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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers
Symbolizing the way we are all woven together
in our fight against Alzheimer's Disease

Volume 5, Issue 11
May 27, 2001
1104A Murfreesboro Pike PMB 114
Nashville, TN 37217-1918

Memorial Day. I know it is a time to honor our veterans and I do acknowledge what they were put through and what the families were put through. I am so proud that we have brave men and women who went to war in order to protect those of us at home. I applaud these men and women and hope that this next generation will be up to the test should they have to be called.

I also would like to take a moment to tell you what I do for myself on Memorial Day. I take the play on the word Memorial and make it Memory. I do not have anyone personally who served so I use the word Memory for my relatives who suffer from Alzheimer's or Dementia. I take time out to fish out memories of the good times so that over the next year I have some good memories to carry me through the rough times and the sad times. Take a moment to do this for the person you are helping and caring for.


The Ribbon Web Site
Temporary Change

Some of you are already aware that there has been a problem with The Ribbon web site for the past week. We were notified last night that the web site, including The Gathering Place chat room has been temporarily put under another name. The address is as follows:

Welcome to The Ribbon Online

Welcome to The Gathering Place

We are hoping to have these latest problems resolved very soon. In the meantime, please use these links to access the site.

As always please feel free to call on any of the staff if you have any difficulties.

The Ribbon

Changes in Behavior Could Be A Sign

Dear Ann Landers:

You printed a letter about an elderly man who suddenly began accusing his wife of being unfaithful. I would like to alert your readers to the signs of cognitive impairment in a previously undiagnosed illness, or are the result of a head injury, a fall, or improper use of medication.

Please take notice if your loved one:

  1. Becomes verbally or physically abusive or makes irrational accusations and demands.
  2. Gains or loses a noticeable amount of weight.
  3. No longer enjoys a favorite hobby and makes lame excuses for his or her inability to participate.
  4. Has increasing difficulty using the telephone and can no longer reprogram an electrical device after a power shortage.
  5. Has diminished cooking skills or leaves pots unattended on the stove.
  6. Allows personal hygiene or previous standards of modesty to go out the window.
  7. Becomes unable to understand the written word and is constantly asking others to read the mail or the newspaper.
  8. Spends too much money on things he or she doesn't need and orders items through the mail that he or she has no use for.
  9. Becomes the victim of scams and unscrupulous con artists.
  10. Starts handing wads of bills to salespeople, asking them to "take what is needed" because he or she can no longer count out money.

In many cases, the loved one realizes his or her diminished abilities but tries to hide it. Sometimes, the person's doctor will not discuss the loved one's medical condition with you, but you should contact the doctor anyway and ask that this information be put into the person's file. Once the doctor is alerted, the situation can be properly assessed.

I hope this helps your readers, Ann.

-- Longtime Fan in Ontario, Canada

Dear Ontario: Thanks for alerting my readers to the signs of cognitive impairment. Here's another letter that may be of help to those who are caring for elderly relatives:

Dear Ann Landers: My mother recently had a major operation. Since she came home from the hospital, Medicare has been covering the cost of a physical therapist and a home-health aide. This was a tremendous relief to me since Mom has a limited income, and I live hundreds of miles away.

I am worried that the coverage for this home care will not last long enough to get Mom back on her feet. Can you find out what the deal is? -- Worried Daughter

Dear Daughter:
According to the Medicare Rights Center, your mother's coverage will continue as long as she is unable to leave her home without significant difficulty and needs skilled nursing care of physical, speech or occupational therapy. Medicare will pay for a home-health aide only for as long as your mother needs a skilled nurse or therapist.

Anyone who is interested in more information about Medicare's home healthcare benefits can request the booklet "Getting Care at Home: What Medicare Covers", by sending $5 to the Medicare Rights Center, Box ALH, 1460 Broadway, New York, NY 10036 (

Found in the Saturday, May 26, 2001 edition of The Tennessean.

The Role Of Being A Caregiver Is No Accident

The boomer generation is being faced with the major role of caring their parents, spouses and children today more than any other period in history. Some are caring for more than one person at a time. There are currently 54 million family caregivers today in the United States, alone as revealed in a study by the National Family Caregivers Association( One of the reasons longevity has increased is because of new medical discoveries and treatments available through modern medicine as well as alternative healing modalities. While the longevity of individuals has increased, their quality of life may not have improved. In the past many of your parents who may have both worked were forced to place their parents into nursing homes and facilities. However, today, many of the boomers are taking on the responsibility to keep their loved ones living in their own home or with them without having to place them.

I for one believe that we are not placed into our roles as caregivers by accident. There are so many lessons to learn. You learn to care better for learn to respect and work through incomplete issues with those you care for, but truly the most important lesson to learn is moving into forgiveness and opening to love.

Each of you has an opportunity to learn so much through the caregiving process if you can get out of the "why me" type role or your "victim" and perhaps glimpse at a bigger picture.Your parents may not have been in the position to nurture your own personal power as you were growing up. They weren't able to master their own. With caregiving, old patterns and belief systems or dynamics that existed for you as a child or young adult may come into play once again if they haven't been fully resolved. Some caregivers are faced with old issues of abandonment, verbal and physical abuse as well as sexual abuse. These past memories can cause you to care from a space of guilt, feeling responsible, needing approval and acceptance and a myriad of other reasons. It is important to get out the hurt,mixed feelings, and guilt so that you do not carry them into this new role. It is of the utmost importance that you let go in order to move forward. Adjusting to the new role reversal of parenting your parent requires that you understand much more than you may be aware of. No one can do this for you. You must do this healing for yourself to obtain your own inner peace and joy.

The word "Try" or "Are you taking responsibility yet?" is so important for you to pay attention to. As a caregiver, you may find yourself taking on tremendous responsibilities and the pressures build, but you must seek out the tools to empower yourself so that you can make wise decisions for your well being as well as your loved ones,This means you must also be responsible for maintaining balance within your "self".

You are more than your physical body. You are spirit and spirit is eternal. Your loved one may have a deteriorating long-term illness, a disability or may be in "end-of-life stages" but their spirit still resides within their body. It is up to you to care for them and make sure others care for them with compassion and love.

Every day you have choices. There may not always appear to be many, but it is truly a matter of shifting your perceptions and opening yourselves to another way of being. Every day you are surrounded by blessings and miracles in the process. When you are caught up thinking in the past or in the future, fear, pain, hurt, worry and other negative emotions will control your life. When you are learning to live more fully in the present moment, you begin to accept and appreciate precious moments that may have gone by. Taking control and responsibility for your own life is an important realization that comes up when you are caring for someone in their final life stages. They are in your life to show you how to live your life more fully.

Life is not a is a journey...we are able to change so much of what we feel stuck in once we change our thoughts,our attitudes and beliefs. The role of the caregiver builds strength from within, compassion love. It tests our faith and for many we learn to develop trust and faith in a "Higher Power" that carries us through this experience.The caregiving experience is transformational if you open yourself to receiving all the rewards it offers.

Richest blessings to you on your journey.


Copyrighted by Gail R. Mitchell April 2000

Gail R. Mitchell is the creator of the Empowering Caregivers Site at She is the spokeswoman for the Caregivers Area at the Boomer's International site at 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". She is a freelance consultant to many other caregiving sites on the Internet. You will find her hosting chats at the Empowering Caregiver's Site, AllHealth / IVillage on AOL and appearing at various sites online as a guest host. She offers workshops on Empowering Caregivers offline. Currently Gail is working on a major vision for a "Universal" Caregiving Portal on the Internet. You may contact Gail at or 212-807-1204.

There's Always A Second Chance
By Mary Emma Allen

"Molly, you haven't been to see me for a long time," her mother said.

"Mom, I was here yesterday," replied Molly, tucking the lap robe around Anna's knees as she sat in the wheel chair.

"You weren't," insisted Anna, pushing Molly's hand away. "You never come."

"Mom," started Molly, only to be interrupted.

"But Julie always comes to see me," continued Anna with a smile. "She's my good daughter."

"I WAS here yesterday," explained Molly.

"Oh, what's the use," she muttered, as her mother turned away in a pout. Why does it have to be this way? No matter what I do, it never seems right.

While Anna dozed, Molly consulted with the head nurse about her mother's care, then returned to say goodby.

Awake now, Anna looked up, "Oh, you're here, Molly. You're such a good daughter and come to see me so often." She patted Molly's hand.

Then Molly remembered something the nurse explained at a support meeting. "Don't worry if you make mistakes caring for your parent. You're only human. Just realize, with Alzheimer's patients, they forget from one moment to the next. There's always a second chance."

(c)2001 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen's book, "When We Become the Parent to Our Parent", chronicles her mother's journey through Alzheimer's. Web site:; mail to:

Don't forget to meet at The Gathering Place to get support, meet friends old and new, laugh, share, and just have a great time. Monday through Friday 9-11pm EST. Our own Karen will be doing a bit of hosting during the month of June. More on that later.

We hope you will have a great Memorial Day weekend and most of all a SAFE one. Until then we wish you

Hugs and Peace,
Jamie and Karen

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