Archive for October 2012

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Ed’s Beloved Peter – Chance for You to Help Save a Pet

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012


Ed dearly loved my little Shih Tzu, Peter. In fact when I took Peter to visit in the nursing home, Ed ignored me completely and focused all his attention on the dog.

Peter was a little therapy dog to many of the other residents as well, never failing to bring a big smile to their faces.

Now after 17 years as my beloved, faithful companion, Peter is no longer with us.

I’ve set up a memorial fund in honor of both Ed and Peter. The funds will be used to help pay for critical care for pets whose owners simply can’t afford it.

To make a donation, make out your check to “Peter’s Fund” and mail it to Peter’s Fund, 14327 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS, 66223.

Any donation you can make will help save a precious pet’s life.
Thanks for your support

What You Really Need to Survive as a Caregiver

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Let’s face it. If you’re a caregiver for someone with a serious illness, you’re carrying around a ton of stress. Sleepless nights, physical exhaustion, irritability, feeling overwhelmed by your seemingly endless list of duties. These are just a few of the signs that your solemn responsibility is getting the best of you.

What can you do to thrive as a caregiver? Well, “thrive” may be an unreachable goal, but here’s one practical, achievable way to help preserve your sanity and your physical health.

Get help. Get all you can get. Many caregivers are reluctant to ask for assistance, either because they think they should be able to do it all or because they don’t want to burden others.

The truth of the matter, however, is that most people truly want to help – they just don’t know what to do. So the next time someone says “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” be prepared to tell them exactly how they could help you the most. You may be surprised by the responses you’ll get.

Start by making a list of all the duties you can think of that specific people could take over, then politely ask each one for assistance. This might include staying with your loved one while you go out, running a few errands or taking your loved one for a drive so you can have some quiet time.

Additional tasks others could do include laundry, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, picking up medications, cooking a meal or two or just talking with you about your feelings over coffee. Involve several friends and relatives so each one gets to help but no one gets overloaded.

Another way to get help is by using respite care. You can sign up your loved one for an adult daycare center or you can arrange in-home services, such as having an aide or a nurse come in either periodically or a regular basis. This could give you a chance to go to that movie or attend a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event or concert.

The next time you’re feeling burned out and at the end of your proverbial rope, sit down, take a deep breath and start listing all the ways you are going to get assistance.

Really. It will make a difference.

Dr. Ruth’s new book on Alzheimer’s caregiving

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Dr. Ruth Weighs in on Alzheimer’s Caregiving

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Dr. Ruth, renowned expert on sex, has just published a new book on Alzheimer’s caregiving, entitled Dr. Ruth’s Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver.  After reading it, I concluded that it’s one of the best on this topic I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot of them.

In the Introduction Ruth states, “The purpose of this book is to make carrying that weight [of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s] a little more tolerable.” She succeeds fully in accomplishing that mission.

This guide is jam packed with practical, hands-on, down-to-earth information designed to help caregivers function in their new roles and take care of themselves while doing it. But it doesn’t just advise them what to do, it includes very detailed explanations of how to do it.

I don’t want to use a cliché, but I feel compelled to do so. This new guide really is a “must read” for anyone caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.


How to Behave When Visiting a Nursing Home

Sunday, October 21st, 2012
  • Respect the resident’s privacy. This includes knocking before you enter the room and stepping out into the hall when personal care is being provided.
  • Keep the conversation positive and refrain from arguing. This is especially important when visiting a person with dementia.
  • Don’t take unruly pets or children to visit.
  • Don’t wake up residents who are sleeping. They probably need the sleep.·
  • Don’t take food or beverages your loved one isn’t allowed to have.
  • Don’t have large groups of family and/or friends visit at the same time.
  • Don’t stay too long.
  • Do not interrupt the resident’s activity time.
  • If the facility has visiting hours respect them
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Should there be a problem communicate it promptly and directly to the administrator or director of nursing
  • Don’t order the staff around.
  • Don’t give tips or bring gifts for the staff if the facility has guidelines forbidding them. If no gifts are allowed give handwritten thank you cards to those you want to recognize
  • Don’t be a chronic complainer.
  • Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Understand that staff have many patients to care for and may not have time to do every tiny thing you’d like.
  • Don’t visit at mealtime unless you have checked with the administrator. Some nursing homes welcome visitors to dine with their loved ones; others do not.





How Friends and Family Members Can Help Lighten Your Load

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Many caregivers are reluctant to ask for help. They often feel they should be able to do it all and they don’t want to impose upon others. The fact of the matter, however, is that most people are happy to help you, they just don’t know what to do.

Here are ten examples of very specific ways friends and family members can help you out:

1. Do the laundry

2. Help clean the house

3. Cook a meal

4. Mow the lawn

5. Make minor home repairs

6. Pick up the patient’s medicines from the pharmacy

7. Take your loved one to a doctor’s appointment or other appointments

8. Take your loved one out for a drive

9. Come over for coffee and just be there for you as you talk about your feelings

10. Most important, look after your loved one for a few hours so you can have some time to yourself


So the next time someone says, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” have a specific request ready for them. You might be surprised at the positive responses you’ll get.



Make End-of-Life Decisions Long Before They Are Needed

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

It’s important for people with Alzheimer’s to have a living will, a power of attorney and a durable power of attorney for health care. If they don’t these documents should be prepared early in the course of the illness when the person is still mentally competent to make such decisions.

When people with Alzheimer’s have not executed advance directives and are unable to make end-of-life healthcare decisions on their own, the caregiver will need to make the decisions for them. These include several different issues over time, such as the use of CPR, antibiotics, hospitalization, a ventilator, use of a feeding tube and, ultimately, engaging hospice care services.

For detailed information about each of these issues see my Huffington Post article, “Make Alzheimer’s End-of-Life Decisions Long Before They Are Needed.”

Restore Peace and Tranquility to Your Relationship

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

A lot of people have suffered from negative changes in their loved one with Alzheimer’s. Sometimes the person’s personality changes for the worse and bad arguments can become the norm. There are three approaches I used that usually resulted in avoiding an argument in the first place.

1. Agree with your loved one – even if they say something ridiculous. It’s better to have peace than to be right.

2. Don’t even bring up subjects you think may upset them.

3. If they do get upset change the subject abruptly. They will most likely forget about whatever they were upset about.

These approaches worked for me. That doesn’t mean they will work for everyone, but you may want to try them. Does anyone else have other possible solutions?

Hospice Care for Alzheimer’s Patients Near the End of Life

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

It’s Not Just for Cancer Patients: When we think of hospice care we often associate it with cancer patients, but it’s also valuable for advanced stage Alzheimer’s patients. In that stage the person is unable to walk, dress or bathe without help; has trouble controlling urine and/or bowel functions; and only rarely speaks meaningful sentences.

More Specific Signs that You Should Consider Hospice Care: According to Gregg Warshaw, MD, Director of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Cincinnati and Past President of the American Geriatric Society, if your loved one with advanced Alzheimer’s is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it’s time to talk to his or her doctor about considering hospice care:

1.  Two or more episodes of pneumonia or other serious infections during the past 6-months

2.  Difficulty eating and swallowing, even with feeding help, that results in weight loss of 10% or more over the preceding 6 months

3.  One or more skin pressure ulcers that are not healing

Although starting hospice care for a loved one is a somber and painful experience, just remember it will help both you and your loved one have the highest possible quality of life during the precious time that is left.

Where to Find Additional Information: The Hospice Foundation of America ( is an excellent source for more information on this topic.