Press Release from the Sea Coast Mission Elder Care Conference
by Scott Fish

Attendees at the 10th Elder Care Conference held by the Maine Seacoast Mission on Islesboro. Eight islands attended and many wonderful speakers.

ISLESBORO, ME — No doubt the group of elder care providers and presenters at the Maine Seacoast Mission’s October 23-24 on Island ElderCare Conference on Islesboro island were very glad to be at the table, said one attendee, “with people who speak the same language.”

For ten years Mission Island Health Director Sharon Daley, RN, has helped create a network for the islands represented at the Conference. “What a great group of people who do so much for many,” Sharon said of the event.

In addition to this annual in-person Conference, the group stays connected throughout the year in other ways.

In the Mission’s July 13, 2018 blog post, “Maine Island Elder Care Homes: Ahead of Their Time,” Sharon Daley explained the network’s effectiveness. Between conferences we “have monthly phone calls. Two or three times a year we meet in Augusta with State people involved in licensing and regulations. Island elder care homes got a 15-percent MaineCare increase when we proved it costs more to run an elder care home on an island,” Sharon said.

Islands represented at this year’s conference were: Chebeague Island, Cliff Island, Isle au Haut, Islesboro, Islesford, Long Island, North Haven, Peaks Island, and Vinalhaven.

The guest presenters and their topics for discussion were:

Maine Health Care Association President & CEO Rick Erb, and also, State government representatives with updates on Elder Care Issues.

Betty J. Harris, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and APPE Coordinator at Husson University’s School of Pharmacy, Bangor, ME discussed medication awareness/safety tips.

Music Therapist Melissa Violette of Birch Bay Retirement Village spoke about the benefits of music therapy with dementia, and also, as self-care for caregivers.

Kandyce Powell, Executive Director of Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care spoke about many aspects of dealing with grief.

Nancy Hathaway, licensed by the State of Maine as the first Licensed Pastoral Counselor in the Buddhist tradition, gave an Introduction to Mindfulness-based Compassionate Communication.

“This conference just gives so much energy. You go back (home) with so many ideas. Keep having this conference. It’s so important,” said Cindy Thomas of Islesford.

Asked for their takeaways from the Conference, attendee’s answers included: the need for island elder caregivers to frame their stories and share them with their island populations. Also, building the community presence, working on a drug take back program, advance directives, living on fixed incomes, and strengthening the network.

Peggy Akers of Cliff Island said in a followup email to Sharon Daley and Sharon’s assistant Margaret Snell, “Thank you for all you do to bring us together each year. You fill our hearts and our souls with so much. Music, food, friendship, and continued passion for the dreams we all have for our beautiful islands.”