Family Caregiver Sessions


Family Caregiver Sessions


10 a.m. Panel Discussion: How to Get Help, Ask for It and Receive It

We’ll discuss why it’s so hard to ask for help, how we figure out what help we need and then how we receive the help that really helps.

Moderator: Denise M. Brown

Panelists: Geri Baumblatt, Heather Slutzky, Vivian Geary, Tami Neumann

Our Panel

  • Geri has been a family caregiver for her husband and a secondary caregiver for her father and brother. She currently cares for her 84-year-old mother. She is Executive Director for Patient Engagement with Emmi Solultions.

  • Denise launched in 1996. was the first website to add online caregiving support groups, daily caregiving chats and blogs written by family caregivers. Through its blogs posts, podcasts and video chats, holds one of the largest online libraries of caregiving stories. Denise also hosts a Twitter chat for family caregivers (#carechat) on the first and third Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. In March 2011, Denise launched CareGifters, an initiative which funds caregiving solutions, one family caregiver at a time. Through CareGifters, Denise raises money to send money to family caregivers in need. Denise began working with family caregivers in 1990 and regularly speaks about the family caregiver experience. Her insights have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, US News & World Report, USA Today,, Time magazine and Chicago Tribune. Her books, including The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey and Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers, provide insights, inspirations and information to those who care for family members. She currently cares for her parents.

  • Vivian is a Certified Caregiver Consultant and Certified Caregiving Educator. As founder of Caring for Family Caregivers, she coaches family caregivers to turn their chaos into calm. Tips for organization and a fresh perspective on communication and family dynamics is what Vivian brings to the table. In addition, Vivian conducts workshops and seminars to help family caregivers gain knowledge and be the best they can be for their loved ones.  Vivian is a working family caregiver for her mom who suffered a stroke in 2005.  You can learn more about her work on her website, Caring for Family Caregivers.

  • Tami, Chief Operations Officer of Silver Dawn Training Institute, is passionate about creating a community that is connected and informed. Curating conferences and creating dynamic educational content that provide the community a welcoming place to learn and grow is not only important to Tami, she feels this is paramount to creating a culture shift in the aging space. Tami is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and has spent over 20 years in the Aging Industry. Over the past three years she has hosted the Wego Award Nominated podcast, Conversations In Care. In her free time you will find her advocating for people with Type 1 Diabetes and developing her skills in improv.

  • Heather had the honor of walking next to her first husband, John, as Marfan Syndrome prompted heart surgeries, clinical trials of new fangled devices, organ transplant lists, and eventually his death in 2002. She most recently was a long-distance caregiver to her father. Her engagement with the healthcare system eventually became her career. She has worked in healthcare settings since 2003 and writes at, a website dedicated to talking about the U.S. health care system. Heather is a Certified Caregiving Consultant and Certified Caregiving Educator.

11 a.m. Technology Overview

Learn ways to re-purpose existing technologies and about new technologies that can help in the caregiving process. Is your caree non-compliant in wearing a PERS emergency alert necklace or bracelet? "Silver Mother" could help keep you in the know. Concerned about who has access to the house and if they're showing up when they say they are? "Lockitron" lets you control who has a key from anywhere in the world.

Presenter: Carl Hirschman

  • Carl is a successful serial entrepreneur who co-founded X-Wires Broadband while graduating from University of Iowa in 2004. He took the company through a merger with private equity backed Dynamic Broadband in 2007 and successfully sold both companies in 2010. He then raised $21 million to purchase 2 companies and founded SilverFox Broadband to provide Internet and TV services to senior housing communities nationwide. In 2012, Carl’s mom was in a family caregiver situation and was having problems communicating with caregivers, managing all of the records, and then communicating out to the rest of the family. Carl used his experience in the senior housing industry to start CareTree and solve his mom’s problem, along with the 30 million American households with a family caregiver.

1 p.m. Panel Discussion: Coping on Difficult Days

When the day feels too much and too long and too hard, how do we cope? Our panelists offer their solutions to get to tomorrow.

Moderator: Liz O'Donnell

Panelists: Bruce McIntyre, Elizabeth Miller, Amy Goyer, Michelle Seitzer

Our Panel

  • Amy has been a family caregiver my entire adult life - first for her grandparents, then her parents and her sister. She has been working in the field of aging for 35 years. She has a degree in Music Therapy and worked at the local level in adult day care and nursing homes for many years, then for the Ohio Department of Aging and then for AARP in Washington, DC. She is now a consultant, author and speaker and serves as a caregiving expert for AARP and work with other clients on caregiving issues. Her book, "Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving" outlines practical tips for caregivers as well as anecdotes from her personal caregiving journey and from other family caregivers.

  • Bruce, Executive Director of the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma, is the author of Parkinson Positive, Graceful Transitions, and Resilient Life. Bruce shares his expert guidance and warm humor with thousands of people each year. As a caregiver for his wife for the past 12 years, Bruce understands the world of chronic illness and caregiving. He has led the Caregiver Fundamentals Project in Oklahoma City and served caregivers as a business, church, and non-profit leader. You can learn more about him at

  • Elizabeth, a full-time working mom of two, has helped care for her father, her mother-in-law and brother. She currently cares long-distance for her mother. Throughout her caregiving experience, she realized the importance of taking care of her own health so that she can better care for others. In February 2015, she created her blog called (formerly Savvy Sandwicher) to help other overwhelmed caregivers create balance to become happier and healthier. She writes about systems that work for me, staying positive, incorporating humor and music, asking for help, meditation, healthy and quick snack and meal options, and finding sneaky ways to fit in fitness.

  • Liz is the founder of Working Daughter, a website for women balancing career and caregiving, something she tries to do everyday. Liz runs the East Coast operations of a PR firm and cares for her 90-year-old father. She is also a working mother — she has a middle schooler and a high schooler at home — and is the author of the book Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman.

2 p.m. The Dance of the Family Caregiver

This presentation looks at the relationship between movement and being a caregiver. Attendees will learn how their body language plays a role in their work as a family caregiver. Participants will be asked to experience, move, and challenge their own relationship with movement and how that aids or hinders the caregiving relationship. Through a series of guided meditations, authentic movement, and hands-on exercises, participants will not only learn the importance of body language, but also how it might positively and negatively effect the relationship with the individual for whom they are caring. Participants will be led in a movement experiential that gets them in touch with their own bodies; how they express themselves and how they can use movement to enhance their therapeutic and professional skills.

Presenter: Erica Hornthal

  • Erica is CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy. A licensed clinical professional counselor and board certified dance/movement therapist, she specializes in working with individuals and families affected by movement and cognitive disorders. She has worked with over 350 individuals in the Chicagoland area since starting her company in 2011, and many more since starting her professional journey almost 10 years ago.

2:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: Preparing for the Future

During our chat, we’ll discuss why it feels so odd to think about your own future during caregiving. We’ll also ask our presenters how they prepared for and prepare for their futures. What are their hopes and dreams for themselves? How does their caregiving experience change their goals for their own future? What do they now want to achieve because of what they experienced during caregiving?

Moderator: Tami Neumann

Panelists: GeVonna Fassett, Leslie Cottrell Simonds, Michelle Seitzer

Our Panel

  • GeVonna is a former media personality and creative entrepreneur who has now taken on the most important job of her life, that of a full-time caregiver to her mother, Olivia, who has Alzheimer's disease. As a result, she is now an advocate for caregivers and Alzheimer's Awareness in the African American community. She also participates in and helps to organize caregiver support groups.

  • Leslie, a Certified Caregiving Consultant, brings a variety of experiences to her work with family caregivers, including producing events for up to 20,000 people for a nationwide events company and managing boutique hotels. She also was an EMT. Leslie has trained as a death doula and has extensive experience as a family caregiver, including currently caring for her mother. She is certified with the American Alzheimer’s Association and is a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant specializing in funerals and memorials. Leslie is the author of I Want You to Know.

  • Michelle has worked in elder care for 20 years, but her compassion for elders started even earlierthrough a foundational relationship with her maternal grandparents. After a decade of working in senior living communities and serving as a policy director for the Alzheimer’s Association, she became a freelance writer and editor focusing on elder care content in 2008. In 2010, she and Denise Brown of co-founded #ElderCareChat on Twitter, which Michelle currently moderates twice-monthly. She has reviewed grants for the Administration on Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services Program and was the lead writer for the 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease International report on Dementia Friendly Communities around the world. Michelle served as a long-distance caregiver for her grandfather before he died of Alzheimer’s in 2009. She now cares for her daughter with special needs, and she assists in care for her grandmother, who resides in a personal care home. Michelle and her family reside in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

  • (See above for the bios for Tami.)


Register for our conference via the form at the bottom of this post. After you submit the registration form, wait for the payment form to appear on this page. You must complete payment in order to be registered for our event.

Become an Exhibitor or Sponsor

Support family caregivers and former family caregivers by sponsoring and exhibiting at the First Annual National Caregiving Conference.

Attend for Free
Registration is free for our Saturday conference for family caregivers and former family caregivers who opt to participate in our Care-A-Van and/or What I Wear When I Care Fashion Show contests. Let us know if you’d like to participate in our Care-A-Van and/or What I Wear When I Care Fashion Show contests.

Conference Costs
Check out our National Caregiving Conference agenda.

  • Our Friday pre-conference intensives cost between $20 and $50 and are open to family caregivers, former family caregivers and professionals.

  • The cost for family caregivers and former family caregivers to attend our Saturday conference is $20.

  • The cost for professionals to attend our Saturday conference is $99 through September 21; the cost goes to $110 beginning September 22.

  • Add $15 if you’d like CEUs. In order to receive CEUs for Saturday’s conference, you must register at the professional rate for Saturday’s conference.

Registration for our Saturday conference includes a continental breakfast and lunch as well as access to our sessions and exhibitor floor. You’ll pay for your travel expenses, including your hotel stay.

We’ve been approved to provide continuing education hours for our Friday pre-conference intensives (4 hours for our four-hour intensive; 2 hours for our two-hour intensives) and for our Saturday conference (6.5 hours). Continuing education hours are provided by the University of Illinois, College of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine in collaboration with the Continuing Education Institute of Illinois.

The professions provided for are:

  • Acupuncturist

  • Athletic Trainer

  • Counselor-Professional/Clinical

  • Dental Hygienist

  • Dietitian/Nutritionist

  • Marriage and Family Counselor

  • Nurse (APN, RN, LPN)

  • Nursing Home Administrator

  • Occupational Therapist

  • Psychologist

  • Physical Therapist

  • Respiratory Therapist

  • Social Worker

Hotel Details

Our conference will take place on Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, conveniently located minutes from O’Hare and a subway ride from downtown Chicago. The hotel offers free shuttle service to and from O’Hare. Daily hotel parking for our conference is $3.

To reserve a guest room for December 2 and/or December 3, please call the Marriott at 773-693-4444. Ask for the National Caregiving Conference special room rate of $119 per night.


Questions? Ideas? Need more information? Email Denise.
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