Life in the Recovery Room

How to heal, grow, and prosper in challenging times.

Caregiving in the Shadows

LGBT Caregiving and the Ted Awards

Diversity and Inclusion; LGBT Caregivers
Coming to a Town and Caregiver Near You
 A TED.com Video Challenge for Diversity & Inclusion

Former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter is of the opinion that "There are four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers; those who currently are caregivers; those who will be caregivers; and those who will need caregivers."  She has good reason to hold that truth for the 65.7 million caregivers currently in the USA alone.

The International Caregiving Network (ICN) is about changing the conversation about caregivers ... one community at a time to help the next generation enter their golden years with hope.  Their pilot program, The Caring Heart Project: DETROIT, is the first in a series of regional profiles of family caregivers.  The project represents the essence of humanitarianism and an amazing opportunity for the world to see the personal, professional and the business side of caregiving.

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One of the videos in the series, entitled LGBT Caregiver Crosswalk has captured the attention of TED and is in the running to be one of 10 finalists in this year's Ads Worth Spreading Campaign.  The finalists will be announced at the TED Conference in Long Beach, CA at the end of February.  The link to view and vote for the video is http://www.youtube.com/tedaws?x=us_showcasephase2_8503_27.

ICN managing partner, Dr. David Solomon, a West Bloomfield, MI health care marketer and a caregiver himself, explains "TED conferences are empowering and the TED community inspired us to use the power of business to solve a significant social problem for the nation's caregivers."  As The Caring Heart Project: DETROIT began to unfold, Solomon noted that "The research came to life as we discovered that the caregiver in our story, AJ O'Neil, lives apart from his partner who had to leave Detroit to care for his own mother."

Some startling findings, in the federally funded, Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults, indicate almost two thirds of LGBT seniors have been victimized three or more times, more than 20% do not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to their physician, and about one third do not have a will or durable power of attorney for healthcare.  For the full study go to the Caring and Aging with Pride project website, http://bit.ly/wCtuHe.

 ICN has partnered with Diversity Works LLC marketing and communications consultants, specializing in diversity and disability issues, to bring awareness to LGBT caregiver needs. 

As President Obama declared during his State of the Union Address,  "...When you're marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails." It's an excellent metaphor for the battle against discrimination for LGBT Seniors. It's time to bring some hope to this growing senior population, expected to double by 2030.

The need for educated and empowered caregivers has driven my professional life over the past decade.  The LGBT community has the least rights of any population, often without the legal, social and financial framework that is available to others. This community battles many 'family of origin' issues and find themselves ostracized and alienated with nowhere to turn.  I think it's time to bring LGBT seniors and caregivers out of the shadows and into the light.  To view and vote go to http://www.youtube.com/tedaws?x=us_showcasephase2_8503_27.

A.J. O'Neil; Our Hero
An All American Caregiver: Diversity and Inclusion Now
When you visit the ICN website (ICNcares.com) you'll find a series of webisodes where you can meet AJ O'Neil, his brothers Bob and Dennis and their fragile mother, Annie who suffers from several chronic diseases, including diabetes.  In this family, Annie's three sons have come together, despite many obstacles, to provide daily, nurturing care for her.  The O'Neils keep caregiving simple and they do the best they can.

The lesson for America to learn is that it works. Feel free to learn more about A.J. O'Neil, our American Hero at www.icncares.com

 

James Huysman, PsyD, LCSW, is a leading authority on caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue and related addictions. Aside from his blog here, he writes a behavioral health column for Florida MD.

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