Empowering the Caregiver

For well over a decade I was the Sullivan family medical crisis manager.  It seemed the waves kept rolling in, starting with my son’s autism diagnosis, followed by my late husband’s first heart attack and subsequent visits to the heart clinic, my cancer, and my daughter’s bone marrow transplant.  Someone always needed me, in a big way.  Always focused on others’ needs, I often neglected my own. I felt isolated and out of touch with others, whose lives seemed comparatively uneventful.

These days many friends are serving as their families’ crisis managers as they balance responsibility for their children and spouses with caring for their aging parents.  One of them, Molly Cox Ziton, is intimately aware of both the challenges and the payoffs of being a caregiver.  She cared for her mother during her cancer battle.  Today, she is the primary caregiver for her 90-year-old father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

Cox Ziton has channeled her experiences as a caregiver into a career as an inspirational speaker and author. On Sunday, April 3, Cox Ziton will share her refreshing perspective on caregiving as keynote speaker at a free conference called “Empowering the Caregiver.” The conference will be held from 12-5 p.m. at the St. Louis Park Doubletree Hotel (1500 Park Place Blvd). Speakers will address a range of topics, including how to prepare for legal matters, protect assets and plan an estate, navigate the healthcare system, access resources and take care of the caregiver. A little pampering will be offered as well. There will be fun giveaways, free spa services and a resource fair. Deikel Family AlterCare Adult Day Services will offer free respite.

Hosted by Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, the conference is sponsored by The Oren and Sharron Steinfeldt Foundation, with additional sponsorship provided by a grant from the Administration on Aging, and Synergy HomeCare. For more details, call 952-542-4878.

It’s easy to feel isolated when you are the caregiver.  But that need not be the case. A dose of humor and insight from Cox Ziton can be sustenance in what can be a depleting journey.