October 23, 2015

Palliative care conference offers speakers, resources to ‘enhance caregiving’

By Natalie Hoefer

Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness can be an overwhelming task, no matter the age of the caregiver or the patient.

In modern medicine, such care is referred to as palliative care.

“Palliative care is a new area to the health care consumer,” said Joni LeBeau, archdiocesan Health Ministry coordinator. “It is part of a continuum of care. It’s an area where the dignity and honor of the patient’s life can be impacted.”

To address this need, this year’s archdiocesan Health Ministry Annual Caregiver Conference will focus on palliative care—specialized medical care focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, with the goal of improving the quality of life for both the patient and the family.

The conference will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Nov. 13 in Assembly Hall at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center, 1400 N. Meridian St., in Indianapolis.

Four sessions will be offered throughout the day, as well as a panel discussion and time to visit with individual therapy specialists.

Dr. Gerald Walthall, director of palliative care at Franciscan St. Francis Health in Indianapolis and a member of its bioethics committee, will speak on “The Future of Palliative Care.”

Also speaking at the conference is Dr. Jason Eberle of the Marian University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Indianapolis. He will discuss “The Value of Suffering.”

Licensed clinical social worker Brenda Kenyon, bereavement coordinator and grief specialist for St. Vincent Hospice in Indianapolis, will address “Recognizing the Losses,” and Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization, will talk about “Spiritual Challenges.”

The conference is geared toward professional caregivers, parish ministers and family caregivers.

“Folks should get an appreciation and understanding for the dignity and quality of life at this stage, and practical resources to enhance caregiving,” LeBeau said of the conference.

To emphasize the importance of palliative care in today’s world, she quoted the words of Pope Francis in his March 5, 2015, address to the Pontifical Academy for Life:

“Palliative care is an expression of the properly human attitude of taking care of one another, especially of those who suffer. It bears witness that the human person is always precious, even if marked by age and sickness.”

(The cost of the conference is $30, which includes lunch. Registration is required by Nov. 9. Registration is available online by logging on to www.archindy.org/healthministry. You can also send a check for $30 made out to Office of Pro-Life and Family Life—along with your name, address, phone, e-mail, organization name if applicable, and parish or church—to Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, c/o Conference Registration, 1400 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m. Mass will be celebrated at 8 a.m. in the St. Alphonsus Liguori Chapel on the second floor of the Catholic Center for those who wish to participate. For more information, contact Joni LeBeau at 317-236-1475, or 800-382-9836, ext. 1475, or jlebeau@archindy.org.)

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