May Observances

~ Arthritis Month – Annual Arthritis Walk
~ National High Blood Pressure Month
~ Stroke Awareness Month
~ ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) Awareness Month

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  • Massage for Arthritis

    This article was graciously provided by the Arthritis Foundation.

    Benefits of Massage:  Learn about the benefits of massage therapy for arthritis pain, how massage works, and if you can benefit from massage.Read More >>

    arthritis massageMaking Your Massage Appointment: What to Know Before You Go:  If you’re considering a massage to help ease arthritis pain, find answers your questions about your massage appointment, your therapist and more. Read More>>

    Self-Massage Relieves Arthritis Pain and Stress: Do-it-yourself massage therapy is an affordable a nd easy way to ease pain. Find out how self-massage can help provide arthritis pain relief. Read More >>

    Types of Massage: There are many types of massage that can benefit people with arthritis, including Swedish and Deep Tissue massages. Learn about different types and how they can help ease pain. Read More >>

    “It’s always a good idea to get the thumbs up or down from a doctor if you are having even the slightest worry about using massage for your condition,” says Chunco. “It’s also very important to tell the therapist if you are experiencing pain or if you are uncomfortable with the work that she is doing. A good therapist will want feedback on what you are feeling during the session.”

    Be sure to have a conversation with your massage therapist beforehand about your arthritis, and what parts of your body are most affected by the disease, advises Field.

    “Therapists should be very cognizant and careful, as they all have a list of contraindications for massage in their brains already,” she says. “They can usually tell if you have an area of inflammation” but it’s wise to discuss it first, she says. In addition, if you have any concerns about the therapist using scented oils or lotions that might cause a rash, speak up – these lubricants are commonly used but are probably not necessary.

    Your goals for massage may vary. You may be interested in relieving anxiety and stress caused by dealing with arthritis, or you may be seeking relief for pain and stiffness in a specific area of your body. Talk openly with your massage therapist about your goals for the session so she can adjust the technique accordingly. There is no set way to perform a massage; she should be flexible to your needs.

    Most importantly, massage should make your arthritis pain and stiffness feel better, not worse, says Veena Ranganath, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Medicine. “I do tell my patients that if it hurts, don’t do it,” says Dr. Ranganath. Your doctor also can refer you to a massage therapist, which may not only lead you to a qualified professional, but also help you qualify for reimbursement if your insurance policy covers massage treatments.

    Massage is not medicine. It’s a complement to your doctor-prescribed arthritis treatment. You should enjoy experiencing a massage, and it should not increase your pain or anxiety. Communication with your doctor and massage therapist beforehand can ensure that massage is right for you and help you achieve beneficial results.

    Be sure to visit the Arthritis Foundation should you have any questions or need further information.  It is a great resource for informationa about all aspects of arthritis. ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Arthritis, Caregiver Support, Health/Nutrition/Fitness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Final Goodbyes ~ Scattering Ashes

    Today marks two years since my father died.  My relationship with my father over the years was sometimes tumultuous.  He was an alcoholic.  In my younger years, I realized he was different than other dads.   I knew he loved me, but after I left for college, and he left my mom, it finally hit me.  The one thing that was truly most important to him in life was alcohol. After that realization, I experienced a flood of emotions from anger to disappointment, from hurt to sadness.  And I was pretty vocal to him about those feelings, and what I thought about his relationship with alcohol.  It all fell on deaf ears.

    After a couple of years, I let it go.  He had moved away and his drinking didn’t effect me on a daily basis.  He was an adult, it was his choice and his life.  I would say our relationship was as normal as it could be, right up until I received a call from a caseworker at a hospital in California.  He had been admitted and due to the HIPPA laws, she couldn’t tell me what was wrong with him.  I finally asked, “If this was your dad, would you be on the next plane?”  She said, “Yes.” So I was.

    After arriving at the hospital, I had one doctor tell me he had a maximum of 6 weeks to live, if he didn’t have another drink.  Another doctor tell me he maybe had 6 months.  My dad told me his “number wasn’t up”, and he wasn’t going anywhere.  He was right.  He lived for another 6 years.

    That stay in the hospital was a huge wake-up call for him.  He didn’t drink, to my knowledge, for about a year and a half.  He lived in a small town, and some of his friends would check on him regularly.  When he fell off the wagon, I received a call from his friend.  I called him and tried to reason with him and remind him how important it was that he didn’t drink ~ for him it was life or death.  He seemed to get it and didn’t drink for another couple of years.

    He eventually fell off the wagon for good.  At one point he had moved to Denver and was close to me so I could take him to doctor’s appointments and have him over for holidays, etc…  After a little over a year, he ended up deciding to move to the warmer climate of Phoenix.

    He was drinking again, and now he was moving away.  I wouldn’t be able to get there quickly if something was to happen to him.  I went through all the emotions, again.  And, I voiced them all to him, again.  I could tell he didn’t want to hear it.  And, my biggest “ah-ha” moment was when he said, “you can’t tell me what to do or how to live my life.”  Wow!  He was so right!

    When it really sank in, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  I couldn’t tell him how to live his life.  And if I couldn’t tell him how to live his life, I wasn’t responsible for how he lived his life or the choices he made.  The choices were his.  The decisions were his.  It really had nothing to do with me.  It was his relationship with alcohol and it had nothing to do with anyone else.

    After that moment, our relationship changed again.  This time, I think for the better.  He was making his decisions and when he wanted my input he would ask.  We talked about once a week, and I visited him in Phoenix a couple of times.

    The last time I saw him was January, 2013.  He died April 24,2013.  I think our relationship was at one of the best places it had been my whole life.  I didn’t agree with his choices, and it still hurt alcohol was so important to him, even more important than his own life.  But I learned to accept and love him for who he was and his good heart, regardless of the choices he made.

    When I got the call about his death I was not surprised.  I was sad because he died alone.  But I don’t think he would have been sad because he was living the life he wanted.

    Lowering Dad into the ocean

    His final wish was to have his ashes scattered at sea.  My husband and I were able to fulfill his final wish recently on a trip to San Diego.

    I did my research on transporting ashes on an airplane as well as what the California laws were with regards to scattering ashes.  According to California law, you can’t scatter ashes off a pier or at a beach.  You must scatter ashes 500 feet off the shore.  We had to charter a boat, there are plenty to choose from online, and the captain took us out for two hours. We had a fabulous experience on a perfect day.  We even saw a whale while we were at sea.

    We were able to play the songs Anchors Aweigh, for his service in the Navy, and I Did it My Way…because he did.  We put his ashes in a basket and laid flowers on top of the ashes and lowered them into the ocean.  It was simple and beautiful.  He would have loved it.

    Ashes in the Pacific

    My dad and I had our ups and downs throughout the years, but I feel in the end, we had come to an understanding that worked for us.  I will always love my dad, and I miss him everyday.


  ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Addictions, Alcoholism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Aging and Alcohol Use and Abuse

    The following article was provided by


    Anyone at any age can have a drinking problem. Great Uncle George may have always liked his liquor, so his family may not see that his drinking behavior is getting worse as he gets older. Grandma Betty was a teetotaler all her life-she started having a drink each night to help her get to sleep after her husband died. Now no one realizes that she needs a couple of drinks to get through each day.

    These are common stories. The fact is that families, friends, and health care professionals often overlook their concerns about older people’s drinking. Sometimes trouble with alcohol in older people is mistaken for other conditions that happen with age. But alcohol use deserves special attention. Because the aging process affects how the body handles alcohol, the same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect as a person grows older. Over time, someone whose drinking habits haven’t changed may find she or he has a problem.

    whiskey and water

    Facts About Aging and Alcohol
    Some research has shown that as people age they become more sensitive to alcohol’s effects. In other words, the same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect on an older person than on someone who is younger.

    Some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, ulcers, and diabetes, can worsen with alcohol use.

    Many medicines-prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal remedies-can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol. This is a special worry for older people because the average person over age 65 takes at least two medicines a day. If you take any medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol. Here are some examples:

    • Aspirin can cause bleeding in the stomach and intestines; the risk of bleeding is higher if you take aspirin while drinking alcohol.
    • Cold and allergy medicines (antihistamines) often make people sleepy; when combined with alcohol this drowsiness can be worse.
    • Alcohol used with large doses of the pain killer acetaminophen can raise the risk of liver damage.
    • Some medicine, such as cough syrups and laxatives, have a high alcohol content.

    WineEffects of Alcohol
    Even drinking a small amount of alcohol can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction time. It can increase the risk of work and household accidents, including falls and hip fractures. It also adds to the risk of car crashes.

    Heavy drinking over time also can cause certain cancers, liver cirrhosis, immune system disorders, and brain damage. Alcohol can make some medical concerns hard for doctors to find and treat. For example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack. Drinking also can make older people forgetful and confused. These symptoms could be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease. For people with diabetes, drinking affects blood sugar levels.

    People who abuse alcohol also may be putting themselves at risk for serious conflicts with family, friends, and coworkers. The more heavily they drink, the greater the chance for trouble at home, at work, with friends, and even with strangers.

    How to Know if Someone Has a Drinking Problem
    There are two patterns of drinking: early and late onset. Some people have been heavy drinkers for many years. But, as with great Uncle George, over time the same amount of liquor packs a more powerful punch. Other people, like Grandma Betty, develop a drinking problem later in life. Sometimes this is due to major life changes like shifts in employment, failing health, or the death of friends or loved ones. Often these life changes can bring loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and depression. In fact, depression in older adults often goes along with alcohol misuse. At first, a drink seems to bring relief from stressful situations. Later on, drinking can start to cause trouble.

    Not everyone who drinks regularly has a drinking problem, and not all problem drinkers drink every day. You might want to get help if you or a loved one:

    • Drink to calm your nerves, forget your worries, or reduce depression.
    • Gulp down drinks.
    • Frequently have more than one drink a day. (A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle or can of beer or a wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.)
    • Lie about or try to hide drinking habits.
    • Hurt yourself, or someone else, while drinking.
    • Need more alcohol to get high.
    • Feel irritable, resentful, or unreasonable when not drinking.
    • Have medical, social, or financial worries caused by drinking.

    Getting Help
    Studies show that older problem drinkers are as able to benefit from treatment as are younger alcohol abusers. To get help, talk to your doctor. He or she can give you advice about your health, drinking, and treatment options. Your local health department or social services agencies can also help.

    There are many types of treatments available. Some, such as 12-step help programs, have been around a long time. Others include getting alcohol out of the body (detoxification); taking prescription medicines to help prevent a return to drinking once you have stopped; and individual and/or group counseling. Newer programs teach people with drinking problems to learn which situations or feelings trigger the urge to drink as well as ways to cope without alcohol. Because the support of family members is important, many programs also counsel married couples and family members as part of the treatment process. Programs may also link individuals with important community resources.

    Scientists continue to study alcohol’s effects on people and to look for new ways to treat alcoholism. This research will increase the chance for recovery and improve the lives of problem drinkers.

    The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, recommends that people over age 65 who choose to drink have no more than one drink a day. Drinking at this level usually is not associated with health risks.
    For More Information
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
    5635 Fishers Lane MSC 9304
    Bethesda, MD 20892-9304 301-443-3860
    For more information on health and aging, contact:
    National Institute on Aging Information Center
    P.O. Box 8057 Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
    800-222-2225 (toll-free)
    800-222-4225 (TTY toll-free)

  ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Addictions, Alcoholism, Depression, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Healthy Aging, Rehabilitation Centers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Caring in Parkinson’s Disease

    The article below was provided by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

    Caring in Parkinson’s

    Parkinson’s disease does not just affect the person living with it – it affects the entire family and an extended community of friends and loved ones.

    If you are the care partner, child, parent, grandparent or loved one to a person with Parkinson’s, you are familiar with the challenges that come with living with the disease. Your responsibilities may include helping a loved one with daily activities, managing medications and making financial decisions.

    As a care partner it may be difficult to let others help or to take time for yourself. Remember that it is as important for you, as it is for the person with Parkinson’s, to care for yourself and to begin understanding the disease. Taking care of yourself can benefit both you and your partner. Benefits include revitalized energy, renewed interest in creative endeavors, new subjects to talk about and the realization that you and your partner are not alone.

    Caring for Parkinson's Disease





    How can you get started?

    For additional information on Parkinson’s disease, research and help-line, or to get involved, visit the Parkinson’s disease foundation website. ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Caregiver Support, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Parkinson's Disease | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

    Posted in Eye Care, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Healthy Aging | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    February Is American Heart Month: Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

    This informative article was provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

    During the month of February, Americans see the human heart as the symbol of love. February is American Heart Month, a time to show yourself the love. Learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay “heart healthy” for yourself and your loved ones.

    Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities.1 CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.1

    Understanding the Burden of CVD

    CVD does not affect all groups of people in the same way. Although the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65. Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable CVD.2

    Having a close relative who has heart disease puts you at higher risk for CVD. Health disparities based on geography also exist. During 2007–2009, death rates due to heart disease were the highest in the South and lowest in the West.

    Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. Nearly 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of CVD. And African Americans are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop the condition earlier in life. About 2 in 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, yet fewer than half of them have the condition under control.

    Many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits, healthier living spaces, and better management of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.2


    Take It One Step at a Time

    You can control a number of risk factors for CVD, including:

    • Diet
    • Physical activity
    • Tobacco use
    • Obesity
    • High blood pressure
    • High blood cholesterol
    • Diabetes

    As you begin your journey to better heart health that can last a lifetime, keep these things in mind:

    • Try not to become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart, and every healthy choice makes a difference!
    • Partner up. The journey is more fun—and often more successful—when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.
    • Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep—also important for a healthy heart—and do what you can tomorrow.
    • Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some colleagues for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.

    Plan for Prevention

    Try out these strategies for better heart health. You’ll be surprised how many of them can become lifelong habits!

    Work with your health care team. Get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy. A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can check for conditions that put you at risk for CVD, such as high blood pressure and diabetes—conditions that can go unnoticed for too long.

    Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office. Find more information at CDC’s High Blood Pressure Web site.

    Get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care professional about this simple blood test. You can find out more from CDC’s High Cholesterol Web site.

    Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid CVD and its complications. Limiting sodium in your diet can lower your blood pressure. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber. For more information on eating a healthy diet, visit CDC’s Nutrition page and

    Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, health care professionals often calculate a number called body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s body fat. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site.

    Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Remember to incorporate exercise into your day in different ways: take the stairs instead of the elevator, or rake the yard instead of using the leaf blower. Exercising with friends and family can be a great way to stay healthy and have fun. For more information, visit CDC’s page on physical activity.

    Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for CVD. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your health care team can suggest ways to help you quit. For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site

    Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.

    Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your health care team about treatment options. VisitCDC’s Diabetes Public Health Resource for more information.

    Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another condition, follow the instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you have side effects, talk with your health care team about your options.
    Need more inspiration? The “28 Days to a Healthier Heart” tips can inspire you throughout February and all year long. Follow Million Hearts® onFacebook and Twitter for even more ways to protect your heart and live a longer, healthier life. Million Hearts® is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

    Together, we all can prevent and manage heart disease, one step at a time.


    1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Blaha MJ, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2014 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013 [Epub ahead of print].
    2. CDC. Vital Signs: avoidable deaths from heart disease, stroke, and hypertensive disease—United States, 2001–2010. MMWR. 2013;62(35);721–7.


    The above information was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The CDC website is a great resource for senior health related topics. ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart Attack, Heart Disease, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Stroke | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Holidays and Family

    christmas imageI hope this “most wonderful time of the year” finds you happy and healthy!  Here we are in the middle of the holidays and 2015 is right around the corner!  Where does the time go?!  It seems to go by faster and faster each year.

    This year was definitely a transitional year for my family.  Some big changes and big decisions were made with regards to my father-in-law.  My husband is the oldest of seven and also has two step-siblings.  So, needless to say, getting nine people, ten including my father-in-law, to agree on anything is a challenge.

    My father-in-law’s decline started with my mother-in-law’s passing about two and a half years ago.  They had been married for nearly 30 years and they had planned for him to die first.  My mother-in-law was the healthy one, the active one, and everyone was sure she would live to 100.  Unfortunately, God had another plan for her.

    She took care of my father-in-law and kept him somewhat active and social.  When she was gone, he sat in his chair.  He was depressed, especially around holidays.  We all tried to get him out, family came to visit in intervals, but he just didn’t seem to have the will to live.  Well, let me be really honest, he SAID he didn’t want to live.  He didn’t take care of himself, didn’t care to see anyone and wasn’t eating properly to keep up his strength.  He ended up in the hospital.

    He had been there before, but this time, he was really weak and everyone decided the best thing for him was to go into an assisted living community.  He was not thrilled about it, but interestingly enough, he understood that he had put himself in that situation and realized that he really couldn’t live by himself.  And we would later find out, he really didn’t want to take care of himself.

    He had options to stay in Colorado, or go back to Maryland where he is from.  His daughter and son live in Maryland, and so does his sister.  Amazingly enough, everyone agreed that Maryland was where he should go.  He was a little reluctant, but we gave him the option to come back if he really didn’t like it.  He was there for two months and decided to stay.  We have been back to visit and he is doing much better.

    He has had some ups and downs, but for the most part he is doing as good as can be expected.  He is fortunate enough to have a decent retirement income, and he also was able to take advantage of his VA Aid and Attendance benefits.  Which, every veteran should sign up for any and all benefits they have earned.

    A lot of the older generation don’t think they need it or don’t want the “help”, but anyone who knows me knows I am a huge proponent of Veterans using the benefits that they earned and deserve.  They served our country and gave of themselves as did their family.  They EARNED it and DESERVE every single benefit they are eligible for.  So please, please take advantage of those benefits.  Getting off my soapbox now….

    I share this experience because I know our family is not alone in this experience.  I went through this with my dad a few years ago and my mom and I have already talked about her wishes when she is no longer able to live alone.

    As the holidays are here and some of us are spending more time with family we haven’t seen in a while.  This is a good time to not only visit and enjoy time with your aging loved ones, be observant and look for the little, and big, signs there may be a problem developing.

    If you do notice a situation that you feel needs to be discussed.  Choose the appropriate time and broach the subject in a non-threatening way.  There are some great resources under our resources tab on

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.  Enjoy and embrace your loved one’s this holiday season, have have a Happy and Blessed New Year. ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents



    Posted in Assisted Living, Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support, Depression, End of Life Planning, Healthy Aging, Home Safety, Independent Living, Safety, Va Benefits, Wills and Trusts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Caregivers Take Care of Yourselves

    This article was graciously provided by Christine Cowgill MS, CRC

    Caregivers take care of yourselvesThere is nothing more rewarding and sometimes more frustrating than caring for your loved one who is sick or dying. Even the best and most patient caretakers need to make sure they take the time out for themselves. Some good suggestions on caretaking and resources for caregivers can be found on the Internet.

    In my Facebook page Tips For Caregivers I share the most up to date and relevant information on how to best care for your loved one and yourself. For instance there are tips on how to best handle the stress of being a caregiver, from

    Your level of stress is influenced by many factors, including the following:

    •Whether your caregiving is voluntary. If you feel you had no choice in taking on the responsibilities, the chances are greater that you will experience strain, distress, and resentment.

    •Your relationship with the care recipient. Sometimes people care for another with the hope of healing a relationship. If healing does not occur, you may feel regret and discouragement.

    •Your coping abilities. How you coped with stress in the past predicts how you will cope now. Identify your current coping strengths so that you can build on them.

    •Your caregiving situation. Some caregiving situations are more stressful than others. For example, caring for a person with dementia is often more stressful than caring for someone with a physical limitation.

    •Whether or not support is available.

    Steps to Managing Stress

    1. Recognize warning signs early. These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness. Know your own warning signs, and act to make changes. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed.

    2. Identify sources of stress. Ask yourself, “What is causing stress for me?” Sources of stress might be that you have too much to do, family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, or the inability to say no.

    3. Identify what you can and cannot change. Remember, we can only change ourselves; we cannot change another person. When you try to change things over which you have no control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?” Even a small change can make a big difference. The challenge we face as caregivers is well expressed in the following words modified from the original Serenity Prayer (attributed to American Theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr):

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    Courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.”

    With the proper information and resources to help you manage your caregiving situation as well and the support from family, friends and professionals, the care taking experience can go from burnout to quality care for you and your loved one.


    Christine Cowgill MS,CRC is the author of Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care for the Dying (Balboa Press: 2013). Christine seeks to make a positive social change in the area of end-of-life care through raising awareness and increasing mandatory training for our upcoming physicians and nurses in the areas of palliative, emotional and spiritual care to the dying. For further information visit  and her Facebook page Tips For Caregivers for information on all aspects of care for yourself and loved one.

  ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents


    Posted in Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Healthy Aging, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Dementia Mentors is LIVE!

    Dementia Mentors Logo


    I am very excited to share the new Dementia Mentors website!  For all of us who have, or had, a family member or friend with dementia, this is a huge step in the right direction in helping people live with, and manage, this horrible disease.   What a fabulous concept to have people living with dementia, who understand what the disease is about and what it does to a person, offering newly diagnosed people and their families an insightful understanding and perspective.

    Below is a brief overview of what you will find on the Dementia Mentors website:

    —Provide supportive mentoring, motivation, social engagement and more for those living with dementia.

    —To be honest and tell it like it is. No sugar coating.

    —Show you how you can rule your dementia and not let dementia rule you! – See more at:

    Through this website you will be able to converse one-on-one with a dementia mentor (Remember, all mentors are living with the symptoms of dementia themselves).

    This will be accomplished via video chat.

    By using a computer equipped with a webcam and microphone, you will be able to do this from the privacy and comfort of your own home. The tool we are using is as simple as the clicking on a link.

    This is a “safe place.” The sessions are strictly confidential. We want everyone to be comfortable asking their mentor anything!

    Motivational Videos:
    We have several short and empowering videos, created by our mentors, instructing how to rule your disease. We will add new videos weekly.

    Virtual Memory Café:
    We will be hosting live, virtual memory café’s. These social gatherings are only for those with dementia. A mentor will always be in attendance. If you wish to talk about your symptoms, that’s fine, or if you simply want to talk about the weather, that’s fine as well.

    We want to help you stay socially connected by providing you with an hour or so with real people that are walking in the same shoes that you are.

    We will be hosting other virtual special events, posting the dates and times on our Activity Page.

    Activity Page:
    “Use it or lose it.” To prevent “loss” we have created an activity page where the puzzles are designed with dementia in mind.

    These puzzles will be changed periodically in order to keep your mind working. This is one of the wisest things to do to possibly slow down the devastation dementia can leave in its wake.

    Brain Storming Sessions:
    Join our brain storming sessions and brain storm with us about the needs of people with Dementia. We brain storm on line via a simple to use video chat tool.

    Our brain storming sessions are fun and stimulating. There is no right or wrong — only great ideas and a free flowing discussion about what people living with Dementia and their families want and need — now and in the future.

    – See more at:

    There are videos, activities, mentor and much more available with the click of a mouse.  I can’t thank Gary and his team enough for developing the Dementia Mentors website  I said it before, but it is truly a great resource and a God send for those living with dementia.  I absolutely love the tag line, “Helping you rule your Dementia.”  What an empowering statement.  No one wants to be ruled by a disease, and this website is a fabulous tool to help people remain in control of their lives for as long as possible.

    If you have a family member or friend affected by dementia, I hope you will visit Dementia Mentors if you haven’t already.  And after visiting the website, I encourage you to spread the word about this unique and wonderful tool.

    Best of luck in your journey and may God bless you and your loved ones.

    Amber ~ Helping You Help Your Aging Parents

    Posted in Alzheimer's and Dementia, Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

    Dementia Mentors Website to Launch June 1st

     This post and information was graciously provided by Ann Napoletan.  The article originally appeared on The Long and Winding Road.

    Where there’s hope, there’s life. –Norman McNamara
    Dementia Mentors Logo


    Many of us have had a mentor at one time or another during our lives. They guide us, offer words of wisdom, and provide feedback on our ideas or problems. A teacher may serve as a student’s mentor, or someone in a more senior position at work may mentor a less experienced associate. The role might be formal or informal. There are no set rules, but generally the relationship involves trust, counsel, and mutual respect.

    No Longer Alone
    Imagine receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Few things would be as frightening; few things would elicit such a strong sense of being alone. But what if, upon diagnosis, you were introduced to a dementia mentor? How might that change things?

    Well, Gary LeBlanc, along with Norman McNamara (UK), Harry Urban (US), Barry Pankhurst (Indonesia), Chris Roberts (Wales), Richard Taylor (US), and others are preparing to launch a project that has been almost six months in the making. This collaboration between friends and advocates around the world is groundbreaking. Nothing like it has ever been done, but it promises to change the way people deal with the diagnosis and the fear, uncertainty, and loneliness that comes with it.

    On June 1st, the Dementia Mentors website will be unveiled. The site was designed and built by Harry Urban, founder of Forget-Me-Not. Harry is living with dementia so he knew exactly what was needed to make the site dementia friendly. The goal is simple: to provide newly diagnosed individuals with the tools they need to start this journey on the right track, from the moment the diagnosis is received.

    Those Dreaded Words – And Then What?
    No Longer Alone

    Those involved in this project know firsthand how frightening it is to hear the words, “You have dementia.” Imagine hearing those words, then being handed a prescription and told to “come back in six months.” In many cases, that’s exactly what happens. Chris Roberts of Wales describes being stunned and in shock, head spinning such that he didn’t know where to turn.

    My personal experience with Mom was similar. Although I absolutely loved the family physician we were seeing at the time, we essentially left the office after each visit knowing things had gotten a little worse but with no resources to help us understand what was happening or connect us with those who could. That was a while ago, and fortunately, I think things have begun to change a bit; at least people are talking about it more now. But, that being said, we have a long way to go.

    Renewed Hope

    Dementia Mentors is about helping newly diagnosed patients understand their lives aren’t over. In fact, quite the contrary! When one looks at everything people like Norrms McNamara and Harry Urban have accomplished since their diagnosis, it’s nothing short of incredible. These men are true pioneers and are inspiring hope around the globe.

    Chris Roberts says, “It’s about what you can do, not what you can’t,” and that’s the message the founders of Dementia Mentors want to convey.

    Harry is quick to encourage people not to give up, assuring them they do have a meaningful life ahead of them. In this digital world where Google has become our best friend, it’s vital for folks to realize that when they hit the Internet for information, they will likely be bombarded with material about the later stages of the disease. The disease isn’t JUST the later stages! Yet, there tends to be very little information out there about the earlier stages. This is where Dementia Mentors comes in.

    • Imagine a website created by dementia patients, for dementia patients. That means simple navigation, pleasing to the eyes, clear, and concise presentation. Someone having problems reading the text can simply click a button to hear the passage read aloud.
    • Imagine being able to listen to people who are actually living with dementia discuss a wide variety of topics – all from their own unique point of view and based on real life experience. At launch, the site will have approximately 30 pre-recorded videos, no more than three minutes in length. Additional videos will be added in the coming months.
    • Imagine having a face-to-face video chat with someone who has walked/is walking in your shoes. Patients will be able to schedule an appointment to talk one-on-one with a mentor. Keeping to the dementia friendly theme, a simple mouse click is all it will take to be connected with a mentor via both audio and video. Of course, all discussions will be completely confidential.
    • Imagine one-stop access to over 70 puzzles and activities, all designed with dementia patients in mind. The activity page will be updated with new material regularly to keep it fresh and interesting.
    • Imagine quick, easy access to virtual memory cafés where patients can enjoy socializing with one another. People like Harry, Chris, and Norrms credit keeping busy, maintaining social connections, and staying engaged with helping them keep progression at bay. The beauty of social media – no one ever needs to feel alone.

    The Vision
    Gary and his team envision today’s mentees becoming tomorrow’s mentors. The value of helping others can’t be overstated. We all feel more energized, hopeful, and positive when we know we’ve made a difference to another person. That’s what Dementia Mentors is all about – people helping people. Everyone involved benefits from the program; each life is enriched along the way.

    This project is innovative and 100% grassroots-based. All participants are donating their time and the team is seeking additional mentors. They would like to have every corner of the world covered, so that people can be connected 24 hours per day, seven days per week. According to Gary, there are 15 mentors on board as of this writing, with many others expressing interest already.

    Friends Helping Friends
    Friends helping Friends

    The Dementia Mentors tagline says it best, “Mentoring, Motivation, and More. We Help You Rule Your Dementia.” I truly believe that is the key – rule it, don’t let it rule you. We didn’t do that with my mom. At that time, we didn’t even talk about it let alone think there might be a way to connect her with others who could understand her fears so much more than we could. What a blessing that would have been…

    You can help by spreading the word about the June 1st launch and directing people to By doing so, you, too, will truly be making a difference! If you or someone you know would like more information about the project, please visit Gary at Common Sense Caregiving.


    Gary LeBlanc is an author, columnist with the Tampa Tribune, founder of theAlzheimer’s/Dementia Hospital Wristband Project, a Purple Angel Ambassador, and former caregiver to his father who lived with dementia. You can visit him at Common Sense Caregiving.

    On a personal note, my  grandmother had dementia.  It is truly heartbreaking disease to watch take over your loved one.  I thank Gary from the bottom of my heart for all his efforts to bring awareness and help to those families with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

    Gary is a great friend and I wish him nothing but success with his endeavors to help others.  A huge congratulations on the Dementia Mentor website Gary.  Please visit the site and contact Gary with questions.  God bless!


    Posted in Alzheimer's and Dementia, Caregiver Information, Caregiver Support, Health/Nutrition/Fitness, Memory Care, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment