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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers
Volume 7, Issue 19
October 5, 2003

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

What a hectic week this has been. I went for orientation for a job, had to go get a TB test, have been running all over gathering things for the Gathering of Friends, collecting the mail from The Ribbon box every day, tabulating the amount of money and the number of walkers we will have at The Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk.

I am please as punch to announce that with YOUR help we went over our goal in donations and we also went over our goal in walkers! We turned in a final tally of $3,218 and that is $218 over our goal! We wanted 25 walkers and we will be walking with a team of 28!

We will hold our heads high and walk proudly as Jane's Angels who are sponsored by The Ribbon readers! Many of you have written to say that you will be with us in spirit and will be thinking of us. Needless to say, we will be thinking of you also.

There is still a little time left to send in a photo of your loved one to be placed on our Memory Banner. This is for anyone who reads this newsletter. We would love to have hundreds of pictures on this banner. Send them in ASAP as the Memory Walk is this Saturday, the 11th. Send them to The Ribbon address at the top of the newsletter.

I do want to say that when we put photos of GOF up on the website afterwards, don't be surprised, we are going to do our best to win the Team Spirit Award. We are a bunch of fun loving people and there is not much telling what all we will come up with! :-)

Love and Hugs,


You Have the Power to Choose a Physician who is Caregiver Friendly

Insight from Risa Levovsky -

What do I do if I am not satisfied with my physician or his/her bedside manner?

A caregiver shares her own insight:

My physician gave my husband a "probable" diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease but is unable to help me cope. I need to find a physician who really understands what I am going through.

Prior to making an appointment, learn as much as you can about a potential physician and his/her practice. Find out what percentage of the patients in the practice are over sixty-five. This data may be an important indicator of how much hands on experience the physician may have in dealing with the wide range of specialized medical conditions affecting older adults. Ask where and when your potential physician attended medical school.

This information will enable you to determine how long he/she has been in practice. Physicians should be board certified which means that they have received additional training in their specialty and must continue to remain certified.

Your physician must not diagnose you or your loved one with an incurable illness such as Alzheimer's disease and send you off with a handful of prescriptions.

He/She must take the time to discuss the diagnosis and educate you about what may be in store for you and your loved one. Choose a physician who is willing to spend time answering your questions. Seek out a physician with is able to manage Alzheimer's disease in conjunction with other illnesses. Find out if he/she who works closely with an interdisciplinary team of with nurses, social workers, nutritionists and other professionals.

You may be in shock and experience denial upon receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of memory loss. Without a doubt, you will need information and assistance from a wide variety of experts throughout your entire journey.

What is the best kept secret to finding out about the reputation of a specialist such as a geriatrician or neurologist?

People love to talk about their bad experiences.

Ask support group members for referrals. Talk to members of your synagogue, church or other religious institution. You will find that many people in your local community have helped an aging friend or relative find a physician.

Exploring the following resources:

  • Ask relatives.
  • Ask friends.
  • Use local physician referral services.
  • Contact your local medical society
  • Speak to professionals at nearby medical schools.
  • Call The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP.)

A word to the wise:

There may be as many as one hundred medical conditions, which may mimic Alzheimer's disease or other serious irreversible disorders. A well-trained professional should be able to arrive at a "probable diagnosis" by excluding or eliminating the presence of other diseases or medical conditions. For quick and reliable physician referrals, contact your local chapter of The Alzheimer's Association

Risa Levovsky has dedicated her career to helping caregivers cope with Alzheimer's disease. Although there is no cure for this illness, her program, Alzheimer's tips Revealed: Successful Caregiving in the 21st Century can make life easier. It is filled with innovative care strategies, the latest behavioral interventions, coping skills and other pertinent information.

To begin your education, go to

Congrats to The Gathering Place!

September 2003 TopSite of the Month

On the Home Page of our web site ( there is a banner in the lower left hand corner showing an award that The Ribbon has received many times from Top Alzheimer's Caregiving Sites. If you click on that banner it will take you to Top Sites which is the creation of Brenda Parris Sibley. It now lists over 150 web sites filled with information for caregivers.

We are proud to say that our chat room, The Gathering Place, has been chosen as The Site of The Month for September! We are very proud of the efforts of The Gathering Place over the years. It is an integral part of The Ribbon and keeps us connected on a daily basis with caregivers all over the world. It is hosted daily, Monday through Friday,9pm -11pm EST, by a group of dedicated people who try to lend a helping hand to those who struggle with caregiving issues.

It is run by Photoljt, AKA Linda, who does a fabulous job of coordinating hosts, and overseeing the site. We feel that this recognition as Site of The Month is truly deserved. We thank Linda and her staff of hosts for their efforts and offer our congratulations for a job well done!

Please remember that every time you click on one of the web site's on Top Sites list you are casting a vote for that site. So visit often and vote!

P.S. While there be sure and take notice of the new poem on the front page.

Top Alzheimer's/Caregiving Sites, brought to you by A Year to Remember

Nursing Home Safety

Last week there was a tragic fire in a four story nursing home here in Nashville, TN. It made the news all over the country so you may have seen something about it. The irony is that the fire seemed to be contained to one room in which one occupant died and one survived. As of today, eleven people have died from the smoke that was created in that fire. The latest passed away on Friday.

The building was built before the sprinkler system law was passed and because it had not undergone reconstruction since, they were not required to have sprinklers. It has been said, that had there been a sprinkler system, many lives would have been saved and not so many would have been injured by the smoke as the fire would have been dampened faster.

I watched the news coverage of this as it happened from 10:30 pm until 12 am. My heart was in my throat as I watched the courageous staff, firemen, and volunteers working to rescue 120 people, most of whom were not ambulatory. Hospitals in the area sent people to help, wheelchairs, and linens to help keep the patients warm in the night air. By watching this news coverage, I knew that Nashville is a terrific place to live. The volunteer effort and the effort from the staff and firemen went way beyond the call of duty. They all worked tirelessly for over two hours making sure that everyone got out. It speaks of the reason we are called The Volunteer State. They showed extreme bravery and calmness and handled the tough situation in a professional manner. I'm honored to say, those people live in my home town and have made me very proud.

Links to the story can be found on the NewsChannel 5 Network

On in The Reading Room you will find a Nursing Home Checklist. Because of this fire, we would like to add a few things that were printed in the September 27, 2003 issue of The Tennessean in an article written by Sylvia Slaughter, Staff Writer.

The National Fire Protection Association and workers in area nursing homes offer these guidelines:

  • Walk through the facility to see if doors and hallways are kept clear of obstacles that could thwart a quick escape in case of fire or other emergency.
  • Ask to see the facility's state inspection report. If the state cited any concerns, find out how long it took to correct the problem.
  • Ask the facility director if there is an evacuation plan in place and whether it is practiced often.
  • Make sure loved ones know which exits are closest to their rooms.
  • Note whether the building has a sprinkler system and smoke detectors, and ask how often they are checked.
  • If the facility includes a smoking area, ask whether it's monitored.
  • Don't give residents potentially dangerous items such as extension cords, candles, electric blankets or lighters. Make sure the staff approves or monitors such items.

With the holidays approaching, Shelly Lovelace, Director of human resourses for Lakeshore Estates, emphasized the importance of finding out whether Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas lights are allowed in the patients' rooms before surprising them with treats that could turn into tragedy.

Slyvia Slaughter writes for The Tennessean. Reach her at 615-259-8053 or at


Alzheimer's Drug Gets Boost From FDA Panel

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration are recommending approval of a drug called memantine, long used in Germany and eagerly awaited by U.S. families who have exhausted other options.

Remember to look for a blessing each and every day. It helps on your outlook on life!

Hugs and Peace,

Karen and Jamie

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