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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers
Volume 7, Issue 25
December 28, 2003

1325 Venus Drive
Nashville, TN 37217-1918

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Christmas. I know for some of us it was really hard this year as we lost a loved one. I worked hard to remember past Holiday seasons and all the good times we had so that I would not dwell on my losses. I was lucky in that I was scheduled to work so I felt that I was able to make our patients Christmas Day a little more special and that in turn made mine a little easier.

We had only five female patients over the holidays. We had such a good time this week. Most of these patients are here not by their own choice so it is hard on them. For one of our group sessions I took in some of mine and Mama's "gently used" blouses and had a Christmas store. The ladies were able to pick out 4 blouses each for each other to give as Christmas presents. They had such a great time doing this...and they were very social and very communicative.

On Christmas Day I took in a little bottle of perfume so all of us could have a spray and smell really "Beautiful by EsteeLauder". To see these ladies stand or sit a little taller and smile a little bigger just filled my heart. I wish they could know just how much happier they made my Christmas.

Speaking of work, one of our readers and Gathering Place hostess was asking what she should do with the coats that belonged to her mother who recently passed. I told her to find a place like Bridges and take the coats there. I explained that we keep a clothes closet and we try to send everyone out to where they are discharged with a coat to fight off the cold. She asked if we could use the coats here. I told her we were always in need of coats in all sizes. This beautiful "angel" has taken her mother's coats to the cleaners and is going to ship them to Bridges all the way from New Hampshire. I am continuously blessed by what you our readers do to help others along the way. I think that the "Pay it Forward" philosophy is one that we are all starting to live by and learn from.

My New Year's resolution is to continue to "Pay it Forward" with random acts of kindness and to spread the word to others to pay it forward. I truly believe that we can make a difference in our world if we would all just do a little something for someone else when the occasion arises.

Wishing you Love, Prosperity, Happiness and Peace for the Year 2004!


ALERT! Support Alzheimer Research

Host a House Party, Sign Up Today!!


A new PBS documentary, The Forgetting, (based on the novel The Forgetting by David Shenk) offers an excellent opportunity to mobilize communities in support of the Alzheimer's Association's $1 billion research goal and to increase visibility about the problem of Alzheimer's disease in local communities. The documentary will be broadcast across the country on January 21, 2004 at 9 PM EST on public television stations. A preview is available from AHAF.

How can I help?

Through House Parties! We are calling on volunteers to host 2000 house parties across the country, on the evening of the documentary's broadcast, to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease, the Association and the need for public action to avert the epidemic.

What is a house party?

A volunteer hosts 5-15 friends in their home to watch the documentary, discuss it and participate in an advocacy action. At its best, a house party is a neighbor-to-neighbor, grassroots tactic that can best be accomplished through volunteer effort. A house party can also be sponsored by other organizations, or even a facility.

Hosting a house party is fun and easy. Once you sign up we will provide two sets of materials to you. The first will be about the basic set up for the evening and include ideas to help you invite others to the house party. The second, which we expect to send in mid December, will have specific ideas to promote discussion after the film and instructions on how your guests can participate in an advocacy action.

Why? The messages of this documentary are clear. Alzheimer's disease is an epidemic. It threatens our families, our health care system, and us. There is help-the Alzheimer's Association. A mass mobilization through house parties adds one more message-take action against Alzheimer's disease.

How do I sign up?

There are two ways:

  1. Sign up online.
  2. Send your name and address to Mike Splaine, Alzheimer's Association, 1319 F Street NW Suite 710, Washington DC 20004 or fax your contact information to (202) 393-2109.

And then spread the word-pass this ALERT on to a friend!
Alzheimer's Association 1319 F Street, NW, Suite 710, Washington, DC 20004
(202) 393-7737 (tel)
(202) 393-2109 (fax)

Second Home

When our loved one is first diagnosed,
we feel that all of our hope is lost.
Wondering what kind of life will remain
and will our home be normal again?

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease,
taking away their mind with ease.
Soon they begin to fade away
and we must watch day after day.

Feeling the need for more information,
we search the net for any explanation.
One link that comes right out of space,
takes us straight to The Gathering Place.

Once we are there, we read and browse.
That first page gives us the operating hours.
We sign up for The Ribbon newsletter.
So much info, we start feeling better.

Finally we reach The Gathering Place.
The only thing missing is seeing a face.
Everyone there is so friendly and kind.
Helping us, is foremost on their minds.

Now we know that we aren't alone,
with our new family and our second home.
Love, friendship and support to embrace.
The best medicine we've found is The Gathering Place.

Marcia Arnold

Marcia says it all in her poem found on the front page of The Gathering Place. We would like to invite you all to drop in and chat with others who are walking or have walked in your shoes as a caregiver. The hosts are terrific and everyone who comes in has been so wonderful to meet. It's a place to go when you just need someone to talk to who will understand what is involved to care for someone with a dementia.

We sometimes have visitors who are living with the diagnosis and who take the time to come in and talk with us and share with us what life is like for them. They are such a valuable resource to our learning.

If you ever want to talk, share, ask questions or just enjoy "listening" to the conversations come on in, sit down, take a load off and have a good time.
Monday through Friday 8pm-10pm CST, 9pm-11pm EST

Long Distance Caregivers

Hello Everyone!

I hope this finds all of you with full tummies and happy hearts with all the wonderful prizes you found under your tree from the Jolly Ole' Fellow!

I just want to share with you something that happened with me over the holidays. Hopefully by sharing this it will help avoid bad feelings in your family.

For those of you who do not know, I am a long distance caregiver; I am in California and my father is in a nursing home in Illinois. My mom and brother are there keeping a watchful eye over my father.

My dad was placed in the hospital on December 17. My brother didn't let me know until the 18th...and that is ok...I understood that. There are things that need to be taken care of, tests made information gathered, so there was no sense in upsetting me before all the information was in. However, once the information was shared, there was no follow up! I placed a call to my mom; a colonoscopy was to have been performed on Monday. I asked to be called so I knew how the procedure went. No information was received from my family. In speaking with the hospital it was not to happen until Tuesday. Tuesday came and went and still no information from my family.

So I think you have the drift of how this went. I would like to implore you to consider the feelings of your family members who are not in state. Yes it was our choice to move out of state way back many moons ago. But it is not our choice to be excluded from the decisions and information that takes place with our family members. I know the excuses are they don't want to upset us without good reason, however, the uncertainty of not knowing is horrid.

There are other family dynamics that are going on in my case; however, it doesn't hurt any less when no follow-up is given! They say no news is good news, but in this case it is bad news. Please keep this in mind and keep your loved ones informed!

Wishing you all a super HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Gathering Place


Resource from National Alliance for Caregiving

Hello Jamie and Karen,

Les Plooster from the National Alliance for Caregiving shares two wonderful resources that apply during and AFTER the HOLIDAYS...please access the first link for helpful information.

You may want to share this with The Ribbon readers.

Eldercare Locator
Home for the Holidays 2003 Campaign

Each year, as families gather together for the holidays and express their concern for each other, the Eldercare Locator produces a special Home for the Holidays Campaign. This year the Eldercare Locator has produced a guide to help families "face the facts" about important financial, legal, health care and long term care issues.

This Face the Facts! Guide is presented as a pdf file. In addition, the Eldercare Locator has included a press release about the Holiday campaign.

Les Plooster
Program Associate
National Alliance for Caregiving

Smilingly Yours,
Brenda Avadian, M.A.
The Caregiver's Voice
Tel: 661-945-7529 (California)

Speaker and Author, Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's:
When Tears are Dried with Laughter
Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's: Caregivers share the JOYFUL times
and "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk Through Alzheimer's
(also AVAILABLE in Audiobook, the German language, Die Zeit mit dir,
and "¿Dónde están mis zapatos?" in Spanish and NOW in Korean).


Alzheimer's may start decades before signs appear

WASHINGTON (Dec. 15) - A study of young adults who have a gene mutation linked to Alzheimer's suggests the brain-destroying disease starts decades before symptoms appear, indicating that someday it might be possible to begin prevention therapies at an early age.

News | Stroke May Increase Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Older adults who have had a stroke have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those who have not had strokes, according to a study in the December 2003 Archives of Neurology.

Watching My Sister..... Disappear

A daily journal of a sister who truly loves her sister who has Alzheimer's Disease.

Email Bag


I just wanted to wish everyone at the Ribbon a Happy Holiday!!! I appreciate getting the Ribbon as it is encouraging to all of us out here. My Mom is in an Alzheimer's Unit and has been in the same stage for a long time. She is pretty functional but is very upset and agitated. As an only child, it is so hard to deal with at times but I know I am not alone when I read the letters from your other readers.

Keep up the great work and have a wonderful New Year.


I wanted to express my gratitude to you all for sharing this wonderful newsletter with me.

I'm so happy that Jamie finished her schooling and has chosen to work in a field that deals with dementia. Isn't it amazing how Alzheimer's changes not only our loved one(s), but also our own view of the world.

I too, have changed the direction of my life after my mom was diagnosed with AD in 2001. After keeping her home for as long as possible, our agreement was that she would live in wonderful Memory Care Unit in Wisconsin that she helped choose, and I would go find meaning in this journey. This agreement has saved my life. After many years of climbing the corporate ladder and achieving what I thought was success, I found that my career was not making me or my family happy.

Like Jamie, I have returned to college to achieve a degree in Human Services, with my focus on supporting the many caregivers that will be joining this journey (it's sad that they don't know it yet). I am also blessed to work part time at a Memory Research Clinic. I still volunteer at the local Alzheimer's Association and feel that I am helping to make a difference. Every day I get closer to the meaning of this journey.

Best wishes in your job Jamie!

Thank you all for your newsletter,


Happy New Year
Many Blessings

Hugs and Peace,

Jamie and Karen

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