Reasons Why Stopping Smoking Will Improve Your Quality of Life

Smoking is a difficult habit to kick to the curb, and many people find it difficult to begin to process. One of the reasons people struggle to quit smoking is due to the dependency they have developed, especially when withdrawal symptoms can be a struggle to overcome. However, while the negative effects of smoking are widely advertised, something which is not made as clear, is the positive lasting impact stopping smoking will have on your lifestyle. If you are struggling to find a reason to stop smoking, then sometimes focusing on the positives can have a greater impact than focusing on the negatives. With that in mind, here are just a few examples of how going smoke-free will help you to improve your general quality of life.

Being able to to be more social

While fellow smokers might not mind the smell of cigarettes, many non-smokers can find smoking in general rather off-putting due to the smell and the problems involved with passive smoking. If you have a dependency on smoking, taking regular cigarette breaks means you can be removed from the conversation. If you live in a state where smoking has been banned in some, or all, public places and buildings, then it can be a nuisance if you are craving a cigarette and have to leave the group to go out in bad weather, or stand with complete strangers, just to get your fix. Therefore, stopping smoking can improve your social life and allow you to spend more time with people who do not enjoy smoking.

If you are looking for smoking alternatives while you wean yourself off smoking, vaping is a slightly more social method of nicotine inhalation and is less effective for other people in terms of the smell. You can read more about vaping if this is an alternative you would be interested in pursuing.

You will have more energy in the long run

While you may think that smoking energizes you and improves your mood, the opposite is true. Nicotine produces a short-lived, synthetic chemical reaction which improves your mood for a brief amount of time. However, in the long run, your natural ability to feel stress relief and happier is decreased while you continue to smoke. Not only that, but smoking lowers circulation, impairs your immune system, and damages your lungs making it difficult to breathe during physical activity, and resulting in the infamous ‘smokers cough.’ Quitting smoking can improve all of these symptoms; just 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your blood pressure will begin to drop and, after only one month of being smoke-free, lung function will begin to improve. This will give you more energy and give you the capacity to be more active.

Better family relationships

By smoking around your loved ones, you are subjecting them to second-hand smoke, which can still have a detrimental effect on their health, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. As many people know this, they will often spend many hours away from their family smoking, and this can damage family relationships over time. Your family may also be concerned about the negative effects smoking has on your own health, and this will subject them to stress and cause strain in even the closest of relationships. If you are struggling to find the motivation to quit smoking for yourself, then your family may just be the inspiration that you need.

Stopping smoking can be extremely difficult, as it is a serious addiction. However, once you stop, or even begin to cut down, you will find that your quality of life begins to improve, and over time you won’t even miss how you felt when you were a smoker.

Author: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.  Contact Maggie at

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Senior Housing Checklist: What to Look for in Assisted Living Facilities

Your loved one needs assistance to maintain her sense of independence. Whether recovering from a hospital stay or experiencing progression of a diagnosed disease, you want to assure his or her safety while helping them enjoy as much freedom as possible. Looking down the road, you consider options which will allow them to “age in place” with grace and dignity.

Assisted Living Facilities are designed around the concept that a resident’s opportunity to maintain — or improve — their current quality of life is enhanced with extended services and support staff all under one roof. Many residents enjoy individual apartment or condominium living within the confines of a secure, care-oriented program.

Researching various Assisted Living Programs can be a confusing, emotional and overwhelming task. To help you mitigate the process, we’ve compiled the following checklist for use as a general guide:

1.   Location

Determine whether the facility is located close to your loved one’s support network of family and friends. If not, is there a conveniently-located hotel nearby? How far will they have to travel for preferred medical and pharmacy services? Check city-related data such as neighborhood safety ratings and which local public transportation options are available.

  1. Security Features

Does the facility employ a centrally-monitored security company and what does it offer? Advanced features such as video surveillance and specified access control systems help protect resident safety, while assuring personal and medical care staff members the opportunity to respond quickly and efficiently when needed.

  1. Safety Precautions

Often, progressive aging symptoms include reduced visual acuity, memory loss and balance instability. Check common facility areas for American Disability Act compliance.

Are hand-rails continuous and easy to distinguish against wall design features? Is flooring soft and feasible for walkers and canes? Are visual cues in place to offer guidance for pedestrian walkways, and is lighting consistent throughout?

Identify whether or not staff members undergo background checks and if everyone, staff and residents included, are up-to-date on immunizations. Ask about “missing person” drills and if residents are issued unobtrusive locator bracelet or necklaces.

  1. Medical Services

Clearly identify which medical services are offered on-site. How is the initial medical care plan assessed and who oversees daily medical management? What is the standard operating emergency procedure and how often is it tested? Are nurses or nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physical therapists and dietitians employed on staff? Determine the ratio of medical support personnel to residents.

  1. Personal Care

Make sure Certified Nursing Aids — CNA’s — are available to assist residents with activities of daily living such as:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Oral Care
  • Feeding
  • Walking
  • Functional Transfers
  1. Household Tasks

What does the facility provide by way of general housekeeping? Is an accountant available to help residents pay their bills and manage their accounts? Are housecleaning and laundry services offered, and do they include changing linens? Inquire about assistance with general shopping and in-house meal preparation. Make sure there are at least as many options available to support your loved one’s sense of freedom and independence as there are to protect her medical health.

  1. Food

The enjoyment of wholesome and appealing food is all-important part of life satisfaction as well as healing. As your loved one ages, they will inevitably lose taste buds and the ability to distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty. It is vital that meals with appropriate texture, spiciness and aroma be offered on a regular basis to prevent appetite loss and poor nutrition.

Check into the communal dining experience. Is the seating area clean and attractive? Are three, well-balanced meals prepared per day? How about snacks and beverages? Does the culinary staff honor special dietary needs?

See if you can snag some recent menus and inquire about the feasibility of family members joining an in-house meal while visiting. Ask current residents how they like the food — you’re likely to get impassioned responses one way or the other!

  1. Socialization and Community Involvement

Social interactions and community ties help ward off feelings of isolation and depression that often accompany a significant life shift within the elderly population. Older adults who are socially active enjoy reduced stress and anxiety levels, increased self-esteem and are even more likely to exercise regularly.

Ask about a facility’s planned group activities and outings. See if you can access a recent calendar of events. Consider tossing in a question about opportunities to socialize with any resident who has already weighed in on the food issue.

Your loved one’s increased need for assistance is an excellent opportunity to take stock of supportive ways to protect both her freedom and health for many productive years to come. Assessing critical factors of location, safety, medical and personal care, diet and social involvement presents a well-rounded view within which to consider promising options.

Authors Bio: Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

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7 Ways to Care for Someone in a Way That Improves Their Wellbeing

Out of the many things that human beings deeply desire, being cared for is likely to be on most people’s list, especially as they grow older. There are times in your life when you may not be able to care for yourself, and this could be as a result of sickness, disease, or disability. In moments such as these, vulnerability is often inevitable, and a helping hand is needed. Whether you happen to be a caregiver or you’re looking after someone you love, there are ways that you can care for them that will help them mentally, emotionally, and physically. This article will explore 7 ways that you can care for someone in a way that will improve their overall wellbeing.

Suggest Healthy Eating

When caring for someone, you often think about ways that you can help them feel and look better. Although there are numerous ways to make this happen, healthy eating is also a proven method you could encourage. Whether someone is suffering from an illness or healthy, choosing the right foods and drinks to consume can enhance their wellbeing. Some diet suggestions to think about include picking lean meat instead of fatty meat, opting for non-fat or 1% milk, choosing breads and cereals made from whole grains, and, of course, drinking plenty of water. You should make a note that not all foods that have fat, cholesterol, and sodium are bad. It is more about being able to strike a balance and not overindulge. Some of the positive ways that eating healthy can improve wellbeing are by making ones physical, mental, social and intellectual health better which could ultimately help improve their quality of life.

Encourage Regular Exercise

Similar to healthy eating, regular exercise has the potential to improve the holistic wellbeing of someone you’re caring for. There are so many different types of exercises they can engage in, so consider exploring a variety of them until you find one that they enjoy. If you’re thinking about what type of exercise to try out, jogging, going for long walks, yoga, stretching, swimming, bike riding, or playing a sport with low impact is ideal. The primary objective is to ensure they remain active and keep their organs healthy. Seeing as the four most important exercises are said to be aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, and balance exercises, you could find an exercise routine that incorporates all four. Additionally, you should avoid encouraging strenuous exercises if the person you’re caring for isn’t physically well.

Aside from regular exercise, if your loved one is recovering from an injury or looking for natural ways to treat a disease, you should click here to explore possible physical therapy solutions. No matter what the status of the person you’re caring for is, if they’re capable of exercise, because of the many benefits, it is something that should be encouraged.

Help Them Find Hobbies

When caring for someone, keeping them engaged from time to time is key. This is because spending large amounts of time with anyone and doing the same routine on a daily basis can become tedious and cause unnecessary tension and frustrations at times. One way to avoid this and keep both of you engaged and in high spirits is by suggesting hobbies that they can do on their own, with you, or with a group of other people. If you don’t already know, find out what their interests are and see how they can turn that into a daily or weekly hobby they use to fill some of their free time. One way that you can help them find a hobby that they will enjoy is by asking them specific questions. Some of them include whether they would like more independent or social hobbies, what they enjoy, and what their budget is. Once those things are determined, you can help them overcome any fears they may have about starting and keep trying until they find one that sticks.

The benefits of finding a hobby include helping to better cope with stress, keeping them mentally engaged, the opportunity to make social connections, and also bringing feelings of happiness, even if it’s only momentarily.

Help Them Maintain Relationships

Relationships are one of the things that give many people’s lives meaning. Even if you only have one consistent relationship in your life, it can go a long way. In this light, encouraging someone you care for to maintain positive relationships is something that you should consider. It can be so easy to become busy with life or become overwhelmed with self-pity, grief or sadness especially when suffering from a disability, injury or illness. These negative feelings can often become a hindrance to maintaining relationships with family and friends. Typically, this is because they can begin to become withdrawn and sometimes even reclusive. You, however, can suggest that they spend a few hours a daily or monthly with people who make them feel happy and good about themselves. They could spend this time indoors, or they may choose to go somewhere fun where they can talk, laugh and forget about their worries. Doing this should help them feel connected, loved, and also significant. Sometimes, positive relationships help people remember that they are important and also needed. You could also suggest that they spend a few minutes a day calling or texting people who are important to them to help their emotional wellbeing,

Make Sure They Get Regular Check-ups

Not everyone is a fan of doctors, hospitals and needles. Part of helping someone live their best life and improve their wellbeing is ensuring they are healthy. You should suggest regular check-ups with the doctor, dentist and a psychiatrist where needed. This should ensure that they’re okay and there is nothing going on that is undiscovered. If the person you’re caring for is sick, it is likely that they get regular check-ups anyway. On those premises, you can ensure they keep up with their medications and subscriptions and are taking the correct dosage at the right time every day. If they’ve opted for more natural remedies in terms of treatment, then the same applies in terms of ensuring they’re keeping up and you assist them in any way that you can.

Get Some Fresh Air

You’d be surprised at what good some fresh air could do for someone that you’re caring for. If they happen to be disabled, on bed rest, or sick, you may find that you happen to spend a lot of time indoors. It can get stuffy, boring and sometimes even depressing when you look at the same four walls on a daily basis. For this reason, you should think about taking them for a walk regularly even if it’s just around the neighborhood. As long as they’re able to change their environment and stretch their legs, then it is a job well done. You could decide to find different places to go such as the park, a museum, or to the mall to have a look around if that’s possible. The reality is that getting some fresh air may boost their mood, make them feel livelier, and also give them a deeper sense of appreciation for life and their circumstances. In case you didn’t know, there are also several health benefits of getting fresh air which include boosting the immune system, increasing happiness, providing boosts of energy, helping the digestive system and cleaning the lungs.

Communicate with Them Regularly

Talking is an important aspect of caring for someone as it’s a form of communication. As well as showing someone that you care, telling them is also important. You can do so by saying kind and encouraging words to them regularly. You can also commend them for areas that they’re excelling in to help boost their self-confidence. Additionally, it is also important that you get them to talk about how they feel. Although some people are more open than others are, using different techniques to get them to open up is imperative. Some techniques to consider are promoting trust, respect, safety and openness, being patient, stating your intentions where necessary, and being open yourself. In regard to the last point, you may find that your loved one is more inclined to open up when you are free and tell them how you’re feeling on a regular basis. Getting them to talk is so important because keeping things bottled inside can create sadness, anxiety and depression, which are mental health illness that need proper treatment.

Caring for people can be a demanding thing to do. It can also be equally rewarding. This is especially true when you’re able to see noticeable levels of growth, progress and improved health in the person that you care for. A large part of life consists of the connections that you make with other individuals and caring for a person is just another means of connecting. Every individual has their unique needs when it comes to how they would like to be cared for, but when it comes to improving a person’s general wellbeing, health, happiness, and connecting to those who matter are usually effective ways of going about it.

Author: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.  Contact Maggie at


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Seven Ways Caregivers Can Care For Themselves

As the world’s population ages and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and various forms of cancer – as well as many more conditions – become more prevalent, so more and more people are becoming caregivers for their loved ones. This is a hugely selfless and difficult thing to do, and it is essential that anyone who is looking after someone else also takes care of themselves. The following tips should help anyone who is feeling stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed feel more like themselves again.

Find Emotional Support

Going through the caregiving journey alone is a difficult decision to make, and one that should ideally be avoided for the sake of your mental and even physical health. You cannot effectively care for a loved one if you yourself are unwell. Therefore, it is a good idea to talk to friends and family about what you are going through if you can and listen to their advice. Even just using them as a sounding board can be a good thing for you. If there is no one close to you to talk to (or whom you feel comfortable discussing things with), then see if you can join a support group. You can do this in person or online, and it can make a world of difference when you realize other people are going through the same things you are.

Prioritize Good Habits

When you are a caregiver, it is easy to ignore your own needs because you are so focused on looking after someone else’s. Although that is admirable, it isn’t sensible. You need to be as fit and healthy (and happy) as possible in order to give the best level of care. That means getting as much sleep as you can (at least seven to eight hours if at all possible), exercising regularly, and eating properly. Don’t grab snacks on the run and prepare as much food as you can in advance, and this will help you to be healthier. If you are in pain and suffering, then don’t put off going to see a professional such as Smith Chiropractic about it or you could risk becoming more unwell.

Ask For Help

When you need help, don’t be too proud to ask for it. When you are offered help, don’t be too proud to accept it. People around you will often want to help you out, but they may not know how best to do it. That’s why, when you need something, you should ask for it – there will be someone willing to assist. Whether it is running to the pharmacy to pick up some medication, looking after your loved one so you can head out to the store, the library, an exercise class, or just for a walk to clear your head, or even just coming round for a chat and a cup of coffee, someone will be glad to oblige. It will make them feel better because they are finally doing something for you, and it will help you out at the same time. If people want to help, let them – it’s a golden rule when it comes to caregiving. You really can’t do it all by yourself, and you shouldn’t have to.

Get The Training You Need

Having the right kind of professional training can help you to give the care you need in your role as caregiver. Workshops, online courses, and one to one training sessions in the home can all be advantageous in teaching you want to expect. It will depend on what illness or condition your loved one has as to what you are going to need to do for them, so picking the right kind of training will help you out. If you can’t find any personal training, then look online for resources or ask at your local library for books and information that can help you.

Manage Your Emotions

Caring for someone you love, especially if their illness or condition means that they are in pain and suffering, is difficult. You will often feel emotional, and that is perfectly normal. It’s what you do with those emotions that is important. Next time you are feeling angry or sad or low in general, take a moment to step back and discover what caused those feelings if you can. Once you know, you can better manage the situation and the emotions that are caused by it. That will make both you and the person you are caring for much happier.

Take A Break

You will not be able to just keep going forever. Sooner or later you will feel tired (even bone weary exhausted), emotionally drained, absolutely overwhelmed by the enormity of what you are doing. Taking a break can help to re-set you, enabling you to be a better carer in the end. This could be as little as a 15-minute walk around the block or a power nap, or it could be a vacation where you really do get away from everything for a week or two. If this latter idea appeals, you will need to look into respite care or find someone else who can come into your home and look after your loved one while you are away, of course. Once that is organized, you can go away and really relax, coming back happier, healthier, and ready to continue your caregiving duties.

Find A New Normal

As the health of your loved one declines, the way you live your life will change. If you worry about those changes and constantly think back to your old life with regret, missing what you used to do and have, you will be unhappy with the present, and this can lead to serious issues such as depression. It will also mean that you begrudge your caring duties and start to resent your loved one. Instead, you need to look for the new normal and go along with the new ways of living. Understand that life changes for everyone, not just for carers, and that going with the flow is the calmest, safest, easiest thing to do – it will keep everyone much happier.

 Author’s bio: Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations.

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After Caregiving Ends

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu

March 9th! This day comes around every year and there is no way to avoid it. Sure, I could roll the covers over my head for the entire day and wallow in sadness, but what does that accomplish; more sadness, more isolation? I think not!

As I look back on these last four years, I see quite a bit of change in all facets of my life. There is the weight loss, the new moustache, establishing The Whole Care Network and TLO Cruises and Tours and of all things getting a tattoo!

The tattoo is probably the most outlandish thing I have ever done in my entire life, however the tattoo has so much meaning to me as I ACE, (After Caregiving Ends). I believe it is through the experience of the white flower and tattoo which has allowed me to work through my grief and (If you would like to learn more about the tattoo see my post entitled “We’ve Only Just Begun: White Flowers and Green Shoes by clicking here“) guide me on a peaceful path.

When Richard (aka TLO) made his life transition on March 9, 2104, two lives were forever changed. As I look back on what I wrote the three previous years on March 9, there is one constant theme, love endures. What is different for me on March 9, 2018 is that I have started to live life again and break out of my isolation.

As I wrote in “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” I believe there are four stages of grief that caregivers experience:

  1. Relief < caregiving has come to an end and the one you are caregiving is now pain-free
  2. Sadness < the life that you once knew is forever changed
  3. Guilt < when you realise that you move on with your life without the one you love
  4. Acceptance < that day when you wake up and say to yourself…”Job well done” and you’re ready to move on with your life with your head held hight.

It took me 15 months to get to the point when I could get to acceptance. What I realize this past year is that I left out one important stage in grief, taking…

5. Action < Moving from isolation and activate your hopes, dreams and desires.

Whether it was the experience of the while flower, the tattoo, starting the Whole Care Network, (I could use countless examples from this past year) these experiences that happened over the past 12 months made me realize that until I took action, I was going to continue to isolate myself and stay stuck in my own muck (Richard would be most displeased!). Taking action has not only has restored my confidence, taking action has allowed me step outside my comfort zone which has provided exciting opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment.

What I have learned along the way is just as caregiving is different for each one of us, life after caregiving is going to be different for each one of us too. Now four years past, I don’t miss him any less; I’ve learned to live with him, and the love, care and commitment we had for each other, in a different way.

It’s “funny” how taking action has allowed me to find deeper meaning to our love, care and commitment. I will be interested to see what March 9, 2019 brings to me on The Purple Jacket!


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Dealing with the Stress of Being a Caregiver

We welcome guest writer Maggie Howard to The Purple Jacket

The demands of being a caregiver can seem so overwhelming that it can be easy to slip into depression and resentment. That is why it is so important that you learn to take care of yourself as well as the one you are caring for every day. There is a variety of support out there for caregivers, so it’s vital that you seek help if you are feeling the stress of the situation. Here are some of the other ways that you can help yourself as well as them.

Why is Caregiving So Stressful?

While caregiving can be extremely rewarding, many other stresses are not always a result of being a caregiver. If you are also taking care of your family or working, that can add a lot of pressure to your life, especially if something happens and you need to devote additional time to the one you’re caring for. There is also the upsetting thought that the person you’re caring for isn’t getting any better despite your best efforts. It can be demoralizing and upsetting. By trying to ignore the stress or not allow people to help you, it can start to affect your life.

Learn to Recognize the Symptoms

It is important that you recognize the symptoms of stress and get the help you need to deal with it. Otherwise, you could find yourself burning out and becoming a patient yourself. Some of the things you need to look out for are anxiety, depression, and irritability. These, in particular, can be difficult to judge so you should seek the advice of a doctor. If you are also starting to suffer from health problems or are having trouble sleeping, and a lack of libido, then these can also be warning signs. There are things you can do, such as practicing relaxation techniques and perhaps buying products to help you in the bedroom such as If you don’t get the help you need, then you could start to suffer from increasing problems such as a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness.

Make Time for You and Your Patient

It is important that you take some time to yourself so that you can do activities you like. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just doing something you love is the key. You also need to give them the time to be themselves and do their own things. For example, if they love to paint or to sew, then you should let them enjoy that time, and you can do other things as well. If you choose these times to have someone look after them, then you can go and do the things you love.

There are other things that are also important such as spending time visiting or talking to friends, so you feel connected to the outside world. You should also take advantage of any respite care that may be offered. It can give you a day or perhaps two when you can recharge your batteries.

Maggie Hammond is a retired nurse and freelance writer, exploring and writing in the U.S. in retirement. An advocate for public health and nursing qualifications, she feels passionate about raising awareness of the current strain on public health organisations. 

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Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. George Bernard Shaw

I think it is safe to say that there are no better milestones in life than birthdays. As I


write this on my 61st birthday, I look back on all the different milestones that have happen in or around my birthday of February 18th.

The first milestone (of course) was being born on February 18, 1957. I was born on the night of the Father/Daughter dance was Nerix Hall High School in St. Louis where my oldest sister Joanne was attending with our father. In fact, I just got off the phone with my sister Joanne who reminded me how our father had to leave her at the dance to attend my birth. Not even a minute old and my first milestone has already been created; I interrupted my sister’s dance with our father. “Funny” how that milestone is still talked about today!

There are many common milestones that we all experience in life that relate to our birthday; three come to mind immediately:

  • Turning 16 provided us the eligibility to start driving and gain some independence. Even if our parents are paying for the insurance.
  • Turning 18 provides us with the eligibility to vote and a sense of civic responsibility.
  • Turning 21 gives one the ability to “legally” to drink alcohol.

Then there are the decade milestones when we hit those magical number in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and hopefully beyond.

One of the best things about being the youngest of six children is no matter how old, and no matter what my sister says who is going on 29, for the 45th year says, I will always be the youngest! I know my five siblings are “smiling” when they hear this because I am always the little brother.


The late Bernard Richard Schiffer, February 18, 2014

One of the most difficult milestones in two lives, happened just four years ago on my 57th birthday when Richard and me were at his appointment with the radiation oncologist. I remember the appointment vividly, not so much for what the radiation oncologist told us (I’ll get to that in just a bit), rather by the way Richard greeted me when I walked into the examination room.

On that morning, I had another commitment and had to meet Richard at the doctor’s office. Thankful for the help from my sister Merrille and our friends a Emerald Elite Home Health in Fort Lauderdale, FL., I did not have to worry about getting Richard to his appointment that day. As the story was told, Richard was adamant to have have something for me upon my arrived at the doctors office. I think the picture tells the story.

Sure, I remember the information the radiation oncologist gave us that day which forever impacted our lives. However, the lasting impression of that day was not the knowledge that Richard’s cancer has spread throughout his little body, the lasting impression I have from that day is even in the midst of his pain, Richard was focused on making me happy! His act of focusing on me is the essence of true love, care and commitment, and one of the many reasons why I miss him quite a bit.

While in the middle of caregiving, we may not think too much about how our day-to-day stories impact us and others while in this massive caregiving sphere. Story sharing is at its best with caregivers. Caregivers connect through story sharing because every caregivers has this innate ability to understand each other, even when our caregiving experiences are different. Story sharing also provides a sense of comfort and relief to those who are telling the story; story sharing also provides one of the best sources of information and referrals for caregivers. I encourage all caregivers, as they feel comfortable, to share their stories because it is healing, therapeutic and helpful to other caregivers.

My friends, family, and readers on The Purple Jacket, along with the listeners to my Healing Ties podcast know that I have had difficult time adjusting to the major void that has been left in my life by Richard’s passing. We all deal with grief in our own way. Just like there are no two caregiving journeys alike, there are no journeys along the path of grief that are alike too. The one common thread that keeps comes back to me is story sharing and the healing component story sharing brings to me. Story sharing leaves a lasting imprint in our memories which will last a lifetime. I am creating a new chapter in my life; story sharing has helped me move from my grief too.

The current chapter in my life I am now writing allows me to recognize the pain of losing Richard has subsided, while at the same time, my love for Richard continues remains strong. I have simply learned to love him in a different way. It’s taken me awhile to get to this point in my grief recovery. I’ll be writing more about how my life has changed and how I have been able to move on with my head held high in future blog posts in 2018 on The Purple Jacket and The Whole Care Network.

My I be so bold and suggest, as you feel comfortable, share your caregiving story with others because I believe it is through story sharing where diversity meet the road to combat a common cause. That’s because there is no gender, orientation or economic boundaries when it comes to caregiving; we are all in this together. Story sharing bounds those who care for another person and allows us to find healing and strength.

Thank you for allowing me to continue to share my story!

Chris MacLellan is the host of Healing Ties Podcast, Author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving” and the founder at The Whole Care Network.


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6 Characteristics of Caregiving Excellence

We welcome back guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket

Isn’t it always nice when you encounter someone who takes their job seriously? You could be checking out at Target or ordering from the drive-thru at Starbucks, but if the employee you encounter goes above and beyond, it can make your entire day. This goes tenfold for caregivers.

Taking your job seriously as a caregiver means caring for your patient or loved one as you would care for yourself.

If you strive to achieve caregiving excellence, you probably exhibit these six characteristics:

1.    A strong sense of empathy

Oftentimes, it seems as though caregiving takes about 110% of your energy. If you’re not careful, it can consume you completely. Whenever you feel like you’re about to break, try not to follow those thoughts. Instead, think about what the other person is experiencing. This sort of reflection is likely something you often do, but it is especially helpful in the difficult times.

Let’s say your patient or loved one is having a bad day. She feels awful and is in the worst of moods. You’re doing everything you can to make her more comfortable, but all she can do is yell and snap at you. This is a great time to remind yourself of the importance of empathy. How would you feel if you were in her shoes? Although it’s easy to get lost in the laundry list of things we deal with, the person you care for is dealing with a great deal also. They are likely dealing with loss of bodily function, depression, loss of mental capacity, and grief. Put yourself in her shoes as often as possible to maintain a strong sense of empathy.

2.    Consistency

When someone needs a caregiver, it’s usually because their life depends on the care. If you show up late or skip days, this could mean the difference between life and death. This isn’t something to take lightly. Be punctual, dependable and consistent with your care.

3.    Unwavering patience

It’s never really okay to take your problems out on someone else, but when you’re a caregiver, it’s really unacceptable. This means that you have to maintain your patience even when you’re having a rough day. Stress-management techniques can help you maintain your patience (and personal sanity). Try meditating on your breaks or starting a yoga routine in the morning. Breathing techniques can also help you calm down in the moment.

4.    Emotional stability

Let’s face the facts; when your patient or loved one has a bad day, so do you. You don’t like seeing anyone struggle, and you especially hate to see someone you’ve grown close to having a rough time. It’s heartbreaking. But one of our jobs as caregivers is to remain strong.

Your strength is one of the many gifts you’ll give your patient or loved one through this difficult time. As difficult as things may get, you must do your best to shield them from your grief. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should act heartless, but it’s better if you can keep an upbeat tone. Sadness begets sadness, and that’s not what we want for them or us. The best caregivers are emotionally strong.

5.    Flexibility

If you’ve been on this job for more than a week, you probably know the importance of being flexible. Schedules are important in caregiving, but it’s also important to roll with the punches. Your patient or loved one’s needs may change on a daily or hourly basis. It’s up to you to respond and help keep them safe and healthy.

6.    Perseverance

Caregiving is not an easy job. But you must remember that someone is counting on you. There may be times when walking away is the best for both of you, but this should never be the goal. You are signing up to help this person through the most difficult time of his or her life. If at all possible, stick with it until the end.

This may also mean facing unique challenges throughout each day. Your daily tasks may include things like bathing this person, dressing wounds and giving medication. And there are nuances to each task that cannot be ignored. For example, it’s up to you to keep an eye on this person’s prescription medications. This is especially important with addictive prescriptions because prescription pill addiction is a growing problem in the elderly.

When you commit to doing this job, you’re committing to handle every detail for the long haul. You know in your heart if you have what it takes to be an excellent caregiver. And even if you think you don’t, you might surprise yourself. Still, if you feel you’re falling short of these characteristics, it may be time to spend a few more moments nurturing yourself. After all, if you don’t take care of you, who will take care of them?

author bio: Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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5 Effective Marketing Strategies for Healthcare Organizations

We are please to welcome guest writer Steve Conway to The Purple Jacket.

Marketing goods and services is a complicated business, but it’s never more challenging than in the healthcare industry. In addition to applying similar advertising methods that you would to other consumer products, you also need to demonstrate an awareness and education of your particular industry so that patients trust your expertise.

If you’re looking for ways to market your healthcare organization, you probably already know that this industry comes with its own set of unique challenges and pitfalls. To help you develop the right approach, here are five common marketing strategies for healthcare organizations and how you can implement them.

Internal Marketing

Internal marketing means advertising your organization to people who already know you, including patients, clients, and others that can be reached through word of mouth. Strategies include showcasing testimonials, accepting referrals and offering additional services to past or present patients. Internal marketing can be effective, but it does have certain limitations.

External Marketing

External marketing is an umbrella term referring to all the ways your organization acquires new clients. Media advertising that appears in magazines, healthcare publications, TV, radio and billboards is all part of this strategy. Due to budget requirements in healthcare industries, there is little margin for error with external marketing, so it’s important to use all the free resources you can to help reach new patients. Adobe Spark provides free software that allows users to create marketing materials quickly and easily with no design skills or knowledge required.

Referral Marketing

This strategy involves other professional sources, such dentists, doctors and other practitioners referring patients to your care. Referral marketing will provide the most reliable return on investment, providing your organization is well regarded in your field. However, this approach won’t be successful unless you have an ongoing strategy to preserve and grow your referrals written into your business plan.

Internet Marketing

Internet marketing is an invaluable advertising tool in the modern world, and it’s not one you can afford to forgo. As well as having a professional website, you should also offer a patient portal and mobile apps that make communication easier and more convenient four prospective clients.

To make the most of everything Internet has to offer, your organization can use strategies like pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization and traffic analytics. Just bear in mind that however desperate you are to keep your costs down, Internet marketing is one area that it pays to invest in, and the results you’ll see from a professional agency aren’t easy to engineer yourself.

Publicity Marketing

Generating publicity and free press exposure in your field should play a vital part in your marketing strategy. You should be willing to take part in any newspaper, TV or radio interviews that are offered to you, and be prepared to feature on popular healthcare blogs and websites.

Keep in mind, however, that free publicity is a bit of a misnomer. If you want to maximize your chances of exposure, you should consider hiring a professional publicist who will take the hard work out the process and make sure you see results.

Steve Conway is a content marketing professional and inbound marketing expert. Previously, Steve worked as a marketing manager for a tech software start-up. He is passionate about discovering new software that will that will advance his already well-honed digital marketing techniques.

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Age Without Borders Virtual Caregiving Summit


I am honored to participate in the Age Without Borders Global Caregiving Virtual Summit which begins on January 20-26. You can receive your free pass to attend the summit by visiting  Age Without Borders website by clicking here

The summit features over 60 thought leaders, experts and luminaries from 17 countries who share leading edge tools, insights, and personal stories. (My 30 minute presentation is on day 5 of the summit).

Plus, the summit includes a substantial FREE Care Package that offersinspirational tools and gifts, like Pulitzer prize winning poets, downloadable music and art, recipes, and spot-on caregiving tutorials and guides. Use this to help yourself, and to share with your family for quality time together.

Get your free pass, for daily links, and get a LIFETIME access to the entire collection (over 30 hours of content, plus care package gifts) for our $97 early bird All Access Pass, valid through midnight this Friday. The All Access Pass once the summit begins is $147.

Have you recently taken time out of your life to care for someone you love? Statistics estimate there are anywhere from 40-100 million people in the USA alone serving as unpaid caregivers- without any sort of information, training or support.

While done with love, caregiving for others professionally, or for family and friends, often leaves us feeling overwhelmed, burned out, stressed, even depressed. We find ourselves needing information, advocacy, self-care and inspiration.  

I’d like to offer you a complimentary FREE PASS to attend the Age Without Borders Global Caregiving Virtual Summit, January 20-26, 2018 featuring over 60 thought leaders, experts and luminaries from 17 countries who share leading edge tools, insights, and personal stories.

Here is a preview of my presentation:

<p><a href=”″>Christopher MacLellan Promo</a> from <a href=”″>Kari Henley</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Think of it as a free online conference or Netflix series that brings you knowledge and help for the most important job of your life. Enjoy two minute trailer videos to highlight each session, and full length interviews that last about 20 minutes- easy and fun to watch! Click here to see a few other
Topics include: inspiration to prevent burnout, caregiving policy updates, family coordination of care, respite and self care, digital tools to improve independence, family caregiver reflections and more.

Plus, the summit includes a FREE Care Package that offers inspirational tools and gifts, like Pulitzer prize winning poets, downloadable music and art, recipes, and spot-on caregiving tutorials and guides.

Click here to get your free pass, for daily links, and check out the very reasonable option to purchase the entire collection (over 30 hours of content, plus care package gifts) for only $97 early bird price.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Listen in to Kari Henley on this segment of Healing Ties Podcast and learn f

See you there!


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