Tag: caregivers

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Create a Support Network in Your Hour of Need

Online SupportPlanner from Caring Bridge
Interactive online calendar allows easy scheduling

Are you , or someone you know, facing or dealing with a health crisis? Are you desperate for a little extra help and support but don’t know where to turn?  Now, you don’t have to go it alone.

Ten years ago my husband had a heart attack. We had two high school age children who were knee deep in extracurricular activities, part time jobs, and college searches. My husband and I supported our family with our home based business, that on the best days required 24/7 attention from both of us. There was not time or energy in our days for what we were already doing let alone to deal with the extra demands of a sudden health crisis.  I didn’t know where to turn.

We called on a few family members to help out, who graciously availed themselves to us, but it was not an orderly, easy coordination of efforts and at times seemed more effort than help. Who can think, plan and organize at a time like that? I couldn’t.  CaringBridge.com did not exist at that time, at least in my world. It would have made all the difference.

CaringBridge.com is a non-profit organization that understands the difficulties inherent in coping with a life crisis. Its mission is to “amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier”.  The evidence is clear that it is fulfilling its mission.

The SupportPlanner is CaringBridge’s primary tool to assist people facing a health crisis such as the one my husband and I faced.  It is an online tool that makes coordination of support efforts thorough, easy  and efficient. It provides a centralized, virtual location to organize helpful tasks, such as the delivering of a meal, transportation, taking care of pets, etc. Only people who are invited by the user to view the planner can access the calendar and sign up for a task, ensuring privacy for the parties involved.

Several months ago, my friend Sandy was facing major surgery. She lived alone and was uneasy about the six week recovery period she was facing, when she would be unable to drive. Her sister had heard about CaringBridge.com and before Sandy even entered the hospital she had signed coordinated a full spectrum of support volunteers using The SupportPlanner and she did it all through email.  She coordinated meals, visits, errands, and drivers and Sandy received the support of a dozen well wishers throughout recovery. The support was a tremendous gift to Sandy and, I believe, resulted in a quicker, less painful recovery.

In honor of National Cargiver’s Month, I encourage you to visit CaringBridge.com and learn a little about what they have to offer.  You never know when you, or someone you care about might need support.


November is National Caregiver’s Month

November is National Caregiver’s Month

Support for the caregiver has grown by leaps and bounds since I cared for my aging parents ten plus years ago. It was a frustrating and lonely road at that and my siblings and I spent many hours trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. Now, information and advice lies around every corner and its unfolding has been thrilling to watch.

Caregivers, both paid and unpaid, provide an incredibly valuable service to our loved ones and deserve the extra attention they are now receiving. My heart goes out especially to family members who, by choice or circumstance, have taken on the role of caregiver to a loved one and who with little, if any, experience or training are carried through by sheer act of will, love and commitment. They deserve all the support and appreciate we can offer them.

Taking advantage of the support options available online and off can make an enormous difference to the individual caregiver. Without the support now available, these individuals would likely arrive on the other side of the caregiving experience in a battered and wounded state, suffering from burnout, compassion fatigue and perhaps more seriously long term illnesses.  I know I did. We are fortunately much more aware of the pitfalls and fallout of caregiving and while this awareness may not erase the hardship, it certainly can ease it.

If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, I would encourage you to read through the following list of caregiver support services and share them with other caregivers. You don’t have to go it alone. You can benefit from other’s experiences and expertise and make your job a little bit easier.

Throughout November, I will continue to highlight various caregiving organizations that I have come in contact with and will appreciate any feedback you have to offer.


Cures for “Midlife Madness Fatigue”

Cures for “Midlife Madness Fatigue”

I love Sophie Lumen's artwork. She exemplifies the aging abundantly spirit in all that she does. Be sure and visit her website www.feedthebeauty.com.
art by Sophie Lumen, artist and founder of FeedtheBeauty.com

There’s a lesson to be learned by those just beginning their journey into midlife from my experiences that I describe in Midlife Madness. The most important of which is that it’s time to fasten your seat belt and hold on for dear life! You’re in for the ride of your life! All kidding aside, midlife madness is jam packed with life lessons and I say as often as I have the opportunity, the decade from fifty to sixty was, without a doubt, the most challenging, demanding and fulfilling decade of my life thus far.

The intensity of the challenges we face are equal to the intensity of the depth of our soul we can reach. I do not wish misfortune on anyone, even myself, but it is bound to place itself in our path sooner or later regardless of how much effort we put into protecting ourselves from it. The good news is that we come out the other side a fuller, deeper, richer, more compassionate human being.

If you are struggling with aging parents, health issues, difficult marriages/divorces, strained relationships, financial difficulties, take heart and take hold of the wisdom to be gained in them. When we face our problems head on, evaluate our responses to them, give up our need to constantly control the outcome, and love and accept ourselves despite the mistakes we make, we are gaining wisdom and we are learning to age with an abundance of spirit.

Women are survivors.  More importantly they are thrivers. At their very core, they believe in love. They believe in happy endings. They believe that life is good. It is that very belief that gives them so much power to heal the world.

Midlife madness fatigue may give you pause, but it will not defeat you. I promise.

You Don’t Have to Be “Elderly” to Be Affected by Excessive Summer Heat

You Don’t Have to Be “Elderly” to Be Affected by Excessive Summer Heat

Drink Water
Keep Cool

We hear all the time that heat stress (hypothermia) is a serious issue for the elderly. Of course, it’s absolutely true! What we may not be considering is that while most of us do not consider ourselves “elderly” at 55, 65 or even 75, the fact remains that we are more susceptible to the ill effects caused by extreme temperatures than we were even a few years ago. These warnings are not only for our truly elderly parents, they are for us as well!

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) Elderly people (that is, people aged 65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people”. Here’s why:

  • As we age, our bodies do not adapt to changes in temperature as quickly or as easily as they once did. In hot weather our body does not cool us down as quickly as it used to making us more prone to heat exhaustion.
  • We are also more likely to have chronic health conditions that further add to our body’s inability to adapt to temperature change.
  • We are more likely to be taking prescription medications, many of which can and do alter our body’s ability to adapt to changes in temperature.


  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Taking prescription medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs that may decrease the body’s ability to cool itself through perspiration. (Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your prescriptions. Find out how they can affect your ability to tolerate heat and/or sun.)
  • The normal aging process often results in poor circulation and inefficient sweat glands making it more difficult for the body to cool itself quickly and effectively.
  • Alcohol consumption


If you have any of the mentioned risk factors, and even if you don’t, take precautions during the summer months to avoid becoming overheated. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Pay attention to the weather reports. Know when the temperature is going to rise and be prepared.
  • Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake during hot spells.
  • Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages. Avoid extremely cold drinks as they may cause cramps.
  • Limit activity.
  • Wear cool clothes.
  • Remain indoors. If you do not have air-conditioning, consider spending the hottest hours of the day at an indoor mall.


  • Go to a shady and/or cool place as quickly as possible.
  • Cool down rapidly, using whatever means available. Immersion in a cool shower or tub, a cool spray from a garden hose, cool cloth or sponge, and it is even recommended, particularly when the humidity is very low, to wrap the individual in a cool, wet sheet.
  • Monitor body temperature with a thermometer if possible. A normal temperature is 98.6.
  • Seek medical assistance


Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea


Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days

of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

*Information provided by the CDC


Shelley Webb, RN ~ “The Intentional Caregiver”

Shelley Webb, RN ~ “The Intentional Caregiver”

Shelley Webb, RN is “The Intentional Caregiver”.  With more than 30 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, RN Case Manager, Geriatric Care Manager and caregiver to her father, she has a wealth of experience both personally and professionally. Her understanding of the myriad facets of caregiving puts her in a unique position to offer support and guidance all who care for aging parents and loved ones.

A consultant, coach and adviser to caregivers, Shelley is passionate about helping others find a way to simplify, calm and enrich their lives in the midst of  trying circumstances. She believes that by being intentional about the caregiver role, an experience can be created that is not only survivable but enjoyable and meaningful.

As “The Intentional Caregiver” and President of The Eldercare Support Groups, Shelley and her network of experts have become the definitive source for educational materials, encouragement and successful strategies to enable the caregiver to create an easier, less stressful and even more rewarding life. She is also a volunteer advocacy ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association, a panel expert at ShareCare.com (a new online health and wellness platform created by Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Jeff Arnold – founder of WebMD), as well as a speaker, and an expert writer for several on-line “boomer”, aging and caregiving resources.

You can catch up with Shelley on Facebook,  ,  Twitter @ShelleyWebbRN , and/or Share Care

For more information visit her website: The Intentional Caregiver



Sundowning is a pattern of behavior that occurs in the evening after the sun goes down in elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  You may notice that your charge, who may be somewhat lucid during daylight hours, loses ground in the evenings. My mother exhibited this behavior in varying degrees for about six months before she died. I did not understand what was happening at the time and once I did it was easier to handle.

The first time I experienced sundowning was one evening while I was visiting Mom at her apartment in the retirement community where she lived. She had not been doing well and recently had a fall. As we sat together, eating dinner and watching TV, she abruptly turned to me and asked, “Where is your Dad?”

My father had been dead for eight years at the time.  I studied her face trying to discern what information she was looking for. She was quite herself and lucid during the day at that time and I was caught completely off guard. I didn’t know how to respond.  Should I tell her the truth or go along with her delusion? I stumbled my way through it that night reminding her that he had died. She looked surprised and upset that no one had told her of his passing.  The question resurfaced again and again, in addition to others.

Sometimes I merely said, “He’s out” and she would go back to whatever it was she was doing. Other times she would push and prod until I told her the truth and then she would cry, every time it was if she was hearing of his death for the first time. It was painful for both of us.

Dementia is usually caused by illness or mini strokes that have damaged a person’s brain cells. Sundowning is thought to occur due to the correspondent damage of a person’s circadian rhythms, the internal clock that regulates the body’s physiological activities over a twenty four hour period.

There are several things you can do to try and minimize the effects of sundowning.

  • Keep the person active and awake during the day as much as possible. It makes it easier for them to fall asleep in the evening.
  • Plan activities during morning hours and keep the afternoon activities calm and simple.
  • When possible make sure the person receives morning sunlight and increase interior light before dusk.
  • Keep your loved ones life and surroundings simple and uncluttered. A sudden change or move can make it worse.
  • Sometimes confusion can be caused or aggravated by dehydration or hunger. Often the elderly turn away from food and drink, increasing the likelihood of deficiencies.

Most of all, knowing that sundowning exists can be tremendously comforting. I wish I had known then!