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Caregivers Conference

The 10th Annual North Carolina ALS Caregivers Conference

On Monday, Oct. 16, approximately 150 people living with ALS, family caregivers and professional healthcare providers will gather in Chapel Hill for the 10th annual North Carolina ALS Caregivers Conference presented by Med Emporium. Richard Bedlack, M.D., Ph.D., from the Duke ALS Clinic will give a keynote address at the conference hosted by The ALS Association North Carolina Chapter, Keri’s Crusade for ALS and Southern Regional AHEC. Additionally, experienced professionals in the field of ALS care will give practical tips that will lead to better quality of life for those with ALS. The conference is an educational and informative resource for caregivers of all levels and provides an opportunity for people in the ALS community to come together to share ideas and support.

“It was great to attend the North Carolina ALS Caregivers Conference and hear about the research that is being done to fight this devastating disease,” Alan Beck said after attending his second consecutive caregivers conference. “It was a wonderful opportunity for medical professionals to learn more about the disease and for us caregivers and patients to hear about helpful hints that make dealing with ALS just a little bit easier.”

This year’s North Carolina ALS Caregivers Conference will start at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel. After a morning session and plated lunch for all attendees, the conference will divide into two tracks for the afternoon. While the healthcare professionals are going from one breakout session to the next for credit-bearing learning experiences, people living with ALS and their caregivers will remain in one room for track two, a session featuring hands-on practical demonstrations. This track is designed to make caring for someone with ALS a bit less daunting.

A yoga instructor will teach chair yoga, giving tips on how to relax on stressful days. An occupational therapist and a physical therapist will teach about safe transferring, using a hospital bed and a hoyer lift to show people safe ways to transfer. Speech pathologists and an assistive technology engineer will discuss swallowing and different communication devices, and will even have samples of liquid thickeners for people to try. The whole track will be interactive with plenty of time to ask questions.

“The biggest thing I want people to come away with is feeling a little bit more confident about their caregiving skills,” said Lynn Sanderson, care services manager for The ALS Association North Carolina Chapter. “The whole goal is education. The more that we can educate people, the less they’re worried about things. They are empowered.”

“I learned a lot of what to expect as this nasty disease progresses, but at the same time it was presented in a professional manner,” Vickie Jones said after a previous caregivers conference. “I laughed and wept, but left with HOPE.”