CAPS and National Alliance for Caregiving Cosponsor Forum and Town Meeting on Family Caregivers

Children of Aging Parents and the National Alliance for Caregiving sponsored a one day special program entitled: Meeting the Needs of Family Caregivers-Today and Tomorrow: A Forum and Town Meeting held prior to the First Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on the Aging in New Orleans, Louisiana. The event was generously funded by the AXA Foundation.

Over 170 leaders in caregiving support from around the country participated and represented Area Agencies on Aging, non-profit and proprietary caregiver support providers, the newest dot. com initiatives, policy advisors, government agencies, foundations and health systems.

Pulitzer prize nominated author, Beth Witrogen McLeod, author of Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal, opened with a keynote address which centered on the journey of the caregiver and the importance of self care and reflection during that journey.

A session entitled Does Virtual Caregiving Meet the Needs of Real Caregivers? included presentations by Kathleen Kelly, MPA of the Family Caregiver Alliance, Danny Cher, MD of CareThere.com, Peter Juhn, MD of Carepanion.com, and John Geoghegan of CareGuide.com. The discussion reviewed the latest advances in on line caregiving assistance and emphasized the importance of integrating high touch with high tech.

Robyn L. Golden, MA, LCSW of the Council for Jewish Elderly in Chicago provided a review of innovative programs across the country during a presentation entitled: Innovation and Inspiration: Latest and Greatest Caregiver Programs. At the state level, government agencies and other service providers are collaborating or creating innovative means of assistance for caregivers. Successful programs established in several states were reviewed. The presentation ended by advocating for those in attendance to become aware of state provided assistance and to advocate for caregiver support.

Lynn Friss Feinberg of the Family Caregiver Alliance provided an overview of the need for caregiver advocacy and of existing public policy initiatives during a presentation entitled: Shaping Caregiving Policy: The Legislative and Advocacy Agenda. An emphasis on the incorporation of the family perspective into future policy is essential according to Ms. Friss Feinberg. She issued a call to action, which inspired those in attendance to return to their communities and advocate on behalf of family caregivers.

During the luncheon, several new initiatives were announced including:

  • a national PBS(Public Broadcasting System) series on family caregiving scheduled for Broadcast in the Fall of 2002 being created by Wiland-Bell Productions
  • a web site, CaregiversCount.com that enables communication on the latest advocacy and policy issues.
  • first research findings by The Caregivers Advisory Panel (TCAP) which focuses on research with caregivers to gather meaningful information on caregiver needs and communicate that information to product manufacturers and service providers.
  • the Third International Carers meeting which will be held in Washington, DC in October 2002 and hosted by the National Alliance for Caregiving.
  • distribution of a CD entitled, Where do we find the music? produced by Dick Wilson in association with the Saint Paul area Council of Churches

The most important part of the day followed. Participants gathered approached the microphones around the room and shared what they see as priorities for the future. Among those comments shared were:

  • The importance of increasing awareness of the caregiver in American society.
  • The need to help family caregivers as they face barriers of chronic or terminal disease
  • The enhancement of assessment practices which help to define caregiver need
  • Advocacy for increased fiscal resources dedicated to caregiving
  • Collaboration between the many organizations providing assistance and care to the caregivers
  • Need to aid corporations around the country to assist the working caregiver
  • The need for programs which provide skills training to caregivers
  • The need to continue to promote the story of the caregiver in meaningful ways
  • A focus on the family in the creation of policy and delivery of care
  • The need for intergenerational education programs to promote the needs of persons in need of care. And help remove the stigma experienced by caregivers.
  • Need for enhanced funding to aid those caring for persons with mental challenges
  • Recognition of the different types of caregiving characterized by age and situation.

Children of Aging Parents was pleased to join with other national organizations in continuing to identify effective ways to address the needs of family caregivers. We are grateful to all that participated in this noteworthy event.

If anyone is interested in further information please contact Brian Duke at the CAPS office, 215-945-6900.