Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Video: Recognizing Signs of Dementia

HandiRecords - Home Medical Records - Featured in Caring Today

Keeping home medical records can save a life in an emergency. Caregiver Agencies require the in-home caregivers to write in a journal daily in order to provide updates on a person's health and symptoms. This is helpful later if a health problem is suspected.

Additionally, medication records help elderly people who live alone at home to avoid making medication errors, and they provide a handy place for emergency phone numbers of medical professionals and other contacts.

Some people create their own medical records notebook, but others buy one of the convenient premade home medical record systems. Below is information about HandiRecords, a system that has received many endorsements from respected organizations.

Clipped from HandiRecords:

HandiRecords -

"HandiRecords has been featured in the November/December 2007 issues of Caring Today, a magazine for caregivers and also Women's Enterprise USA.

HandiRecords is being recognized in the February 2008 issue of Caregiver's Home Companion Magazine.

HandiRecords is also featured as a caregiver's resource on the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Life Center web site.

Blanchard Enterprises is proud to be a Resource Partner of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

Video: Stanford University on Dementia

Video - Home Medical Alarms So Seniors Living Alone Can Get Help

Caregiver Tips - Video: The Vial of Life

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Video: Power of Attorney - Explanation, Healthcare Directive, Duties

Video: Univ. of Maryland Medical Center, Understanding Irregular Heartbeats, Tests, Pacemakers,

Video: Advance Healthcare Directives

To have your healthcare wishes followed you need to have an Advance Healthcare Directive. Some people want to have as much medical care as possible if they are near the end of life, and others wish to have as little as possible.

Video: Understanding Atrial Fibrillation, Irregular Heartbeats

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Video: Heart Failure, Pacemakers, and Follow-Up

This video explains that a pacemaker and defibrillator can be installed in a minimally invasive surgery for someone with heart failure.

This results in a reduction of symptoms. Only 2 weeks after receiving a pacemaker and defibrillator the patient in the video reported he was back to his usual activities without the shortness of breath.

Basics of Congestive Heart Failure for Caregivers

If you are a caregiver for someone who has congestive heart failure this video will help you understand the symtpoms and lifestyle changes that can help.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Five Caregiving Steps For Home Safety

When an elder's health condition could need emergency care at home caregivers can take the following safety steps. (1) First, put a Vial of Life information form on the fridge door so paramedics can quickly get information about medicines, health conditions, doctors, emergency numbers and allergies.

(2) Next, create a caregiving notebook with dividers and information about the following. Put the notebook in the kitchen in a prominent place so paramedics can see it without searching.
A. health conditions, diagnoses, allergies, medical history
B. medicines, instructions and dosages
C. emergency phone numbers, doctors, health professionals, relatives, friends
D. info regarding power of attorney
E. healthcare directive and instructions
F. an ongoing journal to list important information, falls, illnesses, other events

(3) Put a large calendar on the wall or fridge and list doctor's appointments and tests, health related information, and events.

(4) Get a plastic pill packer with 7 days a week plus dividers for 4 times a day to separate the pills. This will ensure medicine times don't get confused or medicines don't get skipped.

(5) Get one of the medic alert home systems with an easy to press button worn around the neck or on the wrist so help can be summoned quickly, especially if someone lives alone.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Guest Post from Life Coach Scott Couchenour - "Intentionally Blank"

Ever read a legal document and turn a page and all it has on the page is the phrase "This Space Left Intentionally Blank" centered on the page? I think I know why writers of legal documents do that. It got me thinking about caregiving.

What if, in the flow of caregiving, we were to designate certain times that are "intentionally blank"? These would be times when we unplug COMPLETELY from the world around us; times when we pull away from the caregiving and purposefully do nothing. If we do this we can greatly increase our capacity for perspective. We can re-energize. We can renew. Then, when the "blank time" is over, we can get back to the business of caregiving with a new sense of vision and excitement.

Are you doing this already? Great!

If you haven't considered "Intentionally Blank" times like this, start today. Think ahead. When is the next time you are going to unplug, pull away, and become intentionally blank?

From guest author, Scott Couchenour

Certified Life Coach

Founder of Serving Strong

©1997-2005 Openwave Systems Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Caregiving and Spiritual Issues

The comfort of knowing a caring God is surrounding us with love and light, and that earthly challenges can be seen from a perspective of eternal life, can provide strength to keep going when the most difficult times of our lives occur. No matter what your religious denomination, philosophy, or personal spiritual belief system, knowing there is a power of love, a spirit that cares and an energy that is like a power source lifts us up when we need it.

We'll never understand fully that which is beyond our human ability to grasp, but knowing we are filled and surrounded with the spirit of love and that we can see things from an eternal perspective changes everything.

Today in our world there is still much love and caring, much light and life.

When the difficulties of caregiving seem to be pulling one downward, it helps to remember the spiritual love that can fill and enfold us. As channels for the flow of this love, energy and caring, caregivers are indeed special people.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Inspirational Caregivers' Video for Relaxation and Uplifting Therapy

When Autumn paints the leaves and they are reflected in quiet rivers the beauty is doubly relaxing and uplifting, especially when paired with special music. Caregivers can take a therapy break and unwind while they watch this video. Enjoy and best wishes. Kristi

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Caregiving and "The Ministry of Presence"

The "Ministry of Presence" is the way a spiritual teacher I know recently described our visit to a friend from church who is staying in a nursing home. The physical presence of a caring friend, a hug, a hand squeeze, some listening, some eye contact and a bit of conversation, can have a healing and comforting effect. Whether you are just sitting nearby, keeping a quiet vigil, or are sharing conversation, simply providing your presence is a way of ministering to others who are ill or injured. Our presence speaks for us, saying, "I care. You're not alone. I'm here for you. You're important to me."

Often people excuse themselves from visiting those who are ill by saying "I wouldn't know what to do or say." But, that's not important. The warmth of a genuinely caring person who simply arrives to provide his or her presence can bring an uplift to someone's day.

Brilliant conversation, exciting news, or special nursing skills are not needed to provide the healing benefits of your presence. Just being yourself and providing the "Ministry of Presence" by a gentle hug, a hand squeeze, some listening, some sharing and eye contact will make a difference. The isolation that people experience when they are ill or injured, or in frail health, is a form of suffering that is eased by a visit from someone who cares.If a relative or friend has cognitive impairment, as with dementia or Alzheimer's, the presence of a caring person who listens, establishes eye contact, and bonds is a healing presence.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Landmark Transitions" Guest Post by Scott Couchenour

We read a lot about Work/Life Balance in articles these days. For some, it means a seamless transition from a work mindset to a life mindset, depending on what's appropriate at the time.

One way I accomplish this aspect of balance is by selecting a landmark on my commute home from work. On my way home, there is a bridge I cross over an interstate. This part of my commute is about 4 minutes from my doorstep. While on the bridge, I mentally close the door to work and begin thinking of my wife, my daughter in college, and my teenage son. I pick out something about each one of them (something they like, or fear, or are interested in) and dwell on that for the remainder of my commute (about 4 minutes or so). I try to EMPTY my mind of work-related stuff and FILL my mind with family.

Now, before I go any further, I must confess this is a struggle for me at times. I forget. If I'm not careful, I can bring work right into the house with me and my wife can see work smeared all over my face. But when I remember to transition, it does wonders for my family life.

This is possible to do, whether your commute is 5 minutes or an hour. If your work and life have the same location (in other words, if you are a caregiver to someone in your home), you may need to "create a commute" by taking a drive or walk outside and selecting a landmark to trigger your transition before you circle back home.

What's going to be your landmark? How are you going to use it to make a significant transition? Remember, a balanced life has a greater impact.

by Scott Couchenour, Certified Life Coach
Promoting Balance in People Helping

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Caregiver's Bandwidth - Guest Post by Scott Couchenor of

I was talking with a friend the other day. He was describing the difficulty in explaining computers to his mother. She has a dial up connection to the internet (very slow). But her idea is to buy a faster computer. My friend is trying to explain why that won't work.

Why won't a faster computer increase the speed of a dial up connection to the internet? Bandwidth. Bandwidth is like a roadway. The bandwidth on a dial up connection is like a narrow country road with the occasional one-lane bridge. In comparison, "high speed internet" (like cable, DSL, T1) is more like a 10-lane freeway. Now imagine thousands of cars trying to get to their destination. Imagine how much faster the traffic would flow on the freeway compared to the country road. That's bandwidth - the lines of connection from your computer to the internet, not the processor inside your computer.

Therefore, it doesn't matter how fast your processor is. If the information flowing from your computer to the internet is going over dial up lines, you will simply have to wait. Okay, so what does bandwidth have to do with serving others effectively?

Bandwidth and Self Care

Think of "bandwidth" as the capacity to serve with effectiveness and focus. Think of self care as the way to keep bandwidth like high speed. In other words, the better the self care, the greater the capacity to care for others. Let me explain...

Let's enter into the life of Fred (imaginary name). Fred is a cargiver. He does all the things that we normally imagine a caregiver to do. But Fred isn't feeling well. In fact, he's carried a virus for several weeks now. He has coughing fits that interrupt conversations. He is on a routine diet of Tylenol as he continuously battles headaches. Fred is distracted. He's listening to a person who is talking to him. At least he's trying to listen. But the headache and coughing are keeping him from focusing on the person's issues.

Fred's bandwidth (his capacity to be fully present) is like dial up. It's slow. His capacity to serve is small. His focus is almost non-existent. Fred needs to take care of himself. He needs to see a doctor to get the right medicine to put the headaches and coughing to rest. Without the headaches and coughing, Fred would be able to stay focused when he's caring for others.

How's YOUR bandwidth today? Are you investing in the routines you need to keep your capacity of service as high as it can be? Take care of yourself and you'll be Serving Strong!

By Scott Couchenour, Certified Life Coach, Guest Blogger
Promoting Balanced People Helpers

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Video: Interview With Alzheimer's Caregiver Who Quit His Job to Care For His Father

In this video reporter Amita Sharma interviews Ric Gomez, who quit his job to take care of his father, who has Alzheimer's. Ric says he and his father have used this time to reconnect, share some laughs, and share other activities. For instance, in the video they enjoy a game of dominoes, and Ric says his dad is very good and frequently wins.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Guest Post from Scott Couchenour - Balancing Bad News With Positive


I am amazed at how much media airtime real estate is consumed by bad things that have happened. Recently I was listening to the radio in my car. Within a 30-second spot, I learned a baby was left on a doorstep (umbilical cord still wrapped around its neck), a man was sentenced to death for killing someone, the body of a woman was found in a lake - apparently raped and strangled, and two retired policemen were killed by a man as they worked for an armored car company while servicing an ATM.

What kind of impact is that having on us as we care for others? What is the psychological impact of bad news?

An article in the Harvard Business Review (October 2007) entitled "Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time" points to the importance of the emotions and quality of energy. The authors point out,

"Most people realize that they tend to perform best when they're feeling positive energy. Confronted with relentless demands and unexpected challenges, people tend to slip into negative emotions - the fight-or-flight mode - often multiple times in a day."

Listening constantly to bad news can diminish the impact of people who care for others. It enhances a low emotional state. It robs us of the kind of optimism described in the Stockdale Paradox (what Jim Collins speaks of in his book, Good to Great):

"Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be AND at the same time, retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties."

News media is part of our existence. What are YOU doing to retain an appropriate emotional state as you care for others?

Try this: For every negative piece of news, come up with at least two positive things to keep balance. Try complimenting someone. List your blessings. Look for the good in someone. Think of a time when you accomplished something. Smile at a stranger.

I'm not talking about ignoring the woes of our fallen world. I'm talking about keeping perspective to be the best benefit to those who need us to be there for them.

By guest blogger: Scott Couchenour, Certified Life Coach
Scott A. Couchenour, Certified Life Coach
Coaching for Ministry Balance

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"30 Days in a Wheelchair" on - Experiencing Life From a Different Perspective

Caregivers can understand the perspective of those who spend life in a wheelchair by watching "30 Days in a Wheelchair" on NFL player Ray Crockett spends 30 days in a wheelchair, experiencing the adaptations needed for daily living. As he gets ready to start on the first day he is advised that he'll learn to have an appreciatiion for the frustration that is felt when someone spends so much time "looking at everyone's belt buckle" and he'll find that often people won't make eye contact because they are uncomfortable. The program focuses on spinal cord injuries but the insights about life using a wheelchair will apply for others as well.

Ray starts at the Baylor Rehabilitation Institute. He is advised that people will choose to make eye contact with his wife if she is standing nearby, often avoiding him, and they may act as if he is deaf and dumb. Our culture and society has to learn how to accept people who use a wheelchair.

When someone has to start using a wheelchair friends are lost as well as activities, because people feel uncomfortable or cannot adjust to being around the person who is now using a wheelchair.

One person said it is like waking up and thinking it was only a bad dream but finding it was real. However, as one of the counselors said, life does go on and one struggles to adapt because there is no other way.

Ray's car is fitted with hand and arm controls since he cannot use his legs while he is in the "30 days" project, and his house is adapted for disability. He find that there are a lot more stairs, steep slopes and narrow doorways than he thought.

He spends part of his time at the Rehabilitation Institute with spinal cord injury patients and groups for therapy. One of the volunteer counselor's shows him how to get around and speaks openly about what it is like. He participates in "wheelchair rugby" and this is like football in wheelchairs - it's a rough sport.

After 30 days when Ray returns to walking he has made some special friends and learned from them and from his experience what life is like for those who use a wheelchair.

Caregivers can understand the frustrations felt by wheelchair users better after they see this video. Better yet, try using a wheelchair for awhile in order to experience life from a different perspective, like NFL player Ray Crockett did.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Caregiver's Memories - Video in Memory of My Father - Father's Day at the Pismo Beach Pier, San Luis Obispo County, CA

My father, Jack H. Terry, Sr., passed away 13 years ago from a stroke, but on Father's Day I do something special in his memory and this year I made a video of scenes at the ocean. He always loved water and boats - lakes, rivers, oceans. He would have loved the sandcastles, kites and other scenes in this video made at the Pismo Beach Pier, San Luis Obispo County, California. When I am near the ocean I remember the wonderful times we spent together at lakes or beaches.

Friday, June 13, 2008

RE: Nursing Home Reform Amendments of OBRA, Residents "Know Your Rights, " Guest Post by Matt Raven

Know your rights” is important for residents of nursing homes. The Nursing Home Reform Amendments of OBRA were implemented in early 1987. According to the for the people website, the act mandated that nursing homes “promote and protect the rights of each resident.”

The law aims at doing a number of things, but here are the general rights of residents:

1) Right to Self-Determination

Residents have the right to:
-select their own doctor.
-have access and involvement in all medical decisions.
-receive personalized services at the facility based on individual requirements.

2) Personal and Privacy Rights

Residents have the right to:
-partake in social, religious, and community events as they see fit.
-confidentiality of personal and medical documents.

3) Rights Regarding Abuse and Restraints

Residents have the right to:
- be liberated of any physical or psychological maltreatment, corporal punishment, solitary confinement, or use of restraints as punishment.
- be restrained under a doctor’s strict orders for the purpose of treating medical symptoms and guaranteeing the resident’s safety while protecting others.

4) Rights to Information

Nursing homes are obligated to:
-Provide, upon request, residents with up-to-date inspection results and any measures the facility plans to take to improve existing conditions.
-Advise residents ahead of time about any preparation to alter their rooms or swap roommates.
-Notify residents of their rights when they initially move in to the nursing home, providing them with a written version of the rights.
-Discuss how to take advantage of Medicaid benefits with residents.

5) Rights to Visits

Nursing homes are obligated to:
- To allow urgent visits by a resident’s primary care physician in addition to representatives from the licensing agency and ombudsman program.
- To allow urgent visits by a resident’s family providing the resident gives permission.

6) Rights of Transfer and Discharge

Nursing homes may not transfer or discharge residents unless:
- The transfer or discharge is essential for the well-being of the resident, and the current facility is incapable of providing that level of care.
- The health and security of fellow residents is compromised.
- The resident’s general health has reached a point that they no longer require the extent of care that a nursing home can offer.

7) Protection of Personal Funds

A nursing home must never force residents to let the facility hold their money.

8) Protection Against Medicaid Discrimination

A nursing home must:
- Implement and abide by policies identical to other nursing homes in terms of transfer, discharge, and how services covered by Medicaid will be provided.
- Not force residents to surrender their right to Medicaid coverage and must provide information relevant to the Medicaid application process.

These basic rights should be implemented in every nursing home nation wide. If you have an experience where you feel like your rights have been abridged in a nursing home situation, please contact a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in the field.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Caregivers and Seniors Dilemma - Medicine, Food or Gasoline?

Caregivers and care-receivers can face a multiple choice in the current economy - medicine, gasoline, or food? Solving the problem can be like trying to find one's way through a maze and running into a wall at every turn. Forget about trying to hang on to luxuries. Many are trying to decide whether they can afford their prescription, a trip across town to a medical provider, or enough food for a nutritious diet. Below are some places to look for help on the internet.

1. FOOD RESOURCES: At the website for FRAC, the Food Research and Action Center, "Fighting Hunger In America" there are resources to help. A portion of the website is dedicated to the elderly, and has information about programs you can turn to for assistance.

Seniors Centers across the United States often have a commodities program (groceries), a brown bag program, and a senior nutrition program (hot lunches served or delivered, donation optional).

2. GASOLINE PRICE RESOURCES: If you visit you can type in your location and find the cheapest gas.

3. MEDICAL AND MEDICINE RESOURCES: The Medicare website offers explanations about prescription plans, bridging the coverage gap, and a long term care planning tool. AARP offers many resources and articles. Senior-health-insurance is a website that provides a service of helping seniors compare health insurance plans. Seniors centers often have programs to provide health insurance counseling and advice, low cost health screening and free or low cost seminars. ReverseHelpline has a variety of information and warnings about reverse mortgages.

Need Help With Elderly Parents? For Expert Advice: Geriatric Care Managers - Credentials, Certifications, Services

Friends, acquaintances and caregiver agencies often offer well-meant advice but where can you find educated, certified, licensed expert help and advice for aging parents? At an article on Geriatric Care Managers explains credentials can include being a Registered Nurse, Licensed Counselor of Social Work, Counselor of Psychology or Attorney. Certifications for Geriatric Care Managers require "educational qualifications, supervision, work experience, written exams, and ongoing education to maintain a certificate."

I have seen that too often people are overwhelmed with advice from others who do not have the education, licenses, experience and credentials to be genuine experts. Friends, other caregivers, caregiver agencies, and others who are involved in the eldercare world but who are not qualified experts may mean well in offering advice.

It is my opinion that expert advice from a top consultant can be of more help to your loved ones, save a lot of worries, and result in wiser decisions. If you are using a caregiver agency then a Geriatric Care Manager could provide consultations.

Caregiver agencies often offer quite a bit of advice, but it is rare that the care coordinators have related educational degrees or licenses and of course their work is nonmedical.

Do not confuse a Geriatric Care Manager with a care coordinator at a caregiver agency. The job of care coordinator does not require the same qualifications and is very different. .

For important decisions it would be better to consult with a qualified expert.

For expert advice from an outside professional with education, licenses, and certifications it makes sense to consult with a Geriatric Care Manager.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Guest Post: 's Scott Couchenour, Certified Life Coach, on Self-Care for Those Who Serve Others

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a young teenager. I was on my way home from my girlfriend's house. She lived about an hour away. I had seen the oil light come on at the dashboard days before. I just figured I would get more oil when I got the chance. Besides, the light would go out occasionally. So I thought I had more time.

But on my way home from my girlfriend's house that day, the light came on and stayed on. I was still 20 minutes from home. "I'll take care of it when I get home," I reasoned with myself (and unfortunately, self agreed.)

Then this terrible banging started. It was loud. It wouldn't stop. I drove home with the sound. It seemed to get worse as I accelerated. Long story short -- I blew the entire engine of my Honda Civic. The loud banging sound I heard was the engine tearing itself apart because there was no oil to absorb the friction between the moving parts within the engine casing. Hmmmm. Imagine that. (By the way, thanks to my Dad for bailing me out and helping me with the new engine.)
So what does this story have to do with taking care of ourselves as we serve others?

Oil = Self Care

Oil. It's the substance which absorbs friction of moving parts. It helps ensure long engine life. There are 2 things about oil that we need to remember: 1) It must be clean; 2) There must be enough of it. This requires periodically checking the quality and level - changing the oil when necessary.

Self Care. It's the activity which absorbs friction of serving others. It helps ensure a strong finish. There are 2 things about self care we need to remember:

1) It must be tailored to who you are;

2) There must be enough of it. This requires periodically checking the quality and frequency - making adjustments along the way when necessary.

So, how's your serving "engine"? Are you checking your "oil" frequently enough? What's the level? What's the quality? Or is your life too jam packed with activity that you're reasoning with yourself, saying, "I'll take care of myself when my schedule slows down." Be careful. You may tear yourself apart.

If we take care of self, self will Serve Strong!Scott Couchenour, Certified Life CoachPromoting Ministry

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bedsores, Bruises, Dehydration, Malnutrition, Medication Errors - Checking for Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

The website at personal injury attorneys For The People explains that " neglect and abuse of the elderly happens every day and can be physical, emotional or simple negligence." Recognizing whether something is defined as neglect can require expert assistance. Examples of conditions that might be abuse or neglect include "bedsores, open wounds, cuts, bruises, dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, burns, falls, bowel impactions, medication errors, poor personal hygiene, verbal or physical abuse, over-sedation, etc."

The website has a list of nursing home cases and settlements. There is also a Nursing Home Checklist and a Quick Guide to Nursing Homes at personal injury attorneys For The People.

A guide on How to Report Nursing Home Abuse and Signs of Nursing Home Abuse are also available at the website. If you suspect abuse or neglect you can check with a personal injury attorney for advice.

It is also important to contact your local Adult Protection and ombudsman if you suspect abuse or neglect.

Guest Posts Welcomed at the Caregiver's Beacon

Would you like to write a guest post for the Caregiver's Beacon? Caregiver stories, Alzheimer's and Dementia, caregiving, eldercare, related legal and financial issues, disability, and other related topics are welcome. Send your post by email to Kristi Marie Gott If you have any questions please don't hesitate to send an email and I'll be glad to help. Best wishes to all and take care, Kristi

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Explained in Consumer Justice Group Video

Bruises and bedsores are some of the conditions that may lead to a lawsuit over nursing home abuse and neglect. The video below by the Consumer Justice Group explains causes of bedsores, checking your loved one for bruises, and how to watch for warning signs of neglect or abuse.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Health Insurance and Medical Insurance News Feeds Added to the Caregiver's Beacon

A live news feed from the website Medical News Today for Health Insurance and Medical Insurance has been added to the Caregiver's Beacon. Other live news feeds currently include Alzheimers and Dementia, Caregivers and Home Care, Stroke and Hypertension, and Arthritis. There are also live video feeds for Alzheimer's Caregivers and for Stroke. A live newsreel also covers eldercare, nursing homes, home care and caregivers.

Ten Mentally Stimulating Activities for People With Alzheimer's

How can caregivers find activities day after day for people who have Alzheimer's? These ten tips provide activities that offer mental stimulation.

1. PREVIOUS INTERESTS. Research the historical eras of the person's life on the internet to find items that trigger memories and interests. For instance, new hobbies may result from researching vintage items from the 1930's or 40's. At the website you can research people, events, arts, history, culture and more.

2. PERSONAL HISTORY - Relate personal history items to major historical events. Draw a timeline for the personal history. As memories become difficult to remember seeing events on a timeline makes it less confusing.

3. COMPUTER ACTIVITIES. If a person with Alzheimer's is not familiar with computer skills he or she may still enjoy sitting next to you while you visit travel websites, live web cams of interesting locations around the world or other interesting sites.

4. CONTAINER GARDENING PROJECT. Growing flowers, vegetables or herbs in container gardens, indoors or outside, provides the opportunity to check each day for blooms, growth, and change. Shopping at nurseries for seeds, bulbs, or small plants, and caring for them daily as they grow can add interest to the usual schedule.

5. SOCIAL INTERACTION. Alzheimer's Daycare provides a chance to get out of the house and away from the recliner and T.V. It also gives the caregiver some time to spend separately for relief. For early or mid-stage Alzheimer's a senior center may also have groups, crafts, a mid-day senior lunch program, and other chances to participate.

6. FREE MULTIMEDIA FROM THE LIBRARY. Videos, classic films, photos, books on tape, photo history or travel books, and other multimedia are available at the library for free. Someone who has Alzheimer's may still enjoy having an outing to visit the library, look at historical collections, and choose multimedia. A weekly library trip can be one of the week's highlights.

7. LOCAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUMS AND COMMUNITY EVENTS. The local museums that feature local history and nature are always mentally stimulating and can trigger memories. Art museums and galleries offer visuals that people with Alzheimer's can enjoy. Community events such as pancake breakfasts, fundraiser barbecues, art walks, and festivals can be excuses to get out of the house and participate.

8. GENEALOGY AND LIFE STORY TELLING. Local clubs and classes provide historical triggers for memories, genealogy research advice, group interaction, and advice on recording or writing life stories and preserving personal items.

9. DAILY SPECIAL INTEREST WALK. It may be a challenge to persuade someone who is hypnotized by the T.V. to go outside for walking exercise. A drive in the car to visit the local gardens, arboretum, nurseries, stores, malls, or parks can make it a special interest activity.

10. BE ACTIVE INSTEAD OF PASSIVE. Small tasks such as folding the laundry can help someone feel useful and keep busy. Card games or board games can be mostly games of chance that use dice if memory is not good enough for more difficult activity. Crossword puzzles, jig saw puzzles and word or number games are more active than watching T.V. Writing the grocery list and other household tasks can help keep someone actively involved.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Five Ways Alzheimer's Caregiving Trends for the Future Include High Tech and Computers

Alzheimer's caregivers in the future will be spending more time using computers and high tech for everything from Alzheimer's research to finding internet support groups. Five ways caregivers and seniors will make more use of high tech in the future include the following.

1. ALZHEIMER'S RESEARCH. First, surfing the internet for Alzheimer's research and self-education will provide caregivers with the latest news and advice.

2. INTERNET SUPPORT GROUPS. As the internet becomes yet more interactive Alzheimer's caregivers will continue to find support from online groups, forums, podcasts, and events.

3. CAREGIVER BLOGS. Writing blogs provides a way to communicate news with family and friends, offer resources and information to others, and be part of an online caregiver community.

Writing and self-expression have always been good ways to reduce stress and reduce isolation.

4. HIGH TECH FOR SENIORS WITH ALZHEIMER'S. Today's seniors who have Alzheimer's or Dementia have had a taste of high tech, and their interests and activities reflect this. Traditional activities included handcrafts such as knitting or woodcarving, but that will change to include computers.

Now seniors activities often include digital photography, blogging, surfing the internet, and other high tech activities. Sports can include high tech such as the Wii bowling.

5. DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY, MAKING VIDEOS, AND MUSIC DOWNLOADS are becoming a part of the activities that seniors who have early or midstage Alzheimer's and their caregivers may share. Scrapbooking is a popular way that seniors with Alzheimer's preserve their memories. Now a type of high tech scrapbook might include digital collections of photos, slideshows, personal videos and memoirs.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Inspiration and Comfort - "The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving" by Sheryl Karas

Sheryl Karas, M.A., whose background includes being an Alzheimers Association Coordinator and Support Group Leader, brings a spiritual perspective to caregiving in her book "The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving". While working for the Alzheimer's Association and the Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center she noticed how "as the caregivers became more esconced in their caregiving roles inevitably emotional and spiritual issues would become their primary concerns." Sheryl addressed these concerns in a monthly newsletter she wrote for the Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center. These newsletters became her book "The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving."

Sheryl's goal is for the book to provide non-denominational inspiration, comfort and information for caregivers. Springing from the original newsletters for the Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center, Sheryl's book now makes the information available to a wider audience.

Additionally you can read about Sheryl at her website Healing Communication.

Sheryl's other books include "The Solstice Evergreen", and "Changing the World One Relationship at a Time".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Is it Like To Be 108 Years Old? Australian Olive O'Riley Can Tell You

The video below features Australian Olive O'Riley, now 108, who went back to visit her childhood home in 2004. She was born in 1899 in the heart of Australia in Broken Hill. Her visit was recorded in the video below. She is known as the oldest blogger on the internet. You can visit her website at All About Olive.

Her friend, Mike Rubbo, assists her with the blog and makes the videos. The entire video All About Olive is available for purchase at Ronin Films .

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life Line Screening to Prevent Strokes

Caregivers can get information about Life Line Screening to prevent strokes in the following video. The screening involves 4 tests which are painless and noninvasive. Screening locations are available at Life Line Screening. In my area Life Line Screening is coming to the local Central Coast Seniors Center on July 8, 2008, and the cost is $129. In addition to stroke prevention the screening also tests for osteoporosis.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New "Stretched" Template for Wide Screen View at Caregivers Beacon

For easier reading and viewing a new wide-screen, "stretched," template with new graphics and colors is being tested at the Caregivers Beacon.

To continue the theme of a lighthouse and beacon, shining for the caregivers, there is now a lighthouse photo of the month. Suggestions and comments are welcome. What do you think of the new template?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In-Depth 45 Minute Video Focuses on "Paradox of Alzheimers Caregiving" - "Staying Connected While Letting Go"

The Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging brings us this video on "The Paradox of Alzheimers Caregiving." Staying connected while letting go at the same time are subjects caregivers struggle with daily. The video features Sandy Braff, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. This excellent video is 45 minutes long and provides in-depth information about coping, finding support, what to expect, and understanding your loved one's behavior if you are an Alzheimer's caregiver.

5 Caregivers' Tips to Save on Food Costs

Five tips that will help those who are on limited budgets to survive these times of high food prices are listed below. Lifestyle changes to adapt to the situation are necessary, but there are ways to make this easier.

  1. BUY FRESH PRODUCE because it costs less, instead of canned, frozen or packaged vegetables or fruit. Then wash and prepare it, and store it in a freezer in ziplock bags. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and so on can be eaten raw, microwaved, baked in foil, boiled or cooked as desired later.
  2. PREPARE COMPLETE MEALS AND FREEZE them yourself instead of buying frozen packaged meals, boxed. or canned meals.
  3. ONE DAY PER WEEK PREPARE MEALS AHEAD. Prepare a variety of meals for freezing in single serving containers or ziplock bags.
  4. AVOID SPOILAGE. Storing fresh vegetables or more fruit than can be eaten in the lower fridge often leads to spoiled food. Freezing the food or using a dehydrator to dry it will help save it longer.
  5. TRY ALTERNATE PROTEIN RESOURCES. Experiment with protein from alternate sources instead of always buying expensive meats. For instance, try tofu, beans, soy, nuts and protein drinks and other meatless protein sources.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

5 Ways Caregivers Can Be Prepared for Emergencies

Planning ahead for the steps to take in an emergency can make a big difference, and perhaps save a life. Family caregivers or paid caregivers need to know ahead of time what to do in an emergency and how to be prepared.

1. HAVE DETAILED HOME CARE NOTES. The home care notes need to have medications, instructions, diagnoses, phone numbers, daily routines, meals and food consumption, and changes in condition. These notes can be kept in a notebook with tabs to separate the sections. This way the caregiver can take the notebook to the doctor's office or to the hospital to provide information about recent or past conditions observed. For example, it could be useful for healthcare professionals to know how many days ago a person lost his or her appetite, or when a new condition was first observed.

2. THE VIAL OF LIFE is a form with a medical history and other important information. You can download one to fill out at

3. EMERGENCY PROCEDURE PLANS. With several caregivers taking turns it becomes even more important to coordinate steps in case of an emergency. Each caregiver should know the emergency steps for an injury or illness. If there is a fall and an injury could have occurred, the caregiver should call 911 and avoid moving the person . Paramedics can check for injuries and provide transport to the hospital for x-rays and tests.

4. CAREGIVERS CAN HAVE A LIST OF STROKE AND HEART ATTACK SYMPTOMS. If a brief list is posted on the fridge the caregivers can refer to it quickly. If in doubt caregivers need to call 911. Many healthcare articles refer to the fact that it's important to call for help as soon as possible if a stroke or heart attack is suspected, and time can make the difference between life and death.

5. CAREGIVERS NEED TO STAY IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM unless asked to do otherwise. This way they can provide reassurance, support, information and assistance for the person whom they are caring for. If someone is transported by an ambulance the caregiver can follow in a car with the medical history, insurance information, clothing or supplies, and caregiver notebook. Unless asked to do otherwise the caregiver can assist the person in the emergency room. If the person has Alzheimer's or dementia it can be especially comforting and helpful for a familiar caregiver to be there for support.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Caregivers Tips - 5 Safety Precautions When Assisting People With Breathing Difficulties or Lung Conditions

These tips are for caregivers who are assisting people who have breathing difficulties, allergies or lung conditions. It is important to avoid aggravating breathing problems. This list focuses on being sure not to use products with scents or fragrances added. If a person you are assisting develops rasping breathing, gasping, or any breathing difficulty seek professional medical help and if an emergency is suspected call 911 immediately.

1. SCENTED PERSONAL PRODUCTS. Caregivers can avoid using scented personal products for themselves or the person they assist, such as scented soaps, perfumes or colognes, shampoos, conditioners, detergents, lotions, cosmetics, or hair products with scents.

2. SCENTED SPRAYS. Anything that can be inhaled and might irritate the breathing passages or lungs can be avoided, including scented air fresheners, or other sprays.

3. SCENTED CLEANING PRODUCTS. Cleaning products, detergents, or soaps with scents that might irritate the breathing when inhaled can also be avoided.

4. SCENTED HOME ITEMS such as candles, potpourrie, or other decor items that put off fragrances that might be inhaled and irritate the lungs and breathing.

5. SCENTED WIPES or anything else with fragrance added. Sometimes plants or flowers have allergens that can also cause a breathing issue.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Five Caregiving Problems Relating To Elders Storing Outdated or Spoiled Food

Elderly seniors who grew up during the depression learned to be careful about throwing anything away, and sometimes this pertains to food too. Elders suffering from Alzheimer's or Dementia often have food in the fridge, freezer and cabinets that is spoiled or outdated, and they may still be consuming this food. Here are five common scenarios I've seen and how to solve the problems.

1. LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVING AND FOOD. Sometimes a long distance caregiver has a system for neighbors and local communitiy resources to check regularly on an elderly senior who still lives alone. The senior may not wish to ask for help or to be a burden to anyone, and may offer false reassurances.

Checking to see if someone needs any urgent medical help may not be in-depth enough to see if the food supply is low, or if the food is outdated, or spoiling.

It's important to have a someone check to see if help is needed to clean out the spoiled food, throw away the outdated containers, and throw out the old canned food. A hired caregiver or housekeeper can come in once a week or so to help. There may also be a need for someone to assist with providing fresh groceries regularly.

2. FAMILY CAREGIVERS UNAWARE OF PROBLEM. Often family caregivers living nearby may stop in regularly and everything may appear to be fine. An elderly senior may say he or she does not need anything and be reluctant to ask for help.

But, dwindling grocery supplies can lead to keeping outdated food and even eating food that has spoiled. Unless someone actually checks the fridge containers and shelves it can be hard to tell there is a situation developing. Bringing a food gift or treat can be an excuse to look in the fridge and see if it needs to be cleaned out.

3. FRESH PACKAGED MEALS, SUCH AS MEALS ON WHEELS SPOIL QUICKLY. A check on the fridge may show there are "meals on wheels" in their styrofoam containers, or other container meals, that are a week old or more.

A person with Alzheimer's or Dementia may lose track of the time and keep the food containers to pick over slowly for snacks and mini-meals. It's important to check for these old containers and throw them out.

4. OPENED FREEZER MEALS MAY HAVE FROST AND FREEZER BURN. Elderly seniors with Alzheimer's or Dementia may repeatedly put opened meals back into the freezer, thinking this is safer than using the fridge compartment. But old food repeatedly re-frozen, opened containers, and freezer burn are problems.

It's important to check the freezer for outdated food that needs to be thrown out. Some of it may have been repeatedly microwaved, with a portion eaten, then refrozen.

5. CANNED FOOD IN CABINETS CAN BE OUTDATED. Although canned food lasts a long time, there is still always a date on the can to say when it will be outdated. "Better if used by...." It's time consuming to dig way back into deep storage in the kitchen cabinets but spoiled or outdated food may be found here too.

Perhaps, as mentioned above, a gift of food can be an excuse for a family member or friend to check the cabinets without offending.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Caregiver Inspirational Sunday Video - Mercy Me Performs "Bring the Rain"

This video featuring Mercy Me performing "Bring the Rain" is especially unique because it also features expressive signing by Mary Pierce against a backdrop of beautiful slides. This uplifting song was written by Mercy Me after an especially "devastating" year of illnesses and losses, and speaks to those who are going through difficult times. Enjoy, take care and best wishes, Kristi

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Safe Caregiving and Home Health Equipment - 5 Items That Can Make a Difference

These five pieces of home health equipment can make a big difference for people with mobility challenges and for their caregivers. Of course, before using them consult with your doctor to see if they are appropriate for the condition.

1. LIGHTER WEIGHT WHEELCHAIRS - Lighter than the 40 or 50 pound heavy wheelchairs, these are easier for a caregiver to lift into and out of a car, helping to avoid caregiver injuries.

Search the internet and you'll see there are wheelchairs weighing closer to 30 pounds or even less. There are ultralight weight folding wheelchairs with removable backs and legs. When you take them apart it only takes a few seconds and is easier to lift. They are also easier to push either by a caregiver or by self-propulsion.

They are often more expensive, but used wheelchairs or demos can be found.

2. ROLLATOR WALKERS WITH SEATS - Taking a walk around the neighborhood or into a store can be tiring and a walker with a seat provides an emergency resting place. The rollator type walkers have handbreaks and wheels on all four legs. To fold them up, you pull up the seat, and then push or pull a button on each side to fold the legs in.

3. SHOWER CHAIRS WITH LEGS ADJUSTED TO A COMFORTABLE HEIGHT - Getting up from a low chair is one of the difficulties faced by people with mobility challenges. Assisting with a manual lift can be difficult for a caregiver too. The plastic shower chairs have adjustable legs. If you raise the chair to a height that is easier for the person to rise from this can make it less of a struggle to get up. It will be safer for the caregiver as well if there is less lifting.

4. RAISED TOILET SEATS WITH SIDERAILS - Again, rising from a low area, such as a regular commode, can be difficult for people who are frail, who have arthritis in the knees, or who have difficulties with their hips or backs. Caregivers can help save themselves from lifting injuries if the person they assist has higher seating and can get up more easily.

5. BEDSIDE COMMODE - Visits to the restroom in the middle of the night, especially, can be difficult or risky when people are sleepy and might feel wobbly on their feet. Avoiding a fall is always important.

Many people feel the need to visit the commode several times a night. A bedside commode makes this safer by reducing fall risk. Also, it can be safer for the caregiver who is doing a transfer assist or ambulation assist. Again, the commode legs can be adjusted so the person does not have to struggle to rise from a low position.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Caregiver Bloggers - This Video Shows How To Publish A Book From Your Blog

Caregivers who blog might want to publish a book made up from their blog posts. Below is a video showing step by step how to do this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Alzheimer's Quality of Life - Ten Caregiver's Tips

Ten tips for creating the best quality of life for your loved one who has Alzheimer's are offered below. Not only can these tips help an Alzheimer's sufferer to have a better day, but it will help you, as the caregiver, to enjoy your day too.

1. ROUTINE. Establish a regular routine so a daily schedule is followed. If meals, bedtime, and exercising are at regular times confusion and frustration will be decreased.

2. PAIN CONTROL. Alzheimer's sufferers may not be able to communicate or verbalize when they are in pain. Chronic arthritis and other sources of pain need to be addressed by treatment from a medical doctor.

3. MEALS THAT APPEAL. Knowing the foods and cooking styles that the person always enjoyed will help the caregiver prepare favorite foods that will be willingly consumed as well as enjoyed. It makes a big difference in terms of enjoyment and consuming a balanced diet.

4. RESTING COMFORTABLY. Positioning someone who has chronic pain and stiffness from arthritis, joint replacements and other sources is an art. For example, someone sitting in an easy chair with a footstool may feel more comfortable with pillows behind the back and neck, under the arms on the armrests, and/or under the knees on the footstool. Experiment with extra body pillows for comfort in bed to enable a good night's rest.

5. EXERCISE. A regular daily exercise schedule might include a variety of physical therapy and range of motion exercises. The physical therapist can show the caregiver how to assist and provide illustrations of the exercises. Exercise relieves stiffness, pain and stress among other things, and may help to calm agitation.

6. LEAVING THE HOUSE FOR OUTINGS - Plan and prepare ahead because often at the last minute the person suffering from Alzheimer's will think of more things that need to be done before leaving. If you prepare everything, then rest for a half hour or so before actually leaving, this breaks up the flow of activity and allows time to relax before leaving.

7. AVOID CAREGIVER BURN-OUT. Having caregiver relief lets the caregiver have some time out when he or she is not assisting someone or poised to do so. The stress level can become chronic for caregivers and finding a way for relief is critical.

8. ROTATE CAREGIVERS. Each person offers a different specialty and personality. Rotating caregivers can give the Alzheimer's sufferer a change of pace, and relief from boredom. It's important to have good caregiver notes so when the caregivers rotate they can follow the same routine.

9. ACTIVITIES. Finding ways to spend quality time day after day is one of the biggest challenges. Adding a variety of activities will make the day have quality time for the Alzheimer's sufferer, and for the caregiver. Arts and crafts, conversation and visiting, container gardening, puzzles, movies, outings, cooking, and other interests can make a dull day into a good day. Frustration and wandering may be decreased by focusing on involvement with activities.

10. TRAINING CAREGIVERS. Studies have proven that a trained caregiver experiences less stress and is more able to provide quality assistance. Caregivers can contact the Alzheimers Association or the American Foundation for Alzheimers in order to receive training and to join a support group.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Humor is Good Medicine for Caregivers - The Caregivers Beacon Has Added "Andertoons" Cartoons

The Caregivers Beacon has added humor to the website/blog in the form of several "cartoons of the day" from the well known "Andertoons" found in many of the most popular magazines. Caregivers can find some "comic relief" by visiting There you can browse cartoons according to topics - kids, healthcare, family, pets and so on. There is also a widget so you can download a "cartoon of the day" to put on your own blog or website.

Humor is one of the healthiest ways to reduce tension and relax. Thus, the "doc" at the Caregivers Beacon blog is prescribing "one or more Andertoons per day for relaxation." Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Stress Relief for Caregivers - Yoga and Meditation to Clear the Tension

An important part of caregiver's self-care is reducing tension that builds up after a day of caregiving. Caregivers may feel tired, lacking in enthusiasm, and uninterested in their usual activities if the stress of caregiving has been overwhelming. Yoga and meditation have become common ways to reduce stress and tension in our culture. Below is a video featuring one of England's leading yoga teachers, Bridget Woods Kramer, of the Anusara School of Yoga. Her meditation and yoga were filmed on the clifftops of Cornwall, England, above the ocean. She is England's Anusara Yoga representative, and she travels all over Europe giving workshops. Relax and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stressed Caregivers Might Consider Jin Shin Jyutsu - The Art of Releasing Tensions

Stressed caregivers interested in adding alternative therapies to their regular medical care might consider Jin Shin Jyutsu, defined as "the art of releasing tensions which are the causes for various symptoms in the body." Historical records show this healing art has been around since before Buddha. It is also described as "an innate part of human's wisdom...simplifying the complexities of existence...truly an Art of Living."

This healing art was brought from Japan to the United States in the 1950's by Mary Burmeister, and classes are available in a variety of locations. "Listen only to harmony" and "Energy is enthusiasm in motion" are some of the inspirational quotes featured at the website along with a scenic slide show.

Mary Burmeister's book, Jin Shin Jyutsu Is Getting to Know (Help) Myself, Art of Living explains that this healing art is not meant to be a substitute for regular medical attention, but to be used in addition to it.

Translated literally, Jin is "man of knowing, compassion." Shin refers to "creator." The word Jyutsu refers to "art." Thus it means "creator's art personally for myself."

Some of the chapters in the book include "Awareness of Universal Energy," "Application of Awareness," and "Attitudes."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Caregiving Impacted By Gasoline Prices - $4.09/Gallon Some Places

Today, April 28, 2008, the local gas prices in my area are $4.09, $3.93 and $3.79 per gallon. That's about $20 for 5 gallons of gas, or $40 just for 10 gallons. At Gas Buddy caregivers can search for the lowest gas prices before filling up the tank, but gas prices impact the caregiving life in many ways. Family caregivers seek medical providers close to home for their loved ones in order to save on gas, but sometimes driving a long distance for specialized care is a necessity. For those who live in rural areas, and who are living on a tight budget, paying for gasoline can mean not having money for other basic necessities such as medical copays, medicine and food.

Caregiver agencies strive to schedule their paid caregivers close to home, avoiding the costs of commuting to clients homes. Seniors who live outside of town, in the rural areas, face high commuting costs to medical providers and high costs of reimbursing paid caregivers for care and gasoline.

Multi-faceted problems faced by those who need caregivers or who work as caregivers are further complicated by gas prices that require $20 for just 5 gallons of gas. Filling up the tank for $40, $50 or more can cause a serious hardship. Choosing between gasoline and other necessities is yet another challenge for those involved in the caregiving life.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Holistic Caregiving - Meeting Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Needs

Holistic care, also called comprehensive care, means meeting the physical, emotional, social, economic, and spiritual needs, as defined in Holistic Health Care in Nursing, by Heather K. Sipes, Psychology, Missouri Western State University. Family caregivers and paid caregivers in home care are often meeting a variety of holistic needs. It is never just one health condition that needs care, but the total person.

At Michael Jankowski, MSW, of Heartland Home Health and Hospice, provides some guidelines for holistic caregiving. He explains that our body, mind, and spirit are connected. Physical, psychological and spiritual issues need to be addressed as part of a total person. A person who is suffering physically is likely to be suffering emotionally and spiritually also.

At the top of his list is "Listen. Listening means more than just hearing what our loved one says...When listening becomes focused on the verbal and nonverbal expressions, you will start to hear a bigger story than what is on the surface."

Secondly, he describes empathy, which is when you "see and experience the world from your loved one's perspective."

A list of additional aspects of holistic care includes things such as maintaining spirituality, relaxing, pain managment, and other issues that are part of caring for the total person.

Health Central's Features Variety of Experts provides a huge network of healthcare sites, including for caregivers support, education, and resources. Some of the experts featured include the following:

(1) Suzanne Mintz, award-winning president and co-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association

(2) Internationally known author, speaker, songwriter, and expert Cheryl Gartley. Cheryl is co-founder of "Label Me Not" and co-author of the anti-stigma song "I Am More." She is the President and Founder of The Simon Foundation for Continence, and has been featured in magazines such as TIME, and Good Housekeeping.

Cheryl writes posts at that deal with living with conditions that have a stigma in society.

(3) Internationally known speaker, attorney, author, and expert on aging, Dan Taylor.

(4) Veteran healthcare journalist Craig Stoltz, previously editor of the Washington Post health section

(5) Rick Wirtz, Phd., Psychologist, who has been the Director of the Kent and Queen's Hospital Cancer Counseling Program, following the death of his wife from cancer.

I have made some contributions to the posts at as well. I've been involved with healthcare careers for many years.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

For Caregivers' Stress Relief - A Ten Minute Guided Relaxation Video

Using special breathing techniques to reduce tension is often part of relaxation therapies and activities such as yoga. This ten minute guided relaxation and deep breathing video with tranquil scenes provides caregivers with one of the ways to take a relaxation break. If your week has been tense this will help you to unwind. Enjoy and best wishes, Kristi

Safe Lifting Portal Website RE: Federal Nurse and Patient Safety Legislation Addresses Lifting Injuries

Too often family caregivers and paid caregivers may not realize the risks of injury from lifting loved ones or patients. Back, shoulder and knee injuries, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal problems can occur from lifting patients or family members. A look at healthcare professionals such as nurses shows they are at high risk for injuries from lifting patients. For example, at the statistics show "direct care nurses rank 10th among all occupations for musculoskeletal disorders, sustaining injuries at a higher rate than laborers, movers or truck drivers." provides the news that HR 378, the Nurse and Patient Safety and Protection Act of 2007, proposes a Federal Grant Program to provide financial assistance to facilities to help with the purchase of safe patient handling equipment to reduce lifting injuries.

Injuries can occur from a single trauma or from repeated movement over a period of time. When a loved one is in need of assistance for transfers from the bed to the wheelchair, in the home, family members or friends may heroically provide help but put themselves at risk for an injury. Lifting devices are available for home care, and it is better to be careful than get a back, shoulder, knee or other injury from lifting someone. Even repositioning a person who is in bed can require lifting movements that may cause or exacerbate problems.

At there is information about what makes a safe lifting environment, about lifting products, news and more.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Negotiating Healthcare Costs - An MRI Quoted at $2,000 Was Only $600 Paid in Cash, Then Reimbursed by Insurance

An MRI that was quoted by a doctor's office and local healthcare sources at $2,000 only cost a patient who paid cash $600. This smaller amount was then reimbursed by insurance. The $2,000 is the amount that would have been billed to insurance if payment was expected from that source. By offering to pay in cash, then turning the bill over to the insurance company for reimbursement, the cost was only $600.

I know, because I was that patient, and the MRI was for my injured knee. The point is that negotiating medical costs by offering to pay cash resulted in a bill of less than 1/3 the amount that would have been billed to insurance. To avoid paying a balance due if the insurance did not cover the full amount, I offered cash to see what would happen, and this was the result.

Research in my area has resulted in quotes of a 20% fee reduction for cash, or more, from some medical providers when a cash payment is offered.

It appears that this type of billing situation and pricing has resulted from the upward spiral of costs. The insurance companies only pay a portion of the total bill, so the medical providers make a larger bill to get a larger total amount paid. It can remind one of a game.

Medical providers bill for a larger and larger amount, to get paid a larger amount when a portion of the bill is paid, to cover their costs. Insurance companies pay only a portion, expecting that the bill will be "inflated" and the cycle goes on and on.

Paying cash, to get a low price and avoid large balances due that are not covered by insurance, is possible when someone has the cash available and the amount is affordable. But larger bills, for surgeries, make this difficult.

However, if someone is not covered by insurance, due to a pre-existing condition, sometimes there is no choice but a cash payment. Some people turn to home equity lines of credit to raise the money for expenses like this. Others are able to use credit cards if their limits are high enough to allow it. As mentioned in previous posts, there is also the option of medical tourism, since overseas surgeries may be as low as 1/5 or less the cost of surgery in America.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Physicist Steven Hawking on Living With ALS, Disability, Says "One Need Not Lose Hope"

At the website for world famous physicist Steven Hawking, disabled with ALS, author of "A Brief History of Time," "Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays," and more recently "The Universe in a Nutshell," you can read Steven's advice regarding living with disability. On his 21st birthday he was diagnosed with ALS, and told he had an incurable disease. At his website, under "My Experience with ALS" the world famous physicist gives advice for people living with disability.

He describes his first reaction, "How could something like that happen to me?" He believed he might not live long enough to finish his Phd. However, the rest of the story is history.

He kept going anyway.

He fell in love, married, had children, and became the world famous physicist that he is today, despite his disabilities from ALS.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Caregivers' Inspirational Music Video This Sunday - "Amazing Love" by Hillsong

"Amazing Love," this Sunday's Inspirational Caregiver Music Video has especially uplifting photos in a slide show to go with the music. If it has been a rough week this video will help to lift you up. Enjoy and best wishes to all, Kristi

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"How to Say It With Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders" by David Solie

At Aging Parents Insights , author, speaker and educator David Solie recently discussed "what to do about aging parents who have little or no savings but refused to discuss any aspect of their 'money issue'." He explains that to elders the lack of money means a lack of control, and offers strategies for adult children who are dealing with this type of situation.

In another article on his website titled "Reframing and Signaling: Communicating Tough Choices to Aging Parents" David Solie gives concrete, detailed suggestions for this. I especially like the part where he says to "The goal is to signal that you get it." In communication skills classes I took in college we were taught how important it is to the speaker for the listener to acknowledge that you grasp the situation. If the speaker does not feel the listener clearly understands the situation the speaker may keep repeating the message hoping that it will get through, until you get it.

He also discussed the "loss of control" that elder's feel in their lives, healthwise and financially, how to deal with it, and how to find the best possible solutions. He explained loss of control is also related to elders goal of concern over leaving a "legacy." I found this to be very helpful. Even we are familiar already with these ideas, it helps to have a review of them before we make plans to discuss finances with elders.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

UCSD Dept of Psychiatry Series on Alzheimer's Caregiver Stress

The Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, provides this video presentation on Alzheimer's Caregiver Stress. Igor Grant, M.D., and Thomas Patterson, Phd. are featured. Special problems caregivers encounter in caring for Alzheimer's and Dementia patients are discussed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Caregivers Lifting Injuries - Sudden or Cumulative - May Result in Workers Compensation Claim

Caregivers can be at risk for injuries from lifting patients or clients. Injuries can occur from transferring people from beds to wheelchairs, providing lift assists to help people get up from chairs or into cars, or positioning and turning people in bed. Some injuries can be sudden, called "specific or traumatic." Other injuries can occur over a period of time due to wear and tear on joints and the back, called "cumulative trauma" or "continuous trauma injuries." This is also called a "repetitive motion" or "repetitive strain" injury.

As explained at Google Books and at you can read about the types of injuries that performing the same movements repeatedly can cause. Some of these include damage to muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons, and bones.

The repetitive motion injuries are often treated by orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical and occupational therapists and vocational counselors.

Caregivers are at risk for lifting, transferring, and repositioning injuries to their back, knees, and other areas of the body used in lifting. Sudden injuries to the back from lifting can occur, as well as injuries that occur over a period of time from repeated motions of lifting.

If an employed caregiver believes an injury may have occurred then it is important to consult with an attorney and a Workers Compensation claim may be filed.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Caregivers' Inspirational Video of the Week - Josh Groban Singing "Don't Give Up, You Are Loved"

This Sunday the Caregivers' inspirational video below features beautiful images and music by Josh Groban, singing "Don't Give Up, You Are Loved." Enjoy and best wishes to all, Kristi

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Medical Tourism - Savings, Shorter Waits, Quality and Relaxing Recovery Are Making It Popular says that in 2005 over 500,000 Americans went outside of the country for medical procedures. Procedures from cardiac surgeries to orthopedic surgeries cost a fraction of the price that people pay in the United States. For patients who have pre-existing conditions that prevent them from getting medical insurance coverage, medical tourism offers a way out of a situation that can seem hopeless. Twelve reasons why medical tourism is popular are described at the website and you can order a guide on it.

The benefits and risks are explained, and there is a list of the most popular destinations with links to informative websites for each country. The benefits include savings, shorter waits for surgeries, quality and a more relaxing recovery time in the hospital (while here in the U.S. you'll usually have a much shorter recovery time available in the hospital) and luxurious hospital accommodations for both yourself and your companion. The risks include the issue that if something goes wrong you won't have the same situation regarding malpractice suits that you have in the U.S.

It's important to do in-depth research, and if possible get referrals to others who have had similar operations at a facility that you are considering, so you can see if they recommend it. Knowing someone else's experiences in advance can help you plan and prepare.

Checking the hospital's accreditation and the doctor's background can also help you to make an informed decision. You can check with the to see which overseas hospitals are accredited.

The savings are so substantial, over paying for surgeries in the United States, that even after paying for the airline flight the savings are still large.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

AARP - Specialty Assisted Living Can Include Creative Options Such as RV Living, Pets, Making Wine, Organic Gardening and More

AARP has an article explaining that creative assisted living facilities can offer options such as (1) community gardens with mountain views, (2) making award winning wines , (3) pets (4) putting courses for the golfer, (5) Japanese themes, (6) woodland paths and other opportunities for residents to enjoy, (7) living in an RV park with assisted care. AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) has the article in their Bulletin, titled "Assisted Living - 10 Great Ideas" by Barbara Basler, describing creative specialty assisted care.

The article starts by describing Ray Croft, 77, who "zips around the gardens of Oatfield Estates in his motorized wheelchair carrying a large watering can." There he raises prize winning black eyed Susans, and works with "the organic vegetable gardens and colorful flower gardens, while enjoying breathtaking mountain views."

Residents live in their own RV's at Rainbow's End, Livingston, Texas. Each morning residents leave their RV, with assistance if needed, and go a few steps to the center, where assistance is available for bathing, dressing and medications. Nurses are available for health care. This is not technically assisted care, since residents still live in their own home, an RV, but has many of the same features.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alzheimer's Sufferer Charlton Heston, Screen Legend, Passes Away news announced that Alzheimer's patient Charlton Heston, the star of Ben-Hur (1959) and countless classic movies, has passed away at the age of 84. In 2002 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. At Softpedia News a story described Heston's final stages. A close friend is quoted as saying toward the end of life Heston was "way beyond the point of slight memory loss and forgetfulness...can barely communicate...can no longer carry out daily activities like eating or walking...The tragic thing is when he breaks down and cries for no reason."

It is hard to believe the cruel changes that Alzheimer's causes. If you or someone you know is coping with Alzheimer's or is an Alzheimer's caregiver you can find out how to get help and support at a variety of websites, including, where you can read articles by Eric Hall, Founder and CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, the Alzheimers Foundation of America Social Services Team, a group of Alzheimer's experts, and a community of caregivers and others whose lives have been touched by someone with Alzheimer's.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sunday Service - Inspirational Christian Music for Caregivers - Mercy Me, "I Can Only Imagine"

Caregivers and care receivers often turn to spiritual beliefs for comfort. For those who are bereaved, it is comforting to know that life is eternal, and love is eternal. The song "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me is so beautiful it always gives me shivers, and I'm featuring it for the Sunday inspirational caregiver music. Enjoy and best wishes to all, Kristi

Friday, April 4, 2008

Understanding Osteoarthritis in Knees - Degenerative Arthritis - Knee Pain

Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, is a leading cause of pain and disability in senior citizens. Caregivers often assist people who have arthritic knees. The arthritis can be slight, causing a low level of pain, or severe, perhaps causing enough pain so that someone has to use a wheelchair. At osteoarthritis in the knees is described as a thinning of the cartilage that cushions the bones in the knee joint. Some causes of degenerative arthritis include aging, trauma to the knee, surgery to the joint, obesity, gout, or diabetes. explains that if the cushion of cartilage is completely gone, there is friction between the bones in the knee, which can be extremely painful. A knee replacement may then be considered.

The website says some of the ways arthritis pain in the knees may be treated include weight reduction, avoiding activity that puts stress on the knee, medication to decrease inflammation, cortisone injections, cold or heat therapy, and support devices such as knee braces, canes or walkers. Provides Hospital Ratings, Complaints, Incident Reports, and Comparisons

At The Joint Commission's reports of hospital ratings, complaints, incidents, and quality reports are available at no charge. A search by zip code or provider name will provide users with the reports. In addition to accreditation information, specific services at the hospitals are rated and can be compared to other hospitals. An advanced search is available to look up different types of medical and care facilities, and specialized care.

For example, a search within your local zip code will list the hospitals within a chosen distance range, and a search for surgical care, or cancer, will provide addition quality ratings.

Quality reports on care facilities for assisted living, substance abuse and other specialized care are also available at the website.

Getting the facts about your local hospitals and comparing the data can mean the difference between going to one that is rated at a more average level and one that is rated at the highest level. The software at the website is easy to use, and definitions and explanations clarify what the ratings and reports mean.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

For Caregiver Activity Ideas See This Study - Wall Street Journal Says Mentally Engaging Activities Rate Higher for Satisfaction - TV Ranks Low

A cluster of activities that includes "engaging social and spiritual activities...visiting friends, exercising, going to church, listening to music, fishing, reading a book, or going to a cafe or party" ranked highest for providing the type of mental engagement that resulted in being happiest and least stressed. Caregivers who are trying to design fulfilling activities for themselves and those whom they care for can get useful tips from the article at the Wall Street Journal , April 2, 2008, under "Getting Going" by Jonathan Clements. The article explained that 4,000 Americans were asked to rate activities based on pain, happiness, stress and sadness.

The researchers defined satisfaction versus "feeling unpleasant" as related to your disposition, your life circumstance (including health, age, finances, status) and "how you spend your time." This last aspect, the way you spend your time, can involve choices and you have a "fair amount of control" over it.

Low income earners, women, and those with low education were more likely to be spending a larger portion of time in an unpleasant state. Being able to have choices increased satisfaction, not surprisingly.

Watching television, considered to be not very mentally engaging, was described by the study's authors as "neutral downtime." However, the study showed that people have actually increased the amount of time they spend watching TV, when they found they had more time available for activities. The time people spend in more mentally stimulating and engrossing activities, which would be more rewarding, has declined.

I believe this study shows that whether we are caregivers, care-recipients, or involved in other life endeavors, we can improve our satisfaction in life by choosing mentally stimulating, engrossing, mentally engaging activity over TV.

Continuous life-long learning is available now with distance courses and internet courses. One can continue self-educational growth by getting books for free from the library or going to free classes, or one can start any number of new projects that require learning.

When health issues interfere with some activities there can still be hobbies that provide mental engagement. As a caregiver I have gotten some of my clients started in the past with activities such as container gardens, painting sun-catchers for the windows, arts and crafts, music, writing, indoor board games, attending church socials and dinners, attending senior center activities, and baking treats to take as gifts to neighbors and friends.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Project Lifesaver Electronic Tracking Devices for Alzheimer's and Dementia Sufferers

To see a demonstration on how the Project Lifesaver tracking bracelets for Alzheimer's and Dementia sufferers enable people to be found by land or air, you can can watch the following video. As mentioned in previous articles at the Caregivers Beacon, if someone is in a care facility there have still been instances in which a person has gone out through the doors, perhaps following a group of visitors, and wandered off, to become missing.

Caregiver's Inspirational Spiritual Video and Music - Features the Song "You Raise Me Up"

The caregivers' inspirational video and music for the last week of March is below. The music from the song "You Raise Me Up" and the visuals in this video are so beautiful. Enjoy! Kristi

Sunday, March 30, 2008

New to Caregiving? Not Sure How to Help? Here Are 10 Tips

Here is the scenario. An acquaintance or friend has had a sudden illness or accident. You want to help, but feel there is nothing you can do, and you don't know what to say either. You are tempted to rationalize to yourself that the person probably does not need anything. Below are 10 tips.

1. Acknowledge the situation, instead of offering false reassurances. Instead of "Oh, you'll be fine" or "Everything will be OK" try saying something more like "I can tell this is a difficult time, and you'll be in my thoughts and prayers." People know that everything doesn't always turn out fine, and sometimes things are not "OK." Miracles do occur, but if the situation is very serious then "don't worry" does not apply.

2. Avoid a gushy, artificially cheerful demeanor, because it will convince the other person that you don't "get it." Instead of "Hey there ! Keep smiling! You'll be OK, just think positive!" you might say "I'm glad we can share some time together today, I've missed you."

3. Don't just say "Is there anything I can do?" because it puts the ill or injured person in the embarrassing position of asking for help. Try something like "I'd like to stop and visit for awhile tomorrow. I always enjoy your company and maybe we can watch a video or...While I'm there can I help out with...."

4. DO say something like "I'm going to be passing by your house today on my way to the grocery store. While I'm doing my own grocery shopping can I pick up some things that you might need and drop them off at your place on my way back?" This way the person will not feel he or she is putting you out.

5. Don't use trite sayings or platitudes such as "Things will get better" or "Chin up." People may feel you don't grasp the situation, or feel these trite sayings are belittling the situation.

6. Ask probing questions about the situation and listen. Ask questions to clarify the situation. Then when you say "I understand" the person will know that someone cared enough to try to grasp the situation. There will be a connection. Someone "gets it."

7. Offer specific assistance in a concrete way, such as "I'm on my way to refill my bottles with purified water. Is it OK if I stop by and pick up your empty water bottles too, then we can have a visit when I drop them off?" This way the person will feel you are not just doing a favor but interested in seeing the person for a visit.

8. Share a similar experience, such as "When I broke my ankle I had a difficult time cleaning my house, so my sister helped out, and I wondered if I could give you a hand with yours while you are recuperating?"

9. Share time with the person, to show the person that he or she is valued. "Can we have lunch together tomorrow so we can spend some time catching up?" might be one way to do this. Illness and injury cause people to become isolated because they cannot participate in their usual activities.

10. Remember that the psychological effects of being ill or injured are as important as the physical effects. The physical and emotional effects are intertwined. Try to see the whole person and the whole situation. Research shows that people avoid people who is ill or injured, and in their presence do things to create distance, such as avoiding eye contact, avoiding touching or hugging, and keeping psychologically distant. Some people "run away" when friends or family are ill or injured. In my nursing classes we were taught to be sure to give the ill or injured person our "eyes - and eye contact, our touch, our listening, our voice, our physical presence." Being there with someone is very different from just being on the telephone. It has a different effect, and can be more comforting and more psychologically healing, which can help physical healing too.