Support for Spousal Caregivers

                                              Friday, October 27

Hotel Check-in and Conference Registration                       3:00 p.m.

Chair Massages                                                                                  3:00 – 5:00 p

    Lobby / Registration area

Workshops                                                                                           5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

     See daily schedule

Cocktail Reception                                                                           5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Dinner and Keynote Address by Elissa Lewin                      7:30 p.m.

    Liberty A

                                         Saturday, October 28

Breakfast                                                                                             7:00 – 10:00 a.m.

     Lobby breakfast area

Workshops                                                                                          9:00 – 10:30 and 11:00 to 12:30PM

     See daily schedule

Afternoon Sightseeing and Recreation                                 12:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Cocktail Reception                                                                          5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

     Lobby bar area

Dinner Dance                                                                                     7:30 p.m.

     Liberty A

                                        Sunday, October 29

Breakfast                                                                                           7:00 – 10:00 a.m.

     Lobby breakfast area

Workshops                                                                                        9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

     See daily schedule

Hotel Check-Out                                                                            11:00 a.m.

Closing Ceremonies                                                                     11:30 a.m.



WSA 2017 National Conference Activities 


                            Friday, October 27


Keynote AddressSelf Care for the Well Spouse

Elissa Lewin - 7:30, dinner presentation, Liberty A

Well-Spouse Association and Nancy’s House share, in their missions, supporting caregivers and advocating the importance of taking care of ourself.  Elissa will speak to the importance -- and challenges -- of that self-care. 




 Writing What We Feel

Marion D. Cohen - 5:00 – 6:30 p.m., William Penn Suite

Journal writing -- whether daily or occasionally -- is creative, honest writing, as honest as the writer can or wants to be. It means writing what we truly feel, as opposed to what we should feel, or think we should feel, or believe others think we should feel. This kind of writing gives us permission to feel, even things that make us cringe. It puts us in touch with our selves, and thereby with others. For us well spouses, it can even put us in touch with our ill spouses, and perhaps vice versa. 

 This workshop will give us time and space for such writing. I'll read a few writing prompts to get us started, if need be.  After writing, those who want to can share what we've written. Poetry is welcome.


Palliative Care in the Home: What are the benefits?

Katherine Major and Julia L. Schott - 5:00 – 6:30 p.m., Colony Room

Katherine and Julia will provide an overview of Palliative Care, Home Health, and the latest trends as it relates to caring for a person with a serious illness.  Open discussion and questions welcome in this informal session.


Well Spouse Support Group Leaders

Donna McQuade and Larry Bocchiere - 5:00 – 6:30 p.m., Embassy Room or lobby bar area

An informal meeting of current SGLs and anyone who is interested in starting a group. We will discuss potential SGL topics and strategies for conducting the group effectively, as well as how to recruit new group members. Handouts will be available for future use.


                       Saturday, October 28


The Things You Cannot Say

Elissa Lewin - 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., Colony Room

We all have those thoughts and feelings that we keep from our loved one who is ill.  This workshop will allow you to give voice to those words, in a safe and judgment-free environment, to explore the feelings behind the words, and to find the support you need as you continue in your role as a Well Spouse. 


Honey and Stones: Dealing Effectively with Difficult People and Situations


Well spouses who have to deal with difficult ill spouses, family members and professionals generally employ one of two approaches. Some keep trying to be nice, believing that 'You get more bees with honey than vinegar.' Some don't even try reaching out for help, believing 'You can't squeeze blood from a stone.' This workshop will present a middle path between 'honey' and 'stones,' discussing means of asserting yourself to maximum effectiveness.


Former Well Spouses

Beth Crosby and Fern Zeigler - 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., William Penn Suite

Beth and Fern have compiled a thought-provoking list of questions to stimulate a meaningful discussion for workshop participants. Subjects range from our unique grief processes to how being a well spouse has changed us, and more.


Former Well Spouses Panel

Rona Auster, Marion Cohen, Beth Crosby, Jim Russell - 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., William Penn Suite

A continued discussion in an informal setting facilitated by those who have been there before.


Intimacy and Relationships

Jeanae Hopgood-Jones, Elissa Lewin and Fern Zeigler - 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Embassy Room

We invite you to join a panel discussion on sex and intimacy within and outside of the marriage. We hope to facilitate open discussion in a safe and non-judgmental environment, regarding issues around negotiating sex and intimacy.


What’s So Funny About Love and Marriage?

Karen McGreer - After dinner entertainment, Liberty A

Karen will perform a short presentation of jazz and Broadway tunes from the American songbook and share personal observations on the ironies of love and marriage.


                   Sunday, October 29


Younger Well Spouses

Gabriele Ortiz and Corrie Skuya - 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., William Penn Suite

Open discussion will focus on the unique challenges faced by younger Well Spouses in today's fast-paced world.  Topics will include the difficulties of maintaining social ties, financial stability, parenting, self-nurturing, and marriage within the Well Spouse/Ill Spouse dynamic.  In a society where the younger generation is considered 'up and coming', how do we cope with our losses and uncertainty?


Women’s Group

9:00 – 10:30, Embassy Room

A round table discussion for topics unique to the women’s caregiving experience led by and for women who are current caregivers.


Men’s Group

9:00 – 10:30, Colony Room

An open discussion for men who are current caregivers designed to provide an opportunity for them to express themselves in an open and judgement-free environment.



Meet Our Speakers


Marion D. Cohen was a well spouse for 26 years and hasn’t forgotten it. Her first husband had MS and died in 2003. She is the author of two memoirs and three poetry books, all of which chronicle the many aspects of being a well spouse, as well as the mother of four “well children”. Dirty Details: The Days and Nights of a Well Spouse was published in 1996 and the sequel Still the End: Memoir of a Nursing Home Wife was released in 2013. She is also a mathematician and math teacher at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. She is happily remarried and continually grateful and incredulous.


Beth Crosby has a Master of Arts of Teaching (MAT) degree with endorsements in Guidance & Counseling and Learning Disabilities. She was involved in all levels of education in a variety of positions for over 30 years. For the past 4 years, she has worked as the Homes of Hope Coordinator with families that are homeless. She and Fern Zeigler (see below) were both Well Spouse Board members, coordinated the Silver Lining Project with the Well Spouse Foundation and have facilitated other workshops together. Beth was a Well Spouse for over 20 years.


Jeanae Hopgood-Jones, PhD(c), MFT, M.Ed, is a trained couple and family therapist with a concentration on couple and sex therapy.  She is a Doctoral Candidate in the Center for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University and is currently working on her dissertation. She holds a master's degree in marriage & family therapy (MFT) and a 2nd master's (M.Ed.) in Human Sexuality Education from Widener. She is a member of WOCSHN (Women of Color Sexual Health Network), AAMFT (American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists), ABSC (Association of Black Sexologists & Clinicians) and the Black Scholars in Human Sexuality (Widener chapter). In addition, she is also the Chair of HSEDSO (Human Sexuality Education Student Organization) and a member of Gamma Eta Rho - the Human Sexuality Honor Society. She is also one of the “SexPerts” on the sexuality app, Juicebox. 


Elissa Lewin, LMFT, is a licensed psychologist who works with adults, individually and as couples, using the "intersystems" model taught at Marriage Council of Philadelphia. Her areas of specialty include relationships, caregiving issues, trauma, depression, and making life changes. She uses positive psychology, behavioral/CBT interventions, EMDR and family-of-origin exploration. The approach is personalized and she works with her clients to find the combination that works to achieve their goals.

Elissa understands that creating change takes courage. In her 30 years as a therapist, she has gained the experience to listen deeply and intently both to what is said and not said. Together, she helps clients create next steps that make sense for them to create the changes they want in life.

Elissa is also the founder and President of Nancy’s House, a non-profit located in PA that provides community, self-care tools and support for family caregivers.


Katherine Major, MSN, RN, has worked in as a nurse for the last 23 years with experience in both the inpatient setting as well as home care.  In 2007, she started her nursing leadership journey as a nurse manager at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  As Director of Caring Way, a home-based palliative care program from Penn Medicine, Katherine oversees the daily operations of the program including strategic planning and program development.


Karen McGreer is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and certified Sex Therapist. She holds two Masters degrees, one from Temple University in Education, and one from the Family Institute of Philadelphia. She has been a Registered Nurse since 1968. Her extensive experience in nursing and physical rehabilitation led her to specialize in the emotional, relational, and sexual aspects of health care.

Karen is also a frequent speaker on sexual health, intimacy, and loving through sickness and in health. She has made several hundred media appearances, and has been a frequent guest on various local and national radio and television programs.


Gabriele Ortiz has been caring for her husband, who suffers from advanced MS, for 19 years. He lived at home until 2013, at which point his transition to a local long-term care facility became necessary. Gaby works in the field of ophthalmology full-time, and is a mother to four boys, ranging in age from 12 to 23. Gaby found Well Spouse Association in 2010 and has reclaimed her sanity.


Julia L. Schott, MSS, MLSP, LCSW, received her BA in Economics and Spanish from Bucknell University and her Master of Social Service and Master of Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College. She has been practicing medical social work with a focus on palliative care since 2003. Julia has a passion for working with patients and families in their own homes and considers access to excellent symptom management and care planning through life-threatening illness to be a basic human right.

Corrie Skuya has been a member of Well Spouse Association for almost 9 years. Her husband was diagnosed with chronic paroxysmal hemicrania (CPH) at the age of 32. Corrie has two boys, 8 and 11 years old. She works full-time as a behavioral analyst (BCBA) for children with special needs.


Fern Zeigler is a licensed Marital and Family Therapist (LMFT) and has provided therapy for more than 30 years. She is currently in a group practice in Abington, PA. Fern was a Well Spouse for 17 years until her husband died in 2001. She remarried in 2013. Fern was an active member of WSA from 1991-2001. She facilitated a support group, was on the board and organized regional and national conferences.



63 West Main St, Suite H
63 West Main St, Suite H
Freehold, NJ 07728
Freehold, NJ 07728
Phone: (800) 838-0879
Phone: (800) 838-0879