By Linda Boulton

March 30, 2014, was designated as Unity Sunday for Holmanites, and prior to the 11:00 A.M. Worship Service, members, guests, and more gathered for a Faith Formation Forum entitled The Sandwich Generation – Support and Resources on Effective strategies for Adult Children Who Care for Parents, which included a presentation and panel discussion.

The program began with a yummy breakfast served up by the United Methodist Men and light-hearted fellowship. Followed by a few pearls of wisdom from the Keynote Speaker – Dr. Barbara Solomon, Professor Emeriti and Provost at the University of Southern California.

These were Dr. Solomon’s primary points: We are all aging. We need to think about things that start to diminish. Don’t be shocked by it. Stay connected to family, friends, etc. Each generation has something to learn from the other. Connect with each other on your particular level (i.e. Seniors sharing knowledge and more with young people and vice versa). Connect with people minus technology.

Joining the conversation next, were the panel participants — Holman member’s Dr. Jo Isabel-Jones (Dr. Jo.), Judge Patricia Titus (Patti), Mr. Michael Jones and Ms. Diane Henry. Moderated by Donna Benton, Co Director, USC Family Care Giver Support Center, panelists were asked to ponder and respond to three (3) questions: How do you (as a caregiver) renew your spirit? What advice would you like to give someone just starting their caregiver journey? What resources do you recommend?

Collectively, the panelists are walking along the caregiver path, each one with their own very unique experience. And having gained that experience, they were able to sprinkle those in attendance with a few words of wisdom.

Michael Jones added a pinch of salt as he shared the experience of taking care of his mother who’d been diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Using the acronym C.A.R.E., Michael explained it as follows: C – Collaborate early with professionals. A – Attitude.
R – Resourcefulness. E – Empower your family and those willing to help.

Adding a dash more seasoning, Judge Patricia Titus (Patti) discussed her experience as one out of multiple siblings who is caring for her father (diagnosed with Dementia) and her mother (suffering with advanced Alzheimer’s). In embracing this caregiver experience, Patti believes you must A.C.T . and she defines it as so: A – Asses. C- Care. T – Time.

Sprinkling a little more salt to taste, Dr. Jo shared the following take-a-ways: Preparation – planning ahead with your loved ones for illegal issues (i.e. power of attorney), knowing of resources available that would best give your loved one peace. Participation – participate in the care of the loved one as much as possible, including grandchildren and great grandchildren, and Prayer – pray without ceasing for understanding of your loved one’s needs and concerns, for patience to address those needs and concerns, and strength to love.

The final pinch of flavor came from Diane Henry (a Baby Boomer) who lives with and cares for her 86-year-old mother, who is physically and mentally disabled. Diane shared these nuggets of wisdom — During a lifetime one experiences different seasons, some short-term and others long-term. Our attitudes make a big difference in how we embrace the seasons, understand the dynamics and accept the experience. One of the most important lessons that Diane is embracing is to form a support TEAM to SHARE the CARE. She defines TEAM as follows: T – Together, E – EVERYONE, A- ACHIEVES, AND M – MORE.

So, there you have it a dash, a pinch and a sprinkle of information to hopefully enlighten and inspire. For a hardier reflection, please check out the May 2014 Bellringer, page eight and nine.