No one wants to become disabled from an illness, accident or aging, but chances are high that we will each need help in our own future. This is why Homewatch Caregivers has launched the National Family Caregiver of the Year Award, assembling a panel of professional experts to determine who will be voted to receive the national grand prize. The independent panel of 10 volunteer experts is made up of leaders in the healthcare and caregiving industry.
The national winner is chosen from a pool of finalists at the local level and awarded $10,000 in cash, along with respite care and a scholarship to Homewatch CareGivers University.
Panelists participate in the National Family Caregiver of the Year Award for a variety of reasons. “By showcasing these heroic caregivers we illustrate the reality of family caregiver situations and help the public to understand their risk, as well as the opportunity they have while they are healthy to protect themselves through planning,” said panelist Beth Ludden.
This year’s distinguished panelists include:
- Denise Brown, author of The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey, and Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers. Denise is also the Founder of caregiving.com, a website that includes blogs for family caregivers, free webinars and online support groups.
- Fran Carpentier, Elder Care Advocate and former Senior Editor of Parade Magazine. Fran has been the classic sandwich generation daughter—caring for her elderly parents and raising her son while working full-time and managing her own diabetes.
- Cheri Lattimer, Executive Director for Case Management Society of America. Cheri has said that her work fulfills a lifelong dream of making life easier and better for patients and their families.
- Beth Ludden, Senior Vice President of Product Development for Genworth Financial’s Long-Term Care business. “Key to the concerns of family caregivers is the stress of the financial burden that is created when a loved one becomes unable to care for themselves,” Ms. Ludden said.
- Susan Lutz, Senior Project Manager of the Health and Family Team of AARP. Susan noted that “family caregivers are the backbone” of America’s long-term care system and many AARP members are also family caregivers.
- Suzanne Mintz, CEO and President of the National Family Caregivers Association, which partnered with Homewatch CareGivers this year for the award. Ms. Mintz knows firsthand the challenges of caregiving since her husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis decades ago.
- Joanna Pera, Divisional Director of Business Development for Heartland Hospice and Home Health. Joanna has 25 years of experience working in the health care industry, including short-term rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, long term care, home care and hospice. “I am a fierce patient advocate and have been a volunteer in various caregiving capacities,” she said.
- Leann Reynolds, President of Homewatch CareGivers. Ms. Reynolds began her caregiving career as a franchise owner in 2003 and since becoming the company’s president in 2006, the organization has doubled in size.
- Jesse R. Slome, Executive Director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Jesse said the stories of the nominated caregivers are familiar in his daily work. “Caregiving is central to the issue of long-term care and long-term care insurance,” he said. “While these folks don’t have to have insurance as a criteria, their stories and issues are most familiar to us as an industry.”
- Martha Tierney, Supervisor on the National Alzheimer’s Association 24-hour helpline in Chicago. Martha has a background working as a crisis social worker and in special education. The callers to the 24-hour helpline are much like the families nominated for the National Family Caregiver of the Year Award. “The challenges that our callers are facing when they reach out to us are significant,” Ms. Tierney said. “Our hope is that we can assist them in little and big ways by being a listening ear at any hour of the day and by connecting them to resources that will help them meet their needs.”