By TRAVIS HANDY
Providing long-term care for individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other disabilities can present a number of challenges. In an effort to remove some of those obstacles and offer support to caregivers throughout the New River Valley, NRV Agency on Aging will soon host its fifth annual caregiver conference.
The agency’s Caring Connections Caregiver Conference and Resource Fair will be held Saturday, March 16, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at New River Community College in Edwards Hall 118. The daylong event will offer resources and connections to valuable information and learning opportunities, which can make caring for a disabled individual a little bit easier.
The goal of the conference is “to provide information, resources, and access to community-based organizations all in one venue so that our caregivers will have information they need in one central place,” said Janet Brennand, long-term care ombudsman and elder abuse prevention specialist for the Agency on Aging. “An additional goal of our conference is to provide informational and educational ‘breakout’ sessions so that our caregivers can get some additional information as well.”
The day will also feature information sessions on such subjects as elder financial abuse and some strategies caregivers can use to help protect their elders’ assets and resources; end of life care decisions, such as advance directives and other options and navigating the Medicare system, including discussion of insurance counseling programs available to caregivers.
The sessions “will provide more concrete and tangible strategies, ideas and innovations,” said Brennand. Sessions are tailored around issues caregivers have requested or shown interest in learning more about.
The main speaker for the day will be Teepa Snow, who will also present a breakout session during the morning.
“(Miss) Snow is one of the nation’s foremost dementia and Alzheimer’s educational presenters. She also is a registered occupational therapist, so her years in that field helped her develop strategies and techniques that caregivers can use with persons who may have dementia, Alzheimer’s or dementia related disorders,” said Brennand. “More importantly, she provides a lot of general knowledge about how caregivers can help those for whom they are caring … with activities of daily living.”
For informal, unpaid family caregivers, there is no fee to attend. Professional caregivers in the community are welcome to attend at a cost of $25 for the day. Registration is required to allow event planners to make arrangements for food and accommodations. There will be a continental breakfast and lunch will be served.
Brennand said such an event would not be possible without the support of sponsors and contributors throughout the area. Among the sponsors, which are too numerous to mention, are local hospitals such as LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski and LewisGale Hospital-Montgomery.
“Our greatest contributor has been New River Community College, because they allow for the use of the entire facility and the use of their technology services to make this happen at no cost,” said Brennand. “They are one of many of our sponsors and contributors that donate … money and make contributions to make this happen.”
Brennand said one of the most important aspects of the day is that it is aimed at serving the caregivers in the community and doing something especially for them.
“We help the caregivers connect not only with professionals and other providers and agencies in the area, but we help them connect with each other through the course of the day,” she said. “The day is strictly about caregivers and what we can do as a community to support their efforts.”
For more information about the event or to pre-register, contact the NRV Agency on Aging by phone at 980-7720 or in person at 141 E. Main St., Suite 500, Pulaski.