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 15, 2002                                                                                 Vol. 5 No. 21
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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,

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. With the economy so slow, many of us will be watching our purses even more closely.

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 our own identity; enhancing someone’s quality of life, but also improving our own well-being; holding someone’s hand through difficult times, but also allowing ourselves 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” with 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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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Feature Article: “Homecare for the Holidays” by Edyth Ann Knox
Caregiver Store: “Elder Care: A Six-Step Guide to Balancing Work and Family”
Healthy Aging: “Heart Attack Prevention: Another Good Reason to Get a Flu Shot?”
ElderCare Forum: Updates and User Tips
Chat Schedule: Updates for November
Subscription Information

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FEATURE ARTICLE: “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 a new discussion thread called “The Holidays for Caregivers” 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…

CAREGIVER STORE: “Elder Care: A Six-Step Guide to Balancing Work and Family”

There are literally hundreds of books that have been written to guide families through the caregiving journey. Many of them are exceptional – but you probably only need to buy or read four or five of them, depending on your specific needs.

If you are working full-time (like most caregivers), John Paul Marosy’s practical book, “Elder Care: A Six Step Guide to Balancing Work and Family” should be on your reading list.

John Paul’s hands-on book is the only resource of its kind that I am aware of. It is the only book that addresses some very difficult issues that caregivers with conflicting responsibilities at home and in the office regularly face. For example, detailed questionnaires that help to assess how your eldercare situation is impacting work. It also gives you insights on what to say – and what NOT to say to your supervisor.

The book includes information, tips, worksheets, and wisdom on the following topics:

  • Assessing your situation at work: the impact your elder is having on your work, the level of trust between you and your supervisor, etc.
  • Assessing your eldercare situation: feelings and concerns, holding family meetings, setting up an information folder, etc.
  • Learning about resources at work
  • Weighing options and implementing a plan
  • Long-Distance caregiving
  • Eldercare Resources

John Paul’s book is available directly from ElderCare Online’s secure caregiving store at http://www.ec-online.net/Store/store.htm

HEALTHY AGING: “Heart Attack Prevention: Another Good Reason to Get a Flu Shot?”

Most people aged 65 and older are advised to get a flu shot each fall to stave off the debilitating aches, fever, and chills of the flu during the winter months. But now researchers think they have found an additional benefit to an annual flu shot: prevention of a heart attack in people who have existing heart problems.

“We found that getting a flu shot was associated with a 67% reduction in the risk of having a second heart attack for those over the age of 65,” says S. Ward Casscells, director of the University of Texas-Houston Medical School Department of Internal Medicine Division of Cardiology. “This benefit was confirmed by a similar study done in Washington State.”

Read the complete article on our Healthy Aging Channel at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/heartattackflu.html 

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 November

Beginning at the end of this year and into the new year we will be revisiting out chat schedule and enhancing it with new topics, and perhaps a new host or two. We view our chatroom as a serious support tool. While we often cut loose and gab, we also use it to help caregivers in immediate need, or to provide a consistent avenue for intelligent discussion.

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. For the time being, I will only post the calendar for the first two weeks of November because we are actively developing the schedule for the next few weeks.

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.

November 18 (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.”

November 19 (Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) “Children of Aging Parents:” Host Brian Duke from CAPS leads a discussion for family caregivers seeking understanding and resources.

November 20 (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."

November 20 (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.”

November 20 (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.”

November 21 (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.”

November 25 (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.”

November 27 (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."

November 27 (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.”

November 27 (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.”

November 28 Thanksgiving (No chats scheduled)

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

SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

The Caregiver’s Beacon is published bimonthly by ElderCare Online and ALZwell Caregiver Support. To subscribe to this free newsletter, visit the subscription information page at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Newsletters/subscribe.htm.

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(c) 2002 Prism Innovations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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