January 2012 - A reader asked me
recently about how we can talk about “fearless caregiving”
since there is so very much fear inherent in caregiving.
She found the fact that we could use the word “fearless”
when talking about caregiving to be, at best, unrealistic.
What a wonderful question to start off the New Year. I
would be lying if I said that I do not feel fear when
dealing with any new challenge to a loved one’s health and
February 2012 - I was in Philly last
weekend for a short visit. My reason for visiting the City
of Brotherly Love was to present the keynote speech at the
Frontotemporal Degeneration Caregiver Conference hosted by
the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. This
was a great event with highly motivated caregivers, a
dedicated staff, and doctors who really gave a darn.
Some Lovin’ Pushiness
What is the most important attribute you need to possess
to help you as you care for your loved one? (And don’t say
“being a loving person” – that is a given.)
Is it organization skills? A good answer. Once you find
yourself being thrust through the looking glass of
caregiving, the paperwork tsunami is seemingly unending;
yet, that is not the answer I’m seeking.
March 2012 - I called my mother last
week to apologize. I apologized for anything I ever did,
might do, have been perceived to do or ever may do in the
future to make her at all unhappy. The reason for my
sudden request for forgiveness has to do with a visit to a
local emergency room I had the night before.
Once again, as has been the case for the past three
years, today I celebrate my birthday and grieve the phone
call I will not receive.
“Beware the Ides of March,” as the saying goes. Although it
may be true in my case, nothing could have been further from
the truth for Sara Kaufman, also born on this date. Sara
was always filled with ideas, concepts and thoughts which
spilled out of her so fast, you soon realized she was
thinking faster than anyone could possibly talk. Sara became
involved in whatever caught her attention, including
April 2012 -
I spent time this past weekend perusing the work of some of
the best authors it has been my privilege to have ever read.
No, I am not talking about Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare or even
Stephen King (although they are all quite good in their own
May 2012 - As you read this, (hopefully)
I am spending the day with a room bursting with healthcare
professionals, doctors, attorneys, Area Agency on Aging
professionals, financial and home care specialists as well
as family caregivers. All outstanding in their own fields of
expertise, including and most especially each and every
family caregiver who is the avowed expert in caring for his
or her own loved one. Oh yes, and one Arthur “Fonzie”
Fonzarelli, also known as Mr. Henry Winkler...
June 2012 -
Today, the Supreme Court is scheduled to make a much awaited
announcement about an issue that affects us all. And no
matter what your thoughts are about the topic of their
announcement or even what you call it, if you or your loved
ones have already benefitted from any element of it or if
you don’t believe there is any benefit to it at all, there
is one thing to be said about ObamaCare or the Affordable
Care Act that we can all agree upon.
July 2012 -
As we round the corner and enter the fall season of our 15th
Fearless Caregiver Conference year (silly you, still living
in the summer), the many conference rooms, banquet centers
and convention centers in which we have held the events
filter through my mind. The consistent themes that I see in
my mind’s eye are, of course, the support, camaraderie and
interactions between family caregivers.
In honor of this week’s 19th International AIDS Conference
held in Washington, D.C., along with the inspirational AIDS
quilt presentations across the mall, please allow me to
repeat a column I wrote (also in the Fearless
Caregiver book) after my trip to the first presentation of
the AIDS quilt in Washington D.C. in 1996.
August 2012 -
Yesterday, I drove down to Miami for a televised meeting
discussing the findings of a brand new survey conducted by
United Healthcare, USA TODAY, and NCOA which surveyed 2,250
U.S. adults aged 60 or older. This inaugural United
States of Aging Survey examines seniors’ outlook and
preparedness for aging, and their community’s ability to
meet their needs as they age.
September 2012 -
The chill is settling into the air after a particularly hot
summer for much of the country. The Halloween costumes have
yet to be purchased (at least not on purpose) and the
thought of pumpkin pie is still a distant memory at this
point. So, right now is the best time to think about the
What?! We haven’t even trick or treated yet! And, if you
want to make the good Lord laugh, tell Him/Her (covering my
bases) your plans.
October 2012 -
I believe that I have the unique distinction of being the
only person traveling to Ohio this week who is not running
for office, working for someone running for office, or
reporting on the people running for office. The P.A.
system at the Columbus airport sounded like it was
announcing the new fall cable television lineup. “Mr.
/Ms. (fill in name of major political reporter), please meet
your party at baggage claim.”
November 2012 - At yesterday’s special Halloween
Fearless Caregiver Conference held in Port Saint Lucie (our
120th event), the only scary thing was how much wisdom and
advice was shared by the family caregivers in attendance.
And that’s a good scary. In particular, we spoke a lot about
one of the most important things you need to have in your
caregiver toolkit: how to navigate the holiday season as a
Let’s Do the Time Shift Again
Dear President Obama: Congratulations on winning re-election
to the highest office in the land. As you well know, our
already divided nation was tested to its limits during this
seemingly endless campaign season, which is mercifully
Mr. President, if I may be so bold as to make suggestions, I
vehemently urge you to continue to pay attention to the
needs of a huge and under-appreciated voting bloc, 66.7
million strong—the family caregivers.
December 2012 -
For those long distance caregivers who are going home to
visit your caregiving loved ones, may I be so bold as to
offer a few suggestions.
Although it would be a bit inappropriate to walk into your
loved one’s home with an old trench coat, large magnifying
glass in hand and sporting a Sherlock Holmes Deerstalker
hat, nevertheless, my dear Watson, you are on a case—the
case I call “The Holiday Visit of the Caregiver Detective.”
(Cue organ crescendo.)
Holmes for the Holiday
As we stand in the midst of the 2012 holiday season, please
allow me to cautiously interject myself into the discussions
between primary and long-distance caregivers.
Throughout this holiday season, we have been running an
educational series called the Caregiver
Board of Directors’ Meetings. This, of course,
refers to us being able to take advantage of the time we
will be with our fellow adult family members throughout the
holidays to conduct meaningful meetings about important
topics pertaining to our loved one’s care.
As the height of the holiday season rapidly approaches, I
start to think about one of my all-time favorite holiday
movies “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The film’s protagonist
George, played to perfection by Jimmy Stewart, is
disheartened about how his life had turned out and certain
in the knowledge that it would make no big difference if he
had never been born. Clarence, the Angel who is
seeking his wings, grants George his wish and, presto,
George was never born.