10 05, 2018

Remembering Mom on Mother’s Day

For many years, I went back to Kansas on Mother’s Day weekend. My annual gift to Mom was purchasing and planting flowers. One year I gave her a spindly little flowering pear tree. Every spring after that she wrote to let me know when it had started to bloom.

Mom died in 2002, and I haven’t been back to the farm since her funeral. Recently, my brother Larry sent me a photo of Mom’s tree.

Seeing how it had grown and flourished made my heart swell. I recalled how much fun we had each year selecting plants. I remember the feel of the hard earth under my knees and the relaxed and happy conversations we had as […]

4 05, 2018

Family Members as Caregivers: Should You Be Concerned?

What Should You be Concerned About if a Family Member is Caring for a Loved One?

When a family member is caring for another relative, you need to be concerned about both the care receiver and the caregiver.

Understand that caring for someone who is aging, chronically ill, or disabled is an incredibly heavy burden. So if you are not the one in the trenches, don’t be quick to criticize. If you are confident the caregiver has your loved one’s best interest at heart, do everything you can to support him/her. If you live at a distance and you can’t visit often, perhaps you could contribute financially and help provide some respite and relief for the caregiver. Google ElderCareLocator.gov, […]

26 04, 2018

Spirituality and Caregiving – #2

Find Yourself Another Servant

This video is an excerpt from a presentation about spirituality and caregiving that I delivered at the Oregon Episcopal Church Women’s Conference last summer. It is based on my book, “Letters from Madelyn, Chronicles of a Caregiver.”

My mother’s faith in a loving and benevolent God gave her the emotional and physical strength to care for my dad for six-and-a-half years even though her own body was failing. She prayed every day that she would be a willing channel for God’s love and caring. Some days she succeeded. Some days she felt like telling God to go find himself another servant.

As all caregivers are aware, no matter how much you want to be patient […]

25 04, 2018

Spirituality and Caregiving – #1

Free Will: Still a Good Idea?

When I deliver keynotes and workshops at caregiving and healthcare conferences, my message has to be secular, so last summer when I was invited to speak at the Oregon Episcopal  Church Women’s Conference, I had a great deal of fun sharing my mother’s spiritual journey through six-and-a-half years of caregiving.  The presentation was based on excerpts from my book, “Letters from Madelyn, Chronicles of a Caregiver.”

Although Mom always believed in a loving and benevolent God, her letters at the beginning of her caregiving experience were often irreverent. In this excerpt, she was struggling to decide which church they should visit, as my dad could no longer manage the stairs at the Congregational […]

18 04, 2018

Professional Caregivers & Grief

How Professional Caregivers Grieve the Death of a Resident

Last week when I spoke at the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association spring conference, I talked about the grief professional caregivers experience when a resident dies.

I shared several stories, including one about my Grandpa Stan who suffered a stroke late in life. The stroke robbed Grandpa of his independence and the ability to do almost everything that brought him pleasure. To say he was cantankerous the last few years of his life would be a phenomenal understatement.

And yet, there was a laundry lady in the nursing facility who demonstrated to us, through a simple act of kindness, that Grandpa deserved to be shown respect––even in death.

I regret that […]

18 04, 2018

Understanding Dementia-Related Surprising & Inappropriate Sexual Bheavior

How Dementia & Medication Can Cause Surprising and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviors

I was honored to be invited to speak at the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association spring conference in Lancaster, PA last week. My keynote was about sexuality and dementia. As usual, attendees shared their stories with me. (Some of them were quite funny, and a couple were a bit shocking!)

I think it’s important to talk about this topic because surprising and inappropriate sexual behavior is not unusual in stroke survivors, people who have Alzheimer’s, and individuals who take Dopamine to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

Witnessing uninhibited sexual behavior in an older person can make both family members and professional caregivers uncomfortable. But when we understand that dementia […]

4 04, 2018

How can you be sure of getting good care in a long-term care facility?

Q & A Video Series With Elaine #6

It’s important to understand that not all long-term care facilities are created equally. The Ramada Inn and the Ritz Carlton are both hotel chains, but there are significant differences in the amenities they offer and the prices they charge.   

Room comfort, quality of food, and the number of qualified, trained, and fairly compensated staff members can make a huge difference in the level of care your loved one receives in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. However, no matter how much you pay for care, it’s important to understand that no facility can provide flawless 24-hour-a-day, one-on-one attention.

When people are aged, disabled, chronically ill, or living with […]

1 04, 2018

Caregiver Help Word of the Day: EASTER


In 2006 my 80-year-old Aunt Jean moved from Florida to Oregon so she could be close to my family and me. For the next ten years, she was an integral part of our daily lives and all of our family holidays and celebrations. She died on October 31, 2016, a month after we celebrated her 90th birthday.

One week after she died, I had back surgery. The months that followed were incredibly stressful physically and emotionally. Jean had no children, so she appointed me as her personal representative. It fell upon me to settle her estate and sort through all of her belongings, including dozens of grocery bags that she had stashed behind the decorative screens […]

30 03, 2018

How Do You Recognize the Signs of Elder Abuse?

Q and A with Elaine Video Series #5

What do you do if you suspect an elderly person is being abused?

Answering this question seems simple on the surface, right? You would assume everyone would say, “Report it!” Actually, according to the National Council on Aging, one study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to the authorities.*

So why are people reluctant to get involved? Sometimes they don’t want to report it because they haven’t personally witnessed anything, and they aren’t sure if the person actually is being abused.

People may also be afraid of the consequences if they report abuse, especially if a family member is involved. They may not want to get the police involved. Or perhaps they are afraid of causing a […]

15 03, 2018

How Do You Choose the Right Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility?

Q & A with Elaine Video Series #4

According to the National Center for Assisted Living, there are more than 28,000 assisted living facilities in the US providing care for more than one million people. In addition, there are approximately 15,600 skilled nursing facilities that are caring for 1.7 million individuals.

People often find themselves in a situation where they have to choose a long-term care quickly, as I did when my 80-year-old Aunt Jean broke her hip. After surgery, the hospital social worker told me that I would need to put Jean into a skilled nursing facility for short-term rehab. I had two days to make arrangements.

I said, “Okay. Which one do you recommend?”

She told me she wasn’t allowed to give recommendations. She could only […]