Caring for the Caregiver

International Women’s Day touched me differently this year. You could feel the urgency to celebrate as the day was filled with gatherings morning, noon and night by organizations and people who wanted to talk about women in the world today. And today, there is a lot to talk about as the ground is shifting and our visions of what can and should be are becoming plans of action.

I was surrounded by 250 women at a Girls Inc. event where three remarkable women took the stage: former president of Jacksonville University, the indomitable Dr. Frances Kinne who will celebrate her 101st birthday soon and has wowed us with her messages of positivity at Generation W; the inspirational Admiral Bette Bolivar who spoke of leadership; and the inimitable Sr. VP of Baptist Health and an amazing advocate for women Audrey Moran. Audrey provided a clarion call to action as she boldly urged us all not to think we have to wait our turn, to make sure we use our voices, and most importantly, WE MUST STAND UP FOR EACH OTHER! Amen. We carry her call forward inspired to create change.

I also felt inspired when Jay Newton-Small, a journalist for more than 15 years, writing for TIME Magazine and Bloomberg News, and the author of the best-seller Broad Influence: How Women are Changing the Way America Works (which she introduced to us from the Generation W stage) said, “when women reach between 20 and 30 percent of any organization…they begin to change how things are done.” This is true in politics, in boardrooms, in educational systems…when it becomes less the exception and more the norm that we hear the voices of women, we are one step closer to achieving true equality.

We are thrilled that this year, Jay is returning once again to Generation W. She has turned her intellect and passion to the issue of caring for the aging, a huge issue that we are facing in this country and in our families. She is the founder and CEO of MemoryWell, a digital platform for storytelling that brings the skill of professional journalists to the challenge of helping seniors tell their stories, which has a direct impact on improving their quality of care.

“We are headed for a crisis in caregiving,” Jay said. “By 2030, it is estimated that we will be short 10 million caregivers in the U.S. Just when care is needed the most, it will be declining.”

Women, in particular, will be most affected, not only because we typically live longer than men, but because we typically are the caregivers. “Being a resource for caregivers is being a resource for women,” adds Jay. And it just may be women who help us find more solutions to the growing caregiving crisis.

As leaders, women have unique ways to find common ground, negotiate, and, as Jay says in her book, “advance issues that were previously neglected.” It is their leadership; it is their voices, that will address the very serious issues we face as women and caregivers. It is their ability to collaborate, to problem-solve, to never stop seeking ways for us to move forward that will continue to change the world.

Talking with Jay is always so enlightening and inspiring. She has moved me to action in many ways, and I could not be more thrilled that she will be with us to speak about something that is so close to so many of us who are in that space of caring for those who need our help. Click here to learn more about Jay and to sign up for her breakout session. She is amazing. Grab your tickets now to join us on April 13th at the University of North Florida.