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In the News

Striking a Balance gives caregivers learning, sharing experience

Friday, August 05, 2016

One of the Austin area’s largest conferences for family and nonprofessional caregivers will return for its 15th year to provide Central Texas residents with valuable information about support resources that assist caregivers in caring for their loved ones and themselves. “Striking a Balance” will take place Aug. 20 at the Doubletree by Hilton, 6505 North Interstate Highway 35 in Austin. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with the keynote speaker beginning at 9:30 a.m. Other conference activities will continue until 2 p.m.

AGE of Central Texas and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a program of the Capital Area Council of Governments, host “Striking a Balance” so attendees can learn about local, state and national resources to address the practical, emotional, legal, and financial supports family caregivers need. “Caregiving is a journey unique to each individual,” said Patricia Bordie, a CAPCOG AAACAP program manager. “It is a journey that doesn’t have clear ups and downs or beginnings, middles and ends.” “Striking a Balance” is a conference where family caregivers can come to get answers about all stages and aspects of caregiving but more importantly know they aren’t alone.

> Discover AGE of Central Texas.

About 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care for adults who are 50 or older. Among those Americans is Cara Magrane, a longtime advocate for caregivers, who is delivering this year’s keynote address, “A Caregiver’s Journey: from Advocacy to Caregiving and Back.” Magrane is the chief operating officer for Respite Care of San Antonio and serves on many boards that advocate for caregiving, especially caregiving for children. But her caregiving experience became personal after her husband suffered a stroke. Magrane’s speech will detail her caregiving experience and highlight the importance of asking for help, using respite care, and sharing your story to raise public awareness.

“For decades, I was the navigator for families, then suddenly, I found myself the person in need of direction and assurance,” Magrane said. “It has been a humbling few years, moving from sympathy to empathy; knowing I had not practiced what I had been preaching. I hope all caregivers truly hear that they have permission to take a break; to take care of themselves first. I hope they understand by sharing their story — their journey — with others, they are increasing awareness and demystifying what respite is and how valuable it is to our communities.”

AAACAP and AGE of Central Texas hope Magrane’s story won’t be the only one shared during “Striking a Balance.” When the conference first started, it was thrilling to have 60 caregivers attend. In recent years, attendance has close to tripled indicating the growing need for caregiver education. This year the conference space is large enough to accommodate more than 200 caregivers and expand the pool of expert vendors and educational breakout sessions.

> Read more about AAACAP.

“The most important outcome of an event like this is the connections caregivers make with other caregivers,” Bordie said. In some cases, caregivers are experiencing similar physical and emotional pressures while providing care. Knowing other caregivers share some of the same challenges may empower them to learn new ways to handle stress and recharge themselves, so they can continue to provide care to their family members or friends. “We want everyone who attends the conference to leave knowing it is important to take care of yourself so you can return to care renewed, refreshed and ready to continue to support your loved one.” Bordie said.

The educational breakout sessions provide caregivers with a deeper understanding of specific topics. This year’s sessions will teach caregivers about legal issues, such as wills and powers of attorney; communication and support issues; dementia specific concerns; and access to in-home and caregiver support services for veterans. In addition to educational sessions, Central Texas care providers and caregiver support organizations will be present to meet with caregivers face-to-face and assist them with assessing their needs, planning for care and accessing service and programs.

“We urge all caregivers to come to this type of event, because this is where they learn about balancing care for their loved ones with care for themselves,” Bordie said.

> Register for the conference.

Free off-site respite care available

AGE of Central Texas will provide free adult respite care at its Austin Adult Day Health Center, 3710 Cedar St. in Austin. Reservations are required.
Contact Gailyn Trammell at 512-600-9275 to request the respite care.

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