How is March Madness like a Caregiver Event? Connect with Chicago Caregivers – Part 3

The whirlwind of March Madness inspired me to draw a connection between the most exciting and pure example of competitive basketball and the third and final topic in our triumvirate of posts about connecting with Chicago caregivers: special events. It might seem like a stretch, but stick with me here.

When you watch March Madness – or even better, when you fill out a bracket – you learn about the game. You ingest details about this year’s teams and formulate a strategy. Similarly, when you attend a caregiving event such as a conference or workshop, you are also learning. You internalize the latest research about the condition affecting the person in your care, and you develop strategies to be an effective caregiver.

When you get together with others to watch March Madness – especially when you’re rooting for the same team – you’re showing support for that team and perhaps loyalty to your alma mater. When you attend a caregiving event such as a 5K run or a gala to raise money to find a cure for the condition affecting your loved one, you are also showing support for a cause close to your heart.

And when you realize that not everyone following March Madness feels the same way you do (pardon my flashback to several years ago when I sat in a Salt Lake City bar – yes, they have those – and rooted against BYU), you have an opportunity to speak out for what you believe in. A similar opportunity avails itself when you attend a caregiving event focusing on advocacy, allowing you to raise your voice about social and legislative priorities that matter to you and your family.

Courtesy of CDC/Dawn Arlotta

Most importantly, the experience of March Madness is infused with a feeling of camaraderie. Just this morning, my husband and I heard on the radio that while March Madness can create a temporary dip in work productivity, it can boost morale among co-workers, which benefits the workplace over time. It’s nice to be “in on something” with others who understand, even if that something is a difficult life circumstance. Caregiver events, whether they are educational or focused on awareness and advocacy, can engender this feeling of camaraderie as well. That may be the greatest benefit of all.

Here’s a roundup of caregiver events scheduled for the Chicago area over the next several weeks:

Help for Unpaid Caregivers: The Family Caregiver Support Program

When: Tuesday, March 20 (11 AM - Noon)
Where: Leeza's Place, Provena St. Joseph Medical Center, 50 Uno Circle, Joliet
Contact: Kathy Miller (815.741.0077)

MS Half Court Classic 2012: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

When: Saturday, March 24, 7 AM – 1 PM
Where: United Center, Chicago
Contact: Elle Ullum (312.423.1172)

2012 FTD/PPA Family Caregiver and Professional Education and Support Conference -- Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

When: Saturday, March 24 (all day)
Where: Thorne Auditorium, Rubloff Building, 375 E Chicago Avenue, Chicago
Contact: 312.908.9023

2012 Illinois Action Summit -- Alzheimer's Association

When: Tuesday, March 27 (all day)
Where: Springfield (transportation available from a variety of locations in and near Chicago)
Contact: Jen Belkov (847.779.6957)

Parkinson’s Disease Caregiver Conference – Northwestern Memorial Hospital

When: Saturday, April 14, 2012 (9 AM – Noon)
Where: 676 North Saint Clair Street, Chicago
Contact: 877.926.4664

Discovery Ball – American Cancer Society

When: Saturday, April 28, 5:30 PM
Where: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N Columbus Drive, Chicago
Contact: 312.279.7213

2012 Fight for Air Ride – American Lung Association

When: Friday – Sunday, June 8 – 10
Where: Crystal Lake, IL to Lake Geneva, WI
Contact: Erin Petschow (312.781.1100) or Heidi Hoffman (312.781.1100)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part series on how to connect with Chicago caregivers. I would truly enjoy hearing your experiences as you explore these resources and find additional ways to connect on your own.

And of course, good luck with your brackets.

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