On Friday November 15th Caregivers of NJ and Bio NJ hosted a Caregiving Program in honor of National Family Caregiver Awareness month. This year’s theme was “Be Care Curious – Caregiving Around the Clock”, recognizing the challenges that family caregivers face and how they manage them day and night while reminding us all to be empathetic. Opening Remarks were provided by Dr. Adeola Sonaike, SVP – Health and Innovation of Caregivers of NJ and Debbie Hart, CEO and President of Bio NJ.
Assemblyman Dan Benson presented a legislative update on the Caregiver Task Force Bill in addition to current public policy efforts impacting and shaping caregivers. During his address, Assemblyman Benson shared his personal caregiving story and reflected on the importance of creating a system that not only supports the care-recipient but also one that creates a network of supports for the caregiver.
Aiming to share the different perspectives on caregiving, Elizabeth Grace Wolf, Ruthann Russo, and Michelle Hackenberry joined Dr. Adeola Sonaike in a panel discussion. Elizabeth has spent more than a decade providing care to both her parents who were simultaneously diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In her role as a volunteer advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, Elizabeth serves as the ambassador to her district congressperson and fiercely advocates for policies that support individuals and families whose lives are touched by dementia. Michelle is the proud mother of two adult children who were diagnosed with juvenile onset Pompe Disease in 2006. She is the co-founder of Data Registry Services, LLC (DRS), a company that collects data for clinical trials and observational studies and provides Patient advocacy services to LSD/rare disease Patients and their families across the globe. Ruthann served as CEO to two health technology start-ups for two decades until her daughter Emily’s diagnosis with uncontrollable epilepsy led her to pivot mid-career, and train as a licensed integrative health practitioner — earning four doctorate degrees.
The panelists shared insight into their personal caregiving experiences and bonded over their mutual respect and understanding for what it truly means to care for a loved one. With over 1.2 million caregivers in NJ, the program served as a reminder to all in attendance to be Care Curious and empathetic towards our family caregivers.
Closing remarks were provided by Liza Gundell, CEO of Caregivers of NJ