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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  /A Family Caregiver’s Elevator Speech /  Editorial List  

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A Family Caregiver’s Elevator Speech

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Traditionally, every anniversary date that is celebrated has a specific type of gift attached to it. For the first anniversary, it is paper (hopefully, not divorce papers); for the 60th anniversary, it is diamonds. And somewhere in between those two dates is the 17th anniversary, which is furniture. (I wrapped your gift and you have to guess if it is a credenza or a dining room table.)

The reason I bring this fun fact up is that last week I celebrated the 17th year I have attended the American Society on Aging (ASA) conference. You wouldn’t think that would warrant a dining room table (maybe a hutch), but I would disagree. Where else would you find thousands of aging experts from around the world in one place for an entire week attending sessions entitled Telephone Mental Health Education, Depression Screening for Homebound Older Adults, and Immersive Learning as Professional Development for Gerontology Graduate Students?

Seriously, I came back with great ideas for columns for the entire next year. Collocated with the ASA were Mary Furlong’s What’s Next? Boomer Summit and the National Conference for Caregiving Coalitions (NCCC). Both were also jam packed with information and advice. In fact, at the NCCC, one of my favorite caregiving advocates, Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Brian Duke, was talking to the Coalition leaders about having your Elevator Speech prepared. An Elevator Speech is typically utilized in the business world and it refers to the 30-40 second speech you give to Warren Buffett or Oprah or even the local banker if they are sharing an elevator with you for a short duration. Consider it your mobile mission statement of sorts.

Secretary Duke was talking to these healthcare leaders about having their own Elevator Speeches ready when faced with a short interaction with a person important to their mission. (I have actually asked this of every one of the 108 celebrity caregivers I’ve interviewed for Today’s Caregiver magazine.) As he was walking around the room hearing these organizational Elevator Speeches, I couldn’t help thinking that is just what every family caregiver needs to have in their toolkit as well—a short Elevator Speech at the ready when they are face to face with the doctor or other such healthcare provider.

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