Speak up when we complain about how hard it is for Mom to
hear; after years at the disco, no sound is too clear
Slow down when we jog by, complaining about the man with the
cane, ‘cause I think I just got a Charley horse or at least
a small sprain
When I talk with Mom’s doc about her memory disorder, this
time I must remember to bring a tape recorder
February 2011 -
I remember the moment vividly. I was in a hospital lobby,
having just talked my way around the security guards
questioning why I was walking into the family waiting areas
on each floor. The year was 1995 and I was actually in the
middle of distributing the first issue of Today’s Caregiver
magazine to every hospital waiting area in southeast
Florida, a ritual that I personally conducted for the first
two years of publication.
March 2011 - I received a call from my
good friend Penelope today. I always enjoy spending time
with her and her husband, Jim, when I visit the town in
which they live. A more lively, fun and loving couple
you will never find. I looked forward to a night at a
local Italian bistro, alternately laughing and solving all
the problems of the world in one evening.
Penelope called to tell me that they will not be in town
when I visit next week. The reason is that they
will be traveling to Penelope’s hometown to see her mother
and her mother’s doctors.
April 2011 -
In a recent telephone call with a friend halfway around the
world, the true nature of caregiving became yet a little
clearer to me. Hal is the primary caregiver for his mother
who is living with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.
One day, he was confronted with a situation he had never let
himself think about before. In retrospect, he admitted to
himself that his mother’s condition was deteriorating; but
suddenly and seemingly out of the blue, he found that her
condition had changed to the point where it was necessary
for him to assist with her bathing.
May 2011 -
I have never gotten used to the look of astonished
disappointment in my dog, Morris’ face as I grab my
travel-worn suitcase down from the shelf for another round
of TSA tango, bad airline coffee, and hotels which range
from terrific to uncertain as to when the room was last
cleaned. Morris has even given up trying to jump into the
suitcase since he long ago learned that he isn’t going
It is a great pleasure to travel the country talking to
family caregivers in urban and rural cities. I have
met so many gracious folks and feel a special kinship to all
of these communities. It was with intense sadness that
I watched the news last weekend about two of these
cities—Minneapolis, Minnesota and Joplin, Missouri and this
week as more tornados struck wide areas in Kansas, Oklahoma
June 2011 -
Sixteen years ago this week on a rainy Fourth of July
weekend, I drove a rental truck to a local magazine
printer's warehouse to pick up copies of the first issue of Today's
Caregiver magazine. I loaded the issues onto the truck
and spent the entire next week delivering the magazines to
hospitals and care facilities across my community.
July 2011 -
Last week, the 110th Fearless Caregiver Conference started
out of the gate at full gallop. One of the first questions
during the morning Q&A session set the tone for the day.
A 30-something-year-old goateed man stood up and said, “I’m
from up north and my question is about long-distance
caregiving. I have a 90-year-old mother who lives here in
Boca Raton. I am her only son, yet she is quick to say
“Don’t bother me” if I offer help.
August 2011 - I wrote a caregiver
communiqué last winter to highlight the challenges of coping
with senior falls and what we would need to do to help our
loved ones live safely at home.
My dear friend Barbara Rich, who was the Betty in this
story, passed away last week. Her beloved daughter and truly
Fearless Caregiver Wendy (Donna in this story) was at her
side. I’d like to share the story once again in her honor.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Wendy and her family.
September 2011 -
Donna, Isabel, Betsy, Inez, David, Andrew, Frances, Jeanne,
Katrina, Wilma. This is not an invitation list for a family
reunion, just a list of the hurricanes that I have been
lucky(?) enough to live through. Since I was born, I
have never missed being there when a hurricane hit my neck
of the woods in Southeast Florida. When I graduated from
college upstate, I drove back home through the onset of
Hurricane David. Years later, when Hurricane Andrew hit, I
was home visiting my mother, even though I had lived away
from Florida for the previous eight years. (The Chamber of
Commerce finally asked if I wouldn’t mind never coming
Although I would much rather memorialize the birth of a
loved one than their passing, tomorrow is the second
anniversary of the passing of a young woman who meant so
very much to me; someone I have written about on our
shared birthday in March since she was taken from us.
October 2011 -
Lately, I have been writing a lot about loss: two
weeks ago, about the second anniversary of the loss of a
young lady who was extremely important to me, from an
accident involving a distracted driver; last week, about my
friend’s recent suicide; and today, it would be quite easy
to continue the conversation about loss since this marks the
20th anniversary of my dad’s passing. Yet, I do not want to
talk about loss or sadness today. There is enough of that to
go around for all of us.
November 2011 - I have always said that
having a roomful of 400 family caregivers and a celebrity
who has gone through family caregiving means you actually
have 401 family caregivers in the room. This statement has
hardly ever rung more true than last week at our eighth
annual New Haven Fearless Caregiver Conference. Our
keynote speaker was Patricia Richardson, who played Jill
Taylor in the television program Home Improvements and many
other television, film and stage roles.
I think there has never been a more aptly named holiday for
family caregivers than Thanks Giving. Oh, I know that there
are traditional theories behind the holiday, the Pilgrims,
turkey, stuffing and all that. But I am taken with the fact
that the name of the holiday details everything I think
about caregivers: Thanks for Giving so much to your loved
ones, friends and community.
December 2011 -
My friend Rick’s grandmother passed away a few weeks ago at
94 years of age. I wrote about her when her son
(Rick’s dad) took ill a few years ago:
...unfortunately, Rick's dad needed a quadruple bypass,
which the rural hospital near his parents' home was not
equipped to perform.
Now, as this past year is put on the shelf, we turn our
hopeful gaze towards 2012,
Will there be medical breakthroughs for our loved one’s
Will we still fight with them over taking their pills?
Will any of our leaders in nation and state look up from
campaigning and yell out, “Wait!”?