Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

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.

85 Year Old Woman With Dementia Missing From Facility - Found Later That Day

Another instance of a missing dementia patient who walked away from a facility, but was found later on Friday, highlights the need for electronic tracking bracelets to ensure safety. An article on Friday, March 28, 2008, in the San Luis Obispo Tribune says that Bernice Holcomb, an 85 year old woman with dementia, was missing from a care facililty at 1755 Skyview Lane, Paso Robles, (San Luis Obispo County) California. She evidently walked away from the facility. She was found at 6:30 on North River Road.

Not long ago a man with dementia disappeared from his home in Pismo Beach, (San Luis Obispo County), CA, and was found 20 miles away riding a bicycle in Santa Maria. He was wearing a project lifesaver electronic tracking bracelet that helicopters can track. He was so far form home that authorities said if he had not been wearing one of these bracelets with a tracking device it would have been very difficult to locate him. He was still riding the bicycle in Santa Maria when he was located.

To get information about Project Lifesaver you can go to the website and watch a video illustrating how it works.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Elderly Mother's Expired California Identification Card Leads to Power of Attorney Difficulties for Adult Daughter When Mother Is Hospitalized

An elderly mother had been suddenly hospitalized, and her adult daughter who lived far away had arrived. But, in addition to the current crises, it turned out that the mother's California Identification Card (used by seniors who no longer have a drivers license) had expired six months ago. The daughter needed to obtain Power of Attorney quickly in the emergency, but ran into difficulties since the mother no longer had a California Identification card. Secure Horizons, the Medicare Supplemental, had not been paid by the mother for several months and was lapsing. But, they would not take a payment over the phone due to HIPPA.

This was the sad story of misfortune I heard today from the adult daughter. She finally had two of her mother's neighbors sign as witnesses for her at a notary's. She was then able to get a new California Identification Card for her mother and start the process to get Power of Attorney for herself. A payment had to be mailed to Secure Horizons, not made over the phone, as she said they could not admit the mother was on Secure Horizons due to HIPPA (confidentiality).

Long distance caregiving is at high risk for these types of unexpected problems. The adult daughter, who lived far away, had no way of knowing the Mother had let the California Identification Card expire, or that the Secure Horizons Insurance had not been paid by the Mother and was in danger of lapsing.

The mother also appeared to have entered early stages of dementia, that had not been evident in their long distance phone conversations.

She gave me permission to write about her story on the website so that others can beware of having a similar situation develop. Thank you, my friend, and good luck to you and your mother during this difficult time. Best wishes, Kristi

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stroke and Hypertension Live News Feeds from Medical News Today Added to

Stroke and Hypertension live news feeds from Medical News Today have been added to The Caregivers Beacon blog. A stroke, or smaller mini-strokes, can cause vascular dementia, and hypertension is a risk factor for stroke. The news feeds are located on the left side of the blog in a list near the top, starting with the Alzheimers and Dementia news feeds.

Arthritis Is the Subject of a Custom Live News Feed Added to the from Medical News Today

A live news feed on Arthritis topics from Medical News Today has been added to The Caregivers Beacon, a blog and online magazine. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, treatments and medications, and other related subjects will be continually updating as the RSS feed sends in the news. The Arthritis News Feed from Medical News Today is located on the left side of the blog, just below the Alzheimers and Dementia News Feed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shopping for A Wheelchair Is a Little Like Shopping for a Car

At Wheelchair Diffusion Blog you can get advice about trends, styles and recommendations. The styles range from sport wheelchairs, for activities like racing or basketball, to the new all terrain wheelchairs, or to everyday use wheelchairs. Styles include choices from customized super lightweight titanium, such as the Trilite, to heavier chairs, that still might only weight 30 pounds or less. Getting the wheelchair in and out of the car can be done by a variety of manual techniques (in which case a lighter one is better), or by using a wheelchair lift.

I recently injured the acl in my left knee, and with my right knee already needing a knee replacement, I had to buy a wheelchair. While I can get around on crutches for a short distance, anything longer than 50 or 100 feet at the most needs to be in a wheelchair or scooter.

With possibly several knee surgeries over perhaps a period of several years coming up I needed mobility. I am a widow and live alone so I needed a wheelchair that I could lift in and out of my car, without being able to stand without crutches. I got a lightweight, 28 pound wheelchair that folds.

I can sit on the back of my Saturn Vue mid-size van with the cargo area open, remove the footrests and the back from the wheelchair, then lean the wheelchair forward onto the back of the car and drag it into the cargo area by rolling it upward on the wheels.

Then I use the crutches to get around to the drivers side, get in, and put the crutches on the passenger seat side. To go for an outing I put the crutches outside the car next to the seat, get out and use them to get to the back of the car, roll the folded wheelchair out and down to the ground, attached the footrests and back, leave the crutches in the car, and take off on my "wheels."

The frame of my wheelchair is a nice forest green color. To reach the wheels easier for pushing I can flip the armrests up and back, out of the way. I've already gone for 6 blocks on the sidewalks around my beachside town, went partway out on a pier, and went to local businesses to take care of my errands.

Fingerless wheelchair gloves to protect the hands from getting burns if they rub against the rubbery tires while you push on the rims might be needed. I rubbed the skin off on the inside of the hands next to the thumb. Because my left leg is in a velcro cast, and is still swollen and sore, the wheelchair dealer showed me how to roll up some foam rubber to make a cushion to give a softer ride for the left knee and to elevate it a little.

At if you search for "wheelchairs,""wheelchair lifting" and "wheelchair lift to vehicle" you can get some ideas that will help from the videos.

Wheelchairs come with variations including some of these choices.

1. Weight can be ultralightweight, light, or standard

2. Frames can be rigid (you might need to pop the rear wheels off to load it into a car) or folding

3. Wheels can be for transport (someone else pushes, small back wheels) or self-propulsion (large back wheels)

4. Frame and seat covers in designer colors

5. Custom wheelchairs, often made in super lightweight titanium, or ready to use wheelchairs

6. Measurements fitted so that all angles and size fits the person

7. Lots of accessories are available these days - even adding hand pedals and other forms of moving the wheels

8. Footrests can be rigid, swing-away, adjustable angle, elevating, seperated or one piece

The lightweight wheelchairs usually weigh 30 pounds or less. If you are managing your wheelchair alone then its weight becomes especially important. Also, a wheelchair designed to turn on a dime and with a light weight will be easier to use.

Getting the wheelchair into the car manually can be done in a variety of ways depending upon the chair. One way is to get a folding wheelchair, remove the footrests and the back to reduce weight, then lift it.

With a rigid, nonfolding chair a person can remove the wheels by popping them off, then lift a lightweight seat and main assembly into the car.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Caregivers Inspirational Video of the Week - Includes "Love is a better teacher than duty." Words of Wisdom fom Albert Einstein

The Caregivers' Inspirational Video of the Week below features scenic slides and quotes such as "Imagination is more important than knowledge" from Albert Einstein's Words of Wisdom. Many of his quotes have a zen-like quality, such as "Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them." One of my favorites is "Try not to become a person of success, but a person of value." Enjoy the video below, and have a good week. Best wishes, Kristi

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Caregiving Awards 2007 - Metlife and National Alliance for Caregiving - "A Place of Beauty Journaling Progam" Wins Award

The 2007 National Family Caregiving Awards from the Metlife Foundation and the National Alliance for Caregiving lists awards for Caregiver Support, Caregiver Education, Alzheimers Caregivers Support and Education, Technology and Honorable Mention. "A Place of Beauty Journaling Program" at the Southern California Resource Center, San Diego, California, was one of two recipients of awards for Caregiver Support. "The Home Educator Program, " at the Alzheimers Family Services of Greater Beaufort, South Carolina was the other award winner in Caregiver Support.

The winner "A Place of Beauty Journaling Program" is a creative program that brings volunteer artists together with caregivers. The caregivers are encouraged to "find their voice" by knowing they have a "safe place to write down their passions, hopes, new ideas, and dreams."

The chance to use self-expression helps reduce the risk factors of caregiving, "such as emotional and physical isolation, and loss of self-esteem." Each journal is an original work of art that represents a complex journey. Journal writers are encouraged to "write from the heart... and rediscover their lost passions." Caregiver Boards - "How to Dance in the Rain"

At forum moderator Ann writes on 12-23-07, "Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain." She relates a forwarded story about a man who kept going to the nursing home every morning to visit his wife, even though she didn't know who he was anymore. The point was that HE knew who SHE was, and true love never dies.

No longer do Alzheimers caregivers need to try to cope alone, now that they can connect online with others in the same situation. Recently a forum member at discussed coping with an alzheimers sufferer who keeps asking the same questions, saying "I am always calm and gently answer but my insides are churning and I wonder how many days, weeks, months , years I can continue this." The forum members offered their suggestions and plenty of good ideas. offers "support and insight for the Autumn of life" and includes news articles, groups, forums, and a wealth of resources. The caregiver boards even offer a section for "Poems and Musings."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dementia - Early Warning Signs - Forgetfulness, Confusion, Agitation, Inability to Organize

The video below titled "The Importance of Early Diagnosis" features an accountant who began having signs of dementia before the age of 50 and was diagnosed with it six years later. He and his wife describe in their own words the warning signs of dementia that he experienced, including losing things, inability to organize, upset, forgetfulness, and short term memory loss. The video emphasizes the importance of early detection.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Seniors and Alcohol - New Study Says More Than 1 Drink Per Day Unhealthy, At Risk for Falls, Social Problems, Medical Problems

A new study from the American Geriatric Society says medical problems, social problems, and falls are some of the results when older Americans consume too much alcohol, especially because the limits are much lower for older people. At an article by JoNel Allecia, Health Writer, dated March 7, 2008 is titled "Last Call Comes Even Earlier For Senior Drinkers - More than a drink a day puts the 65 plus set at risk, new study says." The article says "nearly one in ten older U.S. adults is an unhealthy drinker" according to a new study published by the American Geriatrics Society.

The study says that more than 7 drinks in a week, or more than 3 in one day "exceed the recommended limits set by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism." A single drink is a 12 ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, according to the Institute.

The article said men under 65 have a different recommended cut-off limit, which is 2 drinks per day instead of one.

Health issues and combinations of medications can also make alcohol consumption limits change as people age.

Elizabeth Merrick, co-author of the Brandeis University study of 12,400 Medicare recipients in 2003 said, "A lot of people do not know the limits are that low for older people."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stress Relief - Try This Music and Scenery in a Video Featuring Writing by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pausing for a few moments to escape stress by watching a video featuring music, beautiful scenery and writing by Ralph Waldo Emerson provides a welcome uplift when the day has been a struggle. It's one way I unwind and stop the cycle of stress. Enjoy the video below, Kristi Plans Fundraisers for Hospice, Women's Shelter, Central Coast Seniors Center

At you can read about the caring people who are raising money to make a difference for Hospice Partners of San Luis Obispo, the Women's Shelter of San Luis Obispo, and the Central Coast Seniors Center. Spirits of Caring is a component of the Center for Creative Thought, located at the Central Coast Seniors Center.

The two part fundraiser will include the following.

1. Saturday, August 2, 2008 there will be a Tri Tip BBQ, a Creative Auction, Entertainment and Live Music and Door Prizes at the Central Coast Seniors Center.

2. Saturday Nov. 15, 2008, there will be a Raffle, Live Music, and a salad luncheon, also at the Central Coast Seniors Center.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Uninsured?,, and Provide Medical Tourism Info

Board certified physicians trained in the United States are available overseas at a fraction of U.S. prices at places such as Anadola Medical Center, India. Anadola is associated with Johns Hopkins (voted best hospital in the United States by U.S. News and World Report for the past 16 years.) At you can read about international accreditation for hospitals outside the U.S. In the United States surgery for a heart valve is estimated at $100,000 at the website, but abroad it's estimated at only $12,000. A spinal surgery for total disk replacement in the U.S. is listed at $120,000 but overseas at $12,000.

At the many websites for medical tourism you can get information about the hospitals, procedures, prices, process of traveling for medical care, accreditations, and passport information. You can go to,,, or one of the other sites listed when you search for medical tourism to learn more.

The differences in prices between the U.S. and other countries are available. I found the following figures at

knee replacement - U.S. $35,000, outside U.S. $7,000
hip replacement, $60,000, $7,000
rotator cuff surgery $35,000 $5,000
heart bypass $80,000 $8,500
angioplasty $60,000 $8,500
spine fusion $100,000 $7,000

Medical tourism hospitals often have large private rooms to accommodate the patient and a traveling companion. After surgery the patient has a longer period of time available to recover in the hospital and can stay in a nearby international level hotel for follow up and physical therapy before returning home.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Medical Tourists Heading for Hospital Angeles, Tijuana, Mexico for Care at a Fraction of the Cost in the U.S.

The video below explains that Hospital Angeles, Tijuana, Mexico, has become one of the destinations for medical tourists. United States residents who are not insured, or who are underinsured, need only travel about 23 miles across the border south of San Diego to obtain surgeries at prices that are a fraction of the cost in the U.S.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Uninsured? Need Surgery? At Wockhardt Hospital, India, JCO Accredited and Harvard Medical Associated, It's Usually 1/5 the Cost

This video about the JCO accredited and Harvard Medical associated Wockhardt Hospital, India, explains the high level of specialized care and low costs of having surgery there. Surgery often costs only 1/5 of what it would run in the U.S. For instance, a $40,000 surgery might only be $8,000. People who are underinsured, without insurance, or who do not wish to wait long periods of time for surgery in Canada or the U.K. are flying to the highly rated Wockhardt Hospital for their medical care. Medical Tourists are heading to India for care.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Music and Nature Give an Inspiring Uplift for Caregivers

During difficult times receiving an uplift from the inspiration of music and nature is such a help. The following inspirational video is for caregivers, care receivers, and all who can use a few moments of upbeat inspiration today. Enjoy!