OXFORD, Miss. – The number of Americans age 65 or older is expected to double over the next 20 years to more than 72 million, prompting more individuals to seek information about and help with caring for aging relatives and friends.
To support caregivers and those interested in aging issues, the University of Mississippi offers the ninth annual Caring for Aging Relatives Effectively Fair and Workshop on April 23.
“The C.A.R.E. Fair, similar to a health fair, provides valuable resources and is a learning opportunity for those in the community who are or may be caring for an aging relative or for those facing issues of aging, retirement and long-term care themselves,” said Jo Ann O’Quin, social work professor in UM’s School of Applied Sciences and the event’s coordinator.
Free and open to the public, the fair runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Student Union Lobby and includes more than 30 exhibits and representatives to answer questions on a wide range of issues such as retirement communities and housing options, legal services on wills and living wills, local and state aging services, Alzheimer’s disease and support services, home-based and hospice care, nutrition and exercise, retiree volunteer opportunities, Social Security and Medicaid.
Screening for low vision, demonstrations of both hearing and vision improvement aids, information on financial planning and advice on mental health issues related to aging will also be available.
The university community has a large number of baby boomers who are caring not only for younger children but also older relatives. Such boomers are often referred to as the “sandwich generation.”
“I am seeing more and more here on campus who are caring for aging relatives, and it adds potential for stress and burnout,” O’Quin said. “Any support we can provide to caregivers and to those with their own aging concerns is extremely important in providing for a healthier workforce and workplace.”
The separate workshop, held in the Student Union Ballroom, allows social workers and other professionals to obtain continuing education. Educator and experienced caregiver Lydia Jones, wife of UM Chancellor Daniel W. Jones, delivers the keynote address, “The Blindside of Caregiving: Defining Moments,” at 9 a.m.
“I am looking forward to being a part of the C.A.R.E. Fair and Workshop,” Jones said. “My own experience as an extended family caregiver has been an extraordinary journey of unexpected events as well as sweet moments to treasure. Anyone who is affected by caring for their loved ones will learn much from this day.”
Amanda Evans with North Mississippi Rural Legal Services will provide information on frauds, scams and abuse plaguing senior citizens, and Itawamba Community College educational psychologist Laura Pannell will moderate a panel discussion on caring for aging parents, providing insights into caregiving dilemmas and decisions.
Other presenters at the workshop, which is free to UM faculty, staff and community family caregivers, include Dianne Arnold and Melora Jackson with the Mississippi Department of Mental Health Division of Alzheimer’s Disease, who will conduct the nationally acclaimed “Virtual Dementia” tours and provide useful communication techniques to use with elders.
The conference concludes with the film and expert panel discussion of “Last Rights: Facing End-of-Life Choices,” an hourlong documentary featuring four terminally ill people and the impact of their end-of-life decisions on their relatives.
“The workshop is open to anyone interested in learning more about aging and caregiving issues,” O’Quin said. ”Professionals in all areas of aging services, social work, psychology, medicine, nursing, long-term care, health care or related fields will find it particularly beneficial.”
Social workers, who can acquire up to 6.45 hours of continuing education, can pre-register for $50 before April 16, with on-site registration at $60. For other disciplines, pre-registration is $25 and on-site registration is $30. Fees include access to all workshop events, exhibits and lunch.
All workshop sessions are free to caregivers as space permits, so pre-registration is encouraged. Visitor parking is available on University Avenue, between its intersection with All American Drive and the Circle in front of the Lyceum.
The C.A.R.E. Fair and Workshop is supported by UM’s Department of Social Work and Chancellor’s Office in conjunction with the MSDMH Division of Alzheimer’s Disease, Mississippi Gerontological Society, One Life Education and Training LLC, Azalea Gardens Senior Care Community and Hermitage Gardens of Oxford.
For more information, visit http://olemiss.edu/carefair.