Support Keiro’s work to improve the quality of life for older adults in Our Community.
Staff Reflection: Bryce Ikemura, Program Analyst
When I joined the Keiro team in the summer of 2017, I had a
very narrow understanding of caregiving, both as a life-changing experience, and
also as a crucial subgroup within our expansive Japanese American and Japanese
speaking community. Since then, I’ve had a chance to work on three Caregiver
Conferences and was in charge of planning our most recent conference at the
Pasadena Buddhist Temple.
Planning the conference is a really exciting opportunity. We
begin the process four months in advance to give ourselves plenty of time to
coordinate speakers and volunteer consultants, organize the resource fair, and
conduct registration. At the conclusion of all of the planning, we will have
considered components large and small to ensure a seamless experience from keynote
presentations down to a spotless gym floor. It was a challenging experience
and, like any of the projects I’ve been able to work on at Keiro, all of the
preparation was worth it.
From the very beginning, our vision for the conference was
to deliver the information to make the content more tangible for the attendees.
We wanted to give attendees tools and resources that they could take home and
begin implementing right away. In particular, our Mobile Caregiving breakout
session was a conscious decision to include as Keiro begins to be more
inclusive of technological and forward-thinking solutions to aging.
At the start of the planning process, we formed the
conference planning committee with the Pasadena Buddhist Temple, First
Presbyterian Church Altadena, Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute, and
Pasadena Nikkei Seniors to shed some light on the challenges their caregivers might
be encountering. The planning committee helped us determine that family
dynamics and caregiver stress were two huge challenges for their community, so
those became our keynote presentations. Other questions like “How can I use my
phone to make caregiving easier,” “How do I take care of someone in the house
without a professional caregiver,” and “How do I begin looking for an in-home
caregiver?” were all addressed in their own breakout sessions. Organizations
represented at the resource fair as well as health screenings provided by the
American Heart Association were contacted with a particular focus on how their
services would best supplement the presentations attendees heard throughout the
As a self-described chronic worrier, I’m always very
relieved by the time an event like this Caregiver Conference is over. However,
what made the end of this particular conference even nicer was the feedback I
heard from some of our participants. We received a lot of the typical feedback such
as “I loved the bento!” or “Please put the presentation slides online!” and
this time, I had a chance to talk to folks who were telling me about their
action plans. I had a few caregivers tell me their plans to take self-care more
seriously, finding “pockets of joy” as coined by our first keynote speaker,
Patty Watson-Swan. Others were determined to download and experiment with some
of the mobile applications my Keiro colleague, Makoto Kotani, demonstrated in
his Mobile Caregiving breakout session, and even more submitted evaluations
with different forms of hands-on caregiving demonstrations that they wanted to
see from us in the future.
I love receiving positive feedback just as much as the next
person, but I’m also aware of the many things we need to improve for the next
time we put on a conference. While many attendees did submit evaluation forms
with comments on the elements they enjoyed, something that I read on almost
every evaluation was a challenging situation that they are encountering and
doing their best to overcome. With so many caregivers in the community and even
more older adults to continue serving, these Caregiver Conferences are a good
reminder that there’s always more work to be done before we have achieved our
mission. Until then, we’ll continue to do our best to enhance the quality of
life for older adults and their caregivers in our community – one presentation,
one class, and one conference at a time.
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