November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time dedicated to uplifting caregivers as they care for loved ones 24/7 and an opportunity to increase awareness and support for caregivers who face issues and challenges every day. This year’s theme, created by the Caregiver Action Network, is “Caregiving Around the Clock.”
Did you know that more than 16 million Americans provide more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care for family and friends with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias? In 2019, these caregivers provided an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately two-thirds of dementia caregivers are women, about one in three caregivers (34 percent) is aged 65 or older, and approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers—they care not only for an aging parent but also for children under age 18.
Caregivers meet many social or health needs that their care receiver requires, including help with activities important for daily living such as bathing, dressing and paying bills, shopping, providing transportation, giving emotional support, and helping with management of chronic conditions or disabilities. Their care is critical and helps loved ones to remain at home and in their community for as long as possible.
Every day, family caregivers face many challenges such as lack of support, emotional and physical stress, lost income and financial strain, and isolation. Findings from the Diverse Elders Coalition’s caregiving community survey indicate that many caregivers in communities of color, LGBT communities, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities have difficulty with healthcare, financial, and legal tasks for their care recipients. An excellent resource is their Caring for Those Who Care Toolkit, which provides resources for providers to help meet the needs of diverse family caregivers.
Working While Caring: A National Survey of Caregiver Stress in the U.S. Workforce (Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers) found that one in five full-time workers cares for a family member with a serious illness or disability. Nearly 20 percent of employed family caregivers said they had to quit a job to care for a relative and more than 40 percent said they had to go to part-time work. Compensation for caregiver labor is low, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased responsibilities and intensified their struggles, putting many caregivers at risk of extreme stress, fatigue, and burnout.
On Saturday, November 13, the 2021 African American Caregivers Forum—Legacy of Love—will take place virtually (online) from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. The forum offers participants a unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge and understanding of caregiving for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, and other chronic conditions.
Key take-aways are tips for finding humor in everyday situations and celebrating the moments that touch your heart; tips for including loved ones in social activities with friends and family; tips for connecting with other caregivers; tips for getting your affairs in order and preparing for end-of-life; and resources for family caregivers throughout the region.
- “My Joys and Challenges as a Caregiver” is the keynote presentation by LueRachelle Brim-Atkins, founder and principal consultant of Brim-Donahoe & Associates and partner in The Diversity Collaborative. Since 1988, she has designed customized, comprehensive training and education programs for public, private, and nonprofit organizational that focus on leadership, management, cultural competence, diversity, and social change. LueRachelle provided dementia care for her mother.
- Caregiver Panel – Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone by hearing from a panel of caregivers who will discuss the lessons, joys, and challenges of their caregiving journeys. This year’s panel features caregivers Theresa Gossett, Pammyla Hubbard, and Stephen LaBoo.
- End-of-Life Planning – Attorney Stephanie Haslam, founder and owner of Compassionate Legal Care PLLC, returns to the African American Caregivers Forum with information that can help you make decisions about the latter part of your own life and that of a loved one.
This culturally focused event draws family caregivers from throughout the Pacific Northwest. For professionals in the field of social work, the National Association of Social Workers offers three continuing education units (3 CEUs).
The forum is free to attend, however, pre-registration is requested. Visit surveymonkey.com/r/2021LegacyOfLove to register online or call 206-684-0706 to register by phone.
For more information about this and previous forums, visit the forum webpage at agingkingcounty.org/LegacyOfLove.
Contributor Karen Winston is a senior planner with Aging and Disability Services. Among many duties, she coordinates the African American Caregivers Forum each November and Memory Sunday, an event in June that highlights Alzheimer’s and other dementias among faith communities serving people of African descent, and she staffs the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders throughout the year.