Date ArticleType
2/28/2018 Member News

Caregivers Conference Recognizes Work of Love

This is a press release from St. Petersburg College. For more information, contact Rita Farlow, Assistant Director, Marketing and Strategic Communications, 727-302-6526 or Marilyn Shaw, Public Relations Specialist, 727-341-4712.

Caregivers Conference Recognizes Work of Love

Caregivers of family members suffering from dementia are generally overworked and under-appreciated, and on call 24-7 to confront a disease that often turns their loved ones into strangers.

Coping with that exhausting reality will be the theme of the Fourth Annual Caregivers Conference at St. Petersburg College, as an array of experts addresses the needs of those caregivers – along with those of their affected family members.  The conference, with the theme Finding Meaning in Caregiving, will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 23 in the Digitorium of SPC’s Seminole campus, 9200 113th St. N. It is co-sponsored by the SPC Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, Maria’s Adult Day Care Center, and AARP Florida.

The event, which includes a buffet lunch, is free, but advance registration is required.

Along with advice for caring for themselves, the conference will offer caregivers information on medical advances into cures for dementia, on the legal aspects of dementia care, and on services covered by Medicare. During breaks, conference attendees will be able to visit informational tables of vendors offering services for family caregivers, volunteers working with older adults, and professionals in aging and related services.

The conference will introduce two new featured speakers. Leading off will be Monica Stynchula, AARP Florida Executive Council Member and Chair of the Caregiver Accelerator. She will speak on “Building a Local Family Caregiving Ecosystem.” Luncheon speaker will be Christine Sherrill, Program Coordinator for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DEA), who will highlight local resources under the DEA’s Dementia Care and Cure Initiative.

Returning speakers include Eileen Poiley, Director of Education at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute at the University of South Florida, who will speak on “Coping with the Stress of Caregiving.” Also back with positive insights on caregiving will be Linda Burhans, author and nationally recognized expert on caregiver advocacy, who will speak on “Connecting Caregivers with Reality.” Another returning speaker from 2017, Rev. Dr. Richard Deibert, medical director of Tidewell Hospice and an ordained minister, will address the physical and spiritual needs of caregivers.

And a subject not previously addressed by the conference, the use of medical marijuana to treat dementia patients, will be taken up by Jeffrey Leimbachrer, M.D. Some preliminary research indicates that the chemical THC in marijuana may have positive effects in Alzheimer’s treatment. Dr. Leimbacher will explain that treatment in the context of Florida law, which allows use of medical marijuana for certain medical conditions under very restrictive rules.

Other speakers and their topics:

  • Tracy Christner, Community Partnership Specialist with Empath Health, “Hospice and Other Programs Covered by Medicare.”
  • D. “Rep” DeLoach III, estate planning, elder law and probate attorney at DeLoach & Hofstra, Seminole, “Navigating the Caregiver’s Legal Nightmare.”
  • Becky Herring, a local caregiver, “Dementia Gave Me the Husband I Always Wanted.”

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the world’s biggest global public health challenges. Worldwide, at least 44 million people are living with dementia, and that number is expected to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050 to 115 million. Much of the increase will be in developing countries like Western Europe and North America. Already 62 percent of people with dementia live in developing countries. There is no treatment available to slow or stop the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, but several medications can temporarily help improve the symptoms of dementia for some people.

To register, go to, or email, or call 727-393-7711.