This has been a year of so many unprecedented crises, including a global pandemic; stay at home orders; the horrible police shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks; the Black Lives Matter protests; unemployment; struggling businesses; and so much more.
No matter the time nor season, caregiving for loved ones is always challenging. African American families endure caregiving challenges because love for family is the force that drives us and the foundation upon which we stand. But caregiving during a global pandemic brings on even more challenges. It is hard, uncertain, and really isolating. Add to that, lots of fear and grief created by the loss of so many of our elders due to COVID-19.
Whether your loved one is living in their own home or a long-term care facility, the pandemic has probably changed how and when you interact with them. If you live in another state, you may not be able to travel to see them as often or safely as you did before the pandemic. You may even start to feel like you are no longer their caregiver. It is no wonder that so many family caregivers are feeling overwhelmed, if not on the brink of mental and physical exhaustion.
November is National Family Caregivers Month—when we recognize and appreciate caregivers for all they endure. This year’s theme—Caregiving in Crisis—addresses the new realities family caregivers face with their loved ones during uncertain times. Caregivers manage health emergencies, juggle priorities, and suffer isolation—and did all that even before COVID. The pandemic brings even more challenges as family caregivers handle caregiving in crisis.
This year’s Legacy of Love African American Caregiver Forum is scheduled on Saturday, November 14, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Our 2020 theme is Caregiving in the Time of COVID. The forum is an annual event intended to give participants time to revive, refresh, and connect with other family caregivers. Past forums have been day-long events but this year, due to the pandemic, the two-hour forum will be held virtually.
George Dicks, a Geriatrics Mental Health Practitioner at Harborview Medical Center, will provide the 2020 keynote address. His tentative topic is “Caregiver Hope, Love, and Resiliency.” Following a short break with information about key resources, the second hour will include a panel of three family caregivers, including Lynda Greene, Minister Shirley Poston, and Charles Williams. Their topic is “Caregivers: Loving from the Front Line During a Pandemic.”
We will also hold time to pay tribute to Taylene Watson, one of our forum planning team members, who died at the end of last February.
There is no charge to participate in the forum; however, pre-registration is recommended and is now open at SurveyMonkey.com/r/LegacyOfLoveRegistration. Unfortunately, this year we are not able to provide CEUs (continuing educational units) for professionals.
Please help spread the word, especially to caregivers in need of uplifting support.
Contributor Karen Winston coordinates the annual caregivers forum. Karen is a planner with Aging and Disability Services, a division of the Seattle Human Services Department. Among many duties, she staffs the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders and coordinates Memory Sunday among African American faith communities and promotes Grandparents Day at the Northwest African American Museum. For more information, e-mail Karen.Winston@seattle.gov.