Author Harriet Hodgson offers guidance for family caregivers in her new book “The Family Caregiver’s Guide”
Rochester, MN– Becoming the primary caregiver for a family member can be a daunting and exhausting task, but readers can find comfort, guidance, and help in Harriet Hodgson’s latest book, “The Family Caregiver’s Guide” which will be released by WriteLife Publishing on September 7, 2015.
According to Hodgson, “family caregiving is an isolating experience.” Hodgson, who has cared for three generations of her family and has been a freelance writer for many years, sought comfort in her work. Her writing formed “The Family Caregiver’s Guide” as a means to provide insight and fellowship for others who find themselves as caregivers for their loved ones.
About the Book
Within its pages, “The Family Caregiver’s Guide” brings the reader an informative guide with a personal touch. Hodgson provides strategies for caring for family while also reminding the reader about the importance of self-care.
Hodgson has experience caring for those with physical disabilities as well as mental disabilities. “The Family Caregiver’s Guide” offers tips on how to set up your home for caregiving, a safety checklist, as well as equipment suggestions. And if you need guidance in a hurry, the smart steps at the end of each chapter will help!
“The Family Caregiver’s Guide” is available in paperback through the publisher’s online store http://writelife.com/product/the-family-caregivers-guide/, Amazon and other online bookstores, or through your favorite bookstore. The eBook is available through all major eBook retailers.
About the Author
Harriet Hodgson has 18 years of caregiving experience. She has cared for her mother, her husband, and her twin grandchildren. She has also been a freelance writer for 37 years. Hodgson is the author of 35 books and thousands of articles. She has turned “The Family Caregiver’s Guide” into a series of four books, and is a contributing writer for The Caregiver Space website.
Hodgson lives in Rochester, Minnesota with her husband John.
About the Publisher
WriteLife Publishing is the nonfiction imprint of Boutique of Quality Books Publishing, an independent, award-winning book publisher. Their two imprints, BQB Publishing and WriteLife Publishing, combine the high quality you’ve come to expect from traditional publishers with hands-on, in-depth author involvement to bring cutting edge books from fresh authors to the marketplace.
This essay was written by Sybil Smith and originally published in the April 2015 issue of The Sun Magazine.
On a cold morning at the end of January I am driving to a small town twenty miles away to visit one of my home-healthcare clients. We’ll call her M. She is eighty-nine, has one daughter who rarely visits, and is fairly healthy aside from a diagnosis of mild senile dementia. Her old New Hampshire farmhouse is at the top of a snowy hill and has drafty doors and uneven floors. M. and I have agreed that I will come at eleven on the days that I help her, but she rises late and is never ready. She can’t seem to grasp that I have a limited amount of time to spend with her.
When I arrive, she is making breakfast: a woefully underdone boiled egg, toast with jam, a cup of tea, and a large hunk of expensive cheese. Her brindled hair is cut short, and her body is slightly bent. Her face is a riot of wrinkles and pouches, and as always she wears a red bathrobe covered with bits of her previous meals. She will not let me wash it.
Because she uses a walker, she is slow in the kitchen, and by the time the tea is hot, her toast is burned, but she seems content as she sits down to eat and read the paper.
I pause near the kitchen table. M. often asks me about my writing, though I’ve told her I don’t write anymore. She also asks about my daughter, a successful singer. Frequently M. will mention that she knew jazz singer Billie Holiday. I think she does this to remind me of her glorious bohemian past, when she lived in New York City. I see the story of Billie Holiday, who died of cirrhosis of the liver, as a cautionary tale about the perils of addiction, but M. sees it only as the trajectory of genius.
After we’ve chatted, I go to M.’s bedroom, where I dispose of the aged contents of the portable commode, pick up the tissues she leaves everywhere, sweep the floor, and empty the wastebaskets. By then she is done eating and ready for me to help her with her bath. She has trouble getting in and out of the tub by herself. Though it’s warm in the house, she always wants me to set up the clunky space heater she keeps in her room. Once I’ve wheeled it into the bathroom, there is barely space for both of us and her walker. To plug the heater in, I have to get down on the floor, which is littered with strings of dental floss.
M. sits down in a rickety chair, and I pull off her bathrobe and threadbare nightgown. Then I work on her stockings, which are as tight as a second skin — to prevent edema in her legs. Finally she steps out of her adult diaper and into the tub.
Recently I began caring for a nine-month-old baby, and I am enamored of his plump legs and silken skin. Even his little man parts are like something carved from ivory. M., on the other hand, is a wreck of dewlaps and burst veins and brown moles. She asks me to wash her back, and I give it a good going over while she sighs with pleasure. Then I move on to her hair, which is surprisingly thick and streaked with black. She says her Italian blood is the reason why her hair isn’t all white. (She is still vain about her appearance and often shows off her small waist by wearing wide, elaborate belts.) She likes for me to massage her scalp, and she has me lather and rinse her hair twice, as the directions on the bottle say. I am amazed that she feels free to make so many requests. I was raised to take what I got and be grateful for it. Yet I must admit there is something charming about the way M. lies in the tub, waving her hands in the water as if she were floating. When she closes her eyes and smiles, I know she will stay in the water for ten minutes or more. This is my chance to get some real cleaning done. I tell her I’ll be back as I head for her bedroom.
“Don’t touch anything sacrosanct!” she calls after me.
M. has been a writer all her life and has manuscripts everywhere. Only a few have ever been published, and she has no agent, but M. is not daunted. As far as she’s concerned, she is a grande dame of letters, every bit as important as May Sarton or Margaret Atwood. On one side of her bed is a bookcase stuffed full of papers and books, and on the floor are several piles of bulging envelopes and magazines. Next to the commode are a stack of incontinence pads and a carved wooden screen hung with ragged nightgowns and scarves. On the other side of the room is a desk covered with loose paper: M.’s writing mixed with ancient newsletters from the senior center and outdated solicitations for support from public radio. There is also a table strewn with reading glasses, hearing aids, face creams, hair clips, pieces of bark, feathers, and stones. (She likes to pick up objects she thinks are pretty on her walks.) In short, the room is a nightmare of disorganization, but M. claims to like it this way and says that if I tidy up, she won’t be able to find anything. When she is feeling irritable, she will imply that my “mania” for order is evidence of my conformist soul, and that my urge for cleanliness is an attempt to “sterilize” her. There is no need to “categorize” her anarchic abundance, she’ll insist; she has been messy all her life.
M. is often busy writing, and many of the scraps of paper in her room are filled with her lacy, crooked script. I’ve read some of them: her thoughts are as jumbled as her possessions. Even so, she refuses to let go of her idea of herself as an artiste. I imagine that this self-image has comforted her all her life: when bad things have happened — her daughter became an addict, her sister died of cancer — she has told herself that all artists suffer, and someday her pain will be part of the story of her greatness.
But the fact is, it’s too late for her to achieve the acclaim she desires. M. is unable to write for any sustained length of time. She grabs a memory and writes about it for twenty minutes or so until her eyes grow tired and she has to rest. Then she puts the paper atop the pile by her bed and dozes, and when she wakes up, she starts to write of another memory on a different piece of paper. Her process is so haphazard as to be pitiable, but she certainly does not see it that way. She sees herself as triumphing over entropy and the certainty of death.
Having been a writer myself, I should admire her refusal to give up. Instead it makes me impatient with her. I believe M. lives in this myth of greatness in which her every habit or quirk is worthy of the autobiography being written in her head. It is the endless soliloquy of the interior paramour. Why do I believe this? Because I used to be that way myself.
I grew up poor. My family did not have a television, but we had plenty of books, and my parents read for both edification and pleasure. Because we couldn’t afford dance or piano lessons, it was clear to me that, if I were going to distinguish myself, it would be through my skill with words. To be a poet, all I needed was a pencil and some paper.
I can still remember my first poem, written in second grade. It went:
Dinosaurs were big and tall.
Tyrannosaurus Rex was the biggest of all.
He ate other dinosaurs, as we can see.
I’m glad I wasn’t there, or he would have eaten me.
I have a dim memory of being invited to share my immortal verse in front of a classroom full of children, and my grandmother sent it to her hometown newspaper in Brandon, Vermont, where it was published. As the fourth child of five, I was often hungry for praise and attention. So it’s no wonder I became hooked. From that moment on, I thought of myself as a writer and dreamed of success and glamour. I received enough encouragement in college to cement the vision, and I even got into the MFA program at Cornell, but I decided to be practical and went to nursing school instead. I earned my degree, traveled, married, and had a child. And through it all I wrote. I published poems and essays here and there but never a book, and none of my publications resulted in the desired acclaim and recognition. By this time, however, writing was a part of my life. It was my therapy, my outlet, my armature — along with alcohol and drugs.
Six years ago I was employed as a nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital and drinking every day. I often had a shot of vodka first thing in the morning. I was in desperate straits and knew it, but I couldn’t manage to stop for more than three days. In a last-ditch attempt to get sober, I stole some clonazepam — an anti-anxiety medication — from a patient and took a pill one morning, hoping it would calm me enough to alleviate my need for alcohol. It didn’t work. I ended up both drunk and stoned on clonazepam. Impulsively I took about ten more, added some sleeping pills, and curled up in the loft of my shed to wait for death. As I lay there, I realized I didn’t want to die. I wobbled back down the ladder, called my sister, and passed out.
I came to while lying on a stretcher in the emergency room. A big, gloomy state trooper entered holding the pill bottle he had found at my house. It still had the patient’s name on it. He asked me where I’d gotten it, and, too loopy to lie, I answered truthfully. He notified the VA hospital, and I eventually lost my nursing license.
To my amazement, after my life had been blown to smithereens, I was able to get sober. Not right away, of course. I had to learn patience first. Looking back, I don’t know how I got through the anxiety and shame of early recovery. Sometimes the pain was so great it felt physical, and I sat twisting and moaning as if cloven feet were stamping through the chambers of my heart. But as the tiny pieces of my detonated life slowly drifted back to earth, I began working as a home-health aide, helping the elderly and caring for kids on occasion. A peaceful, sane existence began to take shape. The only problem was, I could no longer write. Somehow in sobriety I just didn’t have the juice to pump out pages and judge them as good or bad. Forced to acknowledge that I was a failure as a writer, I learned to live with my dashed dreams. That’s when it occurred to me that I didn’t have to write to prove to the world that I was a worthwhile human being or that all my pain and turmoil had a purpose. I wasn’t special — or, no more so than anyone else. It was time, finally, to grow up.
I sometimes think that M. and I have been brought together for a reason. If I can forgive her delusions, then perhaps I can forgive myself for the many years I spent harboring dreams of literary renown. Some days I fall short of forgiveness. I want to shake M. and tell her to get real, to stop seeing herself as a Writer, as if that were the only thing that could save her. Other days I respect her for continuing to put pen to paper at eighty-nine despite everything. Maybe the world needs us unsuccessful artists to form the compost upon which others sprout and grow to greatness. Or maybe the act of writing itself shifts humanity infinitesimally toward a higher consciousness. It’s like prayer: useful in the moments when we face uncertainty and our own mortality.
When M. is done with her bath, I haul her out of the tepid water, dry her carefully, and squat to put her tight stockings back on. She places her hand on my head to steady herself and asks, “Have you heard of phrenology?” She is always trying to have intellectual conversations with me, as if to let me know that her mind is still active and her interests wide ranging.
“Yes,” I answer. “It’s the ‘science’ of judging someone’s personality by the protuberances on their skull.”
“Your bumps say you should try writing again,” she says.
When I’m ready to leave, M. is propped in bed with a pad of paper. She says she’s going to write about driving to Montreal in winter and sleeping in the car with six other people, their breath coating the inside of the windows with a thick rime, so that it was like being in an igloo.
“That’s a good idea,” I say. I am feeling impatient with her again, but I could never tell her so. That would be mean.
And as I drive home, past the peeling houses and dirty snowbanks and chained-up dogs and blue hills, I try to think of a way to put this grim, bittersweet landscape into words, to fix in time this mixed ache of being human.
This essay was written by Sybil Smith and originally published in the April 2015 issue of The Sun Magazine.
We recently asked our community members what’s your best advice for someone who’s currently caring for a loved on that’s dying? Here’s what you had to say.
Bobbi Carducci: Be with your loved one every moment you can. Having been at the side of my mother and years later, my father-in-law, I had the opportunity to hold them as they passed. My mother saw three angels without any wings waiting for her. Rodger had a dream that God told him his job here was done. I believe them both. As hard as it is, being with someone you love and care for as they leave this earth is a precious gift.
Linda D: Let them talk, and just listen.
Elizabeth B: Listen to them when they say they are ready. Help them prepare their way.
Rick Lauber: Enjoy what time you have left with your loved one by visiting. Ask any unanswered questions so as to not have any regrets. Respect that person’s final wishes (read and understand the Will). Make plans and decisions with other family members about a parent’s forthcoming death. Keep a senior as comfortable as possible and maintain his/her best quality of life. Expect to feel anticipatory grief (expecting the loss of your loved one) and take whatever time you need to heal (grieving is a personal process and each one of us copes differently). Find a healthy means to manage your own increased sadness and stress that you will often feel at this time.
Connie R: My husband passed away nine weeks ago while in hospice. We kept a normal routine for both our sakes. I encouraged those who knew him to stop in, cried when he cried and I was just there. Each person is unique – you’ll know what to do.
Christy P: Keep them as comfortable as possible, encourage laughter, and make sure they feel well-loved and preserve as much of their dignity as possible. That’s really about all you CAN do.
Sue P: Allow them to talk about dying.
Donna Thompson: I think one tricky aspect of caring for a dying person is balancing the ‘heavy’ conversations with the light ones. People who are dying will want to discuss their death and the meaning of their lives, but not all the time. They will want to live in the moment and then reflect on the past. I think it’s really important to look for signs of a dying loved one’s comfort zone in the moment and take their lead. In a palliative situation, the caregiver is the orchestra and a dying loved one is the conductor.
Janie B: Make the journey beautiful. Play music. Cook favorite foods – the smells speak to their memories of family and of love. Light candles and talk. Fill the room with life even in the end. You must be part of the journey.
Becky T: There is no one size fits all. At the end my husband could not hear. All you can do is the best you can with what you know at the time. Most of all be kind to yourself.
Corrine C: Live in the moment try not look too far ahead. Worry steals the joy in your life. Be there to share the time given to you and them.
Yuko Kirino – our second artist in our Caregiving Artists series – hails all the way from Japan. I happened across @kirino.y_illustration when browsing Alzheimer’s-related pictures that we could share with our community.
Yuko’s Instagram account is a fun follow, featuring a different illustration each day of the main character in her story – a cat. Hearing the artist’s story behind why she created “The Cat Story” is even more inspirational:
We found out my father had Alzheimer’s during autumn of last year. Daily nursing is serious work – both physically and mentally. I remembered my father liked my drawing, so I started to draw. I hope my family and those around us can take time to look, relax and have a calm moment with my casual drawings.
I met artist and caregiver Shentel Persons on Instagram while browsing for users that happened to also use the hashtags we #caregivers often search for. After a while of following her, I discovered not only was she an incredibly fun and positive caregiver to her main client, Merry H., but also a talented artist whose creativity influences her and her client’s day-to-day activities, which range from dancing to painting and singing. We highlighted her in our round up of our favorite caregivers on Instagram.
I had a great exchange with Shentel recently, and she was extremely enthusiastic about letting The Caregiver Space feature her as our first artist in our “Caregiving Artists” series. Without further ado, here’s a little about caregiving artist Shentel Persons from Shentel herself.
I’ve always been a lover of arts & crafts. Drawing came naturally. I drew as a child and took a few drawing courses at Portland Community College. For the most part, drawing courses involved graphite (grey) and charcoal (black). But I yearned for color! I began to add color in my assignments on my own. I began to study painting tutorials on YouTube and that’s how I learned to paint. I’ve been at it for four years now! I enjoy painting acrylic portraits using texture and glitter. Painting is my therapy.
As a caregiver, it was nothing but God’s grace that paired me with client, Merry H., who is also an artist, but hadn’t painted for years until we linked up. She calls me “Coo Coo” and tells me she loves me! Creating a way for Merry to paint again has empowered not only her but myself as well. Laughing, producing art together and bringing a smile to her face is the highlight of my day!
We recently asked our community members to share their experiences with taking the care keys away from an elderly or ill loved one. Here’s what they had to say, from getting doctor’s orders to advice on how to do it with humor and grace!
Paula: When my husband was using his right hand/arm to lift his leg and move his foot from the accelerator to the brake, I knew it was time. MS stinks!
Helen: It’s a very hard thing to do. With my father-in-law, he was in his late 70’s, had a stroke and almost drove into the beauty shop where he would take my mother-in-law. After that, we just took him everywhere to pay bills, groceries, etc. Sometimes you have to be the “parent” and do what is in their best interest in keeping them safe.
Bobbi: Rodger stopped driving long before he came to live with us. Medications he took for his schizophrenia could make him dizzy. However, even after 40 years of not driving he held on to his expired license and insisted he was a very good driver and could do it if only I would let him.
Emily: Mom hit a parked car and later didn’t remember what happened. That’s when I figured out she wasn’t properly taking her medication which is why she couldn’t remember. That’s also when I learned she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She had been hiding it from us. She didn’t like it that I told her she couldn’t drive. When I found out that she drove again, I went to the car dealership and had a car key cut to look like her key but it wasn’t activated so it wouldn’t start the car. I secretly replaced her key with the dummy key. She thought something was wrong with her car, but she never told me because then I would know she was still trying to drive.
Donna: I knew that my Mom should stop driving when her balance became an issue together with her diminishing sense of time and direction. Mom linked her car to her sense of dignity and independence, so it was a very difficult day when she tore up her license and gave her car to my niece. Mom knew that ‘feeling woozy’ meant she shouldn’t be driving, so luckily when the time came, it was her decision.
Harmony: I took my husband’s car keys when he could not move his legs quickly due to Parkinson’s disease. Our family doctor was very supportive, and I made an appointment with him to discuss this with my husband. He was able to convince Bill that he should not be driving because of the potential danger to others. It was a tough sell, and one that I couldn’t have done on my own.
Jane: My Dad’s doctor explained it to him and hasn’t been a problem since.
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
Kathy: It wasn’t so much take away, but never give back. I quit riding with him when he had an accident where he totaled two cars and messed up a third. At that time, the officer said that if anyone would have been in the passenger seat at the very least they would have lost their leg…the very least. Then one day, he was trying to find me — I was about 15 min away — and he ended up in Horse Cave, KY. It took 10.5 hours round trip to pick him up. The police found him going the wrong way on I-65. Needless to say, when I got the car out of impound, I kept the keys and he hasn’t had them since.
Pat: In our little town, we were getting friend’s reports of our mom being lost in the neighborhood. We disabled the car and then arranged for a couple of mechanics to give us a “an estimate” to fix it in the amount of thousands of dollars. They were friends of ours as well and were made aware of our unique situation.
Connie: Sadly, he was found driving 90 on a curvy country road. When family members found him, he was totally lost, very disoriented and began to throw up. I hid the keys the next day. I had a talk and told him it was time, not just for his safety, but for the “other guy” on the road. I explained that his brain was “shutting off and on and unfortunately it could happen at any moment.” He reluctantly agreed. Then we would find him looking in drawers for the keys and also trying to “hotwire” the truck. Hubby finally disabled the vehicle so he could not start it. Sad, but very necessary.
Karen: My mother disappeared for almost 3 hours in one day. Just as we were about to call police, she returned home as if nothing out of the ordinary occurred. We took the keys from her that day. She never asked about driving again.
Michelle: My grandmother got lost going around the corner to a store that had been there for decades. Pulled the spark plugs. For a few weeks, she asked every day when the car would be fixed until, eventually, she forgot.
Lisa: Daddy reluctantly handed them over. He was without a car for 3 weeks while it was being repaired. When we brought it to him we did a “driving test.” He seemed confused and a little disoriented. When we got back we asked him to give them up. Later, people told us stories of seeing him all over his little town. Some were very scary. So glad no one ever got hurt! Best thing that could have happened.
Getting the DMV involved
Belinda: We had our Mom’s eye doctor send her a copy of a letter he sent to the DMV saying she was legally blind. She even had him retest her eyes to be sure, bless her heart. She voluntarily surrendered her license but still wanted to drive to the mailbox and back up the driveway. We had to disable her van and convince her a family with three children needed it more than she did. She still misses the freedom of driving herself.
Michelle: My brother had to call Mom’s doctor and he called the state DMV after she got confused with him in the car. My dad simply could not deal.
Debbie: It was very difficult with both parents (83 & 85). We got very angry calls as we removed the car and all the keys. That was 1 year ago and they still ask about the car, but they now live in assisted living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. We drive them to church and doctor’s appointments. The DMV finally took their driving privileges away.
Jackie: After a few fender benders where the only damage was to his own car, he decided one afternoon to go to his favorite lunch spot and parked in his usual parking place. Unfortunately someone else was already parked there.
Harriet: I took my mother’s keys away after we moved her from Florida to Minnesota. Mom drove by sound. When she hit something, she changed direction, and her car looked like a battle-scarred tank. We bought the car from her, which eased giving up the keys.
Cheryl: Mom had an accident – rear-ended a preacher who was stopped to make a left turn. Demolished both cars. Was taken to the hospital along with the preacher, but neither was injured. She was around 85, I believe. We did not get her another car. We kept stalling and also made sure that we drove her wherever she needed to go. She mourned the loss of her car for a very long time. Now, at age 95 with dementia, she doesn’t recall her car, but she’s still hanging in there!
Donna: Mom was having repeated “little” parking lot accidents – an accident down the street from us where she turned in front of oncoming traffic, not using her mirrors to change lanes, etc. It was time. We didn’t know how we were going to get her off the road. But then her brakes needed replacing, and we convinced her the car was not worth putting that kind of money in it…no more driving for Mom.
Tammy: Grandma Evelyn kept running stop signs.
Julia: He actually handed them over (82 yr), when he almost ran his car into the neighbors living room while trying to hit the brakes and wasn’t fast enough. He wanted to blame it on the meds, but in time, he found the truth before we were ready to accept that it was that time in his life, too.
Kathy: Dad gave me the car keys. He had a very close encounter pulling out on to the highway. Sent other cars into a ditch. He is 88 and it totally unnerved him. I live with him at our house and drive him to visit Mom at the nursing home. They took care of me as a child, it is now time to take care of them.
With humor & grace
Tracey: Took my mom’s car away 8 years ago for the greater good of all society. She still brings it up ALL the time.
Sally: My mom was getting all dressed up to ‘drive to church’. Morning, noon, night, winter, summer, it was always ‘time for church’. (Not that she was religious, but she was a sort of secretary to the priest in the past and was reliving those times). One day I went to pick her up for a doctor’s appointment. She was all dressed up and said, ‘you have to move your car, they’re expecting me at the church.’ I said, ‘no, there is no church today, we are going to the doctors in my car.’ I swear, we had this little conversation 20 TIMES in half an hour. Ended up going to the doctor appointment early! Lol!
Pam: Let the Dr. handle it. It’s up to doctors to report to motor vehicles about meds the person is on. Many doctors should not have a problem lifting this burden off your shoulders. I had my father’s doctor do this in 2003, and my aunt in 2007. Was so much easier with the doctor’s help.
Barbara: Do it respectfully and preserve their dignity.
Tricia: Please don’t wait! Lives depend on it, including that of your loved one. I “borrowed” my mother-in-laws car after I witnessed a stranger drop her off at home in her own car and she said she asked when she didn’t feel up to driving home from the store. Thankfully it was an honest, kind person, but it was a HUGE red flag. Speak up and act if necessary!
Rick: My sisters and I collectively approached Mom and Dad to voice our concerns and persuaded them to sell their car. I recall visiting them, riding as a passenger in their car, and being repeatedly nervous when Mom or Dad failed to shoulder-check. It was a sad day when I helped to return this vehicle to the dealership where they bought it, but there were other transportation options available to them and this was certainly the safest move.
Here’s a recent roundup of our caregiving friends on Instagram and a summary of who they are and what they do. Thanks for sharing your stories with us everyday through inspiring pictures and quotes! This is our tribute to you.
1 – @kimbrell10 is a full-time caregiver in nursing school who combines her love of animals with pictures of those for whom she cares. Here’s one of our faves featuring Kimbrell’s dog Bobo and one of her carees.
2 – @sdcaregivers is a family caregiver for her elderly father. Even though he’s battling Alzheimer’s, we can’t help but notice this man’s style!
3 – @itsmechelsea is a young caregiver to her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Chelsea, we love your inspirational captions that go along with the pictures of you and your grandmother. We agree, making memories matters!
4 – @carepossible is a fellow nonprofit foundation that helps give greater access to those in need of addiction and mental healthcare but cannot afford it. Thanks for supporting our troops and providing us with words to live by.
5 – @hospicetalk connects those seeking information about hospice care with their online support network. We’ve shared more than one daily inspiring quote from this handle. Thanks for sharing with us!
6 – @lindseybiggs was a caregiver to her mother and grandmother, both of whom passed away from Alzheimer’s. She continues to inspire through her beautiful pictures of dance and her endless pursuit to raise awareness.
7 – @1girl2boys is another one of our favorite family caregivers. She’s a mother of – you guessed it – one girl and two boys, who also cares for her 100-year-old father AKA “the light bandit” (since he rolls around turning off the house lights). Thanks for serving up eldercare with grace and humor, Donna!
8 – @shen_digg is a professional caregiver who adds her artistic side to the way she cares for her patients. Seeing her dance and paint with her carees is an absolute joy. Keep the videos coming, Shentel.
9 – @oakswflyer is a family caregiver to his mom with Alzheimer’s. We love the things he crochets for her and takes pictures of her using.
10 – @ladyandababy chronicles the life of herself and her autistic son on Instagram. She highlights the many facets of their lives, always capturing her boy’s beautiful smile.
As caregivers (and human beings) a little pat on the back can sometimes come in the form of other people’s words. That’s why we include a Care Card in each issue of our weekly newsletter. Quotes are also some of our caregiving community’s favorite things on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This week, I asked our caregiving bloggers for some of their favorite inspirational quotes. What’s your favorite quote? Share with us in the comments or on our forums.
Photo credit: Mother Teresa quote via imgace.com // Leonard Nemoy quote via Corporation for National and Community Service
What are some activities for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients that have worked for you?
“As Dad remained quite mobile, one of my favourite activities to do with him was to go for walks together. Another common pastime was reading out loud to him, something he did for my sisters and me as a former University English Professor.” – Rick L.
“Traveling the world on Google Earth.” – Alicia W.
“Making short videos on my computer and singing or just saying ‘hi’ to people.” – Katie S.
“Soft sing alongs worked beautifully for my mother. She engaged and tried to sing. I even brought the Episcopal church hymnal with me once and flipped through the pages to remind me of her favorite hymns.” – Molly D.
“Something he did as a young boy – marbles, checkers, or cards.” – Kim R.
“Sorting – nuts, bolts, coins.” – Sandra O.
“Assembling something.” – Rhonda M.
“Mom likes current events or crossword puzzles.” – Julie H.
“With the help of a home aide, my father-in-law and I worked for months to create a rug for his great grandaughter Ava. When we brought out the materials, he became fully aware of his surroundings and why he was making it.” – Bobbi C.
“When my father-in-law’s memory was faltering, we’d take him for a drive in the country to see a wind farm. This unusual ‘field trip’ garnered Dad’s attention. ‘There are so many windmills!’ he’d exclaim. “And they’re all so big!” – Harriet H.
Photo credit of Teepa Snow via Alzlive
“My mom diapered my butt, it’s the least I can do.” — Beth Crandall
“As Elton John said, ‘it’s the circle of life.'”– Rob Adams
“Maybe Grandma will leave me more in the will…? (I’m kidding.)” — Jen Houtz
“I see this as payback for that ‘poo painting’ phase I had when I was two.” — Will Thompson
“I don’t want to get calls about my mamita slapping innocent strangers over the head. At least I’m already used to it.” — Charlotte Sedillo
“Dad held my hair during the stomach flu despite his horrible gag reflex. I’m sure I can handle a sponge bath.” — Rick Franklin
“I certainly didn’t dress myself or change my own diaper when I was little.” — Joyce Mitton
“I peed my grandpa’s bed every summer I visited from about three until six. I think it’s safe to say I owe him some bed changes.” — Daniel Pulliam
“Letting your dad dress himself in gloves and a scarf in the middle of summer seems more fun if done in our own home.” — Linda Bauman
“Because my love is also unconditional.” — Evelyn Grimm
GIF Source: giphy.com
Since we started the #100happydays challenge on our Instagram today, it got me thinking: how can I truly make an effort to be more positive everyday?
What I’ve discovered after only a few hours is that it is indeed a challenge, especially if some people in our lives aren’t quite ready to practice positivity. Or just aren’t accustomed to positive thoughts whatsoever.
Almost immediately after I decided to sign up for the challenge, I received not one, not two, but THREE text messages from three different friends saying something negative about their days yesterday. They ranged from, “my life is DRAMA” to “how was your day? I had THE WORST.”
Suddenly, I had a flashback to a few days earlier when I lent an ear to another friend going through a tough time (though, honestly, he seems to always be going through a tough time). Upon hanging up and letting out a *sigh* my partner said, be careful of how much you listen to your friends venting, Liz. That negative stuff can creep into your head even if you think it’s not. I thought about it for a second and, in true Taurean fashion, immediately dismissed him. I can handle it, I said, I’ve been friends with him for years. I know how he can get.
After this morning, though, I have to admit my partner was onto something. When the text messages came barreling in this morning – in paragraph form, no less – I realized I couldn’t keep up with all the various forms of mania and anxiety coming my way. There I was trying to maintain my inner peace and manage my own anxiety, when my eyes and ears became receptacles for unsolicited drama and anger. My heart beat picked up and immediately turned off my phone.
Call me a bad friend, perhaps, but what if not being there was exactly what I needed to do? Showing someone you care can come in so many different forms, tough love being one of them. If I was committed to my own happiness, I knew I’d have to cut off the craziness at some point, especially if it wasn’t my own.
At the end of the day, I am the only one I am obligated to cheer up, and sometimes that’s hard enough considering I suffer from bouts of depression. Maybe my friends would realize they aren’t the only ones going through something and consider they are the key to their own happiness, I thought. I will only be around for so long, but they’ll have to live with themselves forever!
I can only hope that my act of self-love and subsequent tough love will hold some emotional resonance. Only time will tell.