Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Thursday, January 28, 2010

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

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Video - Pet Therapy - Cutest Chihuahua Playing Games - A Joy During the Senior Years

When trouble comes along in my life there are many ways I cope with it. One of the best remedies is to lauph and play with my 6 pound rescued chihuahua. Here she is in my recent video performing her comic antics. Hurrah for pet therapy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Real Life Superman, Christopher Reeve's Foundation Online at - Hope for Spinal Cord Injuries

Like the real life superman that he was, the spirit of Christopher Reeve reaches out to those who have spinal cord injuries. MISSION STATEMENT: The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.

After the horseback riding accident in 1995 that caused a spinal cord injury and paralysis, actor Christopher Reeve, who portrayed Superman in the movies during the 1980's, continued a brave mission to uplift and inspire. A quadraplegic after the accident, he lived until 2004. His beautiful spirit lives on in our hearts and memories.

Christopher's wife, Dana, died at the age of 44, less than a year after Christopher passed away. Although a lifelong nonsmoker, she died from lung cancer.

We will always remember her love and dedication to her husband, and her inspiring presence during the years after his accident. After his death, Dana filled the role of chairperson of the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

In her honor the name was changed to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
At you can join the mission for The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Mission Statement: dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.

You can join Team Reeve, get involved, and look for ways to get help for those who have spinal cord injuries.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Living With a Sense of Mission, a Vision, During Senior Years

Life's journey as a spiritual being living in a physical world has a sense of mission and a vision for many people. They dedicate themselves to making a difference for others, perhaps for people, animals, or the environment. These missions in life, meaningful and rewarding, continue on in the senior years. It's a way to think outside of our own wants, our own selves.

There are so many places where help is needed in the world, where crises have hit, where someone is hungry or ill, where people or animals are suffering. It's easy to lose focus and be overwhelmed by one's own problems. But looking at things from the bigger picture gives everything a different perspective.

In the senior years retirement, chronic health issues, and fading hope to achieve lifelong goals are issues and challenges. But new rewards and meanings in life can come from seeking new missions, new visions.

As the saying goes, it's not over till it's over. There's always a fresh new start somehow.

Something unexpected can still occur, new doors open, new journeys in life begin again.

It's easy to get stuck with your usual ways of doing things and we seniors are professionals at this. Seniors often say they hate change.

But I am reminding myself to bend with the wind, be ready to start flowing in a new way, and be open to change. Just because I always did something the same way is no reason to keep doing it that way.

Readers, do you have a story about how you made changes in your senior years, anytime after 50, and about the new doors that opened, the new missions and visions? If so please tell us about it in the comment section below or send it to me, Kristi, at If you would like to have it published here I would be glad to do that. Let me know whether you wish to remain anonymous or use your name. Thanks and best wishes, Kristi

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Swimming - Therapy for the Body, Mind and Emotions

The body, mind and emotions are of course all connected, and what affects one affects the others. For me, my time swimming laps, doing water exercises, and water walking brings everything into a better harmony. Floating and feeling the buoyancy makes my physical, mental and emotional parts all let go of the stresses, frustrations, and tensions.

Water therapy is a holistic health approach.

The aquamarine color of the pools is uplifting and relaxing too. After an hour or more in the pool I feel refreshed.

I'm writing about this today so that others who have chronic health conditions, painful joints, back injuries, mental and emotional stress and frustrations, and other lack of harmony or well-being will try aquatherapy.

Most pools have a hoyer lift, so if someone is using a walker to ambulate or a wheelchair to get around, you can still get into a pool with the assistance of another caring person. I've seen people who are recovering from strokes assisted into the pools, where a person acting to assist helps them with floating and exercise. They say floating in the water is the best part of their day!

I read Christopher Reeve's book, "Still Me" that he wrote after the accident that paralyzed him. In the book he says that the times he felt the best were during his water therapy sessions, floating and feeling the buoyancy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Join Up for Water Walking - a Sweatless Workout

The scene is like a happy club of seniors visiting as they walk in chest high water up and down the Olympic size pool at my healthclub. Instead of going for a walk outdoors those of us with arthritic knees, joint surgeries, or other conditions join up for a walk in the pool.

As with many pools these days the Olympic length pool, 75 meters, is only 4.5 feet deep. Stripes on the bottom show where the lanes are, and during lap swimming times of the day there are floating dividers.

You can let the buoyancy of the water take the weight off of sore knees, hips or backs, and get a workout. My arthritic knees are pain free after an aquatic workout.

My local healthclub also has a 25 ft. by 35 ft. 88 degree pool that's great for loosening up the sore, stiff joints. Then there's the long pool where you can walk with your friends, chat, and catch up on their latest news. Just like a walk in the park, except it's in a pool.

People recovering from a variety of conditions find it helpful and fun. Those who are using walkers often find they can walk in the pool due to the buoyancy although they cannot walk on regular land.

Give it a try if you haven't already! Have fun and I hope it works for you too.

Readers, if you have a story about using water therapy for exercising I would be glad to post it here on the internet as a guest post. You can mail it to me, Kristi, at In the subject line you might put "caregiversbeacon." Thanks!

Best wishes, Kristi

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Video of the Southern Oregon Coast - Enjoying Nature's Beauty Is Relaxing, Reduces Stress, and Brings Inspiration

This video I made of the beautiful southern Oregon coast always reminds me of nature's beauty bringing me peace and inspiration. When life's a bumpy road then turning to the relaxing scenic wilderness on the coast brings me back from the stress. So take a deep breath if you've had a tense day and enjoy this video. Best wishes, Kristi

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bereavement and Inspiration - Guest Post From Reader Sheila Joyce Gibbs, in Loving Memory of Her Husband Gary

This is Sheila's Story of her love for her husband, Gary, pictured here, and of the bereavement and the inspirations that helped her to cope with the loss. Many thanks to you Sheila for emailing your story to me.

Excerpts from Sheila's Story

We had first met at Christian Teen Camp at Nanoose Bay, here on Vancouver Island, in mid July 1972. I was there, with 5 girlfriends as dishwashers, as none of our parents could afford the cost. He was standing quietly in front of the Lodge, with his bike, looking so very shy!

I found myself wandering over, just to get a close look, as he was so very handsome. I asked if he was staying, & he replied 'no'. He had just ridden down from Powell River to see this place he'd heard so much about. And as he was working at the Mill there, for his Dad, he'd have to be heading back pretty quick.
At the time, I was 16 and he was 17.

We never saw each other again, until early 2000.


I worked at the Safeway, close to downtown Victoria and there was a particular gorgeous customer, who came in, only about twice a week. But everyday, I hoped to see him. Even though he had asked me out twice, I'd declined, as twice divorced and terrified of making yet another mistake.

On one of my weekly visits to my Mom's, I complained to her about him, and Mom did something she'd never done. Told me, loudly, to ask him, out!

After more time had passed, I discovered that he was one of the top Carpenters in the city, so I asked him if he could do some minor repairs in my apartment in late fall 2003.

Shortly after that, we had our first dinner out, & started sharing & basically putting pieces together.............then found out who the other really was !
And all this time, the boy from Powell River, that handsome young man at Nanoose Bay, had been right here, & was my favourite customer at work/Safeway !

We started recounting days, months, years of our live's, and mistakes we'd made. Unbelievably, our pasts were almost identical!
During my two previous bad marriages, I had thought & wondered of him so very many times, and he the same of me!

We were married April 17th, 2004!

It was almost immediately afterwards that he took ill, and for someone in excellent physical condition, never been in the hospital, he slowly went down hill for the next 3 yrs.

Gary never took off his wedding ring or crucifix, but on April 12th, 2007, he asked me while so ill, laying in bed, to take them, without giving a reason. It scared me so much, as my dear Mom had done the same thing four years prior, just 2 days before she had passed away !

And, so, my beautiful, Christian husband, the only man of my dreams, who gave me the best three years of my life, just slipped away & joined my Mom & Dad in GLORY, on April 14th, 2007.
I had never been treated as well, nor loved and adored, the way he did me !

Well, it's been over 32 months now, since I lost him.
I didn't realize just how horrific a broken heart could be. I've heard others say, it was like literally having half your heart ripped out. And, they were so right !

To share with others, wasn't easy, but for some reason last spring, doing so seemed to be pressing on me.
This has been one of the most difficult journey's in my entire life !!

Just remember something that my Mom taught me, as a very small child, & have never forgotten...........
Christ will NEVER leave us, nor forsake us!

These Bible scriptures have literally been my sustenance & strength:

My Child, you may not know me, but I know everything about you! (Psalm 139:1)
I know when you sit down & when you rise up. I am familiar with all your ways! (Psalm 139:3)
For you were made in my image! (Genesis 1:27)
You are my offspring! (Acts 17:28)
You were not a mistake! For all your days are written in my book! (Psalm 139: 15-18)
I determined the exact time of your birth & where you would live! (Acts 17:28)
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope! (Jeremiah 29:11)
My thoughts toward you are as countless as the sand on the seashore! (Psalm 139:17-18)
And I rejoice over you with singing! (Zephaniah 3:17)
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you! (Psalm 34:18)
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart! (Isaiah 40:11)
One day, I will wipe every tear from your eyes & I'll take away all the pain you have suffered here on this earth!
(Revelation 21:3-4)
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love! (Romans 8: 31-32)
My question is, will you be my child? (John 1: 12-13)
I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32)

My deepest prayers go with this story, for those of you who are also in grief.
Please remember: He will never ever, leave us ! Nothing, absolutely nothing, can snatch us from His Hands !

'In loving Memory of Gary William Gibbs'.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Video: Kahlil Gibran Quotes on Love from "The Prophet"

Inspirational Video Viewing. Giving, love, music and a sunset are featured in my video with quotes from poet Kahlil Gibran, author of "The Prophet." The video is in high definition.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Video: My Rescued Dogs Are Now Therapy Dogs

These rescued dogs have returned the favor many times over with their love, affection and comedic antics. Every day has some playful, funny times in it because of these two dogs. They always know how to bring a smile or a laugh to me and to others. "Therapy dogs," pet caregivers, call it what you will. To me they are heroes.

The Holidays and Bereavement - Joy, Memories and Tears

Laughter can change to tears in a moment for those who are coming out of grief after losing a loved one. The holidays are a time of gratitude, hope, and new beginnings. But those who are bereaved, even many years ago, can be surprised when unexpectedly something triggers the twinges of the old grief. Those who are widows and widowers know the feeling.

In the midst of the celebrations something touches off a memory and suddenly there is the sharp pain of missing the loved one. One's chest squeezes, one's throat chokes, and a few tears, or a waterfall of tears, seems to come out of nowhere. It could be in the grocery store, at a party, or driving by a familiar scene.

Other people, who have not experienced deep bereavement and these waves of grief that well up unexpectedly, might wonder what they did to cause this or what is wrong. Not understanding, and feeling uncomfortable around this, they may distance themselves and flee the vicinity. This rejection adds to the pain of the grief. Being around people who have experienced it and understand it, such as a Hospice Grief Group, gives people a place where they know they are safe.

Our society often treats grief like it is a stigma. Hospice helps those who are grieving during the holidays by providing special counseling and events to celebrate the lives of those whom we loved dearly and who have passed away. Hospice is a place where those who are grieving can talk, cry, remember, and share with others these complex mixed feelings.

Those of us who have experienced some deep bereavements know the wave of grief passes and we bounce back. It's important to just accept this as a part of grieving, a part of life, and as something that is normal.

My husband, Frank, passed away from cancer when I was 44, and a dearly loved gentleman companion, Bill, passed away in the early part of 2009. I was thankful that neither suffered for long, although they each had chronic illnesses for a long time. Those who have not lost a husband or wife may have experienced other painful bereavements. Each bereavement is unique and there is no way to say what type of loss is harder.

Turning to our spiritual beliefs is the greatest source of comfort we can find. We are all interconnected spiritually. Love is eternal and life is eternal.

When our friends feel the sudden pangs of grief we can help by listening, unafraid of their tears, and knowing it is a natural part of grieving. We know that even many years later something can trigger the grief waves, and it is not something to fear.

Often people who've experienced deep bereavements of dearly loved ones say although these waves of grief become farther apart, they never totally go away. The holidays in particular are times when we may miss our loved ones the most, but we know that life goes on and that we each have a mission.

Grief does heal with healthy grieving, but most people say the unexpected pangs or sharp twinges can still occur years or even decades later.

But much of society will be uncomfortable and flee our presence when we are grieving. Reminders of death and dying are something people usually wish to avoid. We too, do not wish to dwell on it, but grief has no time limit, although the severity grows less with time.

One of the lessons I learned from group sessions at Hospice was to allow the tears, because holding them back will create a bigger flood later! The wave of hurt when something triggers the grief pangs is more apt to pass if I don't fight it. Then moments later I might be once again remembering my loved one but also celebrating the happy times in the present moment.

Readers, if you have a story about a bereavement and getting through the holidays I invite you to tell your story in the Comment section below this post. Or, you can email it to me, Kristi, at and I can put it in a post, anonymously if you wish. Thank you and best wishes for the upcoming year.