Love is the quintessential driving force in African American families. Love has provided a strong foundation for us in the face of 400 years and many generations of enslavement, struggle for survival, family separation and reunification, exploitation, oppression, and social and economic injustice. It’s our love that has sustained us, kept our families together, and given us the foundation upon which we build our futures.
Even as we move forward to the future, we remember our past, and we understand the hardships our elders—and their elders before them—endured. We give them our respect, our gratitude, and our love. It’s not easy to come to terms with our parents and grandparents needing our help. They’ve been pillars of strength for us throughout the years. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to accept our help, no matter how well-intentioned.
Preparing to care for our elders also requires getting access to information, connection to resources, and finding ways to take care of ourselves along the way, to ensure that we can provide the best possible care for our loved ones when they need us. We are their advocates and must effectively navigate a healthcare system that remains mired in cultural bias and may not provide the necessary quality of care to everyone equally.
African Americans are at greater risk for chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and many forms of cancer. At the same time, studies show that African American caregivers spend more hours providing care to their loved ones, and often have fewer resources, less time to go to support groups, and less money to purchase in-home care and assisted living services.
On Saturday, November 10, the Legacy of Love 2018 African American Caregivers Forum will provide culturally relevant information for African American and other caregivers and families from throughout the Pacific Northwest. Now in its 12th year, this annual forum presents a unique experience that brings together both unpaid and professional caregivers, and others who want to be better informed to meet the challenges of caregiving.
This year’s keynote speaker is George Dicks, a Geriatric Mental Health Professional at Harborview Mental Health Services. His topic is “Caregiver Hope, Love and Resiliency.” A panel of three family caregivers take the stage next—Connie Bown, Daphne Jones, and Taylene Watson. Their topic is “Caregivers: Loving from the Front Line.”
Our luncheon speaker is Cary Goodman, national program director for the National Brain Health Center for African Americans, Balm of Gilead. His presentation is “Food for Thought: Culturally Competent Dialogue about Alzheimer’s, Caregiving, and Advocacy among African Americans.”
In the afternoon, Dr. Jim deMaine, a retired Group Health pulmonary and critical care physician, and attorney Stephanie Haslam will discuss “Our Lives, Our Choices: Planning for End-of-Life.””
Resource tables staffed by local community partners will offer a wealth of information for caregivers throughout the day, including the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders, African American Elders Program, Center for MultiCultural Health, AARP Washington, Aging and Disability Services, Alzheimer’s Association, Catholic Community Services, Compassionate Legal Care, Momentia Seattle, National Association of Social Workers, Orbit Wills, and Sound Generations.
The forum will be held at the Doubletree Hotel Southcenter. A delicious lunch will be provided. Professionals attending the forum are offered five CEUs (continuing education units) for their participation in the day’s events. There is no charge to attend; however, pre-registration is required to ensure sufficient food and seating. To reserve your seat at the conference, register today at https://bit.ly/2PNk80d or register by phone at 206-706-7084.
Contributor Rowena Rye serves on the African American Caregivers Forum planning committee. Rowena is a former supervisor of the Seattle Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens—the predecessor of Age Friendly Seattle—and previously served as director of community resources at Alzheimer’s Association, Washington State Chapter and Senior Rights Assistance program manager at Senior Services (now Sound Generations).