Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

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.