Bigger Conversations
Healing Dialogue.Mindful Service.

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White House Briefing Supporting Older Americans & their Caregivers

                    Barbara at WH Conf 5.18.15                            Barbara Catlin, our Executive Director,

participated in the White Briefing on Supporting Older Americans & their Caregivers, May 18, 2015, in Washington, DC.  She spoke about insights gained from caregivers who participate in our Caregiver Wellness Circles®.  There is considerable interest in Bigger Conversations’ program, which is recognized as an innovative approach to support family caregivers. Learn more about the program here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Summary Statement on the 2015 White House Briefings on Caregiving, presented by Commissioner Barbara Catlin, at the Howard County, MD, Commission on Aging meeting 7/20/15. 

As Executive Director of Bigger Conversations, I attended the White House Briefing on Supporting Older Americans & Their Caregivers* on May 18, 2015. I also participated in White House Conference on Aging*, July 13, 2015.

1. The Older American and their Caregivers White House Briefing May 18, 2015

 This was a full day of critical conversations on the need to create programs, increase benefits, and train many more home health aides (and pay them a living wage), and pass legislation that supports caregiving at home.

 Most patients want to stay in their homes where their primary caregiver is a family member. Family caregiving saves Medicare and Medicaid millions of dollars every year.

 65% of caregivers are women; 35% men. (Of Note: Teenage kids miss school to help with family caregiving; there is a trend beginning to show that more of these kids are dropping out of school to help at home.)

 Professional caregivers, family caregivers and mental health educators agreed that traditional programs for counseling and support are not enough, or not effective, in addressing the needs of family caregivers. We need fresh perspectives and new approaches to address the needs of family caregivers.

 As Executive Director for Bigger Conversations, I shared insights we gained from the family caregivers who participated in our Caregiver Wellness Circles® in Howard County, MD.  Bigger Conversations offered 3-4 Caregiver Wellness Circles per year, over the past 3 years.  Our innovative small group model emphasizes self-care.  We meet 2 hrs/wk for 6 wks. 99% of our caregivers reported making changes in at least one health habit, including improved eating habits, better rest and sleep, more movement or exercise; most caregivers said they were able to manage or reduce stress by using mindfulness exercises they learned in our training; 75% reported a lessened sense of isolation and increased compassion for their loved one; all participants reported an increased awareness of the need for self-care.

Our next Caregiver Wellness Circle® starts on Sept 17, 2015 in Columbia, MD.  Visit  or visit us on Facebook.  Learn more here.

2. White House Conference on Aging Watch Party July 13, 2015
 President Obama called on Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, which has
been stalled for several years in Congress. He encouraged everyone to call your
representations to get the Older Americans Act reauthorized and funded.
 President Obama approved $35.7 for geriatric training – for more nurses, CNAs, home
health aides. He emphasized the need to expand Medicaid & Medicare to meet the
need; i.e., more & more middle class families are falling through the cracks financially –
need to revise the benchmarks/ requirements for receiving Medicaid.
 President Obama announced the formation of Alzheimer’s Awareness Act; he will send
this Act to Congress for approval. David Hyde Pierce, National spokesperson for
American Alzheimer’s Association, along with many others, has been instrumental in
creating and pushing this Act forward.
*For full transcripts and videos from these spring meetings, visit and (National alliance on Caregiving, 2015 report on caregiving in the U.S.).

Bigger Conversations’

Caregiver Wellness Circles®


  • Focus on wellness and self-care.
  • Learn practical skills to reduce stress.
  • Discover possibilities.
  • Caregiver Wellness Workbook©
  • More information: See community programs here.