Lily Liu, AARP Virginia, hosted Melissa Barber, VirginiaNavigator, for a Caring Conversation on November 13, 2020. In recognition of November as National Caregiver Month, they carried the message “Know you are not alone” to the community of caregivers. Liu began the conversation noting former First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s observation on caregiving. She said there are really only four types of people in the world: (1) someone who is a family caregiver now, (2) someone who might have been a family caregiver and that journey has ended, (3) someone who will be a family caregiver, and (4) someone who themselves will need care.
Liu introduced Melissa Barber, with VirginiaNavigator, an organization that works with AARP to bring tools and resources for caregivers. At a time when Covid-19 has isolated people physically and made it more difficult for many people to find help, both AARP and VirginiaNavigator have expanded technology resources to help connect people to the support they need.
Barber explained that VirginiaNavigator is a Family of Websites that provide access to free health and community support information. This information is accessed by entering the web address virginianavigator.org into a web browser such as chrome, safari, or edge. Then the caregiver enters their location, or that of their loved one, and what information they need. For instance, a caregiver could enter their zip code and select Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care and would then be provided all the local support organizations with contact information, location, who they serve, cost, office hours, accessibility and licensing information. This site provides access to over 26,000 resources in Virginia.
The VirginiaNavigator website also allows the caregiver to select specific services: disability services disabilitynavigator.org, senior services (seniornavigator.org), and veterans services veteransnavigator.org. Each of these sites is setup in the same manner, making user access very straightforward. All sites allow key word search. If the caregiver is interested in COVID-19 resources, for example, they can find a list of resources available in the area that have been verified by VirginiaNavigator. This year VirginiaNavigator, with AARP support, introduced a Caregiver Tech Tool Finder on its senior services web site. A caregiver can enter the service they need, such as Daily Caregiving Resources, and find a comprehensive listing of technology resources that have been selected by an independent panel setup by VirginiaNavigator. If a caregiver should need help with any of these resources, VirginiaNavigator has provided a help line that can be reached by telephone at 866-393-0957.
Liu and Barber discussed AARP resources that can help caregivers stay connected. Liu mentioned the AARP Caregivers web page as a universe of resources that are open to the public. Barber identified AARP Family Caregivers Discussion Group on Facebook as a nationwide discussion group of people facing the problems of caregivers. She said you can find great advice there, as well as the opportunity to share experiences and develop a sense of community.
Barber also described the partnership between VirginiaNavigator and the Lindsay Institute for Innovations in Caregiving (LIFIC). This institute has the mission of implementing initiatives aimed at improving caregivers' health, wellbeing and stability. In its 5th annual “Caring for the Caregiver Hack” event, LIFIC sponsored interdisciplinary student teams from seven Virginia colleges and universities that competed to develop technology tools to help caregivers maintain their physical and emotional well-being. The competition resulted in an award to the University of Virginia student team for developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that analyzes video footage in a care recipient’s home and alerts a caregiver when an adverse event, such as a fall, is detected.
Liu and Barber concluded their caring conversation by reinforcing the importance of providing a sense of community for caregivers and using technology to keep caregivers connected. This program can be seen on Facebook at Caring Conversation with AARP Virginia.
This story is provided by AARP Virginia. Visit the AARP Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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