ElderCare Beacon Newsletter

                                                           ElderCare Beaconä
         December 15, 2000                                                                        Vol. 3, No. 23

ElderCare Online – The Internet Community of Elder Caregiversä
"Tell me why – Show me how – Hold my hand" (sm)
Serving the Needs of Caregivers Since 1997

Dear Friends,

The Winter Holidays are upon us in full force. That means most of us are pigging out at family parties, shouldering numerous obligations and spending to the hilt. As caregivers, you give and give and give – sometimes until you are exhausted. Give yourself the greatest gift of all this season: take care of yourself physically and emotionally. My friend Tom Schumacher and I have written a caregiving tip that will form the basis of this newsletter’s welcome.

Make yourself some promises this Holiday season:

  • I will take quality time for myself. You deserve time away from your loved one. This is not selfish. You have your own identity and interests. Nurture them.
  • I am not Superman/Superwoman. You can not provide unlimited care to your loved one. You have limits. Acknowledging those limits helps reduce your anxiety and improve your loved ones quality of life.
  • I will take proactive steps to reduce my stress level. You should reduce large stressors in your life as well as the stressors that come up at this time of year. Consider starting a sensible exercise program such as walking regularly. Consult with your health care provider to find the best program for you.
  • I will spend only what I can afford. If you must cut back, cut back and make no excuses for your situation. Stop exchanging gifts with people you don’t like. My friend Tom says, "Maybe it’s time to assertively and gently give someone a piece of your mind instead of your wallet." You will feel unburdened – this is a great gift to give yourself.
  • I will share the care with other family members. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to ask other family members to help monitor and care for your loved one. At the same time, do not push the tasks onto them with feelings of guilt. This is an opportunity for others to see the type of loving care you provide every day as well as an opportunity for them to have the positive aspects of caregiving.
  • I will strive to understand my negative feelings and emotions. Learn about them and think of ways that you can start to change your situation in the future. Confronting these emotions will make powerful and lasting changes in your life. Do you need to speak with a professional counselor, trusted friend or religious advisor?
  • I will enjoy myself, but in moderation. Identify why you are drinking more, smoking more, cursing more or overeating. Even if you can’t stop yourself, at least identify why you’re "acting out."
  • I will not inflate my expectations of the season. Often we set ourselves up for disappointment by imagining the perfect Walton’s Christmas. The perfect Holiday is one where you feel loved and share your love with others.

Wishing you all the blessings and promises of a new year.

Kind Regards and Happy Holidays,
Rich O’Boyle
ElderCare Online


Exercise and Chocolate?: You Can Have Both!
Hot Topic: Healthy Aging (Continued)
Featured Articles: Family Transitions and Home Care for the Holidays
Caregiver Support Network: New Poems by Dorothy Womack
Our Sponsor: Park Ridge Center
Top AD/Caregiving Sites: Signpost to Older People and Mental Health Matters Journal
Live Discussion Groups: Schedule for December
Subscription Information



We are still looking for caregivers to help us complete our Healthy Aging Survey. We need feedback from individuals on the types of lifestyle changes you have (or have not) made. Did you start an exercise program or stop smoking? What things helped or hindered you from making these changes? The survey results are part of Dr. Joanne Singleton’s ongoing research into what helps people stick with self-care plans. You input will be used to develop programs that help caregivers improve their own quality of life.

And now on to chocolate… As an incentive to complete the five-minute survey, I will be providing a complimentary exercise video and workbook to fifteen respondents. I got special permission from Dr. Singleton to include a box of Godiva chocolates in each of the video packages. So please complete our survey and I will send the gifts as soon as our survey is complete in January.

You can access the survey at http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?AR0WHKQFYMEA6DS8BFFT38B3. If you have trouble accessing the long link, just go to the front page of the site and click on the Healthy Aging Survey link under "What’s New."

All survey results are completely confidential and private. We may follow up by email to request your mailing address to send your video and chocolates and to clarify individual responses.

HOT TOPIC: Healthy Aging (Continued)

Healthy diet and behaviors are the gift that you give yourself. As caregivers, you have particular challenges maintaining your own health and vitality. This topic is a joint production of ElderCare Online and the Institute for Healthy Aging at Pace University's Lienhard School of Nursing in New York City. The information contained herein is intended to help men and women ages 40 and older to enhance their wellbeing now and for the future.

If you are stressed out and unwell, then you will not be able to care for your loved one to the best of your ability. This month we are publishing a series of articles that are designed to help you maintain your own health. These are the second installment of articles and site updates:

We have published two book reviews on the site:

  • "A Short Guide to a Happy Life" by Anna Quindlen, reviewed by Joanne Singleton
  • "Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises" by Lawrence Katz and Manning Rubin, reviewed by Joanne Singleton.

Our newest article is "Exercising Care" by Constance M. Serafin, M.Ed., M.S., R.N,C, FNP:

You’ve probably heard of the physical benefits of exercise – reduced rates of heart disease and diabetes, improvement in blood pressure levels and protections against osteoporosis, to mention a few. But what about improving balance and strength to make walking and climbing easier and to help prevent falls? What about finding an outlet for your frustration and anxiety? What about feeling better about yourself and how you look? These are less known benefits of weight training and aerobic exercise programs. Constance Serafin, a Registered Nurse and Family Nurse Practitioner at Pace University’s Health Care Unit, has written a useful article designed to help caregivers develop an exercise program for themselves. The complete article includes ideas on how to get started and how to design a personalized exercise plan.

"Proper Exercise 40+" Chat Session with Joanne Singleton:

Our final chat session of the year will be presented on Wednesday, December 20. Dr. Joanne Singleton from Pace University’s Institute for Healthy Aging hosts a discussion on "Proper Exercise for 40+" as part of our monthly Hot Topic.

You can read a transcript of the Memory Enhancement chat session, the complete series of stress reduction and healthy lifestyle articles and the book reviews in the Healthy Aging Hot Topic at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/HotTopics/healthyaging.htm.

FEATURED ARTICLES: Family Transitions and Holiday Hassles

This issue we have two featured articles added to our library of caregiving knowledge.

Dr. Avrene Brandt, who has written the series on "Emotions," has completed an article on "Transition Issues for the Elderly and Their Families." In this article she looks at the changes that senior adults and their families encounter as parents transition into being "older adults." These changes will be described and recommendations made as to how to adjust to change and maintain a fulfilling lifestyle. As adults approach their senior years many aspects of life (physical, social, financial, and employment) are changing. For most seniors, the retirement years are anticipated positively and with an expectation of more leisure time and a lessening of demands and responsibilities. Neither seniors nor their families are adequately prepared for the stresses that also accompany aging. The goal during the senior years then is to maximize the positive and develop strategies for coping with the stresses.

Avrene Brandt is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Media, Pennsylvania, and a consultant at the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and to geriatric and rehabilitation facilities in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. When her father was stricken with illness, she became intensely aware of the demands placed upon his caregiver, her mother. It was observing her mother as a "textbook, stressed caregiver" that led Avrene to contact the Alzheimer’s Association, subsequently to become a consultant for them, and ultimately to write "Caregiver’s Reprieve: A Guide to Emotional Survival When You’re Caring for Someone You Love." She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters of Science in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

You can read the complete article in the Home Care & Independent Living Channel at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/brandttransitions.html.

ElderCare Online Mentor and Edyth Ann Knox is an experienced caregiver. As 24/7 caregiver for her mother-in-law Milly, she learned the in and outs, and ups and downs of caregiving from the best teacher there is: Experience. In her most recent article, "Home Care for the Holidays," Edyth Ann discusses practical solutions to help Alzheimer’s Disease caregivers enjoy the Holidays with less stress, more quality time with their families and fewer safety concerns for their loved ones with the disease.

The article provides tips and suggestions in the areas of Holiday parties, Winter Safety and Holiday Decorations. The article concludes with an exercise for caregivers to "Write Your Own Sanity Clause" by Rich O’Boyle and Tom Schumacher.

Edyth Ann Knox (known to online friends as Bubblehead or Queen Bubble) was the 24/7 caregiver for her mother-in-law, Milly, for over a decade. As an early adopter of online communities for caregivers, she has earned the respect and friendship of numerous other wired caregivers. She has been a creator and participant in some of the Internet's earliest online caregiving communities: the Washington University at St. Louis's Alzheimer's Listserv, other e-mail support groups and her own real-time chat room. She brings years of experience as a practical caregiver, wise mentor and easy-to-laugh friend to new and experienced caregivers alike.

You can read the complete article in the Home Care & Independent Living Channel at http://www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/holidays.html.

CAREGIVER SUPPORT NETWORK: New Poems by Dorothy Womack

ElderCare Online Mentor Dorothy Womack has written several new poems and inspirations this month. I have included them in her personal pages. You can visit her personal pages and those of other Mentors at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/Activists/can.htm.

OUR SPONSOR: Park Ridge Center Offers Courses for Caregivers in Chicago

In January, The Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith, and Ethics will conduct two workshops for caregivers that address ethics and spirituality in caring for the elderly.

"Retrieving Spiritual Traditions in The Long Term Care Of The Elderly" January 16, 2001; The Park Ridge Center, Chicago, Illinois $150

Are you looking to enhance life by providing for the spiritual needs of an elderly person in your care? Aging brings all the familiar pleasures and pains of everyday life, but it also poses its own important challenges. How does an elder maintain a sense of self in the face of physical, emotional, and social loss, or learn to grow spiritually in the midst of physical decline? This workshop will communicate what spirituality can offer to the experience of elderhood and deepen our understanding of increased dependency, loss, and death. The workshop is structured around an education program developed by the Center, "Retrieving the Spiritual Traditions in the Long Term Care of the Elderly," that examines contemporary notions about aging, retrieves the wisdom of the religious traditions, and encourages the elderly to explore their aging as a spiritual journey. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be able to successfully implement this curriculum. For those of you who find travel to Chicago impractical, the program is also available for sale at www.parkridgecenter.org or by calling toll-free 1(877) 944-4401.

"Making Tough Decisions: Caring For The Elderly At Home" January 30, 2001; The Park Ridge Center Chicago, Illinois $125

Continuing advances in medical technology result in longer life expectancies. Consequentially, most adults acquire new responsibilities in caring for an elderly parent or relative, oftentimes a person with serious mental or physical impairments. It is important that the caregiver addresses ethical issues in the elder’s quality of life. Ethics embraces such morally important concerns as trust, relationship building, dignity, respect, and self-worth. This workshop will address the problems that cause deep moral uncertainties and develop participant’s skills in addressing these identified problematic situations where there is no "right" answer. The workshop is intended for individuals who provide home care for the elderly, whether a family member, a professional or paraprofessional caregiver, or a friend of the elder. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of "everyday ethics" in the home care setting. For those of you who find travel to Chicago impractical, the program is also available for sale at www.parkridgecenter.org or by calling toll-free 1(877) 944-4401.

The Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith, and Ethics is a non-profit research organization that addresses the difficulties confronting patients, health care professionals, and institutions. Located in Chicago, IL, the Center was founded as a response to tremendous advances in medical technology. People were being asked to make life and death decisions in an environment where religious beliefs and values that underpin health care seemed removed. The Center saw the need to retrieve the spiritual dimensions of health care and support ethical decision making. Its mission is to explore and enhance the interaction of health, faith, and ethics through research, education, and consultation to improve the lives of individuals and communities. The Park Ridge Center is located at 211 E. Ontario Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60611. To register for workshops or for more information about "Retrieving the Spiritual Traditions in the Long Term Care of the Elderly" education program call toll free 1(877) 944-4401, or visit http://www.parkridgecenter.org.

TOP AD/CAREGIVING SITES: Signpost to Older People and Mental Health Matters Journal

This month’s featured caregiving site is "Signpost to Older People and Mental Health Matters Journal" at http://signpostjournal.connect-2.co.uk/.

Signpost is a specialist quarterly journal aimed at those working with and caring for people with dementia, older people with mental health problems, and their caregivers. Signpost provides an interagency and multidisciplinary communication network for formal and informal caregivers, with the intention of supporting common aims and a shared vision of improving practice and quality within EMI services. The overall aim of Signpost is to enhance the quality of care received by older people with special mental health needs and thereby improve their quality of life.

Simon O’Donovan, a senior psychiatric nurse specializing in dementia care and working for Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust, Wales, UK, is currently studying for his Doctorate in Nursing at the University of Glamorgan in Mid Glamorgan. He needs your input to complete his thesis. It is an investigation of the stresses and problems that caregivers experience when caring for a friend or relative with dementia in the community. This research will help us better understand the factors involved in caregivers' decisions to relinquish caregiving and admit their loved one to permanent care settings, as well as how services can support continued caring at home. I highly recommend that caregivers take some time to help them complete one of the questionnaires at http://signpostjournal.connect-2.co.uk/dementia.htm.

The website is a great resource for articles on every aspect of dementia care – for both family caregivers and professionals. I recommend the issue on "Rarer Dementias." It seems that there is so little out there on these other forms of dementia, so this site helps broaden all of our understandings of dementia care.

To access the Signpost website go to http://signpostjournal.connect-2.co.uk/.

Brenda Parris Sibley has established one of the best clearinghouses for Alzheimer’s Disease and caregiving sites 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.

LIVE DISCUSSION GROUPS: Schedule for December

December 20 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) Dr. Joanne Singleton from Pace University’s Institute for Healthy Aging hosts a discussion on "Proper Exercise for 40+" as part of our monthly Hot Topic.

Happy Holidays!

Transcripts from previous discussion groups and guest sessions are posted in the ElderCare Community Center at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/communit.htm.

If you regularly attend an online support group or host one, please forward information on it to info@ec-online.net. If you don’t have a chatroom or website, but are interested in hosting a session on ElderCare Online, please fill out the Community Activist form at http://www.ec-online.net/forms/formactivist.htm.


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