Wellness for Caregivers training workshop to be held March 19

Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2010

"Legal Rights and Traditional Native Healing Methods" is the theme of the Wellness for Caregivers workshop to take place Friday, March 19, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Juneau.

The target audience is unpaid tribal caregivers providing care of elders. A caregiver is the spouse, daughter, son, grandchildren, friend or neighbor who is there to assist an elder with their needs. Participants will be provided information of where and how to access caregiver support services, self care and legal rights from local and state agencies.

The Tlingit & Haida Elders Caregivers Council voted unanimously to dedicate this workshop in "Loving Memory of Dr. Fred Chu," Andrea Ebona-Michel said. "He was one of the best caregivers of our cherished elders for many years at SEARHC."

The free workshop will begin at 9 a.m. with a prayer and song followed by the opening welcome by Eagle and Raven clan members. Keynote speaker Julie Bailey of Alaska's Long Term Care Ombudsman's office will then speak on "Elder Legal Rights" followed by Holly Handler, of Alaska Legal Services.

Handler, attorney at law, will provide information on wills, Powers of Attorney, and Miller Trusts funds.

Pre-registration is encouraged by March 15 to receive workshop materials. The booklet "When You're Not Here," by Virginia Palmer, is one of the materials registrants will benefit from. It is a valuable planning tool for caregivers which includes a checklist of important documents.

"The workshop will provide training that will make their lives easier (as caregivers)," Ebona-Michel said. "It is important for family caregivers to plan ahead before a crisis happens."

Lunch will be provided by the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 2. During lunch the support team of Dr. Fred Chu will be honored.

Participants will be invited to talk with and ask questions of experts in the field of elder care and will be available at resource tables located throughout the hall. Agencies include: Alaska Legal Services, Alzheimer's Resource Agency, Cornerstone Home Health Care, Hospice and Home Care of Juneau, SAIL, Southeast Senior Services, SEARHC, Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority, Sealaska Shareholder Services, Social Security & Disability offices, Veteran's Benefits, Juneau Pioneer's Home, Consumer Direct Care and private home care agencies.

The afternoon sessions will cover physical health, and a Traditional Native Foods and Healing Methods panel. Caregivers will continue to meet privately with Alaska Legal Services, have memory screening completed or get self care massages by Judy Macnak of Sacred Forest Healing Arts LLC.

In closing, names of caregivers will be drawn from evaluation forms for prizes of Caregiver baskets. The ending the workshop will be "What's in your caregiver basket? And what do you do to take care of yourself?," by Ebona-Michel.

"Making time to take care of yourself is so important in preventing illnesses and burnout in caregivers," she said. "This is one of the important goals of this workshop."

For more information contact Andrea Ebona-Michel at 463-7168.

• Marianne Mills is the program director of Southeast Senior Services, which offers home and community-based services for older Alaskans throughout the region. This article was written on behalf of the Tlingit & Haida Elders/Caregivers Council, of which Mills is a member.

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