The Caregiver's Beacon Newsletter

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The Caregiver’s Beacon (tm)
“Tell me why – Show me how – Hold my hand”
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February 1, 2003                                                                                 Vol. 6 No. 3
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ALZwell Caregiver Support and ElderCare Online
http://www.alzwell.com and http://www.ec-online.net
Serving the Needs of Caregivers Since 1996
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Dear Friends,

No one ever said that caregiving wouldn’t drain you emotionally, financially, and physically. For all of the love and support that we give our care recipients, caregiving can be hazardous to your health. All too often caregivers wait too long to take care of their own health. Or they don’t ask for help until they have burned themselves out to the breaking point.

The problem with burning out is that too often the symptoms of burnout don’t really add up until it’s almost too late. Burnout may exhibit itself as depression (another insidious problem), loss of interest in activities you usually enjoyed, increased drinking or drug use, isolation, thoughts of death or suicide, increased or decreased eating, or irregular sleeping patterns. Too often we are not honest with ourselves that the caregiving responsibilities that we have taken on have gotten to be too much to handle.

If you feel that you are burning out – on edge, short-tempered, suicidal (even jokingly), or concerned about your own health – get assistance immediately. That means:

  • Tell a fellow support group member what you are feeling. Be honest with yourself. If you are not a support group member, make it a priority to join a group or visit one of our nightly online groups.
  • Find one task or responsibility that is overwhelming to you and get someone to do it for you. It can be something like shopping or cooking or house cleaning. Take that one responsibility off of your plate.
  • Replace that responsibility with something that you enjoy doing like a hobby, reading, or meditation. Pick something physically and mentally relaxing.
  • Start exercising. Whether it is twenty minutes a day of walking, or a serious workout with a personal trainer, the benefits of exercise are extensive.

If you feel that depression is overwhelming and that you might hurt yourself or your care recipient, then you should redouble your efforts to speak with a healthcare professional. A doctor or psychologist will respect your privacy and concern for confidentiality. There is no shame in asking for help or saying, “Enough is enough!” Of the tens of thousands of caregivers who I have corresponded with over the years not one was Super Woman. And not one was able to do it alone. Sometimes placement in a nursing home or assisted living facility is the safest and most loving option for everyone involved.

Kind Regards,
Rich O’Boyle, Publisher
ALZwell Caregiver Support
ElderCare Online
Prism Caregiver Education Series

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

If you have trouble with links, the complete issue is available online at
http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Newsletters/beacon020103.htm

Feature Article: Stress Management Articles
Holistic Gerontology: Chat Transcript Available
Healthy Aging: “Tips on… Quitting Smoking” by Rich O’Boyle
Valentine’s Day: Buy Flowers and Help AFA
Caregiver Education Series: Buy One Get One Free
Top Alzheimer’s/Caregiving Websites: Ageless Design
ElderCare Forum: Updates and User Tips
Chat Schedule: Updates for February
Subscription Information

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FEATURE ARTICLE: Stress Management Articles

Over the last several years we have published several really good articles on stress management designed to promote better balance in the caregiver’s life. They are sort of scattered around the website, so I have compiled a short list for your reading.

We also have several articles of general interest on the topic of  Caring for the Caregiver in our “I, Caregiver Channel” at http://www.ec-online.net/icarechannel.htm

HOLISTIC GERONTOLOGY: Stress Management Chat Transcript Available

On January 21 our newest expert columnist and chat host, Paul Takayanagi facilitated a great session on alternative and complimentary medicine for aging adults. Paul gave a great overview of different types of alternative medicine and their role in enhancing a person’s well-being. The bulk of the discussion focused on real practical stress management techniques for caregivers.

Paul is on the faculty of the Gerontology Department at San Francisco State University. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Hayward; Chabot Community College; and the Graduate Theological Union. He is also the Education Director of Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay in Berkeley, California.  He is a member of the American Society on Aging and currently is a Chairperson for their Summer Series on Aging.

The complete chat transcript along with Paul’s regular column is available at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/transcript012103.htm.

HEALTHY AGING: “Tips on… Quitting Smoking” by Rich O’Boyle

Cigarette smoking causes 1,000 Americans to die each day. It is the single most important preventable cause of death in the United States. One of every six deaths in the United States is related to smoking. Smoking is a proven health hazard, and there are clear benefits to quitting. There is no safe cigarette and no safe level of smoking.

If you are among the estimated 25 million Americans who smoke, you are increasing your risk of death from many major diseases. For example, you have double the risk of dying from coronary heart disease as do those who never smoked. You also greatly increase your risk of lung cancer and several other cancers--mouth, throat, bladder, pancreas, and kidneys. Stomach and duodenal ulcers are more likely to occur, less likely to heal, and more likely to cause death in smokers than nonsmokers. Diabetics who smoke greatly increase the risk of poor circulation to their hands and feet, which may lead to gangrene.

If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.

Read the complete article at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/quitsmoking.html

VALENTINE’S DAY: Buy Flowers and Help AFA

You can help the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (http://www.alzfdn.org), a new national organization dedicated to providing individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers with care and support. They have struck an agreement with 1-800-flowers (the trusted online flower and gift shop) in which the foundation will receive 10% of net proceeds when a specific promotion code is used on a sale. AFA's code is ALZCARE. Customers can order by phone by calling 1-800-FLOWERS or at 1-800-Flowers.com.

1-800-flowers has several special bouquets that you can give as gifts to a loved one --- or yourself! Fresh flowers or a blooming plant make such a difference in the home. They can brighten up these last few winter weeks, and put a calming smile on your face. 1-800-flowers also sells gourmet baskets, including chocolates and other sweets.

Remember, you can give yourself or a loved one a gift AND help out the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. 1-800-flowers has other promotions listed on their website that you can you to reduce your cost, but we encourage you to enter the ALZCARE code to help AFA. Visit 1-800-Flowers.com

CAREGIVER EDUCATION SERIES: Buy One Get One Free

Throughout the month of February we are offering a special bonus: If you buy ANY product from our store we will give you free lifetime access to our “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial (a $3.95 value).

We offer informational booklets, videos, and audio cassettes in our store, including:

  • “Coping With Alzheimer’s Disease” Learning Resource Guide (booklet)
  • Seven educational booklets (cd-rom)
  • “Prism Personal Planner and Organizer Special Edition” (workbook)
  • “Show Them That We Care: A Nine-Step Guide to Visiting Residents in Nursing Homes” (video and handbook)
  • “Elder Care: A Six Step Guide to Balancing Work and Family” by John Paul Marosy (book/workbook)
  • “Surviving the Holidays and Special Occasions” (audio cassette)

Visit our store now and claim your free “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial at http://www.ec-online.net/Store/store.htm. You can order online with our secure credit card processor, or call us at 1-888-774-7655 to place your order.

TOP ALZHEIMER’S/CAREGIVING WEBSITES: Ageless Design

E-commerce outfits on the Internet are a dime a dozen. It seems that so many of these stores popped up with a goal to dominate a specific retail segment – to be a “category killer.” But where does that leave dementia caregivers? You and I know that caregivers fall through the cracks in so many areas – the financial system, social networks, political advocacy areas, and just about everywhere else. Only a few companies and organizations really seem to understand what caregivers are concerned about and what they REALLY want. A massive store selling products made for “the normals” ends up being disappointing.

This month I am featuring Ageless Design because they have created a new resource, an online store that has brought together a unique collection of products expressly for dementia caregivers. Mark and Ellen Warner have their heart in the business of helping caregivers. They maintain the Ageless Design website, publish the “Complete Guide to Alzheimer’s Proofing Your Home,” and now they operate the Alzheimers Store.

The Alzheimers Store (http://www.alzstore.com) is unique because it offers carefully selected products for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers. Mark and Ellen’s professional expertise comes in handy because they offer advice on which products are most useful based on the stage of the disease that your loved one is in, solve specific problems, and have creative applications for caregivers. You will find many products in categories such as Safety, Wandering, Incontinence, Falls, Caregiving, and Activities of Daily Living. The store is easy to navigate, secure, and fast to load. Even hard-to-find products are reasonably priced.

Most importantly, you can trust the Warner’s professional judgment and credibility. This is not another fly-by-night dot.com. Ageless Design has been around for years and will continue to be a crucial information resource for caregivers. I highly recommend the Alzheimers Store, not just for dementia caregivers, but also for people caring for any homebound loved one. You can access the store directly at http://www.alzstore.com, or first go to the main Ageless Design website at http://www.agelessdesign.com.

You can browse through other sites and vote for ElderCare Online by clicking on the “Top AD/Caregiving Sites” icon on the front page of ElderCare Online at http://www.ec-online.net (or following this complicated link: http://new.topsitelists.com/topsites.cgi?ID=1&user=bpsibley&area=bests. You are welcome to use ElderCare Online as your portal to access these sites, since I know that you will want to visit again and again. I suggest that you access the list often as new sites are added regularly, and as you explore the list, you are bound to find one that didn’t catch your attention last time.

ELDERCARE FORUM: Updates and User Tips

The Forum has been completely upgraded and enhanced with the most current software and a fast reliable server. I am so pleased that we have made this big step, even if it costs a few extra dollars each month and a great deal of headaches.

I welcome back all members who joined the previous version of the Forum. Your personal profiles and posts have been transferred to the new Forum. If you have forgotten your password, you can request that it be sent to you automatically by e-mail.

The Forum has a new address: http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x. All old links will NOT work. This was unavoidable, even though I tried hard to make the transition as seamless as possible.

In the transition to the new server, we had to delay the importing of some messages. Most of these messages came from the “We Laugh to Survive” and “Residential Options” section. These posts will be reloaded in the coming weeks. So if you see a thread that has not been discussed in a while, or one where there are no “views,” it is due to this delay. Just because a thread is a year old does not necessarily mean that it is outdated and irrelevant. Many old threads have gotten a new lease on life!

The Forum contains numerous new features that make it the most interactive and dynamic message board of its kind. While you don’t have to familiarize yourself with every bell and whistle, knowing some of the helpful features will allow you to get so much more out of it.

For example, features have been added that allow you to:

  • personalize all of your posts with a little face picture (or “avatar”);
  • select certain discussion threads to receive e-mail updates when others comment on them;
  • initiate private discussion threads and invite others to participate in them;
  • subscribe to regular updates of sections of the message board, such as “News & Research;”
  • and much more.

I intend to post tips and updates frequently to the newsletter and message board. And for many of you, we have added a slew of new smilies and icons. These are fun ways to get your message across a little better and to share some fun.

If you are not already registered, I invite you to join us again in the new and improved “ElderCare Forum” at http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x.

CHAT SCHEDULE: Updates for February

I welcome your continued feedback on the value and role of our chatroom and sessions. We have taken the responses in the current survey to heart and will be incorporating them immediately.

Enter the chatroom from the front page of either website or at http://www.ec-online.net/chat.htm. All times are U.S. Eastern Standard Time (GMT –5). We have begun to provide chats that are hosted by caregivers in Australia. Australian times are GMT +10. Hopefully this will not cause a great deal of confusion and instead give us more opportunities to connect with each other.

Our current chat schedule is posted in the ElderCare Community Center at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/communit.htm.

February 5 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) “Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

February 5 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

February 5 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

February 6 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

February 10 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

February 11 (Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Caring for Aging Parents” Host Brian Duke leads a chat discussion for adult children looking for resources and support. He’s back by popular demand for a monthly chat session on the second Tuesday of each month.

February 12 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) “Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

February 12 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

February 12 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

February 13 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

February 17 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

February 18 (Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Elder Journal:” Host Paul Takayanagi will host an informative discussion on the topic of “Holistic Gerontology.” You are encouraged to read his monthly column before joining the session (not required).

February 19 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) “Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

February 19 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

February 19 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

February 20 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

February 24 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

February 26 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) “Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

February 26 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

February 26 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Bubblehead’s Chatroom:” Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of “Caregiving for People with Dementia.”

February 27 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Sugarlips’ Chatroom:” Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of “Expressing Our Emotions.”

Enter the chatroom from the front page of either website or at http://www.ec-online.net/chat.htm.

SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

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