Striking a Balance Conference: 10 years of Caring for Caregivers!

On behalf of AGE and our partner the Area Agency on Aging, I’d like to thank all of you that recently attended our 10th annual “Striking A Balance” caregivers conference.

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.

Check out The 10 Commitments of Caregiving

• For more from Dr. Jaime, check out his website:

• 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.

Tam Cummings History of Dementia

Tam Cummings Physio-Brain

Tam Cummings Four A’s

Tam Cummings 30 Activities

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.

Long Term Care Insurance

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:

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.

Eldercare Advocate, Jacqueline Marcell, to Speak in Houston

HOUSTON, TX — Jacqueline Marcell, author of the best-selling book “Elder Rage” will speak for the Senior Guidance Directory at their first annual luncheon and also at an evening program. Whether you are a caregiver (or worried you may become one or even need one!) or a seasoned healthcare professional, you will enjoy being enlightened and entertained by this sought-after international speaker.

LUNCHEON KEYNOTE: “Overcoming Professional Caregiving Challenges” at Briar Club, 2603 Timmons Lane, Houston 77027, 11:00 am-2:00 pm. TWO FREE Continuing Education Units/Contact Hours for RNs and Social Workers available. The 2009 Pacesetter Award, “Most Innovative Caregiving Practitioner”, will also be presented. Patricia Gras of Houston’s PBS “Living Smart” program will be the Mistress of Ceremonies.

EVENING LECTURE: “Laughter & Tears in the Caregiving Years” at HBU Morris Cultural Arts Center, 7502 Fondren Road, Houston 77074, 6:30-8:30 pm. The 2009 “Outstanding Family Caregiver of the Year Award” will be also presented–nominations due by October 15.

Mixing practical advice with laugh-out-loud humor, Marcell presents creative caregiving solutions based on her experience of caring for two parents fulltime with undiagnosed early stage dementia, namely Alzheimer’s. After a year of enduring her father’s rages and fighting through an unsympathetic medical system, her loving persistence turned around the seemingly impossible situation and made it all manageable. The experience compelled her to give up her stalled career as a television executive to become an advocate for eldercare awareness and reform.

For more, check out: Senior Guidance