Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Returning the Favor: When a Mother Needs to Be Cared For - Guest Article by Henry McCambridge

Returning the Favor: Guest Article by Henry McCambridge. When a Mother Needs to Be Cared For

With two young children and a wife in school, the thought of adding additional family members to an already busy household was the furthest thing from my mind. However, we didn't even hesitate when my mother's doctor suggested that she move in with us rather than continue living on her own. Being that she was living in a large two story home, the physician strongly felt that it was too much for her and was contributing excessively to her stress level. Her health is certainly not something that is of the greatest concern, and there luckily are not any severely debilitating illnesses or conditions. However, her arthritis is worsening and it makes it difficult for her to remain completely independent due to the fact that the risk for falls is significant.

Everybody always questions my wife and I about the sacrifices that we have had to make over the past couple years, but we honestly feel as though everything pales in comparison to the years upon years that my mother took care of me. The feeling of caring for a loved one is not something that can easily be explained, but it is perhaps one of the most rewarding opportunities an individual can ever experience. The children love having their grandmother close by, but don't always understand that she sometimes needs to be left alone to rest. The balance is something that has been difficult at times, but a strong and loving relationship has helped us all through the process.

One of the most significant sources of my stress was the fear that something would happen while I was away from home, and I found myself constantly wondering if my mother was okay. While she didn't require any constant medical attention and certainly didn't need to be babysat, I felt it necessary to arrange to have other family members or friends with her at all times. I admittedly never really gave any thought to how it must have felt to her, and we both continued on uneasy ground until we finally discussed it at length one day. The solution was relatively simple, and a medical alarm emergency response system has made it possible for both of us to have peace of mind while I am not home.

My mother loves the opportunity to watch her grandchildren and spend time with a family that loves her more than anything, but it is understandably difficult for her to give up her freedom and independence. Other options that were considered were a retirement community and even an assisted living home, but neither really seems to be necessary at this time. Decisions have already been made to hire professional assistance should we need to in the future, but all of us would like to avoid having strangers care for her around the clock. As long as my mother is happy with us and enjoys being with the family, we will make whatever arrangements necessary to ensure that we can continue to take care of her.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Reeve Foundation Paralysis Community

If you are a caregiver, a concerned person, a relative or friend, or a person with paralysis, I recommend you visit the Reeve Foundation Paralysis Community , a social community. The website is part of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

You'll find News, Blogs, Forums, and question and answer sessions with Dr. Dan Gottlieb, a psychologist and mental health expert.

In the News there you'll find Francesco Clarke's new book, "Walking Papers." The book will let you know what it's like to be one of the spinal cord injured people using a wheelchair. What is it like to be in that person's mind and body?

The author writes "What does it feel like to be immobilized in this way? After seven years of being injured, I still find this so hard to describe. To put into words what it feels like to feel nothing is like trying to give a blind person an accurate depiction of what it's like to see. It's just so strange. "

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Photography - A Good Hobby for Seniors, My Video: Photos of Florence, Oregon, Sutton Lake by the Sea as Evening Falls

Photography can be a great hobby for seniors. Below is a video made from photos I took last evening at nearby Sutton Lake by the Sea, Florence, Oregon. I love to view the world while carrying a camera because I notice so much more then. These were taken with a Canon Powershot, then uploaded to Picasa. The colors were enhanced by using editing effects from Picasa to increase color saturation, add light, and enhance the hues. Enjoy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Health Care Financing Review - Services, Characteristics, Read This and Form Your Opinions

Would you like to look at our health care spending? The use of services, characteristics of the population and more? Form your own opinions after looking over the data.

At the bottom of this post is the link to the Health Care Financing Review; Medicaid and Medicare Statistical Supplement.

Got an opinion or suggestion that you would like to share on this blog? Or a caregiver story? Guest writers welcome. Please submit your material by emailing it to me, Kristi, at, with the words "Caregivers Beacon" in the subject line. Thank you!

1. Health Care Financing Review: Medicaid and Medicare Statistical Supplement

The 2009 edition of the annual Statistical Supplement is now available on the
CMS web site. The Statistical Supplement includes tables showing health
expenditures for the entire U.S. population, characteristics of the covered
populations, use of services, and expenditures under these programs. The 2009
edition, as well as earlier editions, is available here

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

1965 - Slice of My Life

Seniors, have you tried writing your life story? Or just short anecdotes or vignettes? Here is one from my blog at

1965 - A Slice of Life - Scandal and Me

Open the mind's closet for 1965.

I'm 13 years old, and this is the era of "Scandal and Me." Scandal was a black half-Arabian, half-thoroughbred mare. Scandal and I often stayed out on the trails in the snowy winters until after dark. I leaned down low over her neck, shining a flashlight on the paths. It was an adventure.

It's 1965, and I'm in the 8th grade.

A huge horse farm was built a few years ago across the corn field behind our house. For several years I've been working there after school and on Saturdays.

In the 6th grade I started at $2 a day and now I'm up to $3. I give the money to my parents to help with Scandal's expenses.

School's from 8 to 3:15, and by 3:40 I'm heading over to Fairlane Farms. Several years ago my parents put in a corral in the back. My dreams came true when I got a beautiful black half-Arabian, half-thoroughbred mare, Scandal.

It's winter, and after school it's dash out to throw the bridle and saddle on Scandal, ride through the fields to the horse farm.

Put Scandal in an empty stall, start brushing and saddling horses, get the students on their horses, accompany them on any horse that needs exercise or training to the riding ring where the stable owner gives lessons.

After half hour in the ring, then I take them for a 15-20 minute trail ride. Then we get the next group of students out for another lesson.

If it's raining or snowy the lessons are held in the indoors riding ring.

At 6 pm the second lesson ends, we unsaddle and put the horses away, and start filling water buckets with hoses, cleaning, getting the flakes of hay and filling the grain buckets.

The stable owner has a large family and by working there I am part of the extended family.

Speakers in the barn and indoor ring provide the times' popular music for our riding and chores. We might be trotting around the ring to "I Wanna Hold Your Haaaand."

Now we're done. My friends, who now have horses too, often hang around the barn as it's our second home. We can pretend to be horses.

We gallop around, whinnying and neighing, jumping hay bales, barrels, and low post and rails. Since the first grade we've been drawing horses, watching horse movies, dreaming horses, imagining what it's like to be a horse.

Now it's 6:30 or close to 7, and it's dark outside in the winter. Scandal and I set out across the snowy fields for home, under the stars.

I carry a flashlight in one hand to light her way on the paths, and lean over close to her mane for warmth, escaping the night wind. I know she will take good care of me. We're that close.

There's a flood light on at the hay barn and corral at my house. I take off Scandal's saddle and bridle, and brush her to smooth the hair.

In the winter she has a loooooonnnng shaggy coat, like a horse from the north pole.

I feed her some treats, we talk or communicate in our own way, and I break open a bale of hay.

She has a 3 sided shed but is free to roam outside. It's nice to see her have this freedom to roam instead of living in a stall.

It's important to me for Scandal to be happy. If I were her, I'd want that freedom.

I check the heating coil in the water trough to be sure it's working and she has water not ice. Janey, the retired racehorse our vet gave me, and her colt are there too.

My feet feel a little numb from the cold, although I've got them wrapped in celaphane to keep dampness out, am wearing a pair of wool socks and a pair of knee socks, and a pair of rubber riding boots.

Of course I have on long underwear tops and bottoms, wool riding britches, and a winter parka. It's a wonder a person can get a foot up in the stirrup to get on with all these clothes.

My ears are covered with a knitted ear warmer that goes under the riding helmet. One's hands start to get numb in this cold too but this is all unimportant compared to the rewards of horses.

Soon the horses are happily muching. There's a starry sky, a moon reflecting on the snow, and it's sooooo peaceful. I loiter but finally go back to the house. It's time to have supper, take the Irish Setters out for walks, and do homework.

Can't wait for tomorrow afternoon, when Scandal and I share another adventure.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Guest Post: Because of Love - The Story of Ole' Horse - A True Story, from Willy Eagle

Because of Love, the story of Ole Horse, This is a true story.
From Willy Eagle

(Please read all the way to the end. This is an Inspirational message sent to a small group of people. My hope is that it will make your day just a little bit better.

A small request.
Cancer is a strange cell. Going along for years in remission and than one day it pops it head up again. Pray for the day there will be a permanent cure.
A small request....Just one line
Dear God, I pray for the cure of cancer. Amen

All you are asked to do is keep this circulating. Even if it's only to one more person. In memory of anyone you know who has been struck down by cancer or is still living with it.)

Because of Love - The Story of Ole' Horse

A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre- Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farm. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed their horses, for the years had taken
their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was
getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings
and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses
were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks "Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One." She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?"
>> The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed
>> at the barn floor and replied, " Yes, I could use a pair of new boots.
His arm slid defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her near with gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied softly, "We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love."

Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his
wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness
stole through the valley.

The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a
happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed
the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One".

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together before the barn. They were speechless as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy
hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old and
withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep
snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill,
they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill the old couple
gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty
before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught
up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and
it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy.
Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her
forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down about the "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe. At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife.

Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with
years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with
devotion as she offered her gift---Because of love. Only Because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy...
And again the peace of love filled their hearts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Senior Activities and Hobbies - Enjoy Outdoor Scenery, Take Up Photography or Videography

When you carry a camera or a camcorder you see more as you drive around. Need a hobby? Take up digital photography or camcorder videography. Operating the cameras can be done by using the "Easy Mode" or automatic settings, so you just point and shoot. With digital cameras of course you can save the photos on the internet and avoid expensive film developing. It's cost effective this way! So, let's cross the "digital divide" and start some exciting projects.

Here's a video I made last week on a trip to another Oregon coast village with a beautiful bridge and bay. So, join me and enjoy these vistas of water, nature and a sunset.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Storm Watch Video on Oregon Coast - Weather Watching - An Activity for Seniors - A New Way to Look at a Classic Subject

Recently several seniors mentioned to me that one of their hobbies is weather watching on the internet. Sites like give interesting facts about the science of weather and long term future forecasts.

Watching the weather on the internet can also involve looking at live webcams. In the search box put the city, state and the words "live webcam" and look at real time live shots of weather anywhere from Alaska to Florida to Hawaii.

I did my own weather watching here in Florence, Oregon recently, and the video on Storm Watching is the result. Enjoy these camcorder shots of a storm coming in across the Pacific to the Oregon coast.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Caregiver's Day Off - Video - Benefit Concert for More Hope for Haiti

We are all praying for our brothers and sisters in Haiti, and doing all we can to help, including many types of fundraisers. I went to a Benefit Concert for "More Hope for Haiti" in Eugene, Oregon, and made the video below of Kelly Thibodeaux and Etouffee. It's rhythm and blues, southern rock, and fiddle music all blended together for an incredible sound they call "Swamp Rock." Caregivers and friends, sit back, put your feet up, and take a break with some great music.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Managing Life With Chronic Pain - Strategies and Coping from

Those of us with arthritis pain or other chronic conditions can always use a review of some of the techniques for managing pain. Here's a brief summary from I will mention a few of the tips here and you can click on the link to see their whole list.

Lifestyle changes can making living with ongoing pain more bearable and hopefully provide a lot of relief. The list starts with "Deep Breathing and Other Meditation" because relaxation eases pain. I would like to add that relaxation, meditating, using a mantra, or using breathing meditation, can be enhanced by using certain types of music in the background. I often go on the internet and search for meditation music, or any soft, beautiful music.

Music therapy for pain reducation can be part of one's daily lifestyle. Spiritual music, inspirational music, soft instrumentals, easy listening, all can be part of a holistic program, a daily lifestyle, to reduce pain levels.

2. Reduce stress because stress intensifies pain. WebMD recommends getting CD's with soothing music and guided imagery to help get relief from ongoing pain. Stress and anger can increase the body's sensitivity to pain.

3. Giving the body's endorphins, natural pain relievers, a boost by exercising is one of my favorite approaches. WebMD reminds us that exercise also strengthen muscles and prevents injuries, and helps keep weight down and blood sugar levels stable. My favorite exercise is swimming and any exercise in the pool. The buoyancy takes the weight off of sore joints and floating simply just feels good.

Eat a healthy diet and find ways to distract yourself from pain are a few more of my favorite tips from their list. To see the whole list click and visit their site at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Pet Therapy - My Rescued Lab Retriever Shows Off His Tricks

Especially during the past year when I have been recovering from the death of my dearly loved companion, Bill, my lab retriever has gotten me out and about, and brought me smiles and laughter. Here is Mr. Teddy Bear, whom I adopted from the San Luis Obispo County, CA Animal Shelter. He was found roaming in the fields east of Paso Robles and was then a skinny untrained pup about a year old. I trained him with non-force dog training, using bonding, affection and intermittant treats for rewards. He is truly a family member, along with my chihuahua, Heidi.