‘Navigation Conference’ offers resources, guidance to family caregivers

by Erin Blasko

Navigation Conference

Navigation Conference

“Walking Alongside: A Seminar Series on the Culture of Aging” concludes with “Walking Alongside: A Navigation Conference for Family Caregivers on the Culture of Aging” from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 16 (Saturday) at St. Joseph PACE, 250 E. Day Road., Mishawaka.

Hosted by the Office of Community Relations, part of the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture, in partnership with Saint Joseph Health System and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend, the daylong event offers conversation, education, resource sharing and support for those caring for older loved ones.

The event includes three breakouts sessions: “Medicare & Medicaid: Changes and What to Watch For;” “Handling Someone Else’s Money;” and “Fast Facts,” a round-robin session with aging experts covering Veterans Affairs, elder law, REAL Services/Medicaid waiver, care coordination and senior living choices.

Jackie Rucker, associate director of community relations for Notre Dame and community liaison for the Center for Arts and Culture, spearheaded the series, which grew out of her experience caring for her father after her husband and mother passed away.

“I didn’t know what to do, because it’s not stuff that you learn in school. Who do you call? What do you do?” Rucker said. “So as I was going through this, I just kept thinking, ‘Somebody should tell folks what to do.’”

She thought the Center for Arts and Culture could fill this role.

“With this being a cultural center, it’s not just art on the wall,” she said. “We also have conversations about American culture. And this just seemed to be one of those trends where more and more people my age are taking care of aging parents and just need some direction.”

More than 39 million people, mostly women, provide unpaid care for adult family members in the U.S., according to a 2015 report by the AARP Public Policy Institute and National Alliance for Caregiving. The average caregiver provides 24.4 hours of care per week on a household income of $47,500. The work can contribute to emotional and financial stress and poor health for the caregivers.

“The caregiving role is one borne out of love, but can prove an extremely stressful and lonely 24/7 job,” said John Bruinsma, senior community services navigator with Saint Joseph Health System. “The purpose of the Walking Alongside Caregiver Navigation Conference is to extend resources and guidance, encouragement and mutual support to caregivers as they walk alongside their loved one through the challenge of aging.”

The seminar is free and open to the public, though registration is required. In addition to the breakout sessions, there will be a resource fair with vendors representing various elder care agencies. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

The event is sponsored by 1st Source Bank Wealth Advisory Services.

For more information or to register, visit artsandculture.nd.edu/community-relations.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu