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Dozens offer resources at 11th annual Quad City Caregiver Conference

Attendees learned about resources for caregivers from more than 40 vendors at the Golden Leaf Center in Davenport.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The 11th annual Quad City Caregiver Conference was held in Davenport on Nov. 12. 

More than 40 vendors lined the Golden Leaf Center showroom floor to speak with caregivers across the Quad Cities. 

"What we try to do is just bring as many resources together to provide help for caregivers," said Mike Mathews, marketing coordinator with Milestones Area Agency on Aging.

Eighteen-year-old Beka Smith-Pace was in attendance because she is a caregiver to her father.

"At the age of seven is when we first moved here and I realized he had a lot of things going on," said Beka. "And I started helping and being more responsible at the age of seven and helping him and helping how to make his life better." 

Her father is a military veteran, who served in both the Navy and the Army. He served in the Gulf War on an aircraft carrier before leaving to marry his wife Cindy Smith-Pace. But his love of service to his country motivated him to return to the military, this time with the Army. 

It was in 2004 at Fort Benning in Georgia, that Beka would eventually be born and just two years later that her and her family's life would forever change.

"He was hurt in a training exercise there and continued to have problems and eventually ended up getting out of the Army due to his disabilities," said Cindy Smith-Pace. "And I've been his caregiver ever since." 

She said her husband was diagnosed with a disformed foot, and anxiety and depression. He would also later develop problems with his back, knees and shoulders. 

Both Beka and Cindy Smith-Pace said they go to doctor appointments almost every other day for him. They also ensure that he takes his medications at the right times, advocate and explain the doctor's opinions to him and ensure he makes it to his St. Ambrose University journalism classes.

Beka, who loves to write and sing her own musical compositions, wants to eventually be a robotics engineer. She said some people might be intimidated when they first meet her dad but, "Once you get to know him, he's a complete lovey-dovey person."

"She's missed out on some things in her childhood," said Cindy Smith-Pace. "Because dad doesn't like to go to concerts or big events because of his military training [accident]."

Beka said even though taking care of him is a lot of work, she's always wanted to help her father and her family in any way she could.

"I really don't miss it, but at the same time, I kind of do," said Beka.

"In May, [Beka] graduated from Bettendorf High School so we got to [attend that] and that was a big day for all of us," said Cindy.

For more information on how to connect with other caregivers or to learn about available resources, call 855-410-6222 or click/tap here.


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