Caregiver postage stamp petition

March 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles, News

The Future of Aging Blog has done a great job of highlighting the push by the National Family Caregivers Association to get a caregiver stamp. I think this is a great idea. There needs to be more political discussion about the dilemmas and contributions to society by family caregivers. If you agree that this is a worthy cause, please click here to help push for a Caregiver Commemorative Stamp.

Swapping roles with your parents

February 14, 2009 by  
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I recently had a discussion with a baby boomer (mid 50’s), like me, who was taking care of her mother who was visiting from a different state. Her mother lives in an assisted living community where she has her own place but people help her with mobile, medical, and personal hygiene issues. After a week of caring for her mother and working , she took some strong medication because she needed a break. She left her mom and went over to a neighbor’s house to take a nap. Her mother was angry and she wanted to leave and fly back home. The friend did not understand why her mother did not understand the burden that was being placed on her. This friend has never had kids. I explained that we are now taking over the parenting role and we must remember how we felt when we were treated as something to just care for as kids. It is difficult to swap roles with our parents in a way that maintains their dignity, yet, keeps them safe and as independent as possible. I would think if you have never been a parent then it would be more difficult. Also, like many of us, she may not have had the best of relationships with her parents at times. But they are our parents, they cared for us the best they could (in most instances). We must do the same for them.

Rite Aid has video on caring for aging parents

January 10, 2009 by  
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Rite Aid has a video-based education center that puts elder care information and advice online. This is great resource for those knowing that their time is coming to be a caregiver to their aging parents. We all need to get as much information as we can. Even if we have raised children, remember that your parents are not going to like swapping roles and feeling less independent and capable of handling their affairs or health issues. The video is called Rite Aid Giving Care for Parents is like watching documentary featuring about real families telling their stories about providing care for their parents.

Fire leading cause of safety issues for the elderly

December 31, 2008 by  
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According to a Consumer Watch report by, fire is the leading cause of safety concerns for the elderly. The Good Housekeeping Institute tested some silicon pot holders because of the flammability of traditional cotton pot holders. The researchers found that the elderly loved the flexibility and lack of heat that came through the silicon pot holders. These pot holders are just one of many products that the Good Housekeeping Institute tests to help the elderly maintain their independence safely. Caregivers must educate themselves about the safety issues related to aging in the particular environment of those they care for.

Aging relatives and parent care

December 25, 2008 by  
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I am sure many of you have spent time this holiday season with relatives and parents who are aging. You see your loved ones a bit more forgetful, less mobile, and more fragile. Yet, there is still that person inside who you looked up to, respected for their individual characteristics, stamina, character, and the way they lived life. I experienced this phenomena this last week. I visited with some elderly relatives during a winter storm. I was truly concerned for their safety if they drove under such conditions. So, I volunteered to drive them around. I knew the freeway would be a safer place because those roads are better maintained, yet, when my uncle adamantly directed me onto the hilly and icy city streets, I did it. I could not bare to override him. After all, all of my life I looked up to him; respected his decision making. But by the time we got to our destination, everyone was frazzled because it was dangerous. Then I was conflicted because on one hand, their driveway was so snowy they could not get out unless they paid someone to shovel the driveway. Yet, I did not think it wise that their driveway allow them out under such conditions. There is such a fine line between helping our aging parents, relatives, and friends and stripping them of their dignity. I now believe that sometimes we must err on the side of safety and take control. I did not. I had the great idea of backing the car in and out so that IF they needed to get out, they could. Well, I got the car stuck in the snow. Jim and I had to shovel the whole driveway to get the car back in. Jim told me that I had made a big mistake because now my uncle would think it was OK to go out. Gently, I reminded them that they should not go out under such conditions. Well, the day after we left, my uncle slid on the ice in a store parking lot and hit another car. That would not have happened if I had used my good sense instead of deciding with my heart. The same thing happened today when my parents and I went to Christmas dinner at a restaurant. My mother needs to be using a walker or scooter, but her pride makes her only take a cane. I did not insist on the walker going and because we went to a different restaurant than planned, she almost did not make it to the table. If she had fallen, it would take at least 2 people to pick her up due to her weight and lymphedema in her legs. Again, not wanting to make my parents feel less mobile and functional than they already do, I did not use my head, I used my heart. If they were children, I would just take over. It is a difficult line to walk. I need to learn to cross over into both sides when it is most appropriate to maintain a good quality of life for all of my elderly relatives, friends, and my parents. I hope that us baby boomers learn some lessons from caring for our parents. We need to acknowledge that body parts wear out, our mind and reactions will never get faster so we need to accept help and utilize all of the gadgets, makeovers to homes, and services without resisting so that people do not need to make a choice between our dignity or our quality of life. As caregivers, we must always do what is right for our parents, relatives, and friends, not what makes us feel safer or better.

Factoring in caregiving to loss of productivity cost related to cancer

December 11, 2008 by  
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According to the Matria Healthcare website, a recent study shows that the loss of productivity due to cancer in 2000 was approximately $146 billion. However, if you factor in caregiving and household activity and it increases to $232.4 billion. The expectations are that this amount will climb to over $300 billion by 2020. These are astonishing numbers. This study helps to make a case for legislation to provide caregivers with some form of help; preferably a combination of support such as preventative medical, mental, and financial.

Kudos to BlueRidge Electric in North Carolina

December 10, 2008 by  
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According to, BlueRidge Electric donated 6 grants to non-profits to help people with their bills. Six thousand of the grant dollars went to organizations that support family caregivers. How great that someone understands that most caregivers are struggling financially as they care for family members. If any of you know of other companies that are supporting family caregivers, please let people know.

Men taking on more as caregivers for elderly parents

November 29, 2008 by  
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The NY Times does an excellent story on a study by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Alliance for Caregivers showing that men make up about 40% of the family caregivers. This percentage is up from 1996. I know that men can make GREAT caregivers because my ex-husband and best friend has been caring for his 97 year old mother for over a year and prior to that he helped his mom care for his father who had Alzheimer’s. However, I believe that he is an exception to the rule. I have seen so many brothers, husbands, and other male family members pass such duties off to the females in the family.

The sad part of the article is that male, like female, female caregivers can get very ill from caregiving. They must take on both the emotional, the physical, and the financial burdens as do the female caregivers. I wonder if men may get even more ill because in their upbringing they are not socialized to be caregivers. Of course empathy and caring are not female characteristics, but in general we reward females for exhibiting such behaviors and make sure males know that it is not acceptable. Luckily both of my sons are like their dad, compassionate, caring, empathetic, and proud of those traits.

Reliving last year and missing my aunt

November 25, 2008 by  
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You can read all you want about caregiver stress. You can intellectually understand that you have had an episode of depression, gained weight, have increased fatigue, and your body was so depleted you had to have rotator cuff surgery. So what else could impact you from being a primary 24 hour caregiver? With the holidays coming, every night as I try to fall asleep, I think about where I was and what was happening with my aunt. This was close to the week where she had a breakdown and she and I decided it was time for 24 hour care other than us. She had 1 month or so of taking care of herself except for some medical care needed. Then our euphoria led us to let her go to long. She was rushed to emergency on my trip up to WA. She had delusions about what was happening in the hospital. She seemed defeated. It took all of my energy and love for her to bring up the 24 hour care. Her daughter did not agree. Thankfully, the doctor would not let her go without knowing she had trained care. I made sure that my cousin setup for one of those buttons and for 24 hour care. I left for Thanksgiving so the family could salvage whatever there was left of family time. Next week, would be the week I went up and did not leave until it was time to get pictures for the service. I feel haunted by those last months right now. I miss her. I can only imagine what it would be like to be a caregiver for longer than 8 months. I would recommend that anyone who has been a caregiver for any length of time for someone who died to get psychological help. I recommend that anyone who has been a caregiver get support because just the act of caregiving can compromise one’s health. Anyone else out there have similar experiences with thinking back to what you were doing this time while caregiving?

California Governor proposes cuts to in-home caregivers and taxes on veterinary care

November 23, 2008 by  
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One of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposals would be to cut wages and services to disabled persons in the state. According to the Press, this would save the state $100 million in an effort to reduce the state deficit. It appears that we are trying to cut the deficit on the backs of those who are in need, not find ways to cut the deficit on the backs of both the haves and the have nots. I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think that cutting the wages of caregivers.

Another one of Schwarzenegger’s proposals is to lump furniture and appliance repair service taxes with veterinary service taxes. In my mind, this would be like taxing human medical services. As someone who just paid $4000.00 for surgery on my dog and am still paying for services related to the illness, I can honestly say that if I had to pay much more, I would either not get medical treatment for my dog or put her down. Anyone who has a pet knows that many medical treatments of his/her pet costs similarly to a human treatment. I know that the Governor runs in the Show Horse Jumping circles. Maybe those people can afford the a tax on their veterinary service but no the everyday person. As MarketWatch points out, the CMVA is concerned about the costs for treating shelter dogs also. All Californians with pets need to write to their legislators and the governor.

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