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Community, Connections, and Caregiving: AMWA Celebrates November National Family Caregivers Month

The world seems a bit upside down right now, with great uncertainty. With so much news and information to process, here at AMWA, we thought we’d pause occasionally to share with you, our followers, some thoughts, stories, experiences, and sometimes a different point of view.

Everyone has their own thoughts about the work they do, but the exchange of knowledge can create opportunities, as we share ideas and different ways that we view a particular issue. This practice may result in meaningful dialogue amongst others to help facilitate change in areas of commonality that we care about on all questions and issues—new and old. We hope you will engage with us, and share your own thoughts, stories, and experiences.

We’d like to share with you some thoughts from AMWA’s Executive Director, Eliza Chin, MD, MPH.

This November is National Family Caregiver Month. It’s certainly an area that I and so many others, particularly women, have experienced in our lifetimes. I have also worked in the long-term care setting for nearly two decades and worked closely with many family caregivers. My relationship with these caregivers became just as important as my relationship with the patients themselves. It became everyday practice that in wrapping up a visit with my patient would be a phone call to the family caregiver. And when I moved to a new job, it would invariably be these same family caregivers that would reach out to me, sometimes even years later, to share news or just to check in.

In more recent years, I helped care for my mother-in-law during the late stages of her life and especially as her memory loss progressed. Spending the weekend afternoons with her, I engaged her with some of my favorite songs, coaxed her to walk with me so that she wouldn’t get progressively weaker, and shared many a dinner with her at the assisted living community where she lived. Sometimes the lines between doctor and daughter-in-law got blurred, but during those times would be moments of clarity and connection.

So when filmmaker Kitty Norton contacted me, I knew at once that the themes of her film would resonate with many. Sometimes we forget that with every story, or experience, there’s an element of human love and compassion. Kitty’s film, Wine, Women, & Dementia provides a poignant and intimate look into the human side of dementia. This film follows her journey as a family caregiver for her mother – and the  cross-country RV adventure she embarks on with her best friend, Beth Rigazio after her mother’s passing. (I should also mention that I recognized a kindred spirit in my own wanderlust and dream of traveling the country one day by RV.) The goal of the journey is for Kitty to meet the family caregivers whose virtual friendship and encouragement sustained her as she cared for her mother. Ultimately, the film project becomes a rekindling of these shared caregiver experiences – “a roadtrip connecting the disconnected – because until there’s a cure, there’s community.”

To caregivers everywhere, we see, hear and support you as you help others.

Please feel free to share your stories by submitting a post to the AMWA Blog.

For more information on a special AMWA screening of Wine, Women, and Dementia, visit this link:

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