Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Caregivers Fair Inspired by Area Family's Struggle

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Caregivers Fair Inspired by Area Family's Struggle

Article excerpt

Out of her own loneliness years ago, Gayle Twigger-Shaw created an event she hopes will provide a much-needed network within the community. Twigger-Shaw, the chairwoman of Temple Israel's Social Action Committee, helped coordinate the inaugural Caregivers Care Fair at Charleston's Temple Israel last year after spending six years as the caregiver for her husband, Ken Shaw, who had Parkinson's disease and, later, dementia.

"During those years, I was completely unaware of any resources that could support me in that role of caregiver, she said. "I felt so alone in that role; I did not know who to turn to.

When she set to work assembling the pieces for the Caregivers Care Fair, Ken was in an assisted living facility. The day of the event, he died.

Though she wasn't able to see the fruits of her labor come together, those at the fair said about 300 were in attendance. At least that many are expected to attend this year's event this weekend, said Twigger-Shaw, noting that the topic of caregiving has become increasingly important. A statistic published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says 63 percent of caregivers who are the sole providers of care for their loved one predecease the person they are caring for, a "staggering statistic, she said.

Since last year, Twigger-Shaw has fielded two calls from people in other states asking for advice on creating their own, similar events.

"There's a buzz about it now, she said. …

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