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The Essential Work of Caregiving Across Communities

“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” ~Rosalynn Carter

As former First Lady Rosalynn Carter so aptly expressed, caregiving is a universal truth. At some time, we will find ourselves as either a caregiver or someone who needs a caregiver. This caregiving reality is what led to the selection of the theme—The Essential Work of Caregiving Across Communities—for this year’s UW Elder Friendly Futures Conference. The conference is scheduled for September 14-15, 2017 and will again be held at the Lynnwood Convention Center in Lynnwood, WA.

We are an aging nation.

We are living longer than at any other period in history. Today, one in three Americans are now 50 or older. By 2030, one in five U.S. residents will be 65 and older. The fastest-growing segment of the total population is the “oldest old”—those 80 and over. In the United States, this group now represents 10 percent of the older population and will more than triple from 5.7 million in 2010 to over 19 million by 2050.

But with that longevity often comes the need for supports, resources, and caregiving from family, friends, neighbors, as well as professionals. Research shows that almost 70 percent of us will need help with activities of daily living sometime in the future.

Who are the caregivers?

AARP estimates that there are over 34 million people in the U.S. who are family, friends, or neighbors that act as caregivers for an older adult. And many of these family members, friends and neighbors spend 20 hours or more each week providing support and care. The caregiving journey often takes a commitment of several years and is often done in addition to full-time employment.

The Direct-Care Workforce is conservatively estimated to be over four million and includes nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care aides. They provide an estimated 70 to 80 percent of the paid hands-on long-term care and personal assistance received by Americans who are elderly or living with disabilities or other chronic conditions. According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), “these workers help their clients bathe, dress, and negotiate a host of other daily tasks. Direct-care workers also constitute one of the largest and fastest-growing workforces in the country.”

The demand for and on caregivers is strong. This year’s Elder Friendly Futures conference will convene knowledge experts, researchers, educators, policy specialists, social services and housing professionals, health care practitioners, students and caregivers to engage in two full days of educational sessions, networking opportunities, engaging exhibits, research poster presentations, and roundtable discussions.

Conference topics include:

  • Mind-body health techniques to support professional and caregiver self-care
  • Long-distance caregiving
  • Technology to support caregivers
  • The C.A.R.E. Act and FMLA
  • Valuing palliative care and hospice programs, as well as viewing of the film “Speaking of Dying”
  • Management of opioids in older adults
  • Cognitive impairment among homeless older adults

Each day will feature a plenary panel:

  • Eldercare Workforce Capacity and Collaborations to Support Change
  • The Hidden Costs (and Benefits) of Caregiving

Keynote presenters and topics:

  • Heather M. Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, Founding Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing, UC Davis, will address culturally competent interventions, including the use of technology, to support caregivers in her keynote—Caregiving Collaborations: Increasing Family and Community Capacity.
  • Lynn Friss Feinberg, MSW, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute, will address policy initiatives to support family caregivers, as well as the need to transform caregiving from an individual to a societal responsibility, in her keynote—Family Matters: Transforming Policy and Practice for Caregiving Families in an Aging America.
  • Closing Keynote will inspire with words of wisdom from Sister Madonna Buder, SFCC, best known as The Iron Nun.

How Do I Register?

There is something for everyone at Elder Friendly Futures. Join us for one day or both. And if you are 65 and older, there’s a special Elder Friendly registration rate of $100 off the regular two-day registration. Click here to register. For additional savings, take advantage of the Early Bird rate, which ends on August 16.

Contributor Keri Pollock directs marketing and communications for Aging Wisdom, an Aging Life Care™ practice (geriatric care management) serving King and south Snohomish Counties, and co-chairs the UW Elder Friendly Futures Conference.