Latino Forum 2014: Health for Family Caregivers, 10/18/14

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By Michelle Venegas (FCA Programs & Services Director)  [View event photos on our Pinterest board]


This past Saturday marked our third annual Latino Forum. A free conference for Spanish –speaking family and friends caring for somebody with dementia or an aging loved one. The focus for this year’s Forum, held at Catholic Charities Adult Day Support Program on Broad Street in San Francisco, was Health for Family Caregivers. Workshops topics included Stress Management for Family Caregivers, Therapeutic Yoga and Introduction to Dementia and Memory Problems. The speakers were engaging, dynamic and generously donated their time, on a Saturday morning, to offer their knowledge and expertise. Family caregivers walked away feeling more informed and supported by one another and the provider community.


Supporters of the event included Catholic Charities, On Lok, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Institute on Aging and the City and County of San Francisco - Area Agency on Aging.  Participating agencies had a designated resource table where participants could talk to agency staff members and collect a variety of information about community happenings, available services, and resources by health issue or condition.


The conference also gave Latino family caregivers the chance to connect with one another.  All too often family caregivers feel isolated and overwhelmed with their caregiving responsibilities. Talking and relating to another family caregiver on a personal level about shared experiences, challenges and concerns is often comforting and desperately needed.  Family caregivers also learned from each other, sharing ideas, tips, and information on how to best care for and meet the needs of their loved ones.


Family caregivers were able to focus on themselves and their needs, which was a welcomed change from their average, often hectic day, where the focus is on their loved one’s needs. Whether preparing meals, rushing to appointments, giving medications, dealing with a mountain of paperwork, attending to personal needs and doing a variety of other care needs, the needs of family caregiver’s often fall to the way side. This day included some tears and a lot of laughter and feelings of gratitude for the gift of a day designed specifically for them. Respite grants were offered to participants’ to ensure they could take part in the event, knowing that their loved one was being cared for and in good hand, either through the direct pay option or through a reputable home care agency, with whom we contract.       


The Forum was dedicated to the memory of Lois Escobar, who worked for FCA for over 20 years as a Family Consultant.  Lois formed not only the Latino Forum but the Spanish family caregiver support group that has been going strong for years. Lois was devoted to the family caregivers she served each and every day. She was an exceptional person and touched so many people’s lives until she lost her battle to cancer in 2013.