “first responders.”
• Sometimes a caregiver’s unrealistic expectations contribute to caregiver burnout. Often, caregivers, expect that their involvement will have a positive effect on the health and happiness of their loved one. This is not always realistic.
• For more from Dr. Jaime, check out his website: www.drjaime.com
• Buy his book “Voices of Caregiving” from LaChance Publishing.
After lunch, participants could choose to listen to speakers on topics such as caring for a person with dementia, sources of long term care funding, or watch hands-on demonstrations of mobility aids. A variety of vendors and sponsors also provided useful information and handout materials at their tables throughout the conference.
Here are some additional resources from our workshop presenters:
Mary Koffend, Accountable Aging Care Management, is a specialist in eldercare services and government-funded programs. Having served elder and disabled clients for more than thirty years with the Social Security Administration (SSA) throughout Texas, including being responsible for Houston’s largest and most complex SSA client service operation, and then managing the Medicaid provider services programs for the State of Texas, Mary is in a unique position to now help Accountable Aging Care Management clients deal with two of the biggest challenges related to aging: navigating the benefits maze and understanding healthcare options.
Tam Cummings, M.S., Gerontologist, received her Master of Science in Gerontology from Baylor University. Her post-graduate studies are in Educational Psychology at Baylor and her doctoral studies are in the School of Rural Public Health at the Texas A&M University. Tam is the author of A Guide to Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. She is also completing the book A Care Giver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. She is an expert at teaching families, social workers, registered nurses and professional caregivers the skills needed to navigate the disease process with individuals. She is available for public or private speaking engagements and is frequently sought after to teach families and caregivers about dementia and providing care in the home.
Tyler Sutliff, The Home Option. After a 10 year career in financial service, Tyler founded The Home Option after personal experience with his own grandparents. The Home Option is a licensed personal assistance service through the Texas Department of Aging and Disability. Since its beginning in October of 2008, The Home Option has become one of the largest and most respected providers of non-medical home care in Central Texas.
Shella Bycura, RN, ResCare HomeCare in Austin and San Antonio. Shelly has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years and is also a Certified Geriatric Care Manager. Her experience has been in the hospital, home health, hospice, Assisted Living, Independent Living, and community settings. Home safety and correct use of mobility aids will insure their “independent” status is maintained and they can successfully age at home.
It was great to see so many new faces as well as returning friends. I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming educational events which are listed in this newsletter. For those that missed the conference, we have included links to some of the materials that were presented at the conference. Thank you for attending, supporting us, and spreading the word about AGE and our programs.
Want more resources? Check out our suggestions below:
The National Family Caregivers Association also lists a good collection of websites of interest to family caregivers: http://www.nfcacares.org/caregiving_resources/agencies_and_organizations.cfm
Agencies and Organizations:
Following are agencies and organizations that are valuable resources for you to receive information, support and assistance – whether you are a family caregiver, a professional caregiver, or looking for additional information on issues related to family caregiving.
- Caregiver Organizations, Information, Advocacy and Support Resources
- Caregiver-Specific Websites
- Caring for Elders
- End-of-Life Planning, Hospice and Bereavement Information
- Advocacy Assistance
- Health Insurance: Prescription Assistance Information
- Homecare Agencies
- Assisted Living, Nursing Homes, and Residential Care
- Medical Transport and Hospitality Housing
- Respite Resources
- Training for Family Caregivers
- Disease Specific and Health Related Agencies and Websites