Today: Apr 21, 2024

Workshop held to advise parents on campus

Brandon Cortés- News Writer

On Thursday, Feb. 22, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, DEI, Department held its monthly Caregiver Workshop exclusively on Zoom for university faculty, staff and employees. The workshop provided a platform to provide support for faculty and staff members who are caregivers for older adults. 

According to Daisy Torres-Baez, DEI faculty staff diversity recruitment and retention specialist, the program was initiated due to a perceived lack of events tailored specifically for staff and faculty members. 

“Not many universities or campuses have a space for faculty and staff support, and this is a workshop only for faculty and staff members who are caregivers of family members, parents and the elderly. So it’s a great opportunity for staff and faculty members to tell their experiences, show support and give advice to other staff members who are caregivers too,” Torres-Baez said. 

The caregiver group convenes monthly, maintaining regular meetings throughout the year, including during the summer and winter semesters. 

Sousan Arafeh, member of the Integrated Justice and Social Collaborative. IJSC, organization, said that during the event attendees shared personal caregiving experiences and stories of older loved ones who had passed away. They offered support and advice to others facing similar situations or who are currently experiencing caregiving challenges. 

“It is really a great space where we get together monthly and just share stories and experiences,”  Arafeh said. 

Attendees gathered to discuss various topics relevant to caregiving. These included sharing personal experiences, addressing legal issues, managing the finances of elderly individuals under their care, navigating the burial process and coping with grief. 

13 staff members attended the event, marking the first instance of a non-campus affiliate attending the workshop. Carolyn DeRocco, Vice President of Programs and Education at the Alzheimer’s Association of Connecticut, was among the attendees. 

Torres-Baez said that since last year, the university has observed the DEI department establishing affinity spaces. These spaces aim to foster a sense of belonging among faculty and staff, mirroring the support structures offered to students within the university community. 

This is one of those spaces, and there are other groups that have started to pop up, focusing on faculty and staff support and belonging to eventually better serve students. 

The group greatly appreciated the support and understanding regarding the challenges of caring for aging parents while balancing everyday life and societal pressures. Yazmina Lingane, student assistant at the IJSC, said that there are limited spaces where individuals can openly discuss and normalize these life experiences. 

“This is something that brings a level of community in itself when you think about it,” Lingane said. 

Within the DEI office, there is the IJSC organization, which typically focuses on external communities beyond the university. However, in this particular instance, they are partnering with the DEI office to offer support and foster a sense of community among caregivers. 

Torres-Baez said that it is crucial for individuals experiencing situations like these to receive the necessary support, and that it is often a “life journey” that isn’t openly discussed until one finds themselves immersed in it, suddenly scrambling to cope. 

“Only then do they realize that others are also navigating similar challenges. Unfortunately, in our society, particularly in the US, there’s a lack of intergenerational support and open dialogue about these experiences,” Torres-Baez said. 

Communities exist that focus on offering resources and support to individuals caring for elderly family members. One such organization is the Alzheimer’s Association of Connecticut, which provides assistance and guidance in managing the challenges associated with caregiving.  

Additionally, individuals in need of various services can contact 2-1-1, Connecticut’s hotline, which offers access to a wide range of support services and resources. 

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