ElderCare Beacon Newsletter

ElderCare Beacon +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
February 14, 2000                                                                                       Vol. 3, No. 3

ElderCare Online – The Internet Community of Elder Caregivers http://www.ec-online.net
"Tell me why – Show me how – Hold my hand" (sm)

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, February is "Heart Month." That means you are hearing a lot about healthy habits like quitting smoking and exercising. From my own experience, quitting my pack-and-a-half cigarette habit was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Do it Cold Turkey – you will be so proud of yourself! SOSB (Stepping Off Soap Box) :)

But February is also a month that we celebrate LOVE. This mid-month issue includes a feature article by ElderCare Online Activist and Mentor Mary Waggoner called "Find a Loving Moment." It doesn’t gloss over the fact that caregiving is hard work – it is a "labor of love." Remember the love that your elder showed you when you were young and dependent, and return it unconditionally.

This month I am also happy to announce that the ElderCare Beacon newsletter will be e-mailing on a biweekly basis instead of monthly. There have been so many site improvements and chat announcements that it is impossible to get them all into only 12 issues each year. This month, we have enhanced the Caregiver Support Network to include the foundation of a comprehensive elder caregiving Chat Guide for the World Wide Web and added the Tax Planning Assistant to help you "work things out" with Uncle Sam.

Finally, please read the "Urgent Request" from caregiving author Beth Witrogen McLeod. Beth has been a great friend to caregivers and a respected author in the field. She needs your help writing an article for a major national magazine. Tell her you were referred by ElderCare Online. If you can help her, ElderCare Online will send you a complimentary copy of her book, "Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal."

Kind Regards,
Rich O’Boyle
ElderCare Online


Urgent Request: Sources Needed for Caregiving Article
Feature Article: "Find a Loving Moment" by Mary Waggoner
Caregiving Tip: Ride the Blues Dragon
Meet Community Activist and Mentor Jan Allen
"Thank You" From a Fellow Caregiver
Free Senior Eye Care Program
February Chat Schedule Update/WWW Chat Guide
Tax Planning Interactive Assistant Now Available
Subscription Information

URGENT REQUEST: Sources Needed for Caregiving Article

Many of you know Beth Witrogen McLeod, who is has hosted chats on ElderCare Online and thirdage.com. More importantly, she has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her heartfelt writing on caregiving. Beth has asked me to extend a request to you:

"I have an urgent request: I have an assignment from Good Housekeeping for an elder care package they're doing for June. I would be indebted for some references to actual families right away – I need to file this piece very soon. So here is my request:

"What I am looking for are three different situations, all adult children caring for parents hands-on (not long distance).

1) Someone caring for a parent at home (caregiver's home or parent's home);
2) Caring for a parent who's in assisted living or some medium level facility (not at home)
3) Caring for a parent in a nursing home (though not at terminal stages).

"Of course I'd love a mix of sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. I also need a geographic (and medical) range as much as possible. These people will be photographed, so they need to be on the record, willing to be photographed. Ideally they will have a powerful emotional story and be articulate. The pieces are short, only about 400 words each, so it's nuts & bolts but very human interest. (These pieces will illustrate the main story, written by someone else.)"

Friends, this gives you the opportunity to share your story with other caregivers who may feel alone and isolated. It also helps raise the awareness of the general public about issues that most people don’t even consider (or want to consider) until it is too late. This increased awareness is crucial to ensuring proper financing for government programs important to caregivers such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Thank you so much for considering this opportunity. You may contact ElderCare Online at roboyoboy@worldnet.att.net or Beth directly at witrogen@ccnet.com. If you are able to help Beth, we will forward a complimentary copy of her book, "Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal."

FEATURE ARTICLE: "Find a Loving Moment" by Mary Waggoner

Caring for someone as they age is a journey. Whether the journey begins due to a sudden illness/fall or a gradual progression of life, the result is the same. From the moment we are born, we begin to move toward our final destination.

The most important part to remember during this journey is to give love unconditionally, especially as a caregiver. The following poem was forwarded to me quite a while ago, and unfortunately I do not know who wrote it, but it is a wonderful example of how each day is a new beginning.

Take twelve whole months.
Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.

Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty or thirty-one
different parts, but don't make the whole batch at once.
Prepare it one day at a time out of these ingredients.

Mix well into each day one part of faith, one part of patience,
one part of courage, and one part of work. Add to each day one
part of hope, faithfulness, generosity, and meditation, and
one good deed. Season the whole with a dash of good spirits,
a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play, and a cupful of good humor.

Pour all of this into a vessel of love. Cook thoroughly over radiant joy,
garnish with a smile, and serve with quietness, unselfishness, and
cheerfulness. You're bound to have a great day.

On days where your patience is thin, remember it is only 1/365th of a year! Take a moment for yourself. Find a loving moment to touch upon. Think back to a favorite holiday or tradition you shared with your loved one. Write about the moment. Where you were. What you were doing. How did you feel. When you are finished, review what you wrote. Perhaps, you would even like to share this with your loved one(s) on Valentine's Day. It is never too late to show how much they have meant to you.

Article Copyright 2000 Mary Waggoner. All Rights Reserved.

CAREGIVING TIP: Ride the Blues Dragon

I have a 12" x 12" official pity-party box. When I lose perspective on how glorious life is, I open it and play until self-pity is a thing of the past. My body has multiple sclerosis, so the outside of my box is decorated with funny pictures and sayings like, "What good is a disease if you can’t use it?" and "If you can’t feel sorry for yourself, who can?" Inside, it’s filled with Groucho Marx glasses, bubble wrap (to POP!), a kaleidoscope, Narnia paper dolls, a Patsy Cline tape, blinking heart, false eyelashes, love notes from friends, etc.

The point is: we all have to face the blues dragon from time to time. If you can’t slay it, why not have fun riding it?

Lisa Richey
Lake Waccamaw, N.C.
(Copyright Spirituality & Health magazine, Winter 2000 http://www.spiritualityhealth.com)

Do you have a Caregiving Tip that you would like to share with other caregivers? Send it to eldercareonline@hotmail.com


Through the next several newsletter issues, we will be introducing our community activists and mentors. In this issue, meet Jan Allen.

Jan R. Allen hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the Great White North of the USA. Over the years, she has built up impressive credentials as a professional caregiver. Her skills are so strong that she has grown from a hands-on social worker – to a trainer and educator – to a program supervisor. She now brings her skills to bear as a Community Activist and Mentor, answering questions and sharing her wisdom.

Jan’s strength is her understanding of the intersection of family dynamics and the aging process. Over the years, she has developed an arsenal of tools and techniques that she uses to help families deal with internal issues that affect the quality of life of their aging loved ones. She covers the breadth of issues, from behavior problems associated with dementia to death and grief.

Jan’s personal pages on ElderCare Online’s Caregiver Support Network include a growing library of insightful, practical articles for caregivers, including "Coping With Difficult Behaviors," an extremely useful article that guides caregivers through common problems using the latest behavior modification methods. Please pay Jan a visit at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/Activists/can.htm.


This is the best collection of useful informative information on eldercare that I have been able to find both on and off the web. Questions I have been asking physicians and other support services were answered here. Thank you so much. Your website is an invaluable tool to anyone who provides eldercare and I will point several of my friends in the same circumstances to your site.

Mitzi Sherwood
January 27, 2000


The National Eye Care Project (NECP) is a major public service outreach program ensuring every elderly American has access to medical eye care. The program is designed for, but not limited to, those without access to an ophthalmologist or without means to pay. The project has helped over 500,000 older Americans since 1986.

Eligible callers to the toll-free Helpline (1-800-222-3937 from 8:00AM to 4:00PM Pacific Time) are matched with one of 7,100 volunteer ophthalmologists nationwide. The physician provides a comprehensive medical eye examination and treatment for any condition diagnosed at the initial visit. If a disease is diagnosed and requires ongoing care, treatment will be provided through the project for one year.

Eligible seniors are those 65 and older, who are citizens of the U.S. or legal residents, and who have not seen an ophthalmologist in the last three years. Patients who are in a prepaid health care plan (HMO) or who obtain care through a government care facility (Armed Forces or VA) are not eligible. Volunteer ophthalmologists accept Medicare and/or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full. Patients who are without insurance receive care at no charge. Eyeglasses, prescriptions, hospital services and fees of other medical professionals are not covered.

The NECP is supported by the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc., state ophthalmological societies and volunteer ophthalmologists. You can visit the National Eye Care Project online at http://www.eyenet.org or call the toll-free Helpline at 1-800-222-3937 from 8:00AM to 4:00PM Pacific Time.


The WWW Chat Guide is now included as part of the Caregiver Support Network. Please visit http://www.ec-online.net/Community/Activists/can.htm to access our growing directory of elder caregiving chats on the World Wide Web. Think of it as your guide to what is on the WWW (just like television!). The WWW Chat Guide includes details about topics, times and links. To receive a biweekly reminder with updated chat schedules and special guest speakers, please make sure that you are subscribed to the ElderCare Beacon newsletter.

Exclusive Chats on ElderCare Online:

"ElderCare Answers:" Wednesday, February 23 from 9PM to 11PM EST. Host Rich O’Boyle and Guests help steer new caregivers to resources and information. The sessions often focus on dementia care, but please bring your questions on legal & financial matters, care management and local resources.

"Passage into Paradise:" Wednesday, February 16 and March 1 from 9PM to 11PM EST. Host Dorothy Womack leads a supportive discussion group on caring for your loved one with late stage Alzheimer’s Disease. She is an experienced caregiver, a Community Activist and Mentor with the Caregiver Support Network, an internationally recognized poet and a deeply spiritual soul. Visit her personal pages and poetry online at http://www.ec-online.net/Community/Activists/can.htm.

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

NOW AVAILABLE: Tax Planning Assistant

This is that dreaded time of year – we are at the low point of winter AND we have to start organizing our tax return information. If you are caregiving to a loved one, that often means helping with their taxes as well. U.S. individual taxes are due by midnight on Monday, April 17.

ElderCare Online’s Tax Planning Assistant takes the hassles out of filling out and filing tax returns. Our newest interactive assistant directs you to online resources where you can get the necessary tax forms, instructions and publications. It also includes several time- and money-saving tips for taxpayers directly from the IRS and one of the most prestigious tax and accounting firms, Ernst & Young.

You can fill out and file your taxes the old fashioned way – with pencil and abacus – or you can use planning software purchased from Amazon.com. Since this is the Internet Age, we provide links to the best software packages and access to online reviews and rebates. By buying books and software through ElderCare Online, you help to keep the site free of annoying banner advertisements and support this free newsletter.

The Tax Planning Assistant features:

  • comprehensive packages of U.S. Federal tax forms, instructions and publications that you can easily download and print off;
  • easily understood tax tips, common mistakes and overlooked deductions from the experts;
  • state-by-state links to tax agencies for their forms and resources;
  • links to local counseling and assistance programs for elderly taxpayers;
  • online purchasing of software packages and books to speed up your planning and reduce the chances of mistakes;
  • packages of forms and instructions for previous tax years; and
  • additional online resources.

Access the Tax Planning Assistant before April 17 on ElderCare Online at http://www.ec-online.net/Assistants/taxplanasst.htm


The ElderCare Beacon is published biweekly by ElderCare Online. To subscribe to this free newsletter, go to the main page of the website at http://www.ec-online.net and click on the button on the right hand side of the page. Add your e-mail address to the ListBot box and then fill out the basic demographic information. You do not need to include information that you think is too personal. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to you. Please reply to it to complete your subscription.

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