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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers
Volume 5, Issue 25
December 9, 2001

www.TheRibbon.com

1104A Murfreesboro Pike
PMB 114
Nashville, TN  37217-1918

Karen and I both have a great weekend planned next weekend.  Karen will be traveling up north to visit with her mother, daughter and family, and other family members.  I will be hostess to my mother, her mother, all my siblings and their families, and my children and their families.  Needless to say we are thrilled.

We'd like to know about you and your family.  Who are you going to visit or have visit you for the holidays?  What special traditions do you have?  How will you celebrate? Is there a special gift you want this year? Send us a note by Dec. 21 to go in the next issue.  Please send them to Karen@TheRibbon.com

Please take a moment this holiday season to say a prayer for all those who are traveling that they may have a safe journey.


The Ribbon Celebrates!!!

On Dec.6th, 2001, The Ribbon reached a new plateau. Our trusty counter has turned to 20,000! In August, 1998, www.theribbon.com became a reality.  With the tremendous help of our site manager, Weather91, aka Kevin, a dream came into being and our web site was available to all who seek help with caregiving.

Recently, in doing some research for a friend, I had the opportunity to use the "Search" button on the Home Page and ended up spending a couple of hours reading back issues of The Ribbon. I was amazed at the volume of information I found.  Issues that are 3+ years old still had relevant articles.  It made me realize that the basic foundation of The Ribbon is the people and although the names may change, the core of The Ribbon is the love and sharing each and every issue holds.

With the continued support of our readers, The Ribbon will grow, the counter will go even higher and we will further enlarge our circle of friends.

Thank you!

--Karen


Shop at TheRibbon.com

We now have a new section at The Ribbon website! You can shop by going to www.TheRibbon.com/shop/ . There you will find 3 stores. The first is the Bookstore where you can find many books about Alzheimer's Disease, Caregiving, and others.  The second store is the Caregiver's Store. Here you will find some neat items. Hint: There is a real cutie there that will be on the wish list of all caregivers. Be sure to check the back of the items also. The third store is Amazon.com where you can buy many different kinds of items.

The Caregivers store will be changing along the way so continue to check back.  We would be interested if you know a slogan or saying that caregivers would want on items, if so send them to Kevin@TheRibbon.com.

At the Caregivers store, you can order as late as Dec.17 to get Christmas delivery. So hurry and check it out!


Creating Rituals During The Holidays

Webster's Dictionary defines:
Rite- as: a prescribed form or manner governing the words or actions for a ceremony. A ceremonial act or action; an initiation.
Ritual- as: relating to rites or ritual; according to a religious law or social custom; the established form for a ceremony; a ceremonial act of action; any formal and customarily repeated act or series of acts.

There are many types of rituals other than purely religious. Taking a daily morning walk or meditating can be considered a ritual. For most, the term "ritual" represents an extended meaning to a set of actions. Many think of funeral memorials, deaths and rites of passage as rituals. Creating rituals during the holidays is a way to give special meaning to those for whom you are caring as well as those for whom you are grieving. Creating a sacred ritual can offer a tremendous sense of honoring for the loved one you are missing. It also offers balance, comfort and support for you. The overall effect of creating rituals can assist you in coping with the coming holidays.

In continuing with your healing over your loss, you might also design rituals for anniversaries, birthdays and other events that were symbolic for you and your loved one. Rituals can help you to establish the spiritual meaning and understanding of your loss. The ritual becomes an ongoing memorial or representation that you can respond to and absorb the significant changes that have taken place. When you create a ritual from your heart, special meaning will fill you with purpose and most of all love.

Suggestions for filling your holiday loss and tears with celebration and love:

  • Express yourself through artwork.


  • Begin your holiday dinner with a minute of silent prayer and a toast in their honor


  • Send up a balloon(s) with messages and prayers to your loved one.


  • During the meal ask the question, "What comes to your mind when you think of _________?", and share memories with those who surround you.


  • Plant a tree or a special plant in their honor in your garden or in your home.


  • Create special Christmas ornaments for your tree and hang a stocking in their honor.


  • Write a letter or even keep a journal of your thoughts.


  • Light a candle(s) in their memory.


  • Place a single flower or bouquet of flowers that your loved one cherished as the centerpiece.


  • The "Shames" or head candle in the Hanukah celebration can be in honor of your loved one.


  • Look at pictures (or display pictures) from past holidays shared with your loved one. View videos, audiotapes and any remembrances, which reflect on the wonderful times you experienced together.


  • Design a quilt with the memories you have.


  • Write a brief history of the ups and downs you have experienced in the past year and place it into a Christmas stocking or some memorable cache that you can add to yearly.


  • Play a favorite song.


  • Create a sacred alter with photos and treasures where you can sit and reflect.


  • If you vacation in a special area that you used to go to with your loved one, do something special in honor of them.


  • Consider volunteering for an organization affiliated with your loved one's illness, hospice or a caregiving program to help others through your own experiences.


  • Volunteer to help feed the homeless over Thanksgiving & Christmas.


  • Volunteer to read or spend time with the elderly in nursing homes, hospitals or to read and spend time with children who have terminal illnesses in hospitals.


  • Donate gifts in your loved one's name. This is even more special when you donate in memory at their birthday, a special anniversary, etc.


  • Offer a scholarship in a loved one's name.

Rituals empower people emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Caregivers in all countries who create rituals through customs, traditions, and their own desire to invent a new ritual that provides meaning in their life, have the opportunity to extend a person's presence beyond death. While our society encourages us to mourn quickly and return to our normal lives, it is particularly difficult for former caregivers who have experienced so much loss in their roles. The death of a loved one after a long period of caring leaves the caregiver without motivation, a sense of place, self confidence, a network of friends and socialization challenges to actually make the return to our own lives once again. It is not just the loss of a loved one you experience; it is the loss of many things that were put on hold.

As you move through your grief, remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Each person grieves in his or her own way and in his or her own time. It is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to support groups and learn how others are healing from their own personal losses. This gives you additional support and understanding. It also gives you reason to understand that you will move through your grief, just as others have. With understanding and healing, you will find that you may not return to your life as it was before you became a caregiver. You may find that you have grown in ways you could not have imagined, thus creating a newer more fulfilling life; perhaps even a new identity based on the transformational experiences you have gone through in your role as a Caregiver. Remember to be gentle and nurturing to yourself.

Richest blessings on your journey.

Copyrighted Gail R. Mitchell 11/08/01


Gail R. Mitchell is the creator of the Empowering Caregivers Site www.care-givers.com. She is the spokeswoman for the Caregivers Area at the Boomer's International site at http://boomersint.org/. She has consulted for other caregiving sites. She is a featured columnist for FinalThoughts.com and TheCareGuide.com. Her articles have been published in the National caregiving magazine "Today's Caregiver" here in the United States and in Canada's National caregiving magazine, "CANGO QRTLY." Recently Ms. Mitchell founded the National Organization for Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) www.nofec.org to help raise the nation's consciousness about family caregiving in hopes of providing respite, support and education to those in need.


Enhancing Life For the Older Adult with Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementias: Some Gift Ideas
by Stephanie Zeman RN MSN

Most people with AD are fairly mobile and able to participate in some kind of activity for at least a few years. Gifts which promote activities have the potential to improve the person's quality of life, provided that are carefully selected to match the functional level of the person with AD..

The following suggestion have been divided into gifts for early stage dementia, the moderately impaired, and the severely impaired. These are only a handful of ideas from which to choose..

Early Alzheimer's and Related Dementia

Most individuals at this stage are: able to communicate fairly well, quite active and need to be engaged in some activity 60% of the day. They are aware of their condition and struggle to remain independent. Gifts that enhance independence or encourage activity are excellent choices.

Games: Simple, but familiar games, such as dominos, large numbered cards, an invitation to a Bingo game (be prepared to watch over your guest's card). Low priced items, but they have potential for quite a bit of enjoyment.

Tickets to a concert, musical, circus. Ball games can also be excellent choices. Any event without a plot to follow is a good choice. For safety either take the person or send along a companion

Taxi charge account for transportation to visit friends (coordinate plans on both sides of the trip). This gives the person a sense of freedom and independence when they can no longer drive.

Old family photographs highlighting the major events in the person's life. Useful and enjoyable throughout the course of dementia.

Fruit basket or flowers are always a welcome gift.

For the Moderately Impaired

Persons with moderate stage AD will have some difficulty communicating, will need help dressing, and be unable to manage most daily activities without supervision or help. Wandering is often seen in this group. Exercise is important but attention spans varies so activities are best limited to fifteen minutes.

Simple to manage clothing. Tube socks are easy to put on correctly. Shoes are available with Velcro closures since shoelaces can be a problem. Jumpsuits with back closures for those with incontinence problems are very good choices.

Materials to sort. Sorting is an activity that most people with AD can enjoy. Try pennies and penny folders, a bag of buttons, or large beads.

Music. Especially the old songs often can bring back wonderful memories. Try to locate stores that have remakes of old albums. Also religious music or music of their country of birth can bring great pleasure.

Tape Church or religious services. Many people with dementia can no longer attend religious services. This can bring a great source of comfort.

Short car trips. See Christmas lights, flowers, seasonal changes.

The Severely Impaired

At this level the person has almost no understanding of the spoken word and is unable to speak coherently. Attention span is very short. In this stage of the disease people do not have the capacity to deal with anything but the simplest of tasks. Often times their long term memory takes them into the back and they may believe they are living in the home or community of their younger years.

Photo albums, family pictures, memory books. A gather of pictures from the persons past can help if any memory is still intact.

Pet visits. Most people with late dementia still enjoy the visits of dogs, cats, and other small animal.

Recordings of old music.

Cuddle animals or even a lifelike cuddly baby doll.

Video tapes with pleasant sights such as garden, fish tanks and sounds can be soothing.

Hand/body lotions Most people with late stage Ad still derive comfort from touch. Try giving a hand or body massage. ( Do not massage legs, as blood clots can form in this population.

 

These are just a few ideas that may bring pleasure to those with AD during the holidays and on special occasions.


Stephanie Zeman has a Masters in Nursing, specializing in long term care and gerontology in since 1961. She has developed Geriatric Education Resources in 1987 to provide educational workshops consultations and support for family caregivers. This article in an excerpt from her book: Gift Givers Guide. For more information about this guide she can be reached at Geriatric Resources PO Box 7144 Fairfax Station 22039-7144


From mari5113@home.com

I received this from my EASE Meeting (EARLY ACESS SUPPORT EDUCATION) the other day and I wanted to share.
Mary

Holiday Gift Ideas!

For the Patient

  • Hugs, hugs, hugs
  • Clothing – velcro-closing sneakers, sweats, slacks with elastic waist, shirts that open in front or back, clothing with large zipper pulls
  • Memory aids – wipe-off message board with pen, bulletin board, calendar, large clock, frame with labeled photos, scrapbook or album of life memories and achievements
  • Music – favorite cassette or CD, music box, live entertainment at nursing home
  • Short visits
  • Books with large pictures and few words, poetry, story books
  • Soft pillows or stuffed animals
  • Fresh fruit, such as bananas
  • Soft lighting – dimmer switch, night lights
  • Adaptive equipment for the home – hand-held shower, tub rails, locks/door alarm, child-proof doorknobs, curtains for mirrors or reflective surfaces, safety knobs for stove
  • Scents – hand lotion, linen spray, soap, shower gel, bubble bath
  • Grooming items
  • Gift certificates – manicure, pedicure, dentist, beauty shop
  • Short car trip
  • Games – large piece jigsaw puzzles, word or number games, games with Bible themes, bingo games with pictures, matching memory games
  • Birdfeeder or aquarium
  • Flowers
  • Safe Return bracelet

For the Caregiver

  • Hugs, hugs, hugs
  • The gift of listening
  • Time! Anything to give the caregiver time
  • Shopping spree
  • Ticket to a show (respite care offered)
  • Gift certificates – spa, restaurant, clothing store, movie theatre
  • Walk in the park or recreational activity
  • Selection of cards and stamped envelopes
  • Fish bowl full of "favor coupons" to draw from – wash car, vacuum, grocery shopping, laundry
  • Care package with necessities – paper towels, dish soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc.
  • Relaxation tapes, quiet music
  • Ready-made meal – frozen casserole or hot dish
  • Offer to drive to appointments
  • Safe Return registration
  • Respite care – stay with the person with Alzheimer’s, give a check or certificate for overnight respite, arrange for respite care for the caregiver, inquire about respite reimbursement with the Mid-Missouri Chapter
  • Order a free Caregiver Gift Pack from the Mid-Missouri Chapter – contains a newsletter subscription, caregiver card, 24- hour Help Line numbers, a variety of informational brochures, lending library resource list, Safe Return application, respite reimbursement information, support group list and Internet resources.

Visit my web page:  http://www.angelfire.com/ok4/mari5113/
Join me for Alzheimer's/Dementia Chat
http://cg.eldersearch.com/memberlogin.asp?strRedirect=chat


In Passing: Those We Must Remember

It is with sadness that I pass along the message of another passing.  My sister-in-law, Judi, lost her stepfather, Jimmy.  Judi has been traveling back and forth to the nursing home for several years to care for him.

Judi informed me that she felt very blessed to be the one with him as he passed and even though she is sad she knows he is at peace.  She said that as she and her mother left the hospital that morning it was such a beautiful day and it sounded like hundreds of birds were singing.

Join us in sending your condolences to Judi (jedens45@bellsouth.net) and my brother Scott.

--Jamie


Once again my friends, I have the very sad task to let you know that another one of our friends lost a loved one today.  I got an email from Daisey9959 or Jessicamklm, Michele to us, saying her father passed away peacefully about 10:00 a.m. today.  Michele, her brother, and sister were there about a half an hour when he died; she feels he waited for all of them to get there.  Michele and her family have had a very difficult time this year as her mother passed away on March 31, 2001.

Please join with me in extending your thoughts and sympathies to Michele and her family in this very difficult time.

Love Always,
Linda

The Gathering Place
Online Alzheimer's Caregiver Support
http://www.theribbon.com/GatherPlace/
Contributor to Finding the Joys in Alzheimer's (page 76)


Coping With Grief During The Holidays

  1. Find people you trust and with whom you feel comfortable, and talk about your feelings before the actual holiday or day of celebration. Keep talking and ask them to keep listening.

  2. When you're afraid of wearing out your welcome, or wearing out the listener's ears, start writing a journal. Write down your thoughts, feelings, whatever you need to get off your chest.

  3. Give yourself permission to cry---alone or with someone who will accept your tears without trying to turn them off. God gave us tears to shed---not to bottle them up. They're poison that needs to be cleansed from our bodies.

  4. Listen to your body, and learn to be aware of stress. Then learn to relax.

  5. Exercise.

  6. Get proper nutrition and rest.

  7. Remember your loved one. Make a list of all of the positive things you can remember about that person, all the good memories.

  8. Reach out to others. Do something nice for someone.

  9. Pamper yourself. Buy yourself a nice gift.

  10. In the case of the death of a loved one, buy a beautiful Christmas candle and light it each day during advent as a reminder of your loved one.

  11. If wrapping gifts seems to difficult, ask someone to help you or to do it for you.

  12. It's okay to change family traditions.

  13. Give a special offering to your church or favorite charity in memory of your loved one.

  14. Stick to your regular routines---wake -up time, bed time, go to work, church, etc.

  15. Make a list of things to do.

  16. Give yourself permission to laugh and enjoy the holiday.

  17. Concentrate on the good things. Try to keep your thoughts and attitude positive.

  18. Be reasonable about your expectations for the holidays.

  19. Be gentle and patient with yourself.

  20. Tell your family and friends what you need from them during this difficult time.

  21. Thank God for the years you had / have had with your loved one.

  22. If hanging up a Christmas stocking for the loved one, do something different with the stocking. [fill it with notes or flowers, something they enjoyed].

  23. If they have passed away, place a wreath or appropriate flowers on the resting place. It's okay to share the holiday season with them.

  24. Again--talk and cry, talk and cry. Talk to a trusted friend, a counselor, a pastor. Talk to God, talk to your loved one. Take time daily during the holiday season to express your grief. Cry if you need to, remember with joy the good times. But whatever you do, don't pretend that it hasn't changed.

Editor's note: A lot of us do not realize how early we start the grieving process. It starts long before our loved ones actually pass on. Remember this and understand why you may be feeling such a sense of loss, stress, or grief at this time. This pertains other special days as well as the ones we are going through now.

This wonderful article is from the following website:
Alzheimer's Outreach
http://alzheimers.zarcrom.com

Email Bag

From Bev2Davis

Happy Holidays!  Keep up the good work on the Ribbon.  I look forward to reading all the messages.  Sorry!  don't even have time for the chat room anymore.  One of these days?!?  Bev


From MeeMawMoe

Dear Karen and Jamie,

.. Wow, this one is amazing.. The stories are beautiful and very touching.   And the info is just what we caregiviers need at this time of year.

How have you been doing?  Seems like  forever since Nashville.  How is Mickey?  Be sure and tell her hello and give her a big hug from me.  And here is one for you too. 
I have completed most of my pre-holiday preparations, cutting way down on the stress. I started months ago, doing a little at a time.   Put my tree up weeks ago, presents bought and wrapped.  Now I can sit back, relax and try to enjoy it as much as I can. I want us to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas and my attitude definitely affects Jerry's.   And I even plan to have a small birthday party for Jerry the 14th.  Hopefully I am not biting off more than I can chew.  lol.... I realize that everyone can not do this as early as I have.  But it works for me.

Again, I want to thank you for the Ribbon.  It has been a lifesaver to me, full of information, encouragment and inspiration.  I thank everyone that has written and sent these articles and I thank you and Jamie for the time you both take out of your busy lives to put this newsletter together.  I hope you realize how much this means to all of us.  You are two truly amazing ladies!!

You both take care and have a blessed Christmas and new year.

Love and many hugs,
Sharon


Want to Chat?

The Gathering Place is hosted Monday through Friday 9pm to 11pm EST.  We laugh, we cry, we care, we share.
www.theribbon.com/GatherPlace
Welcome to The Gathering Place

ElderCare Online | The Internet Community of Elder CareGivers (tm) - http://www.ec-online.net/chat.htm.

All times are U.S. Eastern Standard Time (GMT –5). We have begun to provide chats that are hosted by caregivers in Australia. Australian times are GMT +10. Hopefully this will not cause a great deal of confusion and instead give us more opportunities to connect with each other.

December 10 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Bubblehead’s Chatroom:" Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of "Caregiving for People with Dementia."

December 12 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) "Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

December 12 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 12 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Bubblehead’s Chatroom:" Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of "Caregiving for People with Dementia."

December 13 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 15 (Saturday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 17 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Bubblehead’s Chatroom:" Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of "Caregiving for People with Dementia."

December 18 (Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Children of Aging Parents:" Host Brian Duke from CAPS and the Institute for Aging at the University of Pennsylvania leads a discussion for family caregivers seeking understanding and resources.

December 19 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) "Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

December 19 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 19 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Bubblehead’s Chatroom:" Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of "Caregiving for People with Dementia."

December 20 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 22 (Saturday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 24 (Monday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Bubblehead’s Chatroom:" Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of "Caregiving for People with Dementia."

December 26 (Wednesday 5:00 to 7:00AM EST) "Ozcarers' Chatroom (or Pong's Place):" Hosts Pongfoot (David) and Splash (Edith) welcome caregivers from around the world to drop in and put their feet up for a while, chat with other caregivers and "Take a Break."

December 26 (Wednesday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 26 (Wednesday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Bubblehead’s Chatroom:" Host Edyth Ann Knox leads a supportive chat group for dementia caregivers on the topic of "Caregiving for People with Dementia."

December 27 (Thursday 9:00 to 11:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."

December 29 (Saturday 1:00 to 2:00PM EST) "Sugarlips’ Chatroom:" Host Vicki Gardner welcomes caregivers for a social and networking discussion group on the topic of "Expressing Our Emotions."


Happy Holidays!
Hugs and Peace,
Karen and Jamie

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