Part 1 – From Loved One to Caregiver: Transformational Moments

When a loved one becomes a caregiver, everything changes – daily actions, beliefs, hopes, expectations and connections to others.

In this session, participants will be able to make meaning out of their role by learning how to talk about their care experiences at home and at work. The insights and strategies offered in this session are designed to enhance caregiver resilience, foster individual empowerment, and reinforce the value of caring roles and responsibilities. This self-knowledge enables the confident caregiver to move into the new role of advocate: identifying family needs and how to get them met.

Specifically, participants will:

  1. Learn how to re-orient themselves to the present as well as make sense of their changing expectations.
  2. Realize how caring for a loved one changes what and whom we care about.
  3. Discover how caregivers serve as gatekeepers for their loved ones in ways that transform their social networks.
  4. Recognize a new value system and vocabulary that arise from the caregiving experience.

This presentation will be followed by a question/answer period.

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  1. Donna Thomson began her career as an actor, director and teacher, but when her son Nicholas was born with severe and multiple disabilities in 1988, she embarked on her second career as a caregiver. Now also a caregiver for her mother, Donna is the author of The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I've Learned From a Life of Caregiving. She teaches families how to advocate for care at The Advocacy School and consults to various hospital navigator programs. Donna's blog/website is The Caregivers' Living Room ( and she can be reached via email at

  1. Zachary White, PhD. is an Associate Professor of Communication. He received his Ph.D. in communication from Purdue University. His published and presented academic research addresses end-of-life communication, health care transitions, and caregiver communication practices. He teaches university courses addressing health and illness narratives, digital health literacy, interpersonal communication, online social support and disclosure, the management of health-related disclosures in the workplace, and sense making amidst life transitions. Dr. White blogs regularly at The Unprepared Caregiver (


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