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Dear Diary



January 2011
Speak up when we complain about how hard it is for Mom to hear; after years at the disco, no sound is too clear
Slow down when we jog by, complaining about the man with the cane, ‘cause I think I just got a Charley horse or at least a small sprain
When I talk with Mom’s doc about her memory disorder, this time I must remember to bring a tape recorder

Newsletter 01/04/11

February 2011 - I remember the moment vividly. I was in a hospital lobby, having just talked my way around the security guards questioning why I was walking into the family waiting areas on each floor. The year was 1995 and I was actually in the middle of distributing the first issue of Today’s Caregiver magazine to every hospital waiting area in southeast Florida, a ritual that I personally conducted for the first two years of publication.

Newsletter 02/01/11

March 2011 - I received a call from my good friend Penelope today. I always enjoy spending time with her and her husband, Jim, when I visit the town in which they live.  A more lively, fun and loving couple you will never find.  I looked forward to a night at a local Italian bistro, alternately laughing and solving all the problems of the world in one evening.   Penelope called to tell me that they will not be in town when I visit next week.   The reason is that they will be traveling to Penelope’s hometown to see her mother and her mother’s doctors.

Newsletter 03/03/11

April 2011 - In a recent telephone call with a friend halfway around the world, the true nature of caregiving became yet a little clearer to me. Hal is the primary caregiver for his mother who is living with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.  One day, he was confronted with a situation he had never let himself think about before. In retrospect, he admitted to himself that his mother’s condition was deteriorating; but suddenly and seemingly out of the blue, he found that her condition had changed to the point where it was necessary for him to assist with her bathing.

Newsletter 04/21/11

May 2011 - I have never gotten used to the look of astonished disappointment in my dog, Morris’ face as I grab my travel-worn suitcase down from the shelf for another round of TSA tango, bad airline coffee, and hotels which range from terrific to uncertain as to when the room was last cleaned. Morris has even given up trying to jump into the suitcase since he long ago learned that he isn’t going anywhere.

Newsletter 05/12/11

It is a great pleasure to travel the country talking to family caregivers in urban and rural cities.  I have met so many gracious folks and feel a special kinship to all of these communities.  It was with intense sadness that I watched the news last weekend about two of these cities—Minneapolis, Minnesota and Joplin, Missouri and this week as more tornados struck wide areas in Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Newsletter 05/26/11

June 2011 - Sixteen years ago this week on a rainy Fourth of July weekend, I drove a rental truck to a local magazine printer's warehouse to pick up copies of the first issue of Today's Caregiver magazine. I loaded the issues onto the truck and spent the entire next week delivering the magazines to hospitals and care facilities across my community.

July 2011 - Last week, the 110th Fearless Caregiver Conference started out of the gate at full gallop. One of the first questions during the morning Q&A session set the tone for the day.  A 30-something-year-old goateed man stood up and said, “I’m from up north and my question is about long-distance caregiving. I have a 90-year-old mother who lives here in Boca Raton. I am her only son, yet she is quick to say “Don’t bother me” if I offer help.

Newsletter 07/21/11

August 2011 - I wrote a caregiver communiqué last winter to highlight the challenges of coping with senior falls and what we would need to do to help our loved ones live safely at home. My dear friend Barbara Rich, who was the Betty in this story, passed away last week. Her beloved daughter and truly Fearless Caregiver Wendy (Donna in this story) was at her side. I’d like to share the story once again in her honor. Our thoughts and prayers are with Wendy and her family.

Newsletter 08/18/11

September 2011 - Donna, Isabel, Betsy, Inez, David, Andrew, Frances, Jeanne, Katrina, Wilma. This is not an invitation list for a family reunion, just a list of the hurricanes that I have been lucky(?) enough to live through.  Since I was born, I have never missed being there when a hurricane hit my neck of the woods in Southeast Florida.  When I graduated from college upstate, I drove back home through the onset of Hurricane David. Years later, when Hurricane Andrew hit, I was home visiting my mother, even though I had lived away from Florida for the previous eight years. (The Chamber of Commerce finally asked if I wouldn’t mind never coming back!) 

Newsletter 09/01/11

Although I would much rather memorialize the birth of a loved one than their passing, tomorrow is the second anniversary of the passing of a young woman who meant so very much to me; someone I have written about on our shared birthday in March since she was taken from us.

Newsletter 09/15/11

October 2011 - Lately, I have been writing a lot about loss:  two weeks ago, about the second anniversary of the loss of a young lady who was extremely important to me, from an accident involving a distracted driver; last week, about my friend’s recent suicide; and today, it would be quite easy to continue the conversation about loss since this marks the 20th anniversary of my dad’s passing. Yet, I do not want to talk about loss or sadness today. There is enough of that to go around for all of us.

Newsletter 10/04/11

November 2011 - I have always said that having a roomful of 400 family caregivers and a celebrity who has gone through family caregiving means you actually have 401 family caregivers in the room. This statement has hardly ever rung more true than last week at our eighth annual New Haven Fearless Caregiver Conference.  Our keynote speaker was Patricia Richardson, who played Jill Taylor in the television program Home Improvements and many other television, film and stage roles.

Newsletter 11/01/11

I think there has never been a more aptly named holiday for family caregivers than Thanks Giving. Oh, I know that there are traditional theories behind the holiday, the Pilgrims, turkey, stuffing and all that. But I am taken with the fact that the name of the holiday details everything I think about caregivers: Thanks for Giving so much to your loved ones, friends and community.

Newsletter 11/24/11

December 2011 - My friend Rick’s grandmother passed away a few weeks ago at 94 years of age.  I wrote about her when her son (Rick’s dad) took ill a few years ago:

...unfortunately, Rick's dad needed a quadruple bypass, which the rural hospital near his parents' home was not equipped to perform.

Newsletter 12/15/11

Now, as this past year is put on the shelf, we turn our hopeful gaze towards 2012,
Will there be medical breakthroughs for our loved one’s ills?
Will we still fight with them over taking their pills?
Will any of our leaders in nation and state look up from campaigning and yell out, “Wait!”?

Newsletter 12/29/11


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