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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November 10, 2003                                                                                 Vol. 6 No. 15
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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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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Welcome: Holiday Issues
Feature Articles: Homecare for the Holidays by Edyth Ann Knox
Successful Holidays: Resources for Caregivers from ALZwell
Beauty Beyond 50: Self-Care Tips for Women Aged 50+
Top Alzheimer’s/Caregiving Sites: Care Management Resource Guide
Chat Schedule: Updates for November
Subscription Information

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WELCOME

Dear Friends,

As the Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah holidays approach, we are reminded of the importance of family and the interrelations among all family members. All too often, the primary caregiver carries the greatest responsibility for their loved one’s well-being. With the pressure to be merry and the cost of decking the halls, we know that you will be stretched even further.

One of the deep religious and spiritual messages of all time is how we establish a balance between Ourselves and Others. We are unique individuals and at the same time we are part of larger communities of families, nations, and the world population. Where do we draw the line between individuality and community? How do we take care of ourselves while taking care of others?

A wise rabbi once said, “Who are we if we only think of ourselves? We are selfish and egotistical. Who are we if we only think of others? We are not ourselves.” The challenge is to find the balance between the two and therein gain wisdom and enlightenment. It goes without saying that this is easier said than done. We constantly have messages and pressures to behave a certain way (You’re a woman, YOU should be caring and loving all of the time). These messages and pressures are not always fair or sincere (How many dutiful SONS do you know?). But the point is not to gripe or point fingers. There are always plenty of opportunities to do that.

The point is: This is the situation that you have before you. You have two choices: You can ignore/fight it or you can work through it. Facing the situation forces us to find that balance between Ourselves and Others: Giving fully, but also keeping your own identity; enhancing someone’s quality of life, but also improving your own well-being; holding someone’s hand through difficult times, but also allowing yourself to walk the same road with them. This is a rare opportunity to encounter a deep spiritual and religious experience (dirty diapers and all).

Finding that balance is different for each individual due to the unique family, healthcare, and personal situations of those involved. Not everyone (in fact few of us) will be the 24/7 caregiver to the very end. It’s natural, normal, and perfectly OK to help for a limited period of time and then move on to residential care. You are allowed to be angry, upset, sad, and frustrated. Nobody is the perfect Fairytale Caregiver. The experience will not always be pleasant or enlightening.

The Christmas and Hannukah holidays are particularly difficult to many people, no matter what their caregiving situations. There is pressure to be merry, to enjoy being with your family, to spend lots of money, and to participate in all of the seasonal activities. The pressure often leads to depression and regrets. Add on all of your caregiving responsibilities, and it can be a recipe for overextending yourself. But within this crucible you have the opportunity to do what you do best, and to make a difference in the life of your Loved Ones, if only for a short period of time. Remember to take time for yourself and avoid becoming overextended.

I provide this message as Food for Thought. I have included our article on “Homecare for the Holidays” by Edyth Ann Knox and a “Successful Holidays Resource Center” or other useful articles. You are welcome to comment on this in our community message board, The ElderCare Forum. I hope that you can take from it a core message of positive experience and help each other to find that balance.

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

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FEATURE ARTICLES: Homecare for the Holidays by Edyth Ann Knox

The Holidays are times of great joy, feasting and family traditions that fill us with secure and warm feelings. They are times to reestablish family ties and bonds. The Holidays are days we remember and cherish for years to come.

Yet for those caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s Disease the Holidays can be filled with trips to the doctor or the emergency room. They can be times that our loved one may show frustration, agitation or aggressive behaviors, instead of being filled with joy and good will. This can destroy the Holidays for the caregiver and the rest of the family. Many caregivers often cease participating in the Holidays altogether after a horrendous holiday.

The Holidays are times that can bring great stress for many. When you add a loved one who has Alzheimer’s Disease into the mix often the stress can become too much for both the caregiver and the loved one. You do not need to dread the arrival of the Holidays. There are ways you can still celebrate the season by making adjustments and considerations to improve your chance of a safe and happy holiday for both you and your loved one.

To read the complete article with tips on parties, holiday decorations, winter safety, and maintaining your own sanity, click here… http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/holidays.html

We also have an ongoing discussion thread called “The Holidays for Caregivers…” started by member Melissa in the ElderCare Forum at http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=4956035941&f=3456034151&m=8116025951. You can join in the conversation or just read up on what others are thinking…

SUCCESSFUL HOLIDAYS: Resources for Caregivers from ALZwell

As the Winter Holidays sneak up on us, I want to provide you with a handful of really helpful articles designed to give you pointers for enjoying the season with getting too stressed out. Of course there is no surefire way to have a stressfree holiday because every family is different, and every caregiving situation has its own unique stressors. The key is to identify those stressors in advance, and deflect or neutralize them.

We draw on numerous sources for the articles in our Successful Holidays Resource Center, including:

- Holiday Hints from the Patient’s Point of View
- Healthy Holidays from About.com
- Celebrating the Holidays When Home Is a Nursing Home
- and several others

We also have an ongoing discussion thread called “The Holidays for Caregivers…” started by member Melissa in the ElderCare Forum at http://eldercare.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=4956035941&f=3456034151&m=8116025951. You can join in the conversation or just read up on what others are thinking…

I invite you to take a look at a valuable audio cassette that we have for sale in our new online store. “Surviving the Holidays and Special Occasions” is a supportive tape for people who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Julie Siri, a licensed clinical social worker, has years of experience with death and bereavement. She provides discussion as well as guided imagery on the tape to help you cope with the pain of loss that you may be feeling around the Holidays.

You can read more about the tape and order it from http://www.ec-online.net/Store/media.htm.

BEAUTY BEYOND 50: Self-Care Tips for Women Aged 50+

Jo Peddicord, syndicated columnist and author of “Look Like A Winner After 50 With Care, Color & Style,” knows that when a woman looks good she feels better. She says, "We are lucky to be living in a time when it is possible to grow young and look ageless, an idea unheard of not too long ago." With her permission we will be publishing some “look good, feel better” tips in this newsletter:

 - De-emphasize the fullness in the chin area by applying a brighter shade of lipstick and standing straight.
 - The keywords for Fall 2003/Winter 2004 fashions are wrinkle-free, matching duos (two garments of the same color) and long skirts. Colors range from stone, orange, chocolate, moss to burgundy, purple, red, royal blue--all these plus lavender, light blue and pink.
 - During tough times do more exercise, vigorous physical activities, walking to stay positive and erase worry. Personal care is even more important; it influences how you feel.
 - Give your hair a different, new look; change your part from one side to the other. Does the color give you a youthful look? If not, change it, too.
 - About vitamin E, one of the best anti-aging, skin and energy vitamins--get natural rather than synthetic. It's more expensive but the body absorbs it better. Look for "mixed tocopherols" or "d-alpha tocopherols" on the label.

Tips are copied with permission from Jo Peddicord’s website http://www.beautybeyond50.com. She publishes several books, audio tapes, and fact sheets with tips to help women aged 50+ look great and feel better about themselves.

TOP ALZHEIMER’S/CAREGIVING SITES: Care Management Resource Guide

If you are searching for a nursing home, homecare agency, adult day care, hospice, or other eldercare service provider, you have several online resources available. Websites including http://www.careguide.com, http://www.eldersearch.com, and http://www.seniorhousing.net offer searchable databases for professional and family caregivers. Our “Neighborhood Networks” state-by-state listings at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/Neighborhood/neighborhood.html also include links to numerous government websites.

For the last few years the database that I have been using for my personal searches has been the Care Management Resource Guide. This is the first and best online guide. It started as the essential desktop resource book for social workers and discharge planners, so they have years of experience. The key to a great searchable database is the accuracy of the information. I can only imagine how hard it is to continuously update phone numbers, contact names, addresses, and service areas for the tens of thousands of listings. Unless maintaining the database is your primary business, it will not be the best.

Dorland Healthcare Information maintains The Care Management Resource Guide as their core business. Of course there will be bits and pieces of old information in any database. But I am confident that it is the most accurate of the resource guides available. By the way, this is NOT a paid advertisement.

My only qualm with the database is that it is not as intuitive for a family caregiver. Remember, it is designed for professional case managers, so you have to have a good idea about what the different categories of care providers are all about. Nevertheless, with a little practice, you will become a very efficient searcher.

Visit (and bookmark) the Care Management Resource Guide at http://www.cmrg.com.

For additional Alzheimer’s and Caregiving websites, Brenda Parris Sibley has established one of the best clearinghouses on the Internet. She has contacted and worked with a variety of websites to collect them into a directory with rankings showing which are the most popular. Brenda and the other webmasters and webmistresses have done an excellent job of creating unique and compelling sites that speak directly to family caregivers. In each issue of this newsletter, we will mention one of the many sites that comprise the Top AD/Caregiving Sites List.

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.

CHAT SCHEDULE: Updates for November

We are in the process of revising and updating our chatroom schedule. Please e-mail suggestions on appropriate times and topics. In the meantime we will have a general schedule of every evening Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00pm to 11:00pm EST. Most chats will have a designated moderator, but as we are adjusting the schedule, some chats may be unmonitored.

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.

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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