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Dear Diary

2005- 2006

January 2005 - New Year, new hopes, old lessons. I admit it. Sometimes it is apply the principles of fearless caregiving all the times. But when I do apply them to my everyday life, remarkable things do happen. A few things first, we received commitment from our friends at Clay Aiken’s foundation (Bubel-Aiken) that Clay will be the keynote speaker at the Fort Lauderdale Fearless Caregiver Conference and we will be the official hosts of the first Voices for Change Gala to occur the night of the conference in the Spring. I am a fan of Clays work as a singer but much more importantly as a vocal advocate for issues dealing with children living with Developmental Disabilities. But back to my lesson. In one of my frequent recent trips to the northern climes, I found myself stranded in the Philadelphia airport with about 700 other travelers.

February 2005 - I spent a week this month in Honolulu with my friends Steve and Angie Potts, who were hosting the “Hawaii Voices for Change Gala” for the Bubel-Aiken Foundation, just to see what we may be in for in a few months.  Hey, it was all for work, I swear.  Actually, most of the days in Hawaii were spent in the convention center trailing Steve and Angie as they worked hard to make the event a success (which it was).  I got to spend some time with ClayFans who are as dedicated to the work of the foundation as they are to Clay’s performances. Next time, maybe I’ll get to eat some Poi. 

Next identity theft article:

March 2005 - The month of inclusion.  Not only because of the upcoming Bubel/Aiken Foundation gala we are hosting next month along with our annual Fort Lauderdale Fearless Caregiver conference, but because of the lessons that I have learned about the similarity between those with differing caregiving situations.  There is much of the same type of joy that is felt by an Alzheimer’s caregiver who was able to glimpse, for just a few moments, signs of recognition behind the insidious veil clouding their loved ones mind and an Autism teacher who hears an eight year old child speak for the very first time.  We are truly all in this together.

We also produce the first issue of the South Florida edition of Today’s Caregiver magazine. Now, that’s a homecoming.

April 2005 - What is the saying March goes out like a lamb…This April actually came in on winged feet.  On the 16th we spent the day with 650 of our favorite people at the Fort Lauderdale Fearless Caregiver conference in the morning and capped it off with an elegant gala with over 450 in attendance.

The day was in the true spirit of Sharing Wisdom with an active question and answer period that covered everything from latest medications, to security technology.  As usual, it was a real joy to watch the experts on the panel taking notes as conference attendees support their fellow caregivers with tremendously insightful answers. After all, who are the real caregiving experts but those caring for their loved ones.  The month ended with a trip to give a keynote speech to the Montana Gerontology Conference, now I know what they mean by Big Sky country.   weekly_newsletter042105.htm

May 2005 - How timely is it that Older Americans month and Elder Law month coincide with the opportunity to rant on about a few of my favorite issues.  On more than one occasion this month I had to put a halt to the age-old but misguided concept that you are no longer a caregiver once your loved one is living in a long term care facility. Nothing can be further than the truth and hopefully, this myth will be dispelled along with the other one which also reared its ugly head this month, the one that says that you can not speak up for your rights in the hospital for fear of retaliation. But as usual, I was able to turn to our readers to get the most valuable and appropriate advice to answer this caregiver’s concerns.

June 2005 - Adult Day Care, Respite and Advance Directives…this month was all about caregivers doing the right things to support their loved ones.  We met Alice in California who brought her entire support group to share the day with her as she was honored with a Fearless Caregiver Award and talked about AD2 which stands for Adult day care to the second power. In other words, utilizing Adult Day Care is also an opportunity for a smart caregiver to add some respite into their schedule. weekly_newsletter062305.htm

July 2005 - I remember it as it was only yesterday.  The rain soaked Fourth of July weekend, when a friend and I backed a rental truck up to the printing house to take delivery on the first issue of Today’s Caregiver magazine.  I spent that weekend as I spent many others in the early days – driving around South Florida delivering magazines to hospitals and other care facilities.  It was a great opportunity to watch how people responded to the magazine and to spend time talking with readers making sure that we were covering issues of importance to our fellow caregivers.   weekly_newsletter070705.htm

August 2005 - The dog-days of summer have ended with a bite worse than many of us in the South have seen since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.  It ended with deadly force as Katrina moved into the Gulf Coast with devastating force. When she first came ashore in our South Florida neighborhood, we lost power for a day, which finally goaded us into purchasing a generator with wishes of never having to use it. Since Katrina, we have stayed in touch with our friends and colleagues in the gulf coast states trying to help in whatever way we can. Our prayers are with them. As in natural disasters, we caregivers need to remain prepared for whatever health issues can befall us or our loved ones.   Being prepared ain’t just for Boy Scouts anymore.  

September 2005 - As the Gulf Coast deals with the devastating blow dealt by Hurricane Katrina and questions ensue about governmental response efforts, it reminds me of the simple fact that we as family caregivers need to be prepared for the many possible challenges that arise on a moments notice. And as I found on a recent flight, you not only need to know that there is an emergency plan, you also need to be able to enact it on a moments notice.

October 2005 - Still Helping - It is fourteen years since dad passed and I think about him some part of most every day. He was such a kind and giving man that I think he would be happy to know that his illness was the impetus to create all we do to help care for caregivers. In fact, he is still helping people he would never get to meet and I think that somehow he knows and is smiling. weekly_newsletter101305.htm

For the first time in over five years, we did not publish one of the weekly newsletters, but that is the least of our worries as Fred Flintstone’s wife comes to visit and bring a truly frightening Halloween Trick or Treat.

November 2005 - I imagine that my new friends in Sacramento are grateful my electricity came back on two days before my visit to host a caregiving conference, since I was able to take a long hot shower for the first time in the two weeks since Hurricane Wilma struck.

I don’t think the attendees at our second annual Connecticut Fearless Caregiver conference knew what was wrong, but I’m sure that they know something was amiss the day of the event. They didn’t know that a few hours before I learned of losing someone dear to me only hours before the event. weekly_newsletter112305.htm

December 2005 - A year unlike any other. (Hopefully.)
Be it the Age of Pisces or the Age of Aquarius, 2005 was certainly a year marked by powerful waters. Beginning with the aftereffects of a tsunami and ended with a series of devastating hurricanes, the Age of Peaceful Waters couldn’t come fast enough. weekly_newsletter122805.htm

January 2006 - We started the year talking with “Cool Joe” - Joe Montana. After his years of relative safety on the gridiron, he is talking about something which almost tackled him after he retired and is of great importance to many of our readers.

February 2006 - Ah’ Roma - It’s off to Rome – Not Italy, but still nice. We host a Fearless Caregiver conference with the local Area Agency on Aging in Rome Georgia and it is a real hit. An attendee talks of a something near and dear to my heart which I wish no other caregiver ever needs to hear from their family members. weekly_newsletter022206.htm

March 2006 - Nifty Fifty
- Some dates stick in your mind - like the impending date on the calendar signifying your fiftieth birthday. Thankfully my friends and loved ones make it more palatable at a celebration in my favorite Indian restaurant. Then I hopped on a plane to spend a few days at the ASA/NCOA annual conference with colleagues from across the nation. Certainly takes the sting out of the new decade. weekly_newsletter031606.htm

This edition’s cover interview is with a celebrity who could be called nothing less than a true Fearless Caregiver. 

April 2006 - My Barking Heart - It has been six months since Hurricane Wilma (blue tarps still on roofs) and five months since my eighteen year old cat passes. I guess some folks thought it was about time to add another member to the family. I guess they were right.

May 2006 - CEO’s All - One of the most important goals of a Fearless Caregiver conference is to allow all of the healthcare professionals to spend the day together breaking bread, sharing wisdom, and to better understand each others role in the healthcare system. This includes all members of the team from doctors to nurses to family caregivers and organizational leaders. This is why we were so excited this year to create a panel of leading national healthcare CEO’s designed to interact directly with family caregivers at the Fort Lauderdale Fearless Caregiver conference. And interact they did.

June 2006 - Listening to the Experts. It is hard to believe but the fifth “Summer of Respite” begins. We are firm believers in the value of respite to caregivers and our loved ones, but many times we don’t even know where to start to achieve some much needed relief for ourselves. As usual, you need not look any further than your fellow caregiver to supply a wide variety of respite options that have worked for them. As I always say, never ignore a chance to listen to the real caregiving experts – your fellow caregivers.

July 2006 - The best anniversary gift - Eleven years, fifty conferences, sixty celebrity caregiver cover interviews and two hundred and eighty eight newsletter columns and still nothing can equal the excitement that we feel when caregivers share their advice, insights and wisdom with their fellow caregivers. weekly_newsletter070606.htm

August 2006 - My Dog Days of Summer Rant
We have heard from a lot of caregivers over the past few months who seem to be hearing the same blather from friends and family members about when a caregivers role ends. I think that it is best to leave that question to the real experts – the caregivers themselves. weekly_newsletter081706.htm

September 2006 - Waiting for Godot, Ernesto, or Wilma
So far this hurricane season seems to be turning all of the prognostications into hot air (fingers crossed, there are still months to go until the all clear is sounded). But as in caregiving there is no such thing as too much advanced preparation.

New channel at The Ovarian Cancer Channel

October 2006 - Come Fly With Me - Austin and Houston in one week (with a short hop back to Miami in between to see the veterinary surgeon, ah the joy of puppies), there is nothing in the world like being in the room with hundreds of family caregivers who all previously thought that they were the only ones who could understand what caregivers go through on a daily basis as we care for our loved ones.

November 2006 - Midterm madness - Well the Midterm elections are over and the Respite Bill has still not been signed, but it does seem to be on its way to the president’s desk. Now that the campaigning is over, we need to find out who our newly elected (or re-elected) representatives are and get out our pencils and pens to make sure they know what their bosses (you) demand from them in the coming years.

December 2006 - Farewell 2006 - Well, we squeaked by this year with hardly a leaf out of place, none of the pre-ordained hurricanes seemed to make land in this neck of the woods (I wouldn’t mind a repeat of this performance next year). The Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006 (HR 3248) does get passed and signed into law (congratulations to Jill Kagan and her dedicated team) and we end the year with more caregiving wisdom being shared. Bring on 2007. weekly_newsletter121306.htm


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