Tag Archives: #Caregiving

The Family Historian


A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Marcus Garvey

I did not have the opportunity to meet three of my four grandparents.  Aunt and Uncles? Well they lived in Canada and New Orleans; I grew up far far away, in St. Louis.  While the internet has made the world smaller and quite a bit faster; how are we preserving our family legacy for generations to learn about there family history?

Mike Stith from One Legacy has a  passion for collecting inspirational stories.  Mike believes that by sharing stories, “we’re adding a special piece of history for future generations.”  Mike’s new publication, The Family Historian 20170211_110727continues to share  special pieces of family history, yet in a more traditional way. The Family Historian is in newspaper format and is available for free!  Imagine sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office and picking up a copy of The Family Historian and being comforted by stories that are similar to yours?

While the internet has changed the way we communicate, there is something special about holding a publication in your hand while reading compelling stories.  The Family Historian is a publication you will want to take home with you!

Everyone has a story, but not everyone gets to tell there story. Listen in and learn how Mike Stith from One Legacy and The Family Historian is creating Healing Ties all around us!  

To learn more about One Legacy and The Family Historian click hereWould you like to receive The Family Historian journal free at your business or organization? Contact info@onelegacy.com or call 618-960-7252 today!

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Sharing The Light


Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection. Winston Churchill

Richard and I  had a Christmas Eve tradition where he would make a reservation at one 20161219_220258of his favorite restaurants for Christmas Eve dinner and then we would take a ride down A1A in Palm Beach and Broward Counties to look at the spectacular Christmas lights adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.   We would always marvel at the tremendous configurations of lights as we motored down the road.   A palm tree wrapped in Christmas lights is something you just don’t see in Brooklyn or St. Louis.  I’ve made the same trip down memory lane the last two Christmas Eve’s and plan to do the ride again this Saturday on Christmas eve 2016.

It is amazing to me that I am approaching my third Holiday Season without Richard. (I use Holiday only because Richard was Jewish and I am Catholic)  My,  how time does fly!

The first Christmas without Richard was difficult.  One of the events that got me through the ride was Caregiving.com 36-Hour Christmas Care Chat.  While chats are available just about 24/7 on Caregiving.com, this chat was special, at least to me.  I will never forgot the kindness of the volunteer, @RoaringMouse,  that Christmas Eve in 2014.   We chatted for I guess almost an hour, we laughed, we cried, we reminisced… we were just there for each other.   Thanks to my chat with @RoaringMouse  I understood that while this ride would be different, the ride  would be just as meaningful as it was the year before when Richard was sitting next to me in the passengers seat. @RoaringMouse helped me  realized that I really was not alone on that first Christmas without Richard.

Caregiving.com 36-Hour chat starts this Saturday at noon and will continue on through midnight on Christmas night.  “Volunteers who understand” just like @RoaringMouse, will be there to lend support,  and be there for you, no matter where you are on your caregiving journey.   I know I will never ever forget, and will be forever grateful, for my time with @RoaringMouse on Christmas Eve 2014.

wpid-wp-1419525603576.jpegSure,  that old cliche’ is true, time heals all wounds, but wounds heal in their own time.  Each one of us adjusts differently when the one we love makes their life transition.  My mind tells me that he is forever pain free, my faith tells me that I will see him again, my heart tells me he will be sitting right next to me on our drive on Saturday night.

Sometimes in order to move forward,  we just have to look back on our past. 

Visit Caregiving.com to learn more about the 36-Hour CareGiving Chat and how you might be able to participate.

No matter where you are on your caregiving journey, you’ll be glad that you stopped by for a cup of comfort.

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Diploma In Hand


My diploma arrived today…WOW!  I am dedicating my diploma to Bernard Richard Schiffer and all caregivers with my pledge to continue to advocate for caregivers and their caree’s for as long as I live.  This diploma is for you, TLO!

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Caring without a cure: Dementia


Greetings everyone!  Today we welcome guest blogger Andrea Bell to The Purple Jacket.

Caring without a cure: Dementia

When you realize that you or someone you love has been diagnosed with dementia, a progressive disease that has no cure whatsoever, what do you do? After a decent amount of panic and existential crisis, you begin to understand that the right kind of care is necessary in order to cope and survive in this situation.

The most significant thing to be noted is the fact that dementia has a huge impact on the emotional as well as the physical characteristics of the patient. Caring for both becomes absolutely crucial considering the amount of depression and withdrawal that the person suffers through. There is a lot of mental pressure involved.

Emotions and Feelings

It is completely alright to go through a range of new feelings post-diagnosis because your body and mind need time in order to adjust to the news. It might start with a feeling of helplessness, which is absolutely alright as long as there is a gradual shift towards normalcy. Acceptance is key.  The faster you learn to accept the truth, the better the situation becomes. Thus, the first step of self-care or caring for others suffering from dementia is acceptance.

This highlights the significance of positivity in these situations. In progressive or regressive diseases, keeping a positive attitude is half the battle. Under no circumstances must you or your patient leave hope of ever living a normal life again. Even though it may seem impossible considering the current that goes down your spine when your physician mouths the words “there is no cure…” and typing ‘dementia cure’ in your Google tab does not turn out be as fruitful as expected, you must understand that a positive approach can be an alternative maintenance formula nonetheless. However, individual differences outline the fact that every person will go through a different set of emotions, depending on their personality and thought process.

Relationships and Socializing

Dementia patients are in constant need of support and reassurance – after all, they’ve just learned that their mental capabilities are declining. If you are suffering from dementia it is highly advised that you try to spend as much time as possible with your family and friends, because the unconditional support that comes from loved ones has an automatic healing effect which will help you release mind and body stress. All of this is significant not only in order to make the patient ‘feel better’ but also to try and reverse the adverse psychological impact.

Family ties, relationships or your care givers can help you or the patient to stay grounded with reality and a sense of self. So you must follow your daily routine as closely as possible. Social media is another fun and easy way for staying connected and it stimulates the functioning of the brain which makes it work hard.

Finding your people

Since you’ve transitioned into this new life, it would be a good idea to reach out and connect with people who share the same condition as you. This way you will find people from different cultures who have experienced or are experiencing the same irritations and problems such as you. Their experience could be useful to you in many ways and at the same time provide you comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone in the abyss of suffering. Get a chance to communicate with people suffering from dementia on numerous blogs on the internet, just like this one here.

Be your own Anchor

Being independent is important for everyone not only patients because by doing things your way will prevent your condition from getting worse rapidly. It is natural for people around you to try and do everything for you. Let them take care of you from time to time, and do not hold back from telling them that you would like to do your own work and discussing your other independent choices.

Daily tasks will become much more challenging if you forget minute things like a certain date or a password. This can also impact your decisiveness. However, if you decide to remain independent and as mentioned above ‘take charge’ of your life, these challenges could become less complicated, some steps are mentioned below:

  • Sticky Notes – stick them all around the house
  • Keep a Diary – writing about your day or a special event can help
  • Hang a large digital clock in every room.
  • Hang a whiteboard for reminders

Get more gifts and health care products targeted for dementia patients at Unforgettable.org.

Eating well with Dementia

Unfortunately, dementia can cause a change in your dietary habits as you may begin to feel how some of the food tastes.

The two keys to a healthy diet are:

  1. Consume only what your body needs.
  2. Choose a variety to get all supplements.

Read more about proper diet and nutrition in a guide by Eatwell here.

The Doctor is on your side

Regular trips to the physician can be very beneficial for Dementia diagnosis, test, and screening if you are open enough to discuss your problems. This will allow the doctor to keep a check on your progress, and change your medicines or diet accordingly.

Doctors can offer you:

  • Medical treatment and advice
  • Specialist help and referrals and
  • General advice on fitness and preventing further illness.

If you are accompanying a dementia patient to the physician’s clinic, it can be considered a good idea to note down the points that you or your patient wants to discuss, so that you do not forget by the time you get there. Also, making a note of what the doctor has to say during the consultation can be useful, so that you or the patient can refer back to time and again.

Author Bio:  Andrea Bell 

I am a Freelance writer by day and sports fan by night. I write about tech education and health related issues (but not at the same time). Live simply, give generously, watch football and a technology lover. Find me on twitter @IM_AndreaBell.

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It’s All About Forgiveness


To understand is to forgive, even oneself. Alexander Chase

The road to Spokane is in its final stages as there are only two chapters left to write for my thesis “Caregiving, Stress and its Impact in the Work Place.”   I owe a big thanks to Denise Brown from Caregiving.com for helping me gather statistics for the thesis.   I had two hypothesis to prove in my thesis, so far the data tells me that I was able to prove one of them.  I will be sure to reveal the results of the study in May after the thesis has been approved and submitted.

20160323_081923.jpgWhile attending the American Society on Aging Conference in Washington, D.C., I was struck by not only the information that delivered at the conference, but the commitment of the professionals in attendance.  Another added benefit was the chance to connect with quite a number of social networking friends, people who I have collaborated with of the years online, yet have never had the opportunity to meet in person.  I was fortunate to be able to attend this event.

Something hit me square in the eye while in Washington, D.C. that is difficult to explain, but quite profound.   During one of our discussions at the conference, I suggested to the group that there is plenty of information for caregivers and those who are in the  aging profession, but I did not see much information on life after caregiving ends.  (A few eyebrows where raised when I made this point!) Yes, there is an estimated 43 million family caregivers today in the United States, but what happens to caregivers when caregiving ends?   Do family caregivers just go back to  daily life without recognizing, or better yet, dealing with the dramatic change in life when caregiving ends?

I had to look inside my heart for that answer.  And for me, that answer centered around forgiveness.

In order to fully grasps and move on with life after caregiving,  I had to first forgive myself, forgive myself for moving on with my life.  Seems strange after all most two years past Richard’s life transition, but yes, life after caregiving has to include a bit of self-forgiveness.   I then had to  forgive myself for the bad decisions I made during and especially after caregiving ended.  I had to forgive myself for not taking better care of myself both physically , emotionally, spiritually and financially.  But most of all, I had to forgive myself for being afraid to continue on with my life after caregiving ended.

HealingProjectYou see, caregiving was just a small portion of our life together.  Time wise, eleven years together, pales in comparison in relation to the six months of intensive caregiving that transpired in our relationship.  However those six months of intensive caregiving takes a relationship to new heights, new destinations and at least in our case, a deeper love and commitment that is impossible to replace.  I marvel, and often wonder about couples who have been together 30, 40, 50 years then suddenly find themselves in the role of a family caregiver.

Our time in caregiving ends: Our time in love is endless. 

For me, life after caregiving is about learning to forgive myself. When I came to the realization that I had to first forgive myself in order to fully move on with my life, a little bright light went on in my head, (thanks to a wonderful conversation with my friend Sam Chalfant) allowing me to understand and accept, that living in the past does not help the present, nor the future: living in the past puts life on hold.

Just like our caregiving journeys are different, so will our journeys be different when caregiving ends.  Sharing our stories after caregiving ends is just as important as it was while in the midst of caregiving.  Because in the end, somewhere along the line, forgiveness, in some form or another, will be part of the healing formula for each one of us to experience, so that we can fully embrace our life once again after caregiving ends.  Sharing is caring… before, during and after our caregiving experience, so  that our hills are light, and with a gentle breeze always at our backs.

Chris MacLellan is the host of “Healing Ties” radio program and the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?”

The road to Spokane is my virtual story leading up to graduation from Gonzaga University

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Making Life Happen


Learning never exhausts the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

The road to Spokane finds us in Washington, D.C. this week attending the American Society on Aging National Conference; it’s been quite wonderful expeience!

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I have to thank my good friends at the National Alliance For Caregiving for inviting me to participate in this event.

Amazing that one of the presentations I attended on Monday spoke directly about the effects of caregiving on employers and caregiving employees.  SPLENDID!  Goodness did I pick up quite a bit of great information on this topic as I finish my thesis. 

I’ve had the opportunity to connect with good friends like Amy Goyer from AARP…

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…and Tami Neumann and Cathy Braxton from Silver Dawn Communities. 

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Meeting Tami (left) has been extra special as we’ve been social media friends from years and have been on each other’s radio show a couple of times.  Tami is awesome, as is here business partner Cathy!

As I move through the massive amount of information here at the conference, I am reminded of the importance that life is about life long learning and that in the end, making life happen is just as important too.  Crawling out of my shell after Caregiving has ended, is the best medicine one can buy!

Chris MacLellan is the author of What’s The Deal With Caregiving? and the host of Healing Ties Radio program.
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The road to Spokane is my virtual tour leading up to graduation from Gonzaga University

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Employer Caregiving Survey


Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.  Peter Drucker

The road to Spokane moves on with our second and final survey, this one is for employers.   Last week we started to gather data from working family caregivers in conjunction with my good friend, Denise Brown from Caregiving.com.  Denise and I are teaming up again to gather data from employers who may or may not have family caregivers as an employee.   If you have not visited Caregiving.com, today is a great to do that too.  Denise Brown’s has been helping family caregivers with soothing style and saga advice for over 20 years.  Visit Caregiving.com by clicking here! 

I wrote about my experience as a working family caregiver extensively in Chapter 5 of my book, “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?” and understand the difficulties from both the employee and employer side of the issue.  During my family caregiving experience, I was fortunate to work for Mark Ketcham at SunServe Social Services who understood the special needs of being a family caregiver.   Not every working family caregiver is as fortunate as I was to work for someone like Mark Ketcham.

If you are an employer, at any level in your organization, I encourage you to take this survey. The survey is 100% anonymous and will probably will take no more than 10 minutes to complete. We will share the results of the survey once my thesis is completed in May.

Here is the link to the Employer Family Caregiver Survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNKRKND

Chris MacLellan is an MA candidate at Gonzaga University studying Leadership and Communication and is the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties” radio program

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Symbolism In Communication


What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.  Helen Keller

Now that I am on the road to Spokane, I have quite a bit of stories to share.  During our Caregiving journey I found it was not only important to share our story, but soothing too! While I always will feel part of the vast community of Caregivers, the bottom line is that my role has shifted from caring for someone else to caring for me.  Learning how to care for yourself when coming out of Caregiving is going to be different for each one of us.  I continue to embrace my life after caregiving has ended, some days are better than others.

Something happen recently that I haven’t shared because it has been difficult to put into words, yet alone perspective.  In telling my story to a few close friends’ (which I will get to in a little bit), they reminded me of the story of the yellow butterfly.  Are you familiar with the symbolism of the yellow butterfly?  For instance, in the Christian tradition butterflies in general, symbolizes the resurrection. The caterpillar dies and lives again in th (2) a new more glorious form. In Scotland and Ireland, a yellow butterfly near the departed means the soul is at peace.  When I told my story to my two friends’ (at different times) both recounted their own story about a yellow butterfly in their life, and how a yellow butterfly appeared out of nowhere when they were in the midst of feeling sad about the loss of a loved one.  In both accounts, I was told of the comfort the yellow butterfly brought to my friends and the message they conveyed to me was similar to the beliefs what our friends in Scotland and Ireland believe: the soul is at peace and you can be at peace too! 

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have thought long and hard about life after death: Do people communicate from “the other side” and if so, how?  Friends, just like you, have told me from time to time, their stories of departed loved ones “communicating from the other side” in some form or another.  The latest “after-life communication” story recounted to me is about a special paper towel dispenser in the form of a light house, which when  tapped on top, displays a bright red light followed by a loud bellowing sound of a ships’ horn. The lighthouse towel dispenser can only turn on when tapped on top, yet after the passing of my friends’ husband, there has been instances where the lighthouse simply turns on itself! (That bellowing sound of the ship horn will get your attention.) Does this phenomena have meaning?  Is it my friend’s deceased husband communicating, or is it just a chance event…what do you think?

Richard was a firm believer that “once the lights went out, that was it!” He did not believe in life after death and he did not believe there was communication from “the other side.” Even though my seminary professors would be aghast to hear my say this, I do believe that people who have gone before us, do communicate to us in some form or fashion.  On December 11, 2015…it happen to me! 

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On December 11, 2015 I received a text message (see above) from Richard’s phone which has been disconnected for over  18 months.  Startled, I did not know what to think of this text. When his picture popped up on my cell phone text message screen I had to do a double-take!  Technological glitch? Phenomenon? Message from the other side?  Or as I have come to accept, my yellow butterfly.   

butterflybutterfliesinsec_23727There is no rhyme or reason to this “text” message: no message inside the text, just his smiling face on my screen.  My phone carrier can’t explain it because his old numbers are not in service, and if they were, “how would the new owner know to text my number” the tech said?  I have been cautious to share this story because I have had a hard time understanding the meaning of this text message – that is until I think of the meaning of the yellow butterfly!

As most of my family, friends, radio show listeners, and readers know, I have struggled since Richard made is life transition. Two-steps forward, one step back. Trying to find my place and identity has been challenging since Richard made his life transition.  I do know finishing the Masters degree will be a big boost to my confidence!

During my course of study at Gonzaga in Leadership and Communication, we have looked at the many different communication theory’s, as well as many different forms of communication. However, there is no communication theory  that explains the phenomena of the yellow butterfly better than faith.  I cherish this “message” because I do believe in this form of communication. I don’t know if I will ever get another “text message ” from Richard, but what I have learned from this message is a simple reminder that there is never an ending, there are only new beginnings and Richard is at peace, and I can be at peace too!

“On The Road To Spokane” is my story leading up to graduation in May at Gonzaga University.

Chris MacLellan is the host of “Healing Ties” Radio program and the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving”

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LGBT Caregiving: Is There A Difference?


The Opinion Which Other People Have Of You Is Their Problem, Not Yours ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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The Late Bernard Richard Schiffer and Chris MacLellan

Along the way during our Caregiving journey, I have been asked many times, “Are there any difference for same-sex couples in Caregiving?” “No, not really,” I would say, “as Caregivers, we simply care for the one we love.”

Caregiving usually not something that is on our bucket list of things that we want to do, Caregiving just happens!  Suddenly, an untimely diagnose is presented to us, or an unfortunate accident happens, and within a moments notice, two or more lives are changed and you are a family Caregiver. That is why there is no gender or orientation boundaries when it comes to being a family Caregiving, we simply care for the one we love.

Caregiving can be an intense experience which will ask you to surrender yourself and your own needs, for the needs of someonegroup-of-people-in-a-heart-10048754 else. Often you have to give up things you love, in order to care for the one you love.

Is there a theme here about love?

Sure there are some things that all of us can do to make our Caregiving journey “easier.”  Do you have your legal documents in place and up-to-date?  That includes our Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, DNRO (No Not Resuscitate Order) Last Will and Testament: having these documents in place and up-to-date anyone, and readily available regardless of what side of the orientation fence you stand on is critical…for everyone, regardless of what side of the fence you live on!

However, I am not naïve and do realize that there are some differences for LGBT Caregivers.

For instance, Same-sex couples walking into a hospital emergency room are more likely to be “questioned” about the nature of their relationship where as a man and a women,  in the same setting, probably would not often face the same scrutiny. What is “funny” about this is that many of the unmarried heterosexual couples I spoke with after our 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominated story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was published last year did not realize that their rights as a couple we not protected under the law, because they are not married.

In our society, we do not like to talk about death and dying, and that is why many people go years without updating their important legal documents that will ensure their wishes are followed at the time when a life transitions. But when you get right down to it, rights granted by the laws of marriage are mingled with death and dying. Did you know that in every state of the nation the “next of kin” for an adult is the spouse? Once you’ve been denied the right to be with the one you love at the time of their death, then you will fully grasp the meaning of marriage inequality. When asked “who are you’ by medical staff, or to be road signtold, “you’re not next of kin” after your partner has died, clearly demonstrates the injustice.

Has an unmarried heterosexual couple ever been denied the right to be with their loved on at the time life transitions?  My guess is probably so, especially when unscrupulous family members get involved.  LGBT couples know about that experience, too!

Same sex couples have always known a marriage license is not needed to solidify love. However, this license does solidify equal rights. Bigotry and hatred, unfortunately, will always surround us, yet the “license” provides clear legal protection to all married couples, just as having all of our legal documents in place will do for each one of us.

Yes, there are some differences LGBT Caregivers face, the differences maybe subtle to some, yet important to others; mind-boggling , yet fixable. While it is reported that LGBT seniors people are more likely to live alone, more likely not to access medical services in fear discrimination, there are many straight seniors out there who live alone, need transportation, fear going to the doctor.  We are all in the same Caregiving ship, trying to row upstream in a waves that sometimes makes it difficult to navigate.  Why do our “systems” want to hinder care to anyone, that is the puzzling question of them all?

Yes while “systems” might treat LGBT Caregivers differently, there is no doubt that love, care and commitment,  is the same for any two people, no matter what system you have to use, one’s gender or orientation, or who travel with on your Caregiving journey, because in the end, love wins.

P.s., If you have not had your legal documents reviewed by your attorney in the past two years, now is the time to do it pick up the phone, call your attorney, update your documents.  It is the right thing to do!

Chris MacLellan is the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” and the host of “Healing Ties”

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If She Had Lived to 100


Be happy. It’s one way of being wise. Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Today, my Mother would have turned 100, unfortunately, she missed being a centenarian by just under 31 years!  Born in 1915 in New Orléans, my Mother was a women before her time.  Obtaining two college degree’s in the late 1930’s, she was talented and always seemed to be the “bell of the ball.”  Yet she passed away in 1984, just before her 69th birthday with seemingly, many unfulfilled dreams.

The MacLellan Six: Merrille, Mary, JoAnn, Jim, Gerri and Chris

The MacLellan Six: Merrille, Mary, JoAnn, Jim, Gerri and Chris

While “Gramma Bell”  got to know all of her 25 grandchildren, she missed out on getting to know all of her great-grandchildren which now reach past the number 40.  She missed out seeing the success of her six children, four of which have lived longer than her.  How medicine has changed over the years. But most of all later in life, she missed out on being happy, which is the saddest of them all.

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Family Reunion 2013

I’m sure raising kids in the 40’s and 50’s was challenging, just as it is today.  Yet it is important to note that she loved being a mother, but being a mother kept her from fulfilling some of her dreams.  There are so many things in life we give up when we care for someone else, albeit a parent or a caregiver.

I’ve never been a parent, but I do know what it is like to be a Caregiver.  I sense there is quite a bet of similar traits in these two roles, most notably the ability to love and care for someone else.  Sure, I realize that some parents do not have the ability to love and care for their children, just as I realize that there are IMG_2082many Caregivers who are out there who do not love their Caree: I call those folks, “Caregivers By Default.”  But when you get right down to it, we all have the innate ability to care, it just  has to be nurtured.  I’m thankful for that I received the care gene from my Mom, I am mindful that life moves on, and it is better to move on in happiness, than in worrying about the past.

Happy 100th birthday “Gramma Bell,” we are all just doing fine!

Chris MacLellan is a radio show host and Author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving”

Available on Amazon by clicking here

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