November is National Family Caregivers Month. The national theme, #CaregivingHappens, is true. Sometimes you can see it coming. Sometimes you become a caregiver almost overnight. Eventually it happens to most of us.
According to “The ‘Typical’ African American Caregiver” (AARP Family Caregiving, May 2020), the average age of African American caregivers is 47.7 years. The average age of the loved ones they care for is 64.9 years. And African American caregivers provide care for 5.2 years on average. Read the publication for information about the impact of caregiving on finances as well as health and wellbeing.
Caregiver health and wellbeing are top of mind as we approach this year’s African American Caregivers Forum. Let’s face it—even in the best of circumstances and even recognizing it as one of the most important roles any of us may take on, family caregiving is stressful.
On Saturday, November 12, the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders and a wide variety of community partners will present “Black Joy Matters in Caregiver Health” at the 2022 African American Caregivers Forum. We thank keynote speaker Dr. Raina Croff for the theme.
If you are Black, you probably understand the term “Black joy” already. If you are not Black, please note that Black joy has nuanced meaning, depending on a person’s lived experiences. It can be defined in numerous ways; however, freedom is one of the most common tenets. Black joy also refers to interdependence in an often-hostile environment and a strong sense of identity and expression of belonging. It is intricately linked with resistance movements. It is centered on Black culture and expression of the positive, joyful aspects of Black lives. In the context of caregiving, Black joy includes love plus self-care, self-expression, and resilience in the face of trauma and anticipated loss.
We think every family caregiver, regardless of race, will benefit from participating in this year’s forum—a two-hour virtual event that includes Dr. Croff’s keynote address, mentioned above, as well as presentation that will help demystify hospice and end of life, by Catherine Cordova. A perennial favorite—a panel discussion in which three local caregivers share their personal caregiving journeys—rounds out the agenda.
Our community partners include AARP Washington, Aging and Disability Services, the African American Elders Program at Catholic Community Services, Evergreen Health, National Association of Social Workers, Seattle Human Services, and Sound Generations.
To register or for more information about the 2022 African American Caregiver Forum, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/legacyoflove/. The forum is free to attend. Advance registration is recommended so that you can receive event updates and other information.
Contributor Karen Winston is a senior planner at Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for King County, and a division of Seattle Human Services. Karen’s portfolio includes the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders and coordination of Memory Sunday (June), Grandparents Day (September), and the African American Caregivers Forum (November).