More than 300 caregivers gathered Nov. 1 for support and education during the WellMed Charitable Foundation’s 2018 San Antonio Caregiver Summit, Navigating the Journey.
The summit, held at the Whitley Theological Center in San Antonio, Texas, featured John Leland, New York Times reporter and author of Happiness is a choice you make: Lessons from a year among the oldest old and Dr. Sharon Lewis, recognized caregiver expert and creator of the Stress-Busting Program.
With more than 43,000 informal caregivers in the United States, the annual Caregiver Summit plays a vital role in helping caregivers, providing support and information to help them cope with their important work.
This year’s summit is the third for Mayra Mendoza. The youngest of eight children, Mendoza started caring for her parents after her mother developed dementia.
At first, Mendoza cared for her parents part time while working full time, but has now quit her job and moved in with them to provide more intensive care.
“I thought I might regret moving in with them, but now I’d do it all over again,” Mendoza said. “It’s the hardest job of my life, and the best one, too.”
Feeling more confident about her role in her parents’ lives, Mendoza feels she can help younger caregivers like herself.
“At 32, I’m not like a lot of the caregivers here,” she said, indicating the mostly older people in attendance. “Many of these caregivers are retired and have a pension; I don’t have that and I know what it’s like. I’d like to reach out to the younger caregivers.”
The summit also featured lunch and complementary flu shots provided by WellMed. Attendees also had the opportunity to experience a Virtual Dementia Tour, a tool used by UT Health San Antonio to educate nursing students. Other resources included a panel discussion with local caregivers, and information from agencies such as the Alamo Area Council Of Governments, VITAS Healthcare, Area Agency on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Congratulations to the WellMed Charitable Foundation for another successful caregiver summit!