The Triangle Caregivers Conference (http://www.trianglecaregiversconference.com/) held at the McKimmon Center of NCSU in Raleigh on Tuesday was hosted by Hospice of Wake County, Alzheimer’s Assn., and Resources for Seniors. AARP North Carolina was a volunteer sponsor. The conference included 12 breakout sessions, a keynote luncheon motivational speaker, and 80 exhibitors. The focus was on the practical needs of family caregivers and drew 500+ people with a low registration fee of only $5. This was not a meeting of “the trade”, or folks professionally involved with aging. This was a successful effort to “reach over the wall” to engage the public at times of crisis when they are looking for where to turn, to thread the maze of bureaucracies, and to learn the terminology of the aging community. It was oriented toward those who are “looking in” and trying to find their way for the many services that are available that most people don’t know about rather than “looking out” by organizations promoting an “outreach” program.
Since the majority of care for frail, elderly, or disabled adults is provided by family caregivers, it is a huge market for those selling to those people we lump into a category we call “caregivers.” In 2005 AARP published a handbook and CD “Caring for Those You Care About.” Two North Carolina women have taken that a step further with another handbook “The Portable Caregiver: 8 Essential Guidebooks for Elder Care” published by http://www.mettajourney.com.
I have been involved in eldercare issues for the past nine years, and this was one of the best meetings I’ve attended. The North Carolina Conference on Aging is good, but it is academic and focused on people who are professionals in the field rather than the public. The Biennial Advocacy Day Conference is focused on training people to lobby the General Assembly on aging issues and covers only legislative issues. Several years ago six organizations published a pamphlet “Family Caregiving in North Carolina.” Last year the PBS special “Caring for Your Parents” was followed up by a local UNC-TV production of a panel discussion of aging issues. Each of the organizations associated with aging issues also hosts many meetings, events, and special programs each year so we’re trying to get out the message, but most people simply wait until a crisis occurs to address critical care issues.
A couple of months ago I tried to summarize eldercare issues and statistics in a lengthy article that was rejected. I had it reviewed by a college professor and am in the process of a re-writing it to a less technical and more readable approach. Aside from universal health care, eldercare is my primary interest even though I continue to write on a variety of other topics.