In the midst of COVID-19, Keiro shifted its entire programming to a virtual platform. One of the first Keiro events that connected a community of current and future family caregivers over Zoom was the Keiro Caregiving Forum: Caregiver Tips for Everyday Tasks. The forum, held on April 18, 2020, helped attendees learn how to enhance their skills as caregivers.

Presented by Keiro Program Analyst Kent Marume, the presentation explored five critical Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that are addressed while providing care to a loved one. Keiro reached out to health care professionals as well as the community to gather specific insight and advice on caregiving. Helpful points in the presentation included modified utensils, the latest safety tools for bathtubs, and creative solutions for wardrobes. Understanding how to transfer, bathe, dress, and feed a loved one are also vital to learn.

Nancy Fukumoto, a future caregiver, said that’s why she joined the virtual forum on caregiving. Learning how to safely transport an older adult stood out to her. “I’m getting older but you encounter people who are even older and you never know when something is going to happen all of the sudden. So I thought that was interesting. I think about what might happen quite often.”

In addition to providing tips, products, and solutions, Kent stressed that with constant improvements, new ideas, and tools may become available in the near future and these key pieces of information are flexible. He encouraged everyone to find what is useful for their current situations and to “get creative,” as it’s in the hands of caregivers to make these tools and resources fit into their daily activities.

Despite the shift from an in-person event to a virtual one, attendees were still engaged in the presentation through the Zoom chat box, where they asked live questions during the forum. Some who attended shared they felt more comfortable at home while also learning with others in the community.

Sherry Watanabe, a former and future caregiver, attended to prepare for herself for the future. Although not a caregiver currently, she is preparing to gain more knowledge for when she will need to assist her 99-year-old mother-in-law. In addition to learning more about caregiving, Sherry already put into action what she heard. “What I really liked was the no-rinse body wash and the shampoo set so I went online and purchased those on Amazon.”

Sherry also commented that online forums like these can help people stay connected and social. She admits that there is a learning curve for platforms like Zoom, but urged that everyone “should just try it and be adventurous! It’s a whole new world out there.” 

During such an unprecedented time, Keiro’s Caregiving Forum also dedicated a portion of the presentation to help people who are caregiving for someone with COVID-19. Key points covered development of care plans in advance, practicing physical distancing, and tips on safely living with an infected patient. Please consult your doctor or medical health professional for more information.

After their experiences with the Caregiving Forum, both Sherry and Nancy continued to attend more events such as Keiro’s virtual Caregiver Conference, held on May 31, 2020.