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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April 15, 2003                                                                                        Vol. 6 No. 7
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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,

Every month I receive several dozen e-mail questions and suggestions. A few themes pop up repeatedly, among them, “Is there government funding to pay family caregivers?” or more generally, “How can I access free programs and services for me and my loved one?” The hardest thing about these types of questions is that the answers are so personalized and vary depending on the particular state or county in which you live. Most programs require very personal financial information as part of the application process.

Over a year ago I reported on a new online technology tool developed and managed by the National Council on the Aging, and funded by several leading aging advocacy groups. The BenefitsCheckUp is the nation's first 50-state (including the District of Columbia) online service to provide public benefit screening. It was developed to address a concerning problem: millions of older adults are eligible for benefits, but not receiving them. Ranging from health coverage to supplemental income to help in paying utility bills, there are millions of older adults who could benefit from a wide array of public programs if they knew about them and how to apply for them.

The National Council on the Aging created BenefitsCheckUp (http://www.benefitscheckup.org) to help older adults to quickly identify programs that may improve the quality of their lives. Family and friends can also obtain facts about benefits that their loved ones may qualify for. Chances are, you will be surprised to learn what benefits are available to you, regardless of your income.

Lat year, an estimated half million people have used it. Of those who took the time to answer the questions, many found that they were eligible for government programs that they had not known they were entitled to, including:

  • 38% qualified for weatherization benefits
  • 26% qualified for food stamps
  • 26% qualified for energy assistance
  • 18% qualified for state veterans benefits
  • 17% qualified for Medicaid
  • 13% qualified for health insurance counseling
  • 7% qualified for Supplemental Security Income

Here's how it works: You take 10 or 15 minutes to enter information about your financial situation into an online questionnaire. Then, BenefitsCheckUp explains what benefit programs you may be eligible for and how to apply for them. BenefitsCheckUp is completely confidential. It does not require your name, address, phone number, Social Security Number, or other information that could be used to identify you. You enter simple information, such as your age, income, and ZIP code, and BenefitsCheckUp identifies programs you might qualify for. You can then contact each of the benefit administrators for more information about the specific programs.

The questionnaire is easier to fill out if you have the following information handy:

  • Date of birth for self, spouse, or loved one
  • State and ZIP Code
  • Type of residence (house, apartment, or mobile home)
  • Length of time in current residence
  • Veteran status for self, spouse, or loved one
  • Employment history (specifically, whether or not the person ever worked for the state, local, county, or federal government or the railroads) for self, spouse, or loved one
  • Current income and assets from all sources for self, spouse, loved one, and others in the household
  • Estimates of current expenses (such as mortgage/rent, utilities, out-of-pocket medical bills, expenses for caring for someone at home while you work or go to school, etc.)

I recommend that every single family caregiver invest 15 minutes of his or her time to carefully complete this questionnaire. There is no cost. The potential to find additional benefits is very high. You may already be paying your hard-earned money on services that the government is willing to pay for. And that translates into cash back into your pocket.

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/beacon041503.htm

Feature Article: Memantine Found Effective for Advanced Alzheimer’s Disease
Healthy Aging: “The Successful Survivor: The Widow’s Journey” by Rich O’Boyle
Elder Journal: “Stress Reduction Techniques for Caregivers” by Paul Takayanagi
Our Sponsor: 1-800 Flowers for Easter (and Support the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America)
ElderCare Forum: Updates and Popular Discussions
Chat Schedule: Updates for April
Subscription Information

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FEATURE ARTICLE: “Memantine Found Effective for Advanced Alzheimer’s Disease” by Rich O’Boyle

A new type of drug has been found to slow deterioration in individuals with moderately severe Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers reported in the April 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The advance is significant because current pharmaceutical treatments called anti-cholinesterase inhibitors are generally only effective in milder forms of the disease.

According to Dr. Barry Reisberg M.D. at New York University, the results showed that the experimental drug memantine can significantly reduce the worsening of Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms, even though it does not stop or reverse the progression of the disease. “One of the things that makes memantine so promising is that it seems to be essentially free of harmful side effects,” he added. The study showed that both patients who received memantine and those who received the placebo showed signs of decline, but, those who received memantine showed less decline than the patients who received the placebo treatment.

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

HEALTHY AGING: “The Successful Survivor: The Widow’s Journey” by Rich O’Boyle

The death of a spouse has far-reaching effects on the survivor. The surviving spouse must cope not only with emotional loss, but also with a sea of changes in daily routines and future plans. While the loss of one’s spouse can be one of the most traumatic events in an adult’s life, research shows that within a year or two, the surviving spouse usually bounces back to earlier levels of physical and psychological health. Widows and widowers can make a successful transition from the loss of a spouse back to a fulfilling life by accepting and addressing their emotions, taking practical steps to secure their financial and physical health, and empowering themselves for the future.

When your spouse dies, you may feel alone and grieved. As a widow, you should openly express your feelings as this will help the healing process which begins with the pain of loss. There is no “right” way to mourn, and no time frame for mourning. Some mourners are encouraged to cry openly, talk with others about their feelings, or write things down. You will likely feel and express a range of emotions, from anger, to denial, to shock, and emptiness.

Read the complete article, along with detailed financial and legal issues to consider as well as more practical matters for surviving as a survivor at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/widowhood.html

ELDER JOURNAL: “Stress Reduction Techniques for Caregivers” by Paul Takayanagi

I have given dozens of workshops and talks on stress reduction for caregivers in the past ten years.  I am often asked what is the best way to reduce the stress of caregiving for persons with dementia and related disorders.  Those of us who have cared for persons with dementia understand that it is one of the most stressful experiences any one can experience.  While each caregiver experiences stress differently, most caregivers understand that stress is a major part of their daily lives.  This stress can be exacerbated when national and international events, such as the world is experiencing currently, develop and are broadcast on the media.  One of the best ways you can take care of yourself is by learning ways to reduce stress in your daily life.

There are two kinds of stress that I want to look at this month.  The first is what I call “irregular stress” which is stress that is not usual and is based on some kind of emergency situation that happens rarely.  The second is “chronic stress” which is the kind of stress many caregivers of persons with dementia face on a regular and daily basis.  “Irregular” stress is necessary for survival and can actually be beneficial.  Chronic stress is not normal and can be debilitating to a caregiver’s health and well being over time.

Read Paul’s complete column where he provides two detailed stress reduction techniques that you can practice on your own at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Columns/elderjournal0403.html. Also, join us on Tuesday, April 22 at 9:00 PM EST for a live chat with Paul on this topic.

OUR SPONSOR: 1-800 Flowers Spring and Easter Bouquets (and Support the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America)

We allow a limited amount of highly targeted and relevant advertising in our newsletters and on our website. For years we have worked with Amazon.com to provide you with the most useful eldercare bookstore (see more below). Now we have partnered with the best online florist, 1-800 Flowers to provide you and your loved ones with day-brightening flowers, plants, and gifts.

There is an added bonus to purchasing flowers, plants, and gifts through us – if you enter the code “AlzCare” when you place your order, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America will receive a 10% donation from 1-800-Flowers. It doesn’t cost you anything.

Every month 1-800 Flowers has special promotions and offers. Keep in mind Easter and Spring bouquets, and coming up in May, Mother’s Day. Follow this link to the store… http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=q/qoQHaGfk8&offerid=42865.10000350&type=3&subid=0. If the link doesn’t work properly, go to the front page of ElderCare Online at look for the link under “Products & Services” about half way down the page on the left.

ELDERCARE FORUM: Some Selected Recent Posts

(1) “Finding a Good Doctor:” Maintaining a constructive relationship with your loved one’s doctor can be a challenge when the “old-fashioned medical establishment” sets up ridiculous roadblocks. Join in this discussion with our members on how to improve the relationship and get things done right! http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=4956035941&f=5506016051&m=4636091672

(2) “When Family Members Don’t Help:” This is a perennial problem for many caregivers, and one that I wish there were simple and permanent solutions to… But the fact is that most of us are in this for the long haul basically on our own. Here is a thread for caregivers who want to share their thoughts on the matter… http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=4956035941&f=3526056051&m=8626056051

(3) “Picture Perfect!” I have changed the Forum software to allow the posting of personal pictures and digital photographs into the Casual Corner section. In the past, we were very concerned with saving space on the website, but now we can permit a limited amount of picture posting. We do reserve the right to remove pictures if we start to run out of space. All members are encouraged to post pictures in the Casual Corner Forum at http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=frm&s=4956035941&f=5636078151.

(4) One of the most convenient features of the Forum is the ability to view the newest messages without having to browse through every listing. The “New Since Last Post” and “Today’s Active Topics” links are hidden away a little bit. You can find these links by clicking on the tiny little globe in the upper left side of the message board.

(5) I also updated the “Newcomer’s Posting Guide.” This is a great little summary of how to get started as a new member. If you have been unsure of how to get started or a little nervous about posting, please review this quick section and jump right in. The Guide is at http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=frm&s=4956035941&f=2296097151.

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 April

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.

April 16 (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."

April 16 (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.”

April 16 (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.”

April 17 (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.”

April 21 (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.”

April 22 (Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Elder Journal:” Host Paul Takayanagi will host an informative discussion on the topic of  “Stress Reduction Techniques for Caregivers.”

April 23 (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."

April 23 (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.”

April 23 (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.”

April 24 (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.”

April 28 (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.”

April 30 (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."

April 30 (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.”

April 30 (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.”

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

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