Tag Archives: Family caregivers

Love In The Land Of Dementia

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

I will be the first one to admit that my caregiving journey did not include the special trails and tribulations when caring for someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s.   For many families, a diagnosis of dementia is an ending. For Deborah Shouse, it was a beginning, “My mother taught me how to celebrate and appreciate what we have right now.” Through her mother’s dementia, Deborah discovered compassion, deepening love, and increased connection with her mother and her family.

Deborah Shouse is an author and dementia advocate. Deborah knows first hand that finding the connection with a love one afflicted with dementia is a challenge millions of people face. Too often, people living with dementia are entertained instead of engaged.  In this episode of “Healing Ties” Deborah talks about the differences between Dementia and Alzheimer’s while sharing her love and passion for those who care for someone with this insidious diagnosis.

Listen in and learn how Deborah is creating “Healing Ties” all around us by finding love in the land of dementia.

2016-12-22-3Love in the Land of Dementia offers hope to family members, friends, and care partners of people who are living with memory loss. Strong, fluid organization and tender writing distinguish this purposeful and compelling read, which is filled with practical suggestions, compassionate support, and unexpected insights.   Visit Deborah on line at Dementia Journeys 

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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


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”



Filed under Caregiving, LGBT Caregiving

Thursday’s are always ‘Hug A Family Caregiver Day!’

 Sometimes All A Person Needs Is A Hand To Hold And A Heart to Understand! 

Caregiving can sometimes be hard…

But Hugging a Family Caregiver is easy!



Caregiving Heart

Be on the look out for my new radio show, “Healing Ties” from ‘The Bow Tie Guy”  


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Friday’s Video Chat: Family Caregivers Talk Career and Caregiving



On Friday, January 10th at 3:00 pm ET, I have been invited by Denise Brown from Caregiving.com to join her and three other family on Caregiving.com weekly video chat.  This week four different Caregivers talk about juggling a career and their Caregiving responsibilities. To watch the discussion, hosted by Denise Brown from Caregivnig.com simply click here!   

Denise Brown Denise Brown began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support family Caregivers.  Through her  blog, Denise  share’s words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. Denise is also an accomplished Author and Public Speaker. If you have not visited Caregiving.com, now is a great time to do so!

Below is Friday’s guest list:

–Chris (me), who works for a social service agency and cares for his partner. Chris blogs on CareGiving.com and on his website, The Purple Jacket. Follow Chris on Twitter: @TheBowTieGuy

–Heather, a long-distance caregiver for her father who works for a regional medical center. You can listen to Heather talk about her Caregiving experience here. Follow Heather on Twitter: @HeatherSlutzky

–Shanika, a freelance multimedia copywriter in which she combines her skills as in 2D animation, illustration, and interactive media with web copy to create visually engaging sales messages. She works part-time from home in the mountainous area of Lithonia, Georgia, where she takes care of both her parents, Emmitt and Johnnie Journey, and her one year old son, Antonio. Follow Shanika on Twitter: @ShanikaJourney

Trish, who cares for her brother, works as a legal administrator. You can read her blog on CareGiving.com and on RobertsSister.com and connect with her on Twitter, @robertssister1.

See you on Friday!


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Filed under Caregiver Stress, Caregiving

Thursday’s are always ‘Hug A Family Caregiver Day!’

Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul ~Democritus.

Caregiving can sometimes be hard…

But Hugging a Family Caregiver is easy!



Caregiving Heart

Be on the look out for my new radio show, “Healing Ties” from ‘The Bow Tie Guy”  


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Filed under Healing Ties, Hug A Caregiver DAy, The Bow Tie Guy

Thursday’s are always ‘Hug A Caregiver Day!’

You must do things that you think that you cannot do ~ Eleanor Roosevelt  

Caregiving can sometimes be hard:

But Hugging a Caregiver is easy!



Caregiving Heart

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‘”Be A Healthy Caregiver” is on hiatus while “TLO” is undergoing radiation treatments.  We plan on being back on the Air in January!

Can’t listen live…NO WORRIES!

All of our episodes of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ are archived for your listening convenience by clicking here! 


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Monk On A Mission for Caregivers Health



Wednesday night on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio come meet an ambitious monk who’s on a mission to take care of caregivers locally and globally.  Learn how Soul Dancer will help you earn an income by eating a meal or reading a book all the while supporting his massive mission.  To listen to our show live, simply click here! 

 Click this link to learn more about this mission.
Dial in to (646) 478-3716 to ask frank questions.  Be prepared for frank answers!   This will be fun
After this show, to receive a FREE month of Soul University access, leave a comment or question in the comment box on ‘The Purple Jacket’.
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Dr. Amy D’Aprix Featured On ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’



On Tuesday, July 2nd at 1:00 pm (est) I am pleased to welcome Dr. Amy D’Aprix to ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio! To listen to our show live, simply click here!


Dr. Amy D'Aprix

Dr. D’Aprix is an aging, retirement and Caregiving expert and the developer of the free Home Instead Senior Care Alzheimer’s Care Training Program for family Caregivers. An accomplished author and educator, Dr. D’Aprix passion for Caregiving is driven both from her professional background, as well as her own 10 years of Caregiving experience for her parents.

CaregiverStress_logo HISC logo

Our conversation on Tuesday will not only focus on Dr. D’Aprix excellent work, we’ll chat about how Caregivers can take better care of themselves while caring for a chronically ill, aged or disabled senior. Through our conversation with Dr. D’Aprix, we will all learn how to ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver!’


To listen to our show live, simply click here!

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Can’t listen live…NO WORRIES! All of our episodes of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ are archived for your listening convenience by clicking here!



Filed under Be A Healthy Caregiver, Blog Talk Radio, Caregiver Stress, The Bow Tie Guy

Caregivers: Use Your Right Brain, Too!


On Tuesday, we welcomed Benjamin Azevedo, M.D. from New Orléans Bow Ties to our ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ show on Blog Talk Radio. To listen to our entire show, simply click here!

Our conversation was more than just about the making of beautiful Bow Ties, our conversation centered on the importance of having an equal balance in life.  Ben recently graduated from Tulane Medical School in New Orleans and will be starting his internship in San Diego later this summer.  Medical school, like any academic disciplines, can be trying, even for the most dedicated students.

Ben has always resonated with the idea that there are two sides to the brain; the left being in charge of linear analytical thinking and focuses, ordered, logical execution while the right is more expansive, creative, and boundless.  During his blog_Brainfirst year in medical school, Ben realized that he was letting his left-brain take control of his life and strip it of the art, music, and imagination that his family had fostered throughout his life.  Ben put a conscious effort into letting go of his stress and thrust himself into the exploration of what his right brain had to offer.  Ben first began to cook, to draw, to exercise more and get out into nature.  Then the idea came of creating beautiful Bow Ties, which has become a conversational piece in his work, while allowing his right brain to explore.  Along with his masterful work of creating beautiful bow ties, Ben also recognized the need for Doctors to learn how to communicate good patient care, especially when dealing with difficult end of life issues with patients and their families.    With his attraction to palliative care and hospice, Ben created an elective course at Tulane University teaching the art of communication to medical students.  The course has been well-received by both students and faculty. “This is cutting edge material”, I thought.  We all know there is more to Doctor/Patient, Doctor/Family communication than just reading a chart!   With his communication class, Ben is providing a great tool for medical students, who in most cases, would never have been exposed to such an important learning tool. 

As our conversation continued, I was struck by how much I have let my right brain linger.  As a Caregiver, I realized that I am constantly in the left – brain mode; always analyzing, worrying, thinking about the need of my caree, completely focused on his needs rather than my own.    As my weight continues to rise, while my hobbies are put on hold,  my right brain strives to be released from its shackles, to explore, to create to be free again.  I wonder how many caregivers might just feel the same way?  I know I am going to make a conscious effort to be more creative while elimination self imposed stress! 

Ben’s terrific example of letting his left brain explore, not only afforded him the opportunity to make beautiful bow ties, it allowed him to go on step further by combining the best of his right and left brain by creating such a meaningful communication class for medical students!


This next time I run into a young physician who provides empathic communication, I will want to ask them if they took Ben’s communication class at Tulane University.   If they are wearing a bow tie, I’ll know it without even asking!  


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Caregivers: What’s Your Hobby?


‘There is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves.”  Richard Rorty

Tuesday  on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio, I had the pleasure of visiting with John Schwaig from Fabrication Arts Studio in St. Louis.  When I posted that John was going to be on the show, I had a couple of people ask me, “how are you going to relate Stained Glass Art to Caregiving?” My response was simple,  the show is about the importance of Caregivers having a hobby!  To listen to this episode of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver with John Schwaig, simply click here!

hat hobbies

During the show, John talked about how his workshops and  classes in stained glass  have attracted cancer patients and their Caregivers, and how time spent in working on a stained art project have allowed them to take their mind from daily grind of dealing with health issues.  As a former counselor and teacher, John is keenly aware of the importance of self-care.

With over 66 million working Caregivers in the United States today, finding  time for a hobby, or better yet, self-care is often difficult for Caregivers.  Dedicated to the care and well-being of our Caree, Caregivers often put their needs second, which can lead to lack of quality rest,  poor eating habits, which of course then leads to poor health.

Here are some tips for Family Caregivers

  • Schedule Time For Yourself
  • Take Up A Hobby
  • Join A Support Group (I recommend Caregiving.com)
  • Take Care Of Your Own Health
  • Learn To Put Yourself First
  • Meditate
  • Read a Book Not Related to Caregiving
  • Be Open to Outside Help

Self-Care is an important part of the entire Caregiving process that is often left unattended.  I know, I’ve been there myself!  But with some simple adjustments to our daily routine, we can find the time to take better care of ourself.  The ‘funny’ thing about this…your Caree will be the one who will be most appreciative of you taking better care of yourself!

I would like to hear from you on what you do for a hobby!

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Filed under Be A Healthy Caregiver, Blog Talk Radio, Caregiving, The Bow Tie Guy