By Corey Fordham - August 23, 2012 06:00 PM

What the CLASS Act Means For You

By Howard Gleckman - May 10, 2010 01:42 PM

Editor’s Note:  This article was originally posted on Caring for Our Parents.


The new health law creates, for the first time, a national, voluntary long-term care insurance system called the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act. Participation will be optional, but if you enroll, you'll get a basic cash benefit for life to help pay for personal assistance if you are disabled or very frail and unable to care for yourself. Here is how CLASS will work:


How Will I Enroll?


The insurance probably won't be available until at least 2012. Once policies are on the market, you may be able to sign up through your work. If your employer agrees to offer CLASS, you'll be automatically enrolled starting at age 18 unless you choose to decline coverage. If you do opt-out, you'll still be able to buy in later, although your premiums will be higher.

The Elder Care Squeeze Play

By Laurel Kennedy - April 21, 2010 11:34 AM

Laurel Kennedy is a nationally-recognized expert on Boomer issues. Founder of the multi-generational consulting firm Age Lessons, she has worked as a senior executive with Edelman Worldwide and Ketchum for clients like Kraft, Kellogg, Pepsi and Sara Lee. Kennedy has appeared on national and syndicated television including CNBC and Comcast TV, testified as an expert witness in Superior Court, and keynoted numerous industry and professional groups. She has won dozens of awards for her work, including several National Tellys, Addys and Silver Anvils. For more information on elder care, visit


Bet you wish there was more of you, and your day, to go around. That’s how most Boomer women feel these days, sandwiched between the constant and conflicting demands of a meaningful career, raising young children still in school, supporting adult children who can’t find a job, struggling to maintain a relationship with their significant other, and suddenly, taking on the responsibility for aging parents.


Note that in the scenario above, there is no time budgeted for “me time”, those brief breaks in routine and small indulgences like a good workout, a facial, or a mani-pedi that can keep us sane and help us recharge. It’s easy to fall into the trap of sacrificing yourself to care for others. But remember, if you lose your sanity or your savings, you’ll be no good to anyone.

Storytelling: A Credit to Your Emotions

By Margery Pabst - April 06, 2010 01:05 PM
 Margery Pabst is the co-author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey (Expert Publishing, February 2009) and is a national speaker and facilitator. She will be speaking at The Fifth Eden International Conference in Denver on June 15 on Storytelling: The Fuel For Transformation. Learn more about Margery and her book at

Stories have a transforming effect on those who tell them and those who listen. As caregivers, your story and how it is told is important to your emotional health and lifelong learning. Rather than keeping your story to yourself, telling it and encouraging others to tell theirs are signs of well being. But how we tell our story and how we listen to others is a critical component for leading to personal transformation with yourself, your patient, and your family.

Stories come in all sizes from the small two sentence variety to the larger several page format. I like to think of stories this way: lots of little stories often make up the tapestry of a large story. When someone calls you to find out how you’re doing on any given day, the smaller story is the result. An example: "I’m doing better today. I decided to go for a long walk and get some fresh air. It really cleared my mind and helped me make the decision about Carl’s care at the Alzheimer’s Center. The change of scene helped me formulate some questions to ask." This example might become the turning point of a caregiver’s longer story. So the first principle is WE ARE CREATING OUR STORY EVERY DAY.

Stories also come in both negative and positive varieties. Certainly, we are all going to have bad days when we give care, so we can’t always have positive stories or even put a positive spin on a story. However, when we can, it is important to tell the story in a way that demonstrates learning, that shows enlightenment can come from struggles. In the example above, the storyteller clearly was struggling with an issue, and her walk provided some perspective. She could easily have told it with a more negative tone: "I’m better but not great. I went for a long walk but the air wasn’t as fresh as I anticipated. I guess it was useful because I finally made a decision about Carl. I’ll probably have misgivings tomorrow."

What do you think? Which telling of the story is more useful to the caregiver? Which version credits the caregiver’s emotional bank account? My bias is that, in the second more negative telling, the caregiver is setting herself up for more failure than the first more positive telling. The second principle is HOW WE TELL THE STORY AND THE WORDS WE CHOOSE CAN DETERMINE OUR SUCCESS AS CAREGIVERS. Note the words "not", "wasn’t", "misgivings" are the words suggesting a half empty rather than a half full experience.

Storytellers need good listeners too, listeners who engage and ask questions that bring out even more details of the story. Both the storyteller and listener benefit from the questions because the story’s meaning is enhanced. A good listener who assists the storyteller might ask: "What questions did you come up with?", "Which one do you like best?", "What makes today better for you?" "What is your decision?" "Would you like to talk about it in more detail?" The third principle? A GOOD LISTENER HELPS ENLARGE THE POSSIBILITIES AND EXPAND THE UNDERSTANDING OF CAREGIVING.

Stories help us share meaning and understanding of ourselves. For the caregiver, this is crucial since caregiving can feel and be a lonely enterprise. As a caregiver, there were many times when I felt alone and unique as I struggled to care for my loved ones. At times, I felt that I was the only one in the world facing such daunting situations. Principle number four is STORYTELLING CREATES COMMUNITY AND CONFIRMS WE ARE NOT ALONE.

I encourage you to tell, to listen and finally to WRITE DOWN YOUR STORIES. Journaling as a fifth principle was and is an antidote to emotional stress, clarifying issues and showing meaning along the way. When I review my journals, I can literally see where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. I review the little and the big stories, the turning points and the humdrum activities. Through it all, I find perspective, knowledge, and a credited emotional account. I hope you find delight and meaning from storytelling.


Caregiver News Roundup Sunday March 14, 2010

By John Mills - March 15, 2010 12:12 AM

Some Older Patient’s Treated in Emergency Room’s Are Getting Wrong Medications – A new study has found that it is common for patients 65 and older treated in Emergency Rooms to receive incorrect medications.

New Alzheimer’s Test Offers Opportunity for Early Detection – The Computerize Self Test (CST) is a new and simple test for medical professionals to use in identifying Alzheimer’s disease. New research has found that early detection of Alzheimer’s is important in treating the disease so CST raises the possibility of more effective therapies.

Mediators Focus on Elder Issues – Mediators have been used for years to avoid court appearances in divorces and other disputes. Now they are becoming a popular way to deal with family disputes over eldercare.

Numbers of Years a Person Smokes Is Key Factor in Lowering the Risks of Parkinson’s – A number of studies have shown that smokers are less likely to contract Parkinson’s disease. A new study has found that the key factor in lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease is the number of years a person has smoked rather than how much they smoked. An important note – smoking does not eliminate your risk of getting Parkinson’s and has other serious health impacts.

Deciding on the Right Care for Elderly Parents – Finding the correct care solution for parents with declining health is difficult. Finances, the patient’s needs and the person’s personality will all come into play when deciding whether or not to care for the parent at home or move them to a facility.

Stress and Isolation Are Major Problems for Caregivers – A new article in the Atlantic Monthly highlights the stress and isolation people caring for family members/loved ones face and discusses the lack of a strong support infrastructure for caregivers.


By Rita Dichele - February 24, 2010 10:30 AM

Rita Dichele holds Masters’ degrees in Counseling and Healthcare Administration. Currently, she is an advanced doctoral learner at Capella University where she is writing her dissertation on successful aging. Rita resides in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and serves as a board member on the Council on Aging. She is a town appointee for the Shrewsbury Cultural Council, facilitates two groups at the Shrewsbury Senior Center, and is a certified SHINE Medicare/Medicaid counselor. Rita is also a past presenter at the 2009 American Society on Aging Conference.

Even though many communities provide some type of senior center program, for many the senior center remains a mystery. If you asked people in your town if they knew where the senior center was located, they would undoubtedly say yes. However, if you were to ask those same persons what actually went on inside the center, they would most likely be at a loss for words.

The senior center is a place that anyone aged 60 or older can visit and offers services that are designed to help the senior live a better life. Many senior centers provide a nutritious meal, recreational and educational programs, legal advice, and medical screening. For instance, a typical senior center may have volunteer doctors and nurses who are available to take blood pressures, provide hearing tests or lend an ear to a senior who might have a health concern.

It is a great place to learn about Medicare, fuel assistance, or about food stamps. It is also a great place to drop in to have a cup of coffee and talk with neighbors.


By Margery Pabst - February 21, 2010 09:24 PM

Margery Pabst is the co-author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey (Expert Publishing, February 2009). She is also a national speaker and facilitator. For more information about Margery and her book, go

Many of you commented on the first article last month introducing the concept of the "emotional bank account". Thanks for your response. I promised a series of articles with specific tips for CAREGIVERS TO CREDIT THEIR EMOTIONAL ACCOUNTS going forward in 2010.

A quick review for those who may not have read the first article: we are focusing on our emotions because 1) most, if not all, the information we read focuses on financial and physical well being and balance, 2) our emotional lives need just as much attention and help, and 3) as caregivers, we know our emotions are in constant flux, even turmoil.

As I thought about the next tip for crediting and keeping your emotional accounts in balance, I decided to focus on HOW OUR STRENGTHS NEED TO BE CONSIDERED. When I was a caregiver for my husband, I found that, while my strengths served me well at times, that some situations brought my strengths back to bite me! Here’s an example:

One of my key strengths has always been my ability to plan and make decisions. So when Mark was diagnosed with leukemia, both of us put our planning and decision making skills into action. We made charts and diagrams of his blood tests, read copious amounts of research, and developed a plan for moving forward. However, Mark’s body and his doctors’ best thoughts for treatment put our plans on hold. We had planned to vacation for a week, have dinner with friends for an evening. The uncertainty of what the next test would bring put our strengths into deep distress. Our emotional bank accounts were being debited quickly!

Un-stuffing Freezers and Pantries

By Vickie Dellaquila - February 10, 2010 11:44 PM

Vickie Dellaquila is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Organization Rules, Inc, located in Pittsburgh, PA. Her company provides senior downsizing, move management and residential organizing services. She is also the author of the book, Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash-A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move.  Recently rated as one of the top 100 best books on Aging on Amazon! For more information, visit or call 412-913-0554.

Do you have enough food in your pantry and or freezer to feed a small town for six months to a year?  Are you a pantry or freezer over stuffer or do you know someone who is?  If a disaster ever happens do you know the home to go to with the overflowing pantry so there is enough food for everyone?  This article may be just for you!  Yes, it is a good idea to have some extra food in your home for emergencies, but enough to open your own corner grocery store? You might want to reconsider your shopping habits.

There are many kitchen pantries and freezers that are overflowing with unused or unneeded food. You may be guilty of having just a few extra cans of tomato sauce stored in the basement or garage because you don’t enough room in your kitchen.  I think most of you know someone with a few too many cans of peaches, spaghetti sauce, or boxes of cereal.  You justify your extra purchases because after all, you might need it someday. You are prepared for an emergency. You have also prepared your neighbors, friends, and relatives without them having to do any of the work!

Let’s think about if you need to do a little readjustment in your shopping habits. How many of you while out grocery shopping found a great deal on canned vegetables or frozen bread dough and stock up? After all what a deal!  You go home and stuff your freezer or kitchen pantry with your frugal find.  You think, “Wow, did I find a bargain!” A year or two or three later, you go to the freezer or pantry to retrieve something and that 48 ounce size of pizza sauce is still sitting on the shelf. You think, “Boy I should really use that or I wonder where that came from, did I buy that?” Was it really bargain?

Finding food items on sale and stocking up on them is a great idea, however if you don’t use them or have space for them, why buy them?  So many people fall into this trap of trying to save money, stock up, and have every possible food item on hand.  It can work only if you use what you buy. Our lives change and so should our shopping habits. 

Food spoils after spending some time on the shelves of the pantry and in the freezer. The freezer foods stay fresh for only so long. Next time you clean out your freezer and have to throw out your bargains-think about it in terms of dollars. For example, you paid $5 for that frozen bread dough and now you need to throw it away because it is freezer burnt.  You are not just throwing the frozen bread dough in the garbage; you are throwing away $5 and wasting food. As simple as it sounds, it might help you realize you are overbuying. When you find that can of tomato soup that has an expiration date of 02/05/89, do you really want to pop open the top and heat it up? Think about it. You might want to pass on the soup.

 If you really found some great bargains and cannot pass them up-great stock up. Keep some for yourself that you will use, and pass the rest onto your local food pantry. You are helping out someone who could use some extra help. You may want to consider going through your food monthly and giving food to the food pantry on a regular basis.

Life goes through so many changes and cycles. It is important to adjust and change with life as we change.  Next time you are in the grocery store, think before you buy and change your shopping habits as your lifestyle changes.

Caregiver News Roundup Sunday January 17, 2010

By John Mills - January 17, 2010 03:13 PM


Genetic Link Found for Parkinson’s Disease – A new study has found that a combination of genetic risks, dietary habits and other environment factors lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease.


Parkinson’s Disease Rehabilitation Center Launched – The American Parkinson’s Disease Association and Boston University have opened the first rehabilitation center aimed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease.  The center will emphasize exercise, a healthy lifestyle and physical therapy as a way to combat and slow progression of the disease.


Blood Pressure Drug Reduces the Risk of Dementia – A new study has found that people who take drugs to reduce their blood pressure have a 50% lower risk of coming down with dementia.


Caregiver Stress Linked to Hire Risk of Stroke – A new study for the journal Stroke found that caregivers who found the role stressful were 23% more likely to have a stroke.


By Margery Pabst - January 11, 2010 12:18 AM
Margery Pabst is the co-author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey (Expert Publishing, 2009).  She is the author of three other books on life’s transitions as well as being a nationally recognized speaker and facilitator.  The book is available on her web site at

The new year always heralds a plethora of ads, articles, and books about your well-being.  Usually the tips pertain to resolutions about your financial and physical life:  ‘How to Lose Ten Pounds’ or ‘How to Evaluate Your Portfolio’.  Much is made of keeping finances in check--the goal being a good to excellent balance in your accounts.  The health check up might include a diet or wellness plan.  “What is your body mass index?”  asks a headline.  “Do you know where your money is?” asks a television commentator.

In the new year’s hubbub about improving life, little or no attention is paid to the debits and credits of our emotional lives and bank accounts, especially when we are caregivers.  Like our financial and physical health, heeding our balance in emotional accounts is critical to overall health and well being.

To apply financial language to our emotional life, consider the withdrawals you make every day without any conscious choice of putting in necessary credits.  Are you amassing too many debits, thus ending up with an overdrawn emotional account?  Debits certainly are a necessary aspect of life and of caregiving; we must expend and give time to others, but to make up for those debits, we must also credit our accounts with emotionally nurturing activities and quiet moments we give to ourselves.  Spending that time for ourselves is a vital new year’s present we must promise and reserve each day.  As I write in my book, Enrich Your Caregiving Journey, “We’re reminded of that admonition every time we fly in a put the oxygen mask on ourselves first and then to assist others”.

How to Minimize Holiday Stress for Caregivers

By Margery Pabst - December 18, 2009 12:06 AM

Margery Pabst is a writer, speaker, facilitator and an expert in personal and family communications. Her four books explore some of life’s key transitions—moving your family, leaving home, and retiring. Her most recent book, Enrich Your Caregiving Journey, emphasizes how to take care of yourself while caring for others. Practical tips are introduced through a series of engaging stories and the reader is invited to use a personal journal section at the end of each chapter. For more information, see

As the holidays approach, and swiftly take over your time, energy and focus, feelings of listlessness and possibly depression can take over.  You may feel as if you are stuck on the holiday path, and when it abruptly ends, feelings of exhaustion and a “what’s next?” mentality prevail.  The caregiver is already overwhelmed, but when holiday anxieties are factored in, the stress can hit an all-time high.  Here are some tips to follow to prevent the holiday doldrums from taking over both in December and January.


Be selective for celebrations.  Save some get-togethers for mid-January.  Remember that there is no need to push everything into a small about of time.  Thinking you can take care of the patient, family, food, presents, vacation plans, holiday parties, and decorations is unrealistic.  Take this time to relax, and relieve yourself of stressful holiday responsibilities.  Remind yourself that the only expectations are the ones you have put on yourself over the years.  Everybody risks overload during the holidays, especially caregivers.  Feel free to take a few deep breaths, and save some of the celebrations and festivities until mid January.  Permit yourself to save a couple of gifts to unwrap after the holidays.  Plan something special for mid to end January.  Allow yourself a recovery and reassessment period after December.

The Impact Caregiving Had on Me

By John Mills - November 30, 2009 09:54 PM
Editors Note:  This is the third of a 3 part series on my caregiving experience.  It is being cross posted at and

Being a caregiver has been a life changing experience and a fulfilling one in so many ways.  It strengthened the bond between my father and me.  It opened my eyes to the confusing and antiquated world of long term care. It gave me an understanding of how difficult it is to watch someone you love deteriorate before your eyes. 

Since my father’s death, I have gone from caring for him to being the father of a beautiful, healthy 19 month old daughter, Avery.  Being a father made me realize how many sacrifices my parents made for me when I was growing up. I am so grateful I was able to help my father enrich his life during his last years and like to think I repaid him for a few of the sacrifices he made for me. 

After my experience as a caregiver was over, I was determined to help others by sharing the lessons I learned and bringing long term care into the 21st century.  I have worked in healthcare for almost 25 years but was shocked at how difficult it was to navigate the world of long term care. 

It was difficult to find qualified and compatible home healthcare aides for my father.  There was no information about the quality of services or reviews from customers about their experiences.  We went through numerous aides as we struggled to find the right one for my father.

One of the most frustrating parts about being a caregiver was keeping track of my father’s appointments, especially as his Parkinson’s progressed.  He had home care visits, doctor’s appointments and medication dosages every 3-4 hours.  There was no centralized place to track all this information.

Obtaining specialty medical supplies like bathroom bars, bed liners and walkers was difficult.  Many of these items were not available at the local pharmacy and had to be order via catalogs or the Internet.

I created eCare Diary to make life easier for caregivers.  It was developed out of my personal experiences and has grown through the input of other caregivers.  eCare Diary is the first centralized website that offers free tools, information and community to address many of the issues I faced. These include an appointment and medication management tool, a search engine of care facilities, a shopping portal and supportive blog communities for caregivers. 

One of the major goals of eCare Diary is to be an interactive community where the needs and suggestions of caregivers can be integrated into the site.  We have been so gratified by the feedback and suggestions we are getting from visitors.  We plan to release eCare Diary 2.0 shortly and this will include a number of additions recommended by users.

Starting a new business has been exciting and scary.  I worked for a startup during the dot-com boom but I have spent most of my life working in large organizations.  eCare Diary does not currently have investment money so we are operating on a tight budget.  It is difficult and takes a lot of hard work, but it has also forced us to be creative.  We have found social media to be an excellent way to connect with caregivers and to publicize what we are doing.  It was through Facebook that we connected with Denise Brown and learned of the terrific work she is doing here at

The most rewarding part of the launch has been the new people we are meeting.  Since launching the site in September we have connected with many caregivers locally and online.  We have found that many of them have the same thirst for information and feeling of isolation that I had.  They are fortunate that there are resources available today that did not exist when I was caring for my father.

A Message From the Founders: What We’re Thankful For

By Susan Baida - November 25, 2009 09:08 PM

For this Thanksgiving holiday, we have so much to be thankful for. 

We thank all of you, the community of eCare Diary caregivers, visitors and partners, who’ve helped make the site a success in such a short period of time.  Our mission was to create a centralized place where caregivers could find help, information, and the support they need.  John and I developed this site based on our own personal frustrations as caregivers with the hope that future caregivers would never have to go through what we did. 

I am thrilled to report that in only 10 weeks since eCare Diary went live, the number of visitors and registered users more than exceeded our expectations.  Response to the site has been amazing!  We are overwhelmed by the emails offering thanks, support and terrific new ideas.

We are thankful for our experiences as caregivers.  It wasn’t a role we expected or wanted.  No one wants to watch their parents suffer through long term disease.  However, while those were very difficult, sad times, that experience gave us a hard and fast education on long term care.  We were exposed to information, resources and communities that lead to the creation of this site.

We are thankful for the loved ones in our lives more than ever.  When you’ve suffered loss and death, you appreciate the people in your life in a whole new way.  Around the holidays, John thinks about his parents a lot wishing that they were alive to have met our daughter, Avery.  Their absence makes me more thankful than ever that my parents are still alive, and I appreciate them more profoundly.

We are thankful for our daughter Avery who just turned 19 months old.  She has opened our hearts in ways we never expected.  Giving birth to her reminded us of the preciousness and volatility of human life, interestingly similar to what we observe as caregivers.

We are thankful that eCare Diary is becoming a family affair.  John’s sister, Polly Whitehorn, recently joined us as Director of Special Events and Outreach.  Formerly of the Arthritis Foundation, Polly’s experience and networking has been invaluable in getting the word out about eCare Diary.  Susan’s brother, Kevin Kim, has also joined eCare Diary as Web Designer.  We are so fortunate to have his talent for developing clean, consumer-friendly designs; he is in the process of redesigning the site for eCare Diary 2.0 coming soon!

We are thankful for many new friends we’ve made and partnerships we’ve formed.   Their generosity and assistance have helped propel eCare Diary.  We thank and acknowledge them below.

We wish you a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!


Bill Walters, CEO of ALTHA (a hospital trade association), for featuring a 2 page story on eCare Diary in ALTHA’S quarterly newsletter

Denise Brown, creator of (blog for caregivers), for inviting John to write a 3-part series on his caregiving experiences with his father

Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents, for his long term care expertise

Margery Pabst, author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey, for her caregiving expertise and articles for inviting John to write “Obamacare: Why it’s Different This Time

Chris Lombardi, of,  for publishing my article “Sex in the Workplace: A Caregiver’s Story”

Jason Alba, Founder of (a relationship management website for professionals and entrepreneurs), for his advice, constant support, and plugs

Katherine Lewis, of (a blog for tech mom entrepreneurs), for publishing my story, “Becoming An Accidental Entrepreneur

Karla Lightfoot and Stella Grizont, of (women entrepreneurs website), for promoting the site and connecting me to an amazing community of female entrepreneurs

Jean Levin, founder of Caring From a Distance, for her advice, thoughts and insights.

Facebook Fans & Friends, your thumbs up and support encourage us all the time!

Dealing with Family History During the Holidays

By Margery Pabst - November 13, 2009 05:29 PM
eCare Diary is pleased to announce Margery Pabst as a new contributor. We met at her recent book reading and loved her message about the importance of caring for oneself while caring for others. She is the ideal person to address family issues during the holidays.

Margery Pabst is a writer, speaker, facilitator and an expert in personal and family communications. Her four books explore some of life’s key transitions—moving your family, leaving home, and retiring. Her most recent book, Enrich Your Caregiving Journey, emphasizes how to take care of yourself while caring for others. Practical tips are introduced through a series of engaging stories and the reader is invited to use a personal journal section at the end of each chapter. For more information, see

The holidays bring both delight and stress. Who is making the turkey? Who is having Thanksgiving and who is hosting a certain holiday are questions that create stress in many families. Everyone wants to make the holidays perfect for their families, however, there is no such thing as perfection. Each of us has a set of feelings that are bound to conflict with others. Even in normal times, stress and conflict are certain to be present along with the favorite foods, gifts, and good cheer.

Caregiving and illness elevate these dynamics even more. Family history including family alliances, patterns of behavior, and lingering animosities all play an integral role. The thoughtful caregiver will anticipate these holiday dynamics and will use/delegate some practical strategies for soothing feelings and creating an atmosphere of mutual trust. Family harmony is critical for patient well being and convalescence, and the skillful caregiver will remind everyone that this is the goal.

You, the caregiver, and other family members need to feel that you are:

- important.
- not alone.
- appreciated.
- in control.
- taking care of myself.

These five key principles for promoting positive communication go a long way to creating harmony despite the dynamics of your family history. Let’s examine some ‘red flag’ comments that signal negative family feelings and strategies for constructively dealing with them.


“Mother doesn’t trust me to make the pies” is a red flag signaling that a family member does that feel important or appreciated. Strategies for ensuring that everyone feels important and appreciated during the holidays are:

-Include everyone in the holiday preparation.
-Create different teams for 1) meal preparation, 2) holiday decorations, and 3) entertainment.
-Divide family members who often disagree into different teams.
-Put family members together who need to communicate more with each other.
(Family members who don’t see each other often or who have mild disagreements can benefit from working together.)


“No one ever calls to ask my opinion” is a red flag signaling feelings of isolation. Strategies for bringing those who feel alone are:

-Call a family meeting.
-State that the purpose of the meeting is to ensure everyone’s ideas are heard, including the patient.
-Support the ‘loner’ by including his/her ideas.
-Ensure that everyone knows that teamwork is what will make the holiday a success.
-Create a Facebook page featuring family entries.


“The men always dominate the living room with their football games” points to feelings of having no control and a lack of fair play in the family. At the family meeting:

-Stress the importance of sharing favorite spaces. (i.e. the living and media rooms)
-Encourage decisions/compromises be made to ensure fairness. (Everyone gets a turn at using televisions, playing favorite music and games, or watching movies.)


“Sue and Fred make us play stupid games” signals long standing dominance of some family members over others. Caregivers who turn long standing negative patterns into positives emerge as the most creative of all. Ask yourself, “How can I/we use an alliance for everyone’s benefit, especially the patient?”

One strategy is to ask Sue and Fred for their help in making sure everyone enjoys the holiday games. Let Fred and Sue know you appreciate them and have confidence that they can achieve this goal. Stress that this will require a broader range of games. Ask if they will tackle the issue by starting with the patient’s selection of games and then ensuring that everyone has a chance to be heard. Each person in the family needs to have one favorite game played.

Use these strategies to develop some of your own ideas tailored to the red flag comments in your family. Be creative! Each idea often leads to another idea for resolving conflict. As time goes on, you may even start having fun with the possibilities for anticipating family conflict and heading it off before it even happens.

You should not be in charge of all these strategies, so be sure to delegate as many of the tasks as possible. You are the idea maker for family harmony during the holidays, not the executor of all the possibilities. Your role is not to complete the tasks yourself, but rather to be aware of them and encourage others to join in for a family team approach and a happier, less stressful holiday.

Caregiver News for Sunday November 8, 2009

By John Mills - November 08, 2009 09:04 AM
Healthcare Reform Passes House of Representatives –  A bill to reform the US healthcare system passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 220-215.  The bill includes a requirement that all people have health insurance, eliminates denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, and provides a new regulatory structure for the health insurance industry.

Flu Facts for Patients for Dementia – The Alzheimer Foundation issued a list of tips for patients with dementia and the flu. One of the most important things is to look out for both Swine Flu and regular flu since both viruses will also be of concern this winter.

More Evidence That Alzheimer’s Is Hereditary – A Dutch study has found that about 60% of the risk on contracting the disease is based on genetics.  A gene called apolipoprotein E is believed to be the cause.   People with a variant called APOE e4 are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without it.

Discovery of New Protein Offers Hope for Parkinson’s Patients – Scientists at Iowa State University have discovered the presence of protein kinase-C, a dopamine killer.  In people suffering from Parkinson's Disease the brain cells producing dopamine die.  It is hoped that knowing what causes these cells to die will lead to a cure.  

It’s National Family Caregivers Month – President Obama has declared November Family Caregivers Month to recognize the extraordinary work of this group of people

Caregiver News Roundup Sunday November 1, 2009

By John Mills - November 01, 2009 09:11 PM

Healthcare Reform Bill Will Lower Medicare Prescription Drug Costs – The healthcare reform bills being considered in Congress will save $24 billion in the Medicare Prescription Drug program which will be used to close coverage gap known as the "donut hole." 

Parkinson’s Disease May Be Slowed by Antioxidant – A new study found that the progression of Parkinson’s can be determined by the level of the antioxidant urate in serum and cerebral spinal cord fluid. Higher levels of this antioxidant can help slow the disease.

Seniors with Dementia Have a Higher Death Rate from the Flu – Senior citizens who suffer from dementia are 50% more likely to die from the flu than those not suffering from dementia. Part of the reason is these patients have a harder time communicating their symptoms to doctors. 

Diabetics Suffering from Alzheimer’s Have Slower Memory Loss – A French study has found that diabetics with Alzheimer’s have slower memory loss than people suffering from only Alzheimer’s. 

Coffee Can Be Good For Your Health –A Harvard Medical School study has found that coffee can help prevent or slow numerous diseases including cancer, diabetes type 2 and Parkinson’s disease. 

Tai Chi Can Help Arthritis of the Knee – A British study has found the Chinese exercise can help relieve osteoarthritis in the knee. 

Robot Can Help Aging Parents Live Independently – A session at TEDMED, a healthcare technology conference, discussed the use of robots to help care for aging parents at home. This technology could eventually help more people stay in their homes.

Geriatric Care Managers: What They Are and How They Help

By Susan Baida - October 30, 2009 12:01 AM

Today I attended a conference for professional geriatric care managers (GCMs) in New York City.  I had an idea of who they are and what they do, but admittedly, wasn’t one hundred percent clear.  Interestingly, I learned today that many people don’t know who they are or that their service even exists.  Today I got my education and would like to share it with you.


Who & What

GCMs are professionals who conduct in-depth assessments of elderly clients to identify solutions and suggest a customized care plan.  Their knowledge, experience and network can help families navigate the complex system of eldercare.  They can assist with a wide range of topics: 

  • Financing care (long term care insurance, Medicare, Medicaid)
  • Placement in care facilities (such as adult daycare, nursing homes, assisted living facilities)
  • Finding home care agencies
  • Eldercare products
  • Home living space and design
  • Legal documents
  • End-of-life planning

GCMs can also serve as a third party when families are having trouble discussing care planning amongst themselves.  They can guide the conversation and even help families through conflicts. 

Today is World’s Alzheimer’s Day

By Susan Baida - September 21, 2009 02:07 PM

Today has particularly significance for me because my grandfather has dementia.  World’s Alzheimer’s Day was established 15 years ago by Alzheimer’s Disease International to raise awareness of dementia as a serious illness that will have significant impact on healthcare systems around the world. 

According to the 2009 World Alzheimer’s report, the number of people with dementia around the world is 35.6 million and expected to more than triple by 2050.  To be clear, dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms that may affect memory loss, physical coordination, and/or moods and personality.  Dementia can affect people of all ages but is most common among the elderly.  Alzheimer’s is a neurological disease and is one of the most common forms of dementia.   

I can tell you from experience that dementia is not easy to detect.  In my grandfather’s case, I assumed some of the strange behavior at the beginning was a result of plain old age.  There was the time he got into a minor fender bender with his car.  Then there was the time he wore a stained shirt because he forgot to put it in the laundry basket. 

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