ElderCare Beacon Newsletter

ElderCare Beacon
April 15, 2000                                                                                         Vol. 3, No. 7
ElderCare Online – The Internet Community of Elder Caregivers http://www.ec-online.net
"Tell me why – Show me how – Hold my hand" (sm)
Serving the Needs of Caregivers Since 1997

Dear Friends,

We at ElderCare Online are motivated to help you understand the issues that you face, by providing information, education and support. We want you to have a greater feeling of mastery over the emotional and physical challenges of caregiving. Once you have mastered the chores and tasks, then you will have more time and energy to focus on the loving aspects of caregiving – nurturing your elder so they can live life to the fullest and nurturing yourself so that you are not overwhelmed, depressed and anxious.

Our mission is a tall order – but we are making major strides every day. The volunteer mentors, partners, writers and community members are enhancing this website – adding new articles; connecting caregivers to resources and other caregivers; and making a difference in each other’s well-being. I am so proud of the commitment of our mentors, Jan Allen and Dorothy Womack. These caregivers have brought such compassionate energy to our community. In addition, we are bringing practical educational modules from our partner, RSI, a leader in geriatric managed care, and adding a group of expert editors to our community.

I am proudest of our numerous community members – caregivers just like you – who have been giving freely of their time and experiences. Many caregivers have been sharing their wisdom and challenges so that others will be able to master caregiving challenges. No one has to go through this alone. The ElderCare Forum community message board is a lifeline that we are throwing to you.

We all know that caregiving is an emotionally and physically challenging way to spend our days (and nights). We are often overwhelmed by the range of skills needed and the feeling that we are not doing enough. You are not alone in this labor of love – YOUR friends and colleagues are ready and willing to help. I would like to end this letter by saying that you caregivers are being rewarded for your efforts: The love that you share as a caregiver is helping you to become a stronger person. You are making a huge difference in the life of your elder or spouse. What greater gift is there to give a loved one than your Love and Commitment?

Kind Regards,
Rich O’Boyle
ElderCare Online


ElderCare Forum Update: Hot Topics and Respite Rewards
New Skill Builders on Geriatric Depression
Insurance Coverage Channel Enhanced
Caregiving Tip: Moving an Alzheimer’s Patient By Plane
Featured Articles: Wandering Series from Ageless Design
April Chat Schedule Update
Subscription Information


ELDERCARE FORUM UPDATE: Hot Topics and Respite Rewards

The New ElderCare Forum is off to a busy start! We have had several discussions related to "only child" caregiving. If you are an only child, this shows that you are not alone. Take a look at the topics that have been posted to the "Family Dynamics" section of the forum for details. There are also several threads on Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Care. Sadly, this is a very common area for our community members. It really helps some people to share their stories and their wisdom with Newbies.

I want to clarify something about the registration process for the new message board: The information collected is kept strictly confidential and is not accessible except by the webmaster (that’s me!). The information (mainly your e-mail address) is used so that we can e-mail your password to you; so the message board can track which topics you have and have not read; and so the message board can automatically notify you when your topics have new responses. When you register, your e-mail address is hidden and NOT available to anyone. So be rest assured that we continue to respect your privacy.

I have offered to reward three active caregivers for their participation with special gifts. The offer still stands: The first three caregivers who post 10 or more topics or responses will receive a complimentary gift worth $30. This goes to show that being a good citizen and sharing your time, wisdom and expertise is rewarded on ElderCare Online. So far there are two caregivers (diamondflo and sharyn smith) who are about half-way to the prize.

In addition, I am now also offering free caregiving books to five caregivers who register and post a minimum of one discussion topic before the end of April. You will have a choice from the new edition of Joy Loverde’s "The Complete Eldercare Planner," Barbara Bridges’ "Therapeutic Caregiving" and Beth Witrogen McLeod’s "Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal." Read about these and other caregiving books in ElderCare Online's ElderCare Bookstore.


This month we are very pleased to publish two new Skill Builders on Geriatric Depression in partnership with RSI. You may recall our previous RSI Skill Builder on Overcoming Isolation. These two guides are designed to help family caregivers understand geriatric depression, help their loved ones combat it and improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

Depression greatly diminishes a person’s quality of life, personal joy and productivity. Frail elderly persons, the residents in assisted living facilities, too often experience depression. Their declining health and functioning, multiple life changes and diminished personal resources are factors predisposing the frail elderly to depression. Depression is a medical condition, which affects the whole person; body, mind and spirit. Societal stigma and misunderstandings continually affect detection, treatment and prevention of depression. Depression can be managed and treated so that the person’s quality of life, personal joy and productivity can return.

The first of two Skill Builders is "Understanding Geriatric Depression." It includes chapters on Recognizing Depression, Signs and Symptoms of Depression, Is It Depression or Dementia?, Medical Treatment of Depression and Management of Depression. The second, "Overcoming Geriatric Depression – How You Can Help," covers topics such as Meeting Your Loved One’s Needs, Talking to Depressed Elderly, Making Choices and Special Activities for Relieving Mild Depression.

You can access these and other Skill Builders directly from the main page of the website at http://www.ec-online.net. We have several other Skill Builders covering practical caregiving skills, medical conditions and psychosocial issues.


Many of you have asked for more information on the complexities how to pay for long-term care expenses. We just added nine core articles on Medicaid, Medicare and long-term care Insurance.

Take a look at the new articles that cover details of who is eligible for Medicaid and what it covers; how to get supplemental security income from the Social Security Administration; how to enroll in Medicare; and whether you should buy long-term care insurance.

Visit ElderCare Online’s Insurance Coverage Channel at http://www.ec-online.net/insurechannel.htm.

CAREGIVING TIP: Moving an Alzheimer’s Patient By Plane

Perhaps you have considered air travel to move your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease to be closer to you, to attend a family function such as a wedding or to meet with medical specialists. Changing daily patterns or surroundings is always a challenge – but add the hubbub of an airport, restrictions on movement and the confinement of an airplane and you may have a recipe for disaster.

The key to a successful trip is to prepare in advance. You will have the double burden of caring for your loved one AND making sure that you both get to the plane on time and in one piece! Preparation can make the process as effortless (for you and your loved one) as possible.

  • Call the airline in advance and tell them the situation, but do not suggest that your loved one will be a "difficult" passenger. Write down any instructions or guidelines that they provide;
  • Prearrange to have a porter or representative from the airline meet you at curbside with a wheelchair and give you priority handling to the gate;
  • Inquire as to security procedures and make sure that you and your loved one do not have any metal on your person that will trigger the alarm system;
  • Have your loved one wear a clean adult diaper and bring a carry-on bag with appropriate supplies to change the diaper in flight;
  • Prearrange to have a favorite meal served on board; and
  • Ask your physician to approve a mild sedative and write down specific instructions on when to give it so that it is effective at the right time.

During the flight, make sure that you keep your loved one occupied and relaxed. You know your loved one’s moods and behaviors best. If your loved one can be violent or excessively agitated, you may want to reconsider traveling by plane.

  • Arrange to have a wheelchair at the arrival gate and a car waiting at the airport.
  • Have a family member or friend keep track of the flight to notify your pick-up of any delays or early arrival;
  • Have a family member or friend pick-up any luggage for you – give them descriptions and tag each bag with an ribbon;
  • You may consider having two cars pick you up – one to take you and your loved one immediately from the airport if necessary, and one to retrieve the luggage.

We frequently get questions related to travel. Please post your comments, additions and personal stories to the ElderCare Forum so that we can improve this Caregiver Tip and enhance other caregiver’s ability to travel with their loved ones.

FEATURE ARTICLES: Wandering Series from Mark Warner of Ageless Design

Wandering occurs for many reasons and imposes many dangers for those with Alzheimer's Disease who may stray out of the house or fall as a result of merely trying to get out of bed. Mark L. Warner, a noted architect in Florida has developed a three-part series of articles on home modifications to help caregivers manage loved ones who are prone to wandering.

The first article is devoted to locks; the second is on alarms and other means of alerting caregivers about attempts to leave home; and the third is on unconventional devices to prevent wandering, such as diversions and deterrents.

Mark Warner, AIA is a registered architect, gerontologist, author and international speaker. He is the author of The Complete Guide to Alzheimer's-Proofing Your Home, the first book in the Homes That Care series on age-related conditions and how to create homes for those suffering from them. His firm, Ageless Design, Inc. offers consultation and assistance in the design of environments for seniors.

Read the three articles in the Home Care & Independent Living or Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care Channels. Please share your comments and suggestions in the ElderCare Forum.


ElderCare Online’s Feature Chat Session: "ElderCare Answers," April 19th from 9PM to 11PM EST. Host Rich O’Boyle will be online to 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.

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

The World Wide Chat Guide ™ is now included as part of the Caregiver Support Network. Please visit http://www.ec-online.net/Community/Activists/can.htm to visit the growing list of elder caregiving chats on the World Wide Web. The World Wide Chat Guide includes links to chat sessions hosted by ElderCare Online, eldersearch.com, Dr. Koop, WebMD and other eldercare websites.

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 hosting a session on ElderCare Online, please fill out the Community Activist form at http://www.ec-online.net/forms/formactivist.htm.


The ElderCare Beacon is published bi-weekly 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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