If you haven’t already been a care giver, chances are great that someday you will be — whether it’s for a parent, a spouse, a child, or a close friend. And when that day comes, you might want to think of yourself not simply as a care giver, but rather as a care partner, drawing on a broad range of resources rather than heroically and stoically trying to shoulder the burden alone.
That’s the hope of the sponsors of the “Nurturing the Nurturers” conference being held this Saturday, January 15, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Princeton YWCA, Paul Robeson Place in Princeton. Wisdom & Beyond LLC is partnering with the Princeton Senior Resource Center, YWCA Princeton, and Trinity Counseling Service to bring this timely conference to you. Teena Cahill, radio talk show host and author of “The Cahill Factor: Turning Adversity into Advantage,” will be the keynote speaker. Her subject: “Changing the Model: From Care Giving to Care Partners.”
The goal of the conference is “to honor and celebrate you while providing care givers information and local resources since most of us will become a care giver at some point — whether it’s for a parent, spouse, or child.”
Admission is free. Snacks will be provided by Bon Appetit of the Princeton Shopping Center. Door prizes and gift certificates will be provided by area merchants, including Hamilton Jewelers, Tuscan Hills Furniture and Accessories, Spruce Florists, Amy Karyn Interior Designs, Princeton Nails, Princeton Holistic Clinic, Rocky Hill Inn, Princeton Center for Yoga & Health, Chambers Walk, Lisa’s Body Care Products, and Viburnum Designs. Every attendee will be given a copy of Cahill’s book.
Space is limited. Call to register ASAP by contacting Debra Raines, Director of Mission Advancement, at 609-497-2100, ext. 307, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cahill, who has traveled the world with her wheelchair-bound husband and who has counseled people suffering from “caregiver burnout” in her psychotherapy practice, has seen care giving and care receiving from both ends of the spectrum. The stresses and strains experienced by the caregiver are all too common. But the bottom line, Cahill says, is “ultimately, we are all care givers and care receivers. And we do better when we see ourselves as care partners and allow ourselves to receive support and — best of all — use what we have learned to support others.”
And sharing the process with the care receiver, Cahill adds, can be positive for all concerned. Her husband, Brooks, she notes, “is much more than a care receiver. He is a man who can contribute in ways that are good for him and others. That varies for each person, but it is best for us if we find a way for our loved ones to partner with us — even if it is just a touch or a smile.” (See story below for more care partnering advice from Cahill.)
Fellow presenter Peter Stimpson, director of Trinity Counseling Service, also has a unique perspective. Stimpson’s wife, Nikki, was sick for 21 years with a genetic disorder that ultimately required a kidney transplant. In the final throes of her illness in 2004, Stimpson found himself physically and emotionally drained. “We all want to be the strong, independent type,” he says. “It works for a while but eventually it breaks down. At some point you have to lovingly tell the person you are caring for that ‘I can’t do everything. We have to allow someone else to come in.’
“Now I realize that resources are available to help the care giver,” says Stimpson, who notes that the conference aims to expose attendees to a broad range of organizations and individuals ready to help (see sidebar page 44).
The break-out sessions at the January 15 conference include the following:
Working Women and Care Giving. Sharon Press PhD and Valarie Brooks Klein PhD will present work-life balance issues for caregivers.
Caring for Kids. Wendy Matthews Phd and Eileen Kennedy Moore PhD, both child psychologists, will discuss the challenges and lifelong commitments that come with children in need of care.
Building Connections: Strategies for Building a Care Team. Judy Hutton, CEO of the YWCA, and Susan Hoskins MSW, director of the Princeton Senior Resource Center, will present information on resources for caregivers that are available throughout Mercer County — many of which are free or available on a sliding scale.
Legal Issues for Caregivers. Mia Cahill JD PhD (Teena Cahill’s daughter), Elizabeth Smith JD MSW, and Douglas Zeigler CPA will offer information on legal and financial issues caregivers may need to know.
Aging Parents. Caryn Kennelly PsyD and the Rev. Stimpson MSW discuss the implications for the baby boomers. And Stimpson provides the perspective of a male caregiver.