Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

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.