On Saturday, March 30, over 250 caregivers both new and
experienced gathered at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple for educational sessions,
a resource fair, and individual consultations. This year’s Caregiver Conference
covered new topics like hands-on caregiving techniques and how mobile
application can assist caregivers. But it also continued one of the
long-standing goals of these conferences: helping caregivers to care not only
for their loved ones, but for themselves.
For Seitaro Miyano and his wife Colleen, the day was an important
step as they have begun taking active measures to prepare themselves for the
time when they may need to seek care.
“We don’t know if we can depend on just one thing,” Colleen
explains. “So we have to educate ourselves now.” After caring for her dad, who
was in his 90’s, she learned a lot. But she also admits there’s more to learn –
especially when it comes to herself and her husband.
Over 40 million people in the United States are considered
caregivers – most of them unpaid and not professionally trained. They provide
help with everything from daily errands to essential needs. With such a deep
dedication to their roles as caregivers, they also to need to make sure that
they are looking after themselves.
The conference began with a deep look at ways caregivers can
better manage their own stress. The morning keynote speaker Patty Watson-Swan, community
nursing supervisor at the Huntington Hospital Senior Care Network, emphasized
to attendees that “not caring for yourself is beneficial to no one.”
Patty gave guided scenarios and action plans for managing stress.
She recommended gratitude journals, mindful meditation, and a number of other
ways to lower stress. Patty even suggested that caregivers change the view of their
role from being caregivers to being care managers. She defined this as the switch
from taking everything onto oneself to finding ways to better delegate and
reframe thoughts or expectations.
That message spoke to many people who were there. For conference
attendee Lynne Hanamoto, Patty’s recommendation on “joy breaks” was a big deal
“That was so helpful, I really needed to know what a joy break
was,” Lynne said. “Because caregiving can be so stressful and to be mindful of
yourself is important. To take time to breathe and be present is huge.”
Lynne says she’s been to a number of conferences but this one was especially
helpful for herself. “It’s always a learning process,” she explained.
This year, Keiro introduced a new topic: mobile caregiving. The
interactive and conversational presentation went over a number of smartphone
applications, digital resources, and electronic devices to help supplement
Makoto Kotani, program analyst at Keiro, asked those in the
audience to think about smart devices as a powerful tool. He explained how
to find a number of online resources including Facebook groups dedicated to Caregivers
and AgingCare’s Caregiver Forum. These spaces can give general and specific
advice ranging from stress management to medical treatments. It helps
caregivers connect with others, leaving them feeling less isolated and better
Emily Hopkins heard about the conference through the temple and is
part of an artists’ project in the community. Emily says she’s a remote
caregiver for her dad and sister who live in another state. Digital tools like
these are important, if not essential. “I thought things like the WYZE camera
were helpful – I am definitely looking into that. It was just an overall
helpful session on managing care. I thought it was really important to look at
it that way.”
Mobile applications like CaringBridge and Lotsa Helping Hands can
give caregivers practical tools right at their fingertips to do exactly that:
The other two breakout sessions also provided practical knowledge.
RNA Jose Orozco from Kei-Ai Los Angeles Healthcare Center gave a live
demonstration on the proper way to transfer a person from a bed to a
wheelchair, among other scenarios caregivers experience in the home. Responding
to audience questions, he gave tips on how to choose a walker and what to do
with special postural needs. Becky Happach, Manager of Business Development at
Home Care Assistance, reviewed how to begin the process for finding and hiring
During the afternoon keynote session, panelists Kanako Fukuyama,
Joshua Northcutt, and Dr. Yuichi Edwin Yanami from the Iyashi Care team explored
how palliative care can help navigate family dynamics.
Caregiving for a loved one is already challenging in itself but
having multiple family members involved can sometimes make it challenging, as
people have different expectations and opinions.
In addition to addressing a person’s illness medically, socially,
emotionally, and spiritually – the Iyashi Care team can also help caregivers
with conflict management. It’s that extra layer of support in developing a
spirit of cooperation to better serve the patient and the family through an
already difficult time.
The panelists shared numerous scenarios of how the team can and
has assisted families. “Often differences come from misunderstanding and a
family doesn’t have to come to that,” Dr. Yanami said. He added that the Iyashi
Care team acts as a neutral third party to listen and clarify where each family
member is coming from. “It’s in their heart but sometimes people have trouble explaining
in the right words.”
Keiro remains committed to serving current, past, and future caregivers in Our Community through meaningful and practical programming to support them on their journey.
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