ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Community members gathered on Thursday in Albemarle County to hear about one of life’s most difficult challenges: becoming a parent to your parent.

An elder care conference in Albemarle County took place on Thursday to discuss ways caregivers can take care of the people they love, and while still taking care of themselves. The stressful job often leaves little time for personal care of one’s self while taking care of patients, especially when that patient is a loved one.

Sue Liberman said she had always been interested in providing care to the elderly, but when her mother was diagnosed with dementia, she had to step in and become her caregiver. When that happened, emotional walls went up and she threw all her training out the window.

“I used to use a little tool called a ‘plexi-plexiglass cube’ that I put around myself that nobody could see except me and I could stop some of the emotional reactions that I had from getting out and transferring them to my mother,” said Liberman, who is a member of the executive planning committee for the conference.

Liberman has been interested in geriatric care, but she said none of her education could prepare her for the challenges of caring for your own parent. The switching of roles causes a lot of push back from the person receiving care, and emotional barriers to be put up by the caregiver.

Liberman said the conference at Westminister Canterbury is about more than work sessions. To her, it’s about making connections with other caregivers in similar situations and offering different coping mechanisms. She also reminds caregivers to take care of themselves as well.

"If you're going to be effective as a caregiver and still stay sane, you have to have help," Liberman said. "None of us can do it alone."

The conference will continue at 8:30 a.m. on Friday and include a stress management for caregivers session.