FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ The Philadelphia Experiment / Editorial List
In thinking back over these past 20 years since
we started our journey of caregiver support with
and the Fearless
Caregiver Conferences, I realize that one of the most
important parts of any journey is the folks you meet along
the way. Looking in our diary,
I see the following note regarding this time 20 years ago.
January 1995 - I visited
my first healthcare event—a golf tournament hosted by
the local Alzheimer’s non-profit agency. I was ready
for blank stares and an armed escort off the course,
but rather found a group of dedicated professionals
who grasped the concept of the magazine immediately.
As a matter of fact, I think that Elaine Schumacher
of Miami Jewish Home and Hospital introduced me to
every single person at the event.
A nice moment in time, but it reminds me of how
many people I met then that are still important to
me and my family to this day. All without ever losing
the beaming smile she always shared with her clients
and their family members.
Or Monica Dunkley, who was the administrator at
Gramp’s Adult Day Care Center. She took my mom under
her wing and cared for her as much as she did Gramp.
Monica also opened my eyes to the hard work that is
being done by dedicated care professionals while
being family caregivers themselves. During the day,
Monica would be a loving caregiver to 35 clients
living with Alzheimer’s, and at night, she cared for
two loved ones of her own. All without ever losing
the smile on her face.
Or the many other care professionals and fellow
caregivers from those days who are still friends
today. This is one more reason that isolation
is such an insidious problem for family caregivers.
You lose the wisdom that is available to you and
miss out on meeting some pretty extraordinary folks.
One of the great joys of traveling the country
hosting the Fearless Caregiver Conferences is to see
caregivers make connections during these events and
then tell us all they have accomplished together
when we return the next year. One of my favorite
examples of this happening is an event we held in
Philadelphia a few years ago with the indomitable
Late in the day, a caregiver who had sat silently
for most of the event, raised her hand to speak. As
she stood, she told us that her mother was in the
hospital getting prepped for surgery, but she knew
that being with us was too important for her own
well-being to miss. She went on to say that she was
the sole informal caregiver for six of her senior
neighbors, and that she had suffered two heart
attacks in the past two years as well as out of
control blood pressure. As I hugged her, the
audience took turns giving her advice on caring for
herself. A caregiver from across the room stood up
and said, “I live in your neighborhood and from now
on, you’re not alone.” Tears flowed from every eye
in the room. At the next year’s conference, I
recognized these two caregivers, who had become fast
friends, sitting next to each other at a table. Each
one spoke in turn about their accomplishments caring
for their shared neighborhood over the past twelve
Now, that’s about as good as it gets.