May is Caregivers Awareness Month. Caregivers Alberta, Alberta’s only organization dedicated to caregivers, is recognizing it with a province-wide, virtual conference, Caregivers Together 2022, May 12 to 14.
One in four Albertans is a caregiver for a family member, friend or community member. An unpaid family caregiver can offer their loved-one a wide range of help from emotional support to attending medical appointments or assisting with everyday tasks. From complex needs to simple ones, Caregivers Alberta supports caregivers by providing them with one-on-one and peer support as well as resources to empower them.
“Caregivers go largely unrecognized in our province, but they play a major role in the health-care system,” says Executive Director, Sandy Sereda. “It’s our job, at Caregivers Alberta, to support and empower unpaid family and friend caregivers so they can maintain their own mental and physical health while walking the caregiver journey.”
Why does recognizing our caregivers matter? Caregivers contribute nearly 650 million hours of unpaid care a year to our health-care system, making a $12 billion contribution to Alberta’s economy. Research also tells us that caregivers are about half of caregivers are tired, miss paid work time and experience feelings of being overwhelmed or irritable.
Caregivers Alberta client Karen Wilson wrote a First Person column for CBC, describing the guilt she felt helping move her mother with advanced Alzheimer’s disease into long-term care: “She was restrained in a wheelchair and became agitated as she was wheeled past me. ‘Traitor!’ she screamed. Tears continued to pour down my face as my mom’s accusation cut my heart into tiny pieces. I was overwhelmed by guilt because I had done all of the legwork that brought her here.”
The Caregivers Together 2022 conference aims to build awareness, community and knowledge around the challenging role played by Alberta’s nearly one-million caregivers. The virtual conference offers workshop programming for both caregivers and health-care professionals on a range of topics including: The Juggling Act: Balancing Work and Caregiving; Living (Well) with Dementia: Adjusting to a New Reality; and Inside Information: Navigating AHS.
Caregivers Alberta is pleased to welcome keynote speaker André Picard. Picard is a health reporter and columnist for The Globe and Mail, and the author of five bestselling books, including Neglected no More: The Urgent Need to Improve the Lives of Canada’s Elders in the Wake of a Pandemic. The conference will also feature a cameo by Jann Arden.
Registration for the Caregivers Together 2022 conference is $25 for caregivers, with an option to complete a “COMPASS for the Caregiver” certificate ($75) and $49.50 for health-care professionals. Register at https://hopin.com/events/caregivers-together-2022.