Being a caregiver is both rewarding and challenging. While it is a labor of love, caregiving can exact a tremendous ﬁnancial, physical and emotional toll. According to research, in 20 percent of African-American families, men – and especially women –shoulder the caregiving responsibility.
Recognizing the demands of caregiving, the AKArama Foundation – the charitable arm of Theta Omega of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – is hosting a National Caregivers Impact Day conference this Friday, November 15, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the AKArama Foundation Community Service headquarters at 6220 South Ingleside.
The entire community is welcome to attend this conference, which is free of charge. The purpose of the event is to celebrate caregivers while offering a platform that will provide support, empowerment and self-care. Those who attend will:
• Hear from other caregivers who will share their experiences of caring for family members with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and with other health challenges.
• Gain valuable resources from agencies and professionals who have information that can assist and lighten caregivers’ loads and illustrate the importance of self-care.
Among the agencies and professionals who will share critical materials are the Alzheimer’s Association, the Chicago Department on Aging, Share Network, a division of the University of Chicago Hospital, and Catholic Charities.
Each will share resources and advice, including providing strategies on how to provide care and comfort to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The New Mother
Participants at the Caregivers Conference will also have the opportunity to view a short ﬁlm that tells the personal story of a caregiver.
The film, The New Mother, is a 13-minute drama focusing on the complicated and rewarding journey of a caregiver. Produced and directed by Chicago native Eleva Singleton, the film explores the paradigm shift that occurs when a mother is in fragile health and the adult daughter becomes her caregiver.
Addressing this shift and offering strategies are the objectives of the Caregiver Conference.
Emmy-nominated Singleton says the ﬁlm is “inspired by the many people who have had to deal with caring for a loved one. It’s a selﬂess journey that many travel, but few talk about.”
AKArama Foundation president Elaine Smith-Singh who has seen the ﬁlm, spoke to its message and impact. “The New Mother, said Smith-Singh, “is a powerful and sensitive depiction of the journey caregivers take as they adjust to the challenges of their new reality.”
Smith-Singh said the film is a “must see” for caregivers feeling afraid, alone and overwhelmed. Because of the emotions the ﬁlm will evoke, there will be a question-and answer session afterward on the issues raised in the ﬁlm.
The New Mother was recently featured at the Black Harvest Film Festival and the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival. It was the recipient of the Best Silent Film by Oniros Film Awards and the Raymond Rea Award for Creative Expression at the North Dakota Human Rights Festival.
Inspired by her own experience caring for her mother, Singleton said the ﬁlm explores the range of emotions caregivers feel, including denial, burnout, depression, acceptance, new beginnings, and understanding. She stressed that being a caregiver “is not an ending of your life. It’s really a new journey.”
The conference is being sponsored by the AKArama Foundation, Inc. Women’s Healthcare and Wellness Committee, which is chaired by Dr. Angela Odoms-Young, Chairman. The Caregivers Subcommittee is chaired by Tamiko Clark.
According to the Caregivers Committee chairperson, research proves that the information the Conference will provide is vital and necessary.
A February 2018 report by Caregivingmetrowest.org reveals that:
• African-American caregivers experience higher burdens from caregiving and spend more time caregiving on average than their white peers. Some 57 percent of African-American caregivers meet the standard of “high-burden” and average spending 30 hours per week caring for their loved one. That’s compared to 33 percent of white caregivers, who average 20 hours per week, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
• More than half of African-American caregivers ﬁnd themselves “sandwiched” between caring for an older person and a younger person under age 18, or caring for more than one older person.
• 66 percent of African-American caregivers are employed full or part-time.
• African Americans are more likely to be in need of care as they age.
Conference co-chairs Odoms-Young and Clark declare that the information the event will provide is impactful, powerful and life changing.
“This Conference will deliver knowledge and resources in three hours that can take years to ﬁnd – if ever,” says Odoms-Young.
Echoing her sentiment, Clark states, “This Conference represents the AKArama Foundation’s gift to the community and mirrors our commitment to addressing real-life issues that the community address daily.”
Elaine Smith-Singh, president of the AKArama Foundation and of Theta Omega Chapter, encourages the community “to attend this conference, have their hard work acknowledged, and gain valuable connections and sources that can assist in their caregiver journey.”
AKArama Foundation, Inc. is the charitable arm of Theta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Under its umbrella, the chapter provides service and advocacy to the neighboring Woodlawn community.
Its many activities includes raising community awareness of critical health issues impacting African Americans, such as breast cancer awareness and prevention, heart health, and nutrition and wellness.
Other activities include focusing on education by funding scholarships to assist students in achieving their educational goals and encouraging students to attend historically Black colleges and universities. It also engages in community service projects that provide assistance to the underserved in international areas populated with people of color.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908. It is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college-educated women.
Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of nearly 300,000 members in more than 1,000 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Liberia, Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada, Japan, Germany, South Korea, South Africa, and in the Middle East. AKA is led by International President Glenda Glover Ph.D.
For more information on the Caregivers Conference, go to akaramacaregivers.eventbrite.com, or call 773/363-6220.
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