Parish Health Ministry (PHM), Episcopal Retirement Services’ ecumenical outreach effort, connects more than 70 churches and community organizations throughout the Tristate and assists them in starting their own faith-supported health ministries.
The annual Refresh Your Soul conference is PHM’s largest annual fundraising event. But to the dementia and Alzheimer’s caregivers, healthcare professionals and senior advocates who attend year after year, it has become much more than that — it’s become a source of inspiration.
The 2017 conference, held at Xavier University’s Cintas Center, was no exception.
Sparking change in the way Cincinnati thinks about dementia care
This year’s keynote speaker was John O’Leary, author of the bestselling inspirational book On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life. His volume is an incredible account of the house fire that left him, at 9 years old, burned over his entire body — and the lifetime of lessons, epiphanies and choices O’Leary has experienced since.
Brandishing humor, candor, tears and joy, O’Leary held rapt the attention of more than 500 attendees during his address.
“We all have tough days – frequently – that’s a human truth,” he said. “Whether you speak on motivation and inspiration, or whether you’re bedridden, or a caregiver to someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, we have to ask ourselves: ‘Why am I so lucky to be here?’”
“What we realize is, yes, life is a struggle, but the best times are ahead of us. And, ultimately, it is up to us individually to make things better. And they will get better,” O’Leary told the crowd of care partners and health professionals.
Raising the public profile of people living with dementia through a chorus of voices
O’Leary wasn’t the only speaker to hold the Refresh Your Soul audience spellbound.
He was joined by Loretta Anne Woodward Veney, author of the critically well-regarded Being My Mom’s Mom: A Journey Through Dementia from a Daughter’s Perspective, and a perennial audience favorite, dementia caregiving expert Teepa Snow.
“The room was huge, the energy incredible and the response to my morning presentation was stunning,” Veney wrote on her Facebook page after her appearance. “I hugged more people today than I could count, and held their hands as they cried or I cried as we shared our dementia stories.”
“What we realize is, yes, life is a struggle,
but the best times are ahead of us."
With the support of title sponsor TriHealth and co-sponsor the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Refresh Your Soul 2017 expanded to become, for the first time, a two-day event hosted in tandem with Xavier’s first-ever Dementia Care Summit.
“Our goal every year with Refresh Your Soul is to provide an engaging, educational, enlightening event for senior caregivers, professionals in our industry, and anybody dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia in their lives,” Episcopal Retirement Services’ new President and CEO Laura Lamb emphasized.
“John, Loretta and Teepa were amazing,” she said. “Along with everybody else at ERS and Parish Health Ministry, we thank them for their indomitable spirit.”
Refresh Your Soul 2018 on the horizon
As you might imagine, planning is already in the works for next year’s installment of Refresh Your Soul. If you’re a dementia or Alzheimer’s caregiver, a health professional, or senior care advocate, keep checking back on this blog for more information. We’ll keep you abreast of developments regarding the 2018 conference.
Will you be in attendance at Refresh Your Soul next year? We’d love to see you, inspire you and listen to your dementia caregiving stories. Please consider joining us for this special conference.