The Caregiver's Beacon Newsletter

The Caregiver’s Beacon (tm)
“Tell me why – Show me how – Hold my hand”
September 15, 2006                                                                                 Vol. 9 No. 5
ALZwell Caregiver Support and ElderCare Online and
Serving the Needs of Caregivers Since 1996

Labor Day here in the U.S. is celebrated as a way of honoring the many workers who built the country. Back in the 1940’s and 1950’s after World War II, these were the men and women who built our interstate highway system, assembled cars and trucks, taught the children of the Baby Boomers, and laid the foundations of our international leadership. Fast forward to the 21st century and American “Labor” is more and more service workers, financial professionals, retail sales persons, and healthcare workers.

I would like to dedicate this newsletter to the millions of healthcare workers who get up every morning and attend to our sick loved ones. Some find easy criticism in the healthcare workers who provide care in nursing homes and public hospitals. Indeed, these institutions are strapped for cash and paying their staff decent wages is a constant struggle. Too often, individual members of the staff lose their focus and the quality of care suffers. Deep down, healthcare providers intend to provide the best, most compassionate, and innovative care. But it seems that the deck is stacked against them.

The perverse payments systems and competing financial organizations seem intent on severing the most important link to their customers, the hands-on healthcare providers – the nurses, CNAs, and staffers – who make the difference day-to-day for people in institutional care. It’s no wonder that these healthcare professionals are at odds with their management and are pushing for formal recognition and bargaining power as unionized workers. I just hope that these efforts at unionization continue to have the patient at the center, rather than just desperate grabs for the shrinking pool of money in the healthcare system.

Don’t get me wrong: I am the first to insist on maintaining good relations with all of the healthcare professionals on you and your loved one’s team. But, there comes a time when you have to put your foot down and insist that the staff put aside their grievances with management and focus on quality care. Your best defense against indifferent care is to STAY INVOLVED all the time if your loved one is in the hospital or in a long-term care facility. Don’t be a pest! But make it clear that you are relying on the professionalism of the staff to ensure your loved one’s well-being. Do your part, and they will do theirs.



If you have trouble with links, the complete issue is available online at

Feature Article: Where Is the Joy in Alzheimer’s Caregiving? By Beverly Bigtree Murphy
Solution Sets: Long-Term Care Insurance Analyzer
Five Minutes With… Harry (Rick) Moody on Spirituality and Aging
Prism Learning Library: Diabetes
Book Reviews: Nursing Homes: The Family’s Journey by Peter Silin
Caregiver Store: The Prism Complete Planner and Organizer Special Edition
Subscription Information


FEATURE ARTICLE: Where Is the Joy in Alzheimer’s Caregiving? By Beverly Bigtree Murphy

The author took care of her husband at home through the duration of his years with Alzheimer’s. She did it with private home health care, respite breaks for short vacations, and what amounted to a great deal of personal determination.

She writes, “While everyone expressed concern with my health, they all seemed to miss the point that Tom and I were going to be the ones living with the decisions, not them. As for Tom, once his disease became apparent, he ceased to have any real value outside of our immediate circle. He became a non-person who was nothing but a burden in the eyes of everyone around him.”

“We quickly learned that once cognitive functions become affected, you are not only avoided, you are in a very real sense despised, because your very presence points out how fallible we humans really are. For some reason, keeping Tom home was to invite a psychiatric classification and when I didn’t roll over and assume the victim stance, I was labeled as overtly controlling, unrealistic and finally, an extremist. I wondered when ‘commitment’ and ‘obligation’ became expressions of emotional decay.”

Beverly writes eloquently about her challenges to grow within her relationship with her husband even in the face of intensive caregiving responsibilities for her husband and negativity from those around her. Her story is an inspiration that “it can be done” and that there truly is JOY to be found in the most trying of circumstances.

You can read the complete article at

SOLUTION SETS: Long-Term Care Insurance Analyzer

We have updated and enhanced ElderCare Online’s Long-Term Care Insurance Analyzer, our mini-resource center on buying long-term care insurance. Now we offer not only numerous articles and tools, but also a free e-book called “The Insiders Guide to Long-Term Care.”

So many caregivers have seen the devastating financial consequences of paying for services for a loved one, including homecare and nursing homes. This resource center offers you valuable information and insight on how to avoid the expenses for yourself.

Take a look at our article “Long-Term Care Insurance: The Basics” at, and then visit the Long-Term Care Analyzer at for even more detailed tools to assess your needs.

Then request a free quote and a copy of the e-book “The Insider’s Guide to Long-Term Care.” You will be contacted by a licensed professional to discuss whether or not long-term care insurance is right for you. The is absolutely no cost and no obligation. Get your quote and e-book at

FIVE MINUTES WITH… Harry (Rick) Moody on Spirituality and Aging

Harry (Rick) Moody is the Director of the Institute for Human Values in Aging, affiliated with the International Longevity Center. Moody is the author of over 80 scholarly articles, as well as a number of books, including "Ethics in an Aging Society" and "The Five Stages of the Soul." He has served in numerous academic and research capacities. He is known nationally for his work in older adult education and is currently Chairman of the Board of Elder Hostel. He is the Editor of the "Human Values in Aging UPDATE" e-mail newsletter and "Aging and the Human Spirit" print newsletter published by the University of Texas Medical Branch.

To read the complete interview, visit


We are always looking to improve the information that we offer to our members. We recently arranged to add almost 350 new articles to the website. That is an amazing amount of helpful articles. They cover the range of topics that are of interest to our members. We have found that our members need valuable information on an even fuller range of topics, including personal finance, grief and loss, credit and debt, medical conditions, and stress management. We are gradually working to incorporate these new article libraries into our website.

Our latest addition is a mini-library on “Diabetes” topics. We have published 17 detailed articles that help you to better understand and manage diabetes.

The library can be accessed at

In the coming weeks and months we will be adding mini-libraries on “Depression.” Please take the time to surf though these new article libraries.

BOOK REVIEWS: Nursing Homes: The Family’s Journey by Peter Silin

“Nursing Homes: The Family’s Journey” by Peter Silin. This book is tightly focused on the process that families go through when they make decisions about placing a loved one in a facility. This is both a very humanistic book and a very practical one (my favorite combination!). It serves as a guide through the decision-making process, offering assistance on the numerous issues associated with deciding about long-term care. This is a book written with the insight of a sociologist and geriatric care manager, someone who sees the human side of the equation first. On the practical side, the author shares with you the ins and outs of moving into a facility and making life there the best possible. Here you see his years of experience shine through in a reassuring way. Peter is one of ElderCare Online’s community activists and Forum moderators.

You can purchse the book on at,  or browse through other nursing home-related books in the ElderCare Bookstore at

CAREGIVER STORE: The Prism Complete Organizer and Planner Special Edition

Our two workbooks, the Prism Personal Organizer and the Prism Medical Manager are designed to take some of the load off of your back when it comes to record-keeping and the day-to-day management of medical affairs.

Both workbooks offer practical worksheets to collect information that is useful when filling out forms for your loved one, applications for government benefits, hospital records, and the detailed information that your doctor wants you to follow. The Medical Manager also helps you keep track of your loved one’s condition so that you have a record of questions you want to ask the doctor, changes that have occurred over time in your loved one, and issues that need to be raised.

Normally we sell the two workbooks separately, but we have combined them into a Special Edition – what normally would cost you almost $24 is available for only $15.95. The Special Edition includes the two workbooks, as well as access to a password-protected section of the website that includes new downloadable worksheets.

To place your order in our secure online store, visit us at If you have any questions, call us toll free at 1-888-774-7655.

Throughout this month we continue to offer a special bonus: If you buy ANY product from our store (including the Prism Personal Organizer/Medical Planner) we will give you free lifetime access to our “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial.

Visit our store now and claim your free “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial at You can order online with our secure credit card processor, or call us at 1-888-774-7655 to place your order.


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

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