Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Active Retirement Communities for Austin Seniors and Austin Empty-Nesters

Introducing Ron Jordan with Keller Williams Realty, helping seniors locate a home in an active lifestyle community!
Is the senior or elder in your family seeking to leave their "family" neighborhood looking to transition to an active senior lifestyle and community in North Austin, Georgetown, or Round Rock? If so, call Ron Jordan, the Senior Real Estate Specialist for the North Greater Austin area. See his contact information below.

Ron Jordan is a senior himself! He retired from 3M and decided to help seniors find active communities that match their lifestyle. Many seniors find themselves moving to Austin to be closer to adult children or simply wanting to transition from existing family neighborhoods to an active senior lifestyle. In either case, Ron Jordan can help seniors find an active retirement community.

Typically, Ron says, when looking for a senior community, the criteria list is:

1. A community that's designed for empty nesters.
2. Quieter neighborhoods.
3. Available activities such as golfing, arts & crafts, card games, and other outside activities.
4. Planned group day trips.
5. Cooking classes.
6. Other senior activities and classes.

Most buyers learn that when reaching the age of 65, their property taxes are frozen and can no longer increase due to tax appraisals. And of course, like most taxpayers, seniors continue to qualify for the homestead tax exemption.

Ron Jordan enjoys serving the retired market because he understands the retiree's lifestyle and housing requirements. Please call Ron Jordan, Keller Williams Realty, at 512-439-3630 or visit Ron's website at

Thank you for visiting. Carol @

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reverse Mortgage for Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio Texas - Is it right for you?

Robert (Bob) Heckler with Cornerstone Mortgage gave us some clear definitions of Reverse Mortgages; what it is, why you would choose one, and what's the best scenario for getting one, and when it is not!

Just the other day when researching the topic of reverse mortgages I ran across an interview of a 65 year old widow, her home is paid but wanted extra money to do special things. While I agree it's nice to have extra money for emergencies or the rising cost of health care, the lady interviewed talked about taking a cruise, visiting a friend in another state, taking another 3 week vacation, and getting manicures!

Well, as I expected my conservative nature to be bothered by this spending spree, I asked the Texas Elder Care Reverse Mortgage expert, Robert (Bob) Heckler, his opinion. Of course he too found it extravagant... and said that it's not a good idea to use our nest egg on frivolous expenditures.

Bob has great advice for those of you "thinking" about creating avenues of retirement income if over the age of 62. You have other options. Look at all of them. I'm so impressed with Bob's knowledge, advice, and patience with me (when asking dumb questions), but he took all my questions to heart knowing they are valid.

That's what I like about Bob; he's down to earth and grounded. I really trust his advice. He works with a lot of younger and not so young seniors all over Texas. And watching him talk with them is amazing. His intention is very clear in helping them out and finding the best solution.

Listen to our conversation - I know you'll learn a lot even if you're not in the market for a reverse mortgage.

I'm sure you'll find Bob's information valuable. Please forward this blog newsletter to anyone thinking about a reverse mortgage!

Other things Bob says to consider when evaluating reverse mortgages:

Ten Things To Know About Reverse Mortgages

If you'd like to talk with Bob Heckler, Cornerstone Mortgage, he can be reached at 1-888-268-7481 or visit his information website at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Texas Women Caregiver and Financial Liberty in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio

Introducing John Berlet with Boomers Advisory Group, Financial Services. Did you know that women place a higher value on time than they do on money? Or that women's increasingly complex lives are creating a core need for multifunctional products? It is estimated that 58% of 54 million working family caregivers are women.

Women are staying single for longer, and earning enough to indulge themselves during the "Freedom Years", creating a new and valuable target market. Greater levels of tertiary education are creating a better-educated, richer and more demanding female consumer base.

Time is often the most valuable resource women have - more valuable on occasion than money. But let's talk about women and money! In most cases we put other's needs before our own; our children, spouces, and aging relatives!

Let's address caring for our parents - that's the one that kicked me a bit financially and many other women too. First, we worry something awful about our parents when they're older and living alone. We want to spend more time with them to help 'em out.

For me, that was a huge challenge. So much so, I took a part time job to help out mom and her congested heart treatment agenda. That was very time consuming; traveling to doctor offices, medical clinics, and making sure she was following the rigid regimen.

Most women do what I did:
Take on the resonsibility of caring for our parents
Leaving our job
Losing out on our retirement savings, etc.

John Berlet gives some very good advice to us on Texas women and all women across the U.S to insure our financial stability:

Make sure you have adequate income for your personal needs, which means - put on paper a list of monthly expenses. With this list, you now can easily determine how much of your savings are required for income

Remaining investments can be allocated to growth in your estate

Confide in someone you trust and show your total situation - statements and bank accounts and insurance policies. Seeing the whole picture is a good place to start when asking for advice

For more information or to personally ask John Berlet a question about your personal situation go to the WorkingCaregiver Directory and search for Financial Services. Or simply call John Berlet with Boomer's Advisory Group at 512-345-6400 or visit his website at

Thank you for visiting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Texas Women Caregivers & Financial Stability

Texas women who have sizeable and not so sizeable estates are at times confused about the action to take in preserving financial security especially when giving care to our elders. We have a huge tendency to put others first, before our own needs. While this is good for our heart, it can hurt our bank account.

More and more women today are independent and want to remain that way. That's why it's important to safeguard our earnings and savings while we are entrenched in caregiving.

Some pointers that can provide women in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio some direction:

1. Take action so that what you have earned and saved stays!

2. Failure to take care of what we have is very costly to our retirement.

3. Doing nothing should be avoided at all costs.

4. The markets, taxes, and changing legislation could erode the value of an estate while you procrastinate.

5. Financial matters don't need to be confusing.

6. Only do business with financial professionals who help you understand financial options - not complicate or uses jargon, if you cannot follow what is advised, get another professional who can

Texas women needs to insure is that:

You have adequate income for your personal needs, which means - put on paper a list of monthly expenses. With this list, you now can easily determine how much of your savings are required for income

Remaining investments can be allocated to growth in your estate

Confide in someone you trust and show your total situation - statements and bank accounts and insurance policies. Seeing the whole picture is a good place to start when asking for advice

The last piece of advice was important to me. I cannot tell you how many financial advisors I've lived through who do not follow up. I found one recently who is offering me more solid and quality options for my future. In addition to that, he really understands the boomer mkt and where we are all headed. Visit our Texas Elder Care Directory and search for our Fianancial Services and Money Matters, John Berlet, CEO of Boomers Advisory Group for more information.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Interview with Bereavement Counselor on Coping with Loss

Announcing on the right an ongoing audio of interviews with Professionals in the Elder Care arena! We are very excited about offering these free tips and information to you via our blog, our Caregiver Directory, our On-the-Go Toll Free Caregiver's Helpline 1-888-797-7806, and iTunes. Cool, huh? Now your not stuck grappling for family caregiver tips and resources when you REALLY need them!

We have all experienced the loss of a special someone and know how difficult it is to gain peace of mind. Even before passing, the knowledge and pain of future loss is gut wrenching. I know for myself when learning of my mom's near passing, I thought I couldn't bear it! I cried for days. It hurt. Even after 4 years, I continue to miss her tremendously. As for my dad, I grieved his loss before he died. He lived with Alzheimer's the latter years of his life and his passing was a blessing... for him primarily.

Join us often! Listen to our key interviews and pick up tips and good information that's valuable in making elder care and aging decisions. Believe me, you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Panel of Texas Caregivers

The Austin Groups for the Elderly sponsored a Caregiver's Conference this weekend. During the conference a panel of Austin Caregivers were interviewed about their experience of caring for a loved one. I picked up some useful tips that I want to share with you. I hope you too find them helpful!

The caregivers interviewed on the panel (all) cared or in the process of caring for an aging parent. There was one who also cared for a husband disabled by a stroke. This particular caregiver had 2 recipients, living with her and receiving her undying care. I commend her and those of you in same situation. While caring for an aging relative is challenging, adding another care recipient such as a spouse or children would bring anyone over the top! And I don't mean exhileration either!!

The Texas caregivers shared what they learned while helping with a loved one. List below are those useful tips (not necessarily listed in ranking:

Get long term or extended care insurance
Acknowledge those who help, your partner, children, friends, family
Do you homework on available resources, help, and health issues
Get exercise
Contact hospice before you need them
Read - The Thirty Six Hour Day book
Join a support group
Forgive yourself and your shortcomings
Our mistakes are forgotten (esp when dealing with Alz)
Accept change of roles
Respect the elder and expect others to do the same
Appreciate the day
Discern how much you can do - if you can't handle some aspects of caregiving, hire someone, or ask for help from friends, family, and your own children.
Take care of yourself
Take mini-breaks
Nourish yourself
Find resources
Get away after long spells of caregiving - plan a get-away, this will give you something to look forward to while in the throes of looking after a loved one
Challenge authorities in charge - doctors, PTs, nurses, etc.
Take notes and get clarification.
Ask questions
Challenge the system

And remember to call for answers to common concerns of aging - 24 hours a day 1-888-797-7806! Thank you for visiting, Carol.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Care for the Caregiver

Have you noticed how some people make caregiving look really hard while other's breeze through tasks? That's how it was with my sisters. I watched both administer loving care and concern for my parents. Janice made it really, really hard, while Virginia made the most of it and rarely showed frustration!

Hmm, I'd wonder? How does Virginia do it so easily while Janice struggles with each moment, dreading each visit! It was written all over her face. And Virginia literally walked on air.. smiling! WOW! I wanted that too! So, I simply observed Virginia and decided to follow along. Here are some things I picked up and want to share with you:
Upon assigning a "care task" to one of the siblings, she'd walk away, totally letting it go, giving full responsibility to that person/sibling. She no longer owned it! Virginia "let go" and went on to do her plans. She did this so eloquently, I often thought she needs to teach us her skill!

My sister, Janice, was the opposite. She obsessed with mom & dad's care. Never letting go - never trusting us to do it right. It was rare that she walked away.. if she did, it was begrudgingly. I guess she thought she was the only one who could do it right! So, what happened? No breaks for her! And guess what? She was always exhausted and complained a lot. Eventually, she developed high cholestrol & shingles! Ugh! That literally forced her out of caring for him for a month.

Consider these tips when you want to take care of yourself - I picked these up from watching Virginia!

Have fun and laugh - as often as possible
Avoid talking about dad and he care when socializing
Delegate some responsibilities and let them own it
Focus on something good in your life
She learned the difference between complaining for the sake of relief and complaining for the sake of... well you know
Had no problem admitting helplessness
Virginia gave a lot of support AND she learned to accept.. sometimes demanded, help without being over-bearing
She found her own peaceful spot and went there often
Openly admitted her inability without shame
And she tried to be gentle with herself!
Loves to play!

And remember to call the Caregiver's Resource Helpline! 1-888-797-7806 - for common concerns of aging!

Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Other Things to Consider When Assessing an Elder

If your hiring a professional geriatric nurse to complete an assessment with the elder in your life or filling out forms with your parents, be prepared to spend from three hours to potentially a couple of days. Either can take considerable time. What factors should be considered doing taking a closer look the aging relative's life? A thorough assessment should include the following:

Health - Physical & Mental

Has the elder been diagnosed with any chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, congested heart failure? Or maybe illnesses such as bladder or bowel problems are evident or another form of heart disease, stroke, cancer? Does the elder have allergies? Make sure they, with your help track weight loss or gain. Do they have problems with incontinence? Unless you spend some time with them, that one may be difficult to detect. Do they have a balance problem? Notice their skin color or growths, see changes? Persistent fatigue or sleeplessness? Swollen feet or legs, or they limping? Vision problems sucfh as cataracts, or do they require vision aids to help them read or see? Can they hear you or do they ask you to repeat what was just said? Dental problems; gum disease, strongbreath, ill-fitting dentures? List their vital signs and health professionals currently being seen. Recent hospitalizations?

Mental assessment can include: Are they diagnosed with having psychiatric disorders, depression, anxiety disorder? Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementia? How alert are they? Have you or other family members noticed mood swings? Forgetfulness or wandering off? Are they confused or/disoriented? Do they seem sad or lonely? Decreased interest in reading, writing, and communicating? How well do they maintain friends? Or have an interest in life?

Using medications; all medicines taken, both prescription and/or over-the-counter, with times per day and doses. Are they taking the medications as directed and know how to avoid negative interactions. And do they understand the barriers to proper medicine use such as forgetfulness, expense, poor understanding of why they've been prescribed.

Daily living: Are they mobile or do they need walking aids? Special dietary needs, do they have favorite foods? Ability to dress, bathe, get up from a chair, use a toilet, use the phone, climb stairs, get help in an emergency, shop, prepare meals, do housework and yard work, drive safely.

Home and community safety: the neighborhood. Home safety - what are the hazards, adaptive aids needed, presence of alarms for burglary or fire. Ability to avoid telephone fraud and door-to-door fraud. Is the yard and house maintained?

These are a items that my family put together when we began to look closely at our parent's lives. You'll come up with your own too.

Check out Travis County's Caregiver's Resource Helpline - 1-888-797-7806. A good place to learn more infomation on assessing an elder's life and learn about care.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dreaming about the Future

Now may be a good time to dream about how you want your life to live out! Are you in the middle of helping your parent's plan their elder care? If so, consider looking at your own life while researching their's. You won't regret it!

What do you dream of when you think about living out your life? Do you think about it? I do! And it's going to be a lot more pleasant than my own parent's end of life.. one can only hope and dream, right? But what about your's? How different or how similar will it be to your parent's? Their life may be a lot different than my own mom and dad's. Hopefully, a bit better.

If we prepare, we can live out our lives according to plan. Now, that's the key. Consider testing the grounds with your parent's elder care planning. This will be your test or IQ on the future. As you and your aging parents prepare for their lives down the road, use it as a road map for your own. You may not have the opportunity to take things slowly in your aging relative's elder care plan but if you start now on your own, it's a blessing in disguise.

It's thrilling to hear stories of colleagues and friends telling me they want their adult children to have a different experience of aging parents. I know I want that for my adult children. Attending a caregiving conference this weekend, many folks I spoke with were seeking solutions for their relatives. And some added... "for myself too". They were getting prepared so that their adult children would not be forced in a position to "be" where they are with aging parents.

It's a tough spot to be in.. believe me. But you don't have to be there. The best solution out of that very unpleasant situation is to "PLAN NOW!!!" Was that loud enough? When you're out there looking at solutions for your own parent's... take it to heart for you're own life. Do for yourself what you're doing for them.

First step; have the conversation! Talk about the inevitable! Aging! I know we want to sweep it under the carpet but you CAN'T! It's the elephant that won't go away. It'll get bigger and meaner. But if you deal with it now that elephant will be cut down to manageable bits.

Take this number with you - save it to your cell - you never know when you might need an answer to aging: 1-888-787-7806! That's the Caregiver's Resource Helpline and visit!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Elder Checklist - Things to Watch Out For

If you have an elder in your life and are concerned whether they can care for themselves or live alone without someone overseeing their care, you might want to take a closer look at the elder's life and use the following as a guide when assessing "where" the elder is in caring for him/herself.

Can he/she dress or undress without help?
Can he/she cook for themselves?
Are they eating well?
Are they maintaining a good, healthy weight?
Are they managing their medications?
Does he/she care about maintaining cleanliness?
Do they care about their health?
Can he/she move around their house easily?
Are they active? And do they have a hobby or friends?
What's their attitude like?
How well are they managing household duties?
Are they able to manage their yards?
Can they be left alone?
Are they managing finances and able to pay bills on time?
Can they able to shop for food?
Are they able to make doctor appointments?

If you find yourself concerned about one or two of these issues, you may need to address these with your elder family member or friend. Get him/her involved in problem solving this concern.

Another great resource is the Caregiver's Helpline: 1-888-797-7806.. Call now for resolving common concerns of aging.

Thank you for visiting. Carol

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Considering a Will?

We rarely consider putting a will in place until an emergency occurs or a close encounter with one. But some things to think about before you do.

There is no specific age when people decide they need to prepare a will, lawyers say they're often visited by new parents and the elderly. Parents prepare wills because they need to designate guardians for their children in the event they die.

Maybe you're taking a vacation without your children, and may be confronted with thoughts of what would happen if you perished on the trip.

You can purchase a kit at Office Retail store and complete the paperwork yourself. But you may want to have a will prepared by an attorney who can draft the will for you.

I believe one of the most difficult decisions is choosing guardians. This seems to be the most important aspect of a will - to designate who you want to be taking care of your kids. in the event you can no longer care for them. If you don't designate someone to care for your children and both parents die, custody could be awarded to someone who you might not want.
And of course, it's important to discuss the subject with those you've selected as guardians.

End-of-life issues and life-saving measures are also challenging subjects to discuss. If you face terminal illnesses in the future, heroic measures will not be taken. Measures will be taken, though, to save your life if you're in a car crash.

You will find a great sense of relief once you've signed the will.

Food for thought - advice from my attorney - try not using using Internet sites or software programs to draft a will. Preparing a will using those tools is subject to greater challenges when the will is submitted to probate. Some of those work but many of them can create havoc or horror shows. And besides an attorney raises issues and questions that you've never considered.

For additional help call 1-888-797-7806 for the most common concerns of Financial & Legal Assistance.

Thank you for visiting. Carol at

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Resources for Finding a Caregiver - Austin and Surrounding Area

Listed here are suggestions for finding a caregiver for your aging loved one. At the locations below you may be able to post an ad or the staff can provide more assistance. To locate any of the following, try checking the phone book, Internet yellow pages, chamber of commerce, states department of labor website, agencies for the aging, or local parks and recreation departments.

Local library - Check your local libraries in Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, San Marcos, Buda, Kyle etc. They make information resources publicly available by allowing citizens to check out books, DVDs and to review and research all kinds of information in a variety of formats. They even have computers that are connected to the Internet. Most libraries have bulletin boards or information available to learn about community resources too.

Check with the University of Texas, St. Edward's University, Texas State, and all others in our area for they generally have a career center that provides job listings in the area for students. So, you may be able to hire a grad student who is studying nursing, for example. I personally hire students with specialized expertise to help me with

Community centers or senior centers are located through-put our area and they provide educational and recreational classes and activities for all different age groups. I've attended several in Austin for Senior Services Networking meetings and find senior day activities in full bloom.

Religious organizations - one of my favorites: Churches, synagogues, mosques and other gathering places of worship often provide community or special services such as volunteer home health aides, delivering meals, visiting and being a companion for a few hours, or job bulletin boards.

Our State of Texas and local Austin area employment agencies help people find employment. They generally offer all kinds of career education and activities as well as job posting and career placement services.

Young Mens Christian Association or Young Womens Christian Association (YMCA/YWCA) in the Austin area offer recreational and educational resources and programs to the community. Their staff can help with locating professional home care services.

Check out the Caregiver's Resource Helpline - Austin area at 1-888-797-7806. It's a free resource too!

Thank you for visiting. My best, Carol @ Take good care.

Friday, August 31, 2007

For Peace of Mind - The Caregiver Resource Helpline

When crated in the middle of caregiving, it would've been so nice to get elder care information quickly and easily. Six years ago, I was embedded in books and the Internet! Now the Internet is full of resources that I can easily access but I've found another tool that doesn't require a computer, Internet connectivity, or tired eyes glaring at a monitor!

I found a phone number 1-888-797-7806 - its loaded with peace of mind, 24/7 - telling me all about elder care! What's my interest or concern of elder care?

Physical & Mental Conditions of Aging? Typically, in later life there is a strong association with several chronic health conditions that can affect physical & mental health!
Living Arrangements? When caring for an aging family member nearby or from a distance, making the most appropriate living arrangements requires knowledge of housing options, awareness of community resources and assurance that your aging family member is in a safe environment.

Fianancial & Legal Assistance? Making informed finanacial and legal decisions are critical to successfully managing the affairs of an aging family member. You'll learn about long-term care insurance, sources for paying medical expenses and federal benefits such as Social Security, SSI, Medicare and Medicaid. Discover strategies for protecting your family member and his/her assets.

Self Help for the Caregiver? Informal caregiving is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Understanding how to balance responsibilities by taking care of your needs and involving others helps manage the natural stress and isolation of being a caregiver.

Dealing with Changes? Change is the most predictable aspect of caregiving! You can expect to have strong feelings as you manage the role and responsibilities of caring for an aging family member. Coping with these changes successfully is the key to having a fulfilling and satisfying caregiving experience.

My hope for you is that you gain balance using the Caregiver's Resource Helpline.. it's free! And the helpline covers Austin resources.

Thank you for visiting. Carol at

Please call 1-888-797-7806 for peace of mind.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Managing Physical & Mental Conditions of Aging

Announcing a new Caregiver's Resource to Austin!

Concerned about an aging family member? For peace of mind call 1-888-797-7806 - Announcing our Caregiver's Resource Helpline serving the Austin Metropolitan area!

The's Caregiver Resource Helpline! If you or someone you know is caring for an aging parent, loved one, relative or friend - direct them to 1-888-797-7806, 24 hours a day. This help line offers free information to family caregivers on topics of elder care issues and interest!

Typically, in later life there is a strong association with several chronic health conditions that can affect physical and mental health. Here are a few topics the Caregiver's Resource Helpline addresses:

Vision & Hearing
Taste, Smell & Touch
Help With Eating
Maintaining An Active Mind
Dealing with Confusion

Call now if you are confused on where to start, need quick access to information or ideas that help with elder care concerns! The Caregiver's Helpline is ready and available to help you get quick information on your questions.

Call: 1-888-797-7806!!!

Check it out and thank you for visiting. Carol at

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Are You in a Mid-life Tug?

Do you find yourself rushing around during day? Trying to beat the traffic to work, driving kids to school, fumbling with lunches, back packs, and brief cases, when you get the call. Dad's in the emergency room, alone, scared, and stressed - "please come home, I need you," he pleads.

But "home" is 200 or more miles away, and it'll take you hours to get there plus the home health aide you'll have to hire, will set you back $400 at least.

And what about work? There's a major business deal you're about to close this afternoon. You're worried about your dad, the kids, the boss and how in the world you can pay for it all.

Welcome to the world of family caregiving! You're now a part of the sandwich generation with all the trimmings. And don't even think about how little you've saved for retirement at this point in your life. Yep, you need help.

The good news is, there's plenty of it out there - if you know where to look!! Now, that's another topic. But there is help. There are programs to national organizations, from books to Web sites - all there for you to research and a huge industry has sprung up to assist in juggling the demands of raising kids while also caring for aging parents.

I wish I had paid more attention when my dad or mom landed in E.R. I guess resources were a bit hard to locate or maybe I thought "the family" had to handle it alone. It was our job. Beside mom and dad expected that of us... we owe it to them. Maybe that's why I didn't bother. But had I known back then what I do today.. it would be different. And a couple of things I'd do now are:

1. Bring up "the aging" conversation with parents early on - get them engaged with you in finding viable and quality solutions that'll help them so you're not left carrying the bag.
2. Call a family meeting and get everyone else engaged. It's better down the road.. eliminates future stress, anxiety, and family estrangement. Trust me, it happened to mine and I'm not sure that can be healed.
3. Do your research now. Get a plan in place. Talk with an attorney about legal matters and estate planning. Take the time to find local resources while your parents are still able. Resources are popping up everywhere due to the explosion of aging America.
4. Financially plan with them - so your parents have one? If not, take measures on learning how to do that.
5. Do it now! Learn about the most common aging topics of interest which include; physical and mental conditions of aging, living arrangements, financial & legal assistance, self help for the caregiver, and dealing with changes. is headed in that direction. We'll keep you posted. Thank you for visiting! Carol

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Austin Working Family Caregivers

It was a humbling experience giving a presentation to the Northwest Methodist Church in Austin last evening. Family caregivers who are working full-time and caring for an aging parents are down to earth people with very big hearts!! I was honored to be part of the experience with them.

We talked about caring for ourselves first, then helping others. I asked how many believe that self care is selfish? Most raised their hand! I believe that's the most prominent gene caregivers embody... putting others before us. I think most mothers have this gene. Observing my own mom throughout life - she placed us, the kids, before herself at all times, even in our adult years.
With that said, I'd like to share some of the topics discussed last evening on self care for the caregiver:

First, Empower Yourself!
Empowerment. We hear that work a lot, but it always seems to be so vague and unattainable.
What does it mean to become empowered? It’s defined by many family caregiving advocates as a sense of confidence in your ability to bring about positive changes in your circumstances and to rise above the day to day challenges you face in your caregiver journey. It’s the optimism we strive for to take a positive approach in an effort to achieve a better quality of life for ourselves and our family. Sometimes it is the tiny changes we make in our lives that can have the most profound impact towards a much healthier and positive outlook.

Four Principles to Live by:

Believe in yourself
Protect your health
Take charge of your life
Find ways to de-stress

Overcoming Guilt

How do we overcome guilt? First understand it – What is guilt – We all are born with a guilt gene

Guilt is an inherent human trait that should be seen as a gift, however, most of us do not see it as such and rather than deal with guilt, we naturally attempt to squelch it. However, guilt is that nagging voice with in us all that is like water upon a stone and is meant to bring us to a realization that there is a standard and we have fallen short, but whose standard is it?

Tips for Caregiver Burnout

It's helpful to talk it out with a friend or someone your trust. Don't forget about yourself - take time out for you
Be realistic about the care recipient's needs - your not totally responsible

Ask for help - You don't have to walk this path alone
Develop tools for coping... see below
Stay healthy
Get a massage
Get educated

Remember when caregiving - care for self first. You are no help to a loved one if you are depressed, unhealthy, tired, unhappy, depleted, and stressed.

Thank you for visiting. Carol @

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Is Caregiving Impacting You Financially?

The costs of caregiving can effect our career goals, our paychecks, our retirement, our health, our stress, our emotions, when we choose to care for elderly parents.

Is caregiving disapprotionately impacting women? While the emotional and physical burdens of taking care of an aging parent or relative is known, the longterm cost financially of informal caregiving is less frequently discussed. Caregivers may feel guilty complaining about what society has said should be a labor of love. And this is the tough one... the guilt we feel when we've had enough. Overloaded with our own lives and jobs, elder care is a huge undertaking. Just trying to care for an aging parent takes on a life of its own, much less trying to juggle my own household, family, and work.

The problem is pervasive and disproportionately affects women, creating a public policy challenge. Females generally have less money and live longer and are more likely than men to be the caregiver-and to need one.

Amy Friedrich-Karnik, a spokesperson for Family Caregiver Alliance says, "women tend to suffer financially in their later years because of the financial impact caregiving has had on them." I personally have first hand experience with that one. Scaling down my job from full-time to part-time to help mom with her CHF disease made a big dent in my income and retirement savings. No doubt about that. But I can also say, I've seen many men carry the load of caregiving for their aging families. But typically, it's women who normally step up. My brother didn't. And there are many families with that scenario. But not all men/women are the same. Thank goodness.

Between 59 percent and 75 percent of the caregivers are female. While more men are carrying the load, women, on average, give 50 percent more time than the average male caregiver, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.

Nationally, one-third of caregivers who are employed take a leave of absence or give up work temporarily or permanently.

I personally lost thousands of dollars working part-time and my sister suffered a great deal of stress eventually developing high cholesterol and getting a bad case of shingles.... ugh!
If the goal is keeping loved ones out of institutionalized settings, informal caregiving provides a means to accomplish that and also save our families a lot of money, not to mention the government. Only 7 percent of older adults who have a long-term care need and a family caregiver are in institutional settings, compared to half of those who have no family available, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.

There are several solutions that can help caregivers like me to stay at work full-time rather than lessen work hours. Providing caregiving resources to families through employee assistance programs or other employment benefits and having work cultures that support caregivers through flexible work hours also is part of the solution, experts say. A Met Life study found that caregiving costs businesses more than $33 billion annually in lost productivity.
There are some state and federal lawmakers proposing to have paid family leave for caregivers. Only California has such a measure. One measure that has failed to pass Congress is aimed specifically at women; it would give Social Security credits to people who leave the workforce to care for someone.

Other options are tax benefits - but is a caregiver who quits their job more to help an aging relative more deserving of a tax break over a caregiver who continues to work full-time while giving care? That's the big debate.

If you're interested in learning more visit these websites: The U.S. Department of Human Services' Administration on Aging has a 12-page booklet, "Financial Steps for Caregivers." Go to:

Also visit: Family Caregiver Alliance,, giving facts, perspective on caregiver issues, including state-by-state and federal updates on public policy measures.

Thank you for visiting. Carol @

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Allowing Access to Assets

I read a great article written by an elder law attorney on estate planning awhile back. If my parents had known the consequences of turning over their assets to our names, I believe they would have re-thought doing so. How many of you have added an adult child’s name to one of your bank accounts? You may want to read this.

You probably added a child’s name to a checking account or savings account, or your home/real estate, or all of your investments for emergencies or for “convenience” purposes. You, like many elders, fear that you will be suffer an accident or get sick and that someone has to be on your accounts in order to pay your bills. You believe that this arrangement will keep your life running smoothly.

What you might have done, instead, is just the opposite. You may have placed your money in jeopardy, created a tax liability or even given up control of your well-being. Like my parents, do what you want, but know the consequences of these choices. Consider the following when thinking of turning your assets over to someone.

When adding someone’s name to your real estate by deeding that person an interest, you are making a gift. Check with your state department of revenue for current gift tax exemption, you might owe a gift tax to your state's Department of Revenue. That payment could be due by the next April 15 following the year of the gift. Failure to pay the tax could result in the addition of interest and penalties. Far too many people transfer an interest in their real estate to their children hoping to save it from long-term-care expenses. What they have actually done is incur gift taxes, and possibly a Medicaid transfer penalty. So, check with an elder law attorney before making any transfers or name changes on your assets.

And if you add someone’s name to your money, you could be giving up control.
A true story: A man preparing for a senior event (in case life would throw one his way) added the names of his two adult children to his savings account. He grew older, suffered from physical infirmities, and his children wanted him to go into a nursing home. He didn’t want to go, saying that he would use his savings to pay for professional caregivers to come into his home.
The children contacted the bank and froze the account so he could not use the funds in the account. They could do that; they were co-owners on the account. Many months and a court hearing later, the children each received a third of the account, and the man was left with a third. He remained in his home, but he was estranged from his children.

So, what do you do? How do you give someone access to your money but not ownership? You sign a document called a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions. By appointing someone your agent in this document, you give that person access to your money to pay your bills and take care of any other financial business that you need. The key is, your agent doesn’t own your money. Could your agent act improperly and use your money in ways that you didn’t intend? Yes, but there are legal remedies available for that. Consider the consequences. Always, always, check with an Estate Planning Attorney or an Elder Law Attorney to know your options and what consequences they may bring.

If you have a quick Elder Law question or concern - Ask it here!! WorkingCaregiver Ask the Expert. Thank you, Carol

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Guiding Working Family Caregivers

Are you in a caregiving role for aging relatives? Let me help you find the answer. Do you answer "yes" to one of the following?

  • Driving to and from doctor and other health care appointments.
  • Communicating with healthcare professionals
  • Assisting someone to pay their bills
  • Helping someone clean their home or arranging for house cleaning
  • Assisting with or arraning for home repairs
  • Helping arrange for home health care or hospice services
  • Contacting or helping someone communicate with community service organizations Area Agency on Aging or Alzheimer's Association
Based on the research,caring for an elderly person requires understanding of the aging process, knowledge of community resources, legal and financial matters, long-term planning and, of equal importance, knowledge of how to take care of yourself, as the primary caregiver. Additional research reports caregiver stress as the most pervasive health problem, stemming from worry about their loved one�s condition as well as being overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities.
For help in understanding the aging process - giving you quality answers go to - WorkingCaregiver eBook preview! You will find it useful.

The problem for most family caregivers is that they do not readily reach out for help. They find it difficult to give themselves permission to ask for help even when they have family or friends willing to help. Support from family and friends can help relieve the burden of caregiving. Purchase and download the Caregiver's Resource Audio E-book and you'll learn how to take charge, avoid burnout, isolation and involve your family members.

So, whether you're new to caregiving or used to weathering the storms, we're excited about offering the Caregiver's Resource Audio E-book to help you feel more confident, shorten your learning curve and empower you to meet the challenges of caring for an aging family member or an elderly loved one.

You'll feel more confident to meet the challenges of caring for an aging family member.
Preview Here.

Thank you for visiting and checking out the eBook... we love it! Carol at

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Tips on Avoiding Senior Scams

ABC News and USA Today report on the costs of caring for elderly parents.

When it comes to helping to pay for your elderly parents' expenses, should you spend down your assets before tapping into theirs? Hobson: Generally speaking, you should do everything possible to avoid tapping into your own retirement savings in an effort to defray your parents' costs. I cannot stress this enough -- you need to make your own retirement savings a priority. If you are not saving for yourself, it will create a vicious cycle for your family, continually shifting the burden to your children and their children and so on. As I have said before, there are no scholarships for retirement.

So, are there other ways besides tapping into your own savings to help pay for your parents' retirement and health care needs?Hobson: Yes. If your employer or your spouse's employer offers a dependent care or flexible spending account, you should sign up immediately. These accounts allow you to defer up to $5,000 in pretax dollars -- meaning your taxable income is lowered by the amount you contribute -- to put toward the costs of care for a child or other qualifying person. An elderly parent would qualify if they were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves and if they met certain other criteria similar to those for the dependent care credit.

You also say the Internal Revenue Service can actually help with elderly care?Hobson: They do, but it can get a little tricky. But, depending on your income and the income of your parent, the IRS can actually provide some financial relief. If you are caring for an elderly parent and you declare them as your dependent -- much like would any child who is living in your house -- you could receive a credit for $3,300.

Additionally, the IRS allows you to deduct medical expenses you make toward your parents' care as well as the cost for a caregiver. Again, there are a number of restrictions, so the best thing to do is go on the IRS Web site to learn more about the qualifications.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WorkingCaregiver Semi-finalist for Al Marks Inventive Mind Grant From Idea Cafe Semi-finalist for Al Marks Inventive Mind Grant From Idea Cafe

AUSTIN TX/EWORLDWIRE/July 23, 2007 --- is a grant semi-finalists of's $1000 Al Marks Inventive Mind Grant. is a bright and innovative site delivering products, resources, and professional services to family caregivers juggling work, life, and elder care for aging parents.

Aging in America is driving employers' cost of lost production to over $33 billion, according to a MetLife study, due to absenteeism, work-day interruptions, and leave of absence. Family caregivers across America are arriving to work late, leaving early, or not showing up at all due to the stress and challenges of elder care demands.'s strategy is to help with the three hardest problems for family caregivers:

1. Finding time for self
2. Balancing work & family responsibilities
3. Balancing physical and emotional stress

The field of semi-finalists for this grant will be reduced to finalists and the winner will be determined by the vote of's 32,000 members worldwide and announced online on August 15, 2007, Idea Cafe's 12th anniversary online. plans to add more online functionality serving family caregivers, helping them find balance and support.

Learn more at ''.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tips Avoiding Senior Financial Scams

ABC News and USA Today report on the costs of caring for elderly parents.
Some good advice when warning aging relatives on senior fraud and scams that I read today:

A working family caregiver was shocked when she discovered that her 73-year-old mother gave away $300,000 to strangers who claimed she had won millions and simply needed to pay the taxes in order to collect the cash prize.

"My mom is a very, very strong, financially capable woman and has been all her life," Tanner said. "In my wildest dreams I would never imagine her to fall victim to a scam of this kind -- never."

It started with mailings and requests for small sums. Later, phone calls came -- four and five a day. The scammers knew her schedule, her accounts and even the very personal details of her life -- so much so that she'd end her conversations with them by saying, "I love you."

Finally, the bank called the working family caregiver. Her mother was trying to take out a home equity loan for $180,000, and the bank said she looked desperate.

Unfortunately, as in this case, the elderly are at great risk for financial scams. ABC News personal finance contributor Mellody Hobson answered questions and offered advice for seniors looking to protect their money.

What advice do you have for seniors to help avoid this from happening to them?

Hobson: According to the Federal Trade Commission, 80 percent of the victims of telemarketing scams are over the age of 65. Under no circumstances should you ever respond to a phone call or e-mail with any personal information. It is a good rule of thumb to ask for the caller's phone number and tell them you will call them back. Never respond to any solicitation that asks for a quid pro pro -- basically, for you to give them something in return for something. Legitimate financial organizations never operate this way.

More in a day or two, come back to get additional tips from Mellody Hobson!

Thank you, Carol

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Faced with the Challenge of Caregiving?

Some good advice if faced with aging parent/s - good tips to consider:

  • Keep your family member in their home as long as you can.

  • Get finances in order.

  • Find out about veteran's benefits and others from a good elder layer.

If you're the relative of a caregiver, support them and ask how they are -- not just the person who is ill. Respect the fact it is the toughest job in the world to care for someone you love when they are declining.Their is no greater gift a child can give their parent than to be there to walk them home to the other side. It's something you never regret. I was there when my mom took her last breath.. I held her tightly whispering, "you brought me in to this world, I'm here for your exit." A bitter sweet moment - one that I will never forget.

Look into home care, and senior center's transportation. Most important, don't be afraid to talk to family early on before the challenges begin. Remind yourself to have faith. That is all you can do. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to. Get help when help is needed. There are people out their to help you.

Thank you for visiting. Carol at

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tips for Employees with Aging Parents

There are millions of us (employees) in the working world who have aging parents or relatives. Not many employers offer programs or benefits that help us out. So, it's up to us to make that happen to maintain balance at work and with our family responsibilites!

Look for ways to negotiate with your employer to take time off to care for family while also remaining productive on the job. It's a tricky balancing act but it can be accomplished.

Find out if your employer must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. If so, depending if your company has 50 or more employees, you're entitled to up to 12 weeks of umpaid time off annually to care for a parent with a serious health condition. Generally, that time can be taken in increments.

Find out if flexible arrangements are possible. These might include formal programs as well as informal agreements. The more you can make your work schedule fit your caring needs, the better off you will be.

Flexibility is vital for employees who are long-distance caregivers. Employees should find out if they can work remotely; work from the home of your aging relative when visiting or helping them, work on weekends to make up for loss time, or the evenings if necessary.

Other recommendations that help you plan for your parents' aging and caregiving help - get prepared now! Don't wait till there's a senior crisis and your left vulnerable. Also know there are quality services and resources that you can reach out for help.

For example, if you are long-distance or not, a good way to check up on mom & dad is to have security devices that either attach to them or placed around their home. Go to - Caregiver Products to check out a few!

Always look for ways to balance your life and work. is here to help!

Thank you for visiting. Carol at

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tips for Working Caregivers Helping Aging Parents

When starting down the path of caring for aging relatives, the road is gets very wide. The number of resources available to you is great but the focus on "which ones first" can be confusing. That's why strives to organize for you the most valued information first.

A few tips of importance that need attention: Put Powers in Place - If you're going to help your parents with financial affairs, you should consider, if possible, to be empowered to act on thier behalf. Talk with them about establishing a power of attorney. Get one that goes into effect once it's signed - as opposed to the "springing" type, which applies only after the doctor declares your parents incapacitated. I'm grateful for my parents Elder Care Attorney who did this for us years before dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. A Durable Power of Attorney is the way to go, according to their attorney.

And then there's the Medical Power of Attorney, which enables you to make decisions about your parents' health care. This gives you the ablilty to talk with your parent's doctors on their behalf and ger medical information about them, something that can be critical under the new patient privacy laws. If you have siblings, consider splitting financial and medical powers of attorney between you, so no one person carries the burden.

Thank you for visiting. Carol at

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to Deal with Costly Medications

Medications and medical costs can rob your bank account! My mom's monthly charges for prescription drugs... over the top! I remember seeing her bills exceed $10,000/month.. that hurt. Those costs included high blood pressure and Congested Heart Failure medications. The CHF drugs were not for sore eyes.

Her visits to the Cardiac clinic for a drip medication were over $1000/visit. And she went there over several times monthly. I know.. I drove her.

To help save you costs in prescription medications visit Walmart - it may just be their online store - they're now offering a generic prescription program at $4.00 for a 30 day supply. The medications covered are high blood pressure, allergies, some antibiotics, cholesterol, diabetes and more. Here's the list in a pdf form: Click Here to view.

Switching from a brand name to generic prescriptions can save you money and always remember to ask your doctor for samples of medications he/she prescribes you.

Thank you for visiting, Carol at

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Caregiver Stress Options

Reading information on "taking time out for yourself" can help with imbalances. Work/life responsibilities is one of the biggest imbalances we seek to mellow out. And yoga can help with us with that.

According to Timothy Burgin of says the key to weight management is to take time out of your busy schedule to create the right conditions to heal imbalances in your body, mind, or emotions that may be contributing to a weight problem and even stress. So to gain balance; keep your stress levels manageable, and creating mind-body harmony.

By completing the routines and practicing the breathing and visualization techniques on YogaBasics, you are well on your way to creating the right conditions. You now have a wealth of information and new stress-management skills at your fingertips. You can use these skills simply to lose weight, or to go beyond the immediate benefits of your weight loss. You can take these new skills into other areas of your life. More changes you might notice according to Mr. Burgin of Yoga Basics are:

  • Improved self-esteem as a result of changing unhealthy behaviors to healthy ones.

  • More self-discipline and willpower to help you maintain these changes in your long-term behavior.

  • The ability to de-stress your body, mind, and emotions by sequential stretching and rhythmic breathing.

  • The ability to think and act with calm self-assurance and ease.

Visit - it's worth your time to balance and chill.

Thank you, Carol

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A CheckList Every Family Needs

We prepared well in advance knowing where our parents current accounts and policies were located. That's something my dad insisted we knew about, just in case.

It's a good idea to ask your parents to prepare an inventory that lists all of their accounts and policies, along with locations, account numbers and passwords. They don't have to turn them over to you if they don't want to, and my dad did not, but he wanted us to know where to find them.

Life Insurance Policies
Long-Term Care Policies
Banking and Brokerage Accounts
Social Security Cards
Medicare and Insurance Cards
Doctor's Names and Numbers
List of Medications
Phone Numbers of Lawyer and Accountant

Do it Now! This is another good way to help your aging parents whether they're next door or a thousand miles away!

Thank you for visiting, Carol -

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Dealing with Working Caregiver's Challenges

How far does the average long-distance caregiver live from his care recipient? MetLife study shows 450 miles. But whether you're next door or 1,000 miles away from the aging recipient, it can be tough to make sure everything is okay.

My first advice is don't wait till there's a crisis before you broach the topic of planning for the future with them. Helping out your aging parents is a process not an event. Believe me, when helping my parents, we waited too long to plan out how their lives would play out.. it all started with my mom's open heart surgery at age eighty!

An easy way to start a conversation with them about planning for their future is to take advantage of a comment or complaint. Are they starting to talk about the house and yard being a burden for them? That would be a good time to ask if you could help them take care a few things. Once your tackled that delicate subject, go on to the tougher ones like discussing finances. Suggest helping them pay their bills. It was difficult for my dad when reading the finer print so he would ask me to read them aloud. That's when I jumped in and offered to help pay his monthly bills too.

Or if you cannot visit them often have a trusted neighbor check on them, or hire a geriatric care manager to make home visits. Go to, a website of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

These are a few helpful tips in the planning process of your relative's aging journey. They may not need your help this moment but as time passes, they certainly will.

More helpful tips coming....

Thank you for visiting.

Carol at

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dealing with Working Caregiver's Challenges

Welcome back! Are you looking for ways to meet head-on the challenges of balancing work and caregiving?

What's helpful are the phone calls.. checking on mom and dad or calling Capitol Metro to pick my mom up for a doctor's appointment, or call a taxi for one of them. A good resource I've found and will continue to look for us... but there's a cab driver who's also a concierge and he wants to keep you organized. He lives in CT but that didn't matter to me because he makes phone calls - that's it!

Charles Wachtel is a motivation and life coach, who has driven a cab for nine years and understands how busy we can get... especially working caregivers! So, he wants to help us out by giving us a friendly nudge when there's a special occasion to remember or we need a wake up call, have a flight to catch, remember to call mom's doctor, check on mom and dad, or help us remember to pick up the medication.

Wachtel calls the service a mobile concierge; his business is the Empowerment Express. Concierge services are one of the fastest growing industries, Wachtel said. But he makes it clear he is not an errand buy. Eventually, Charles wants to stop shuttling people around and make a full-time business out of helping them organize and motivate their lives! Charles can be reached by or call him at: 860-593-8233. By the way, I checked his references... raving reviews on service and character!

Anyone else wanting to offer a service? We caregivers need it! Let me know... I'll include it/you in the member package, after checking references.

Carol, Founder, - Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Working Caregivers, the Challenges

An interesting study funded by MetLife Foundation and presented by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP: The frequently reported unmet needs of working caregivers are:

34% finding time for myself,
29% balancing work and family responsibilities, and
29% managing emotional and physical stress is a burden.

When I was helping with mom in her care, the biggest issue for me was balancing work and my family responsiblities. This is the reason I cannot understand how a manager at work would comment about separating business from personal life! (REF: A quote in my last blog.)

It's merely impossible to disect one's life into compartments. But I found what we can do is find resources that help us find the balance we seek.

When searching for ways to find time for yourself, as a working caregiver, you may find services that help you make phone calls or provide transportation to run errands or take your elder loved one to a doctor's appointment for you. That would save me a couple of hours to focus on my tasks at work or simply free up some time for me to accomplish personal to dos. is putting together packages and products to help your solve some of these unmet needs. Check back here to read about more options and to find out when these packages are available.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So You're a Caregiver!

Congratulations, you're a caregiver! Welcome to the world of ambiguity and confusion. I'm happy to meet working family caregivers because I know that you understand what caregivers, like me, do and feel each day. We face many moments thinking we're brainless. Not because we're stupid but because elder care is sooooo big and there's soooo much to learn & understand. Just the health issues alone take my breath away and give me headaches.

What's bothersome to me,when meeting people who have never experienced family caregiving, some shrug it off like it's a common chore. It's like having a conversation with a person who doesn't speak my language. Can you imagine telling someone about a rough day at work in English and they only speak and understand Russian? Well, that's what it's like to explain the hardships of caregiving to someone who's never traveled the road.

Here's a quote I read the other day on the Internet... it speaks volumes. “All I hear from my supervisor is that I need to stop letting my personal life affect my business life.” Anonymous male caregiver working full-time.

How does one separate business from personal, when our lives are so related and interdependent? It's not that cut and dry. We have spouses, children, friends, jobs, employers, family, moms & dads.. that all have equal importance to us. It's difficult to put one aside when they're/it's not doing well. Agree? Separate business from personal... isn't it all one? My life!! And it can't be separated, sliced or diced. Trust me, many of us wish caregiving could be put on the shelf. But that's like saying "sorry mom, dad, can't help you out today." Nope, probably won't happen.

Here's a hint: Before talking to the boss about having to take a day off to help mom or dad, be sure you tell them first where you are on a project and how you plan to make up the time lost, especially if the boss has never been in a caregiving role. offers, soon...., many products and solutions to help you balance work, life, and caregiving. It's coming soon... I promise.

Thank you for visiting. Carol

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Are You a Caregiver? Beginning the Process

Since we’ve determined ‘who’ caregivers are, here are some things to think about as you begin your caregiving process.

The Elder You Care for is an Adult
He or she has the right to make decisions about their life. As a caregiver, you should respect that right unless he or she has lost the capacity to make decisions or could put others in danger.

Whenever Possible, Offer Choices
Allow your loved ones choices from where to live to which cereals to eat for breakfast to what to wear. Having choices allows us to express ourselves. As their options become more limited, through health loss, financial constraints, or social losses, as a caregiver, you have to work harder to provide choices.

Do Those Things That Your Loved One Cannot Do
Caregivers often take over when they shouldn’t. If your loved one is still capable of performing certain activities, such as paying bills or cooking meals, then encourage him or her to do so. Helping your loved one maintain a feeling of independence will make him or her feel better about being in a care-receiving situation.

Do What You Promise To Do
Many care recipients find it emotionally difficult to have to depend on others, and many worry about being a burden. So, with all these mixed feelings, your loved one will need to be able to rely on you. Do what you promise. Remember that your loved one needs you, even if he or she doesn’t say so.

Take Care of Yourself
Caregivers often exhaust themselves by trying to handle caregiving responsibilities on top of normal daily routines. Providing care for a loved one while holding down a job, can lead to exhaustion. If you do become exhausted, you’re more likely to make bad decisions or to take out your frustrations on your loved one. So take care of yourself; take time out to do things you enjoy even if it means saying no to your loved one. Caregivers who refresh themselves can be there for the long haul.

Your Family is the First Resource
There can be deep emotional currents when a loved one becomes ill. Some family members will want to do everything, while others will do very little unless they’re asked. Yet spouses, brothers and sisters, children, and other relatives can do much to ease your caregiving burden.

Carol Marak, Founder,
Delivering products, services, & resources for family caregivers to working family caregivers designed to avoid work interruptions & distractions, emotional fatigue, and physical exhaustion that can result from balancing work, life, & caregiving.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Are You a Caregiver?

It’s rarely possible to pick out a caregiver in a crowd. Why? Because we, who care for loved ones, don’t think we’re fulfilling a role! It’s just part of who we are as daughters, sons, sisters, moms or dads! And it’s what we do. We care for the ones we love.
If you’re a person who provides needed help to an aging or infirmed loved one, supplying emotional support, physical assistance, financial assistance, and many other types of care, regardless of the situation, you’re a caregiver.

Family caregivers are the immediate family, relatives by blood, marriage, or adoption, partners, or close friends who directly provide care, manage the care of, or pay for the care of people who need medical and non-medical assistance, emotional support, and advocacy because they are ill, disabled, or aged and frail.

Caregivers dedicate, on average, 20 hours per week to provide care for older persons and even more time when the older person has multiple disabilities.

Forty-one percent of caregivers have children, too. Part of the "sandwich generation," many women will spend more years caring for a parent than they do raising a child. Caregivers of the elderly spend an average of $279 per month on care-related activities.

Since we’ve determined ‘who’ caregivers are, in a day or two, check back - we'll look at some things to think about as you begin your caregiving process.

Sign up for our CareBuZZ newsletter! It's free...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Working Caregivers, the Silent Population

When reading articles about working family caregivers, we are often times called The Silent Population. Makes me think why are we silent? You'd think with juggling all that we do, we'd be screaming for help! But we don't. So then that makes me wonder if that's why there such a thing as Caregiver Stress? Or how about Caregiver Burnout?

It reminds me of a woman (I'll call her Jane to keep this blog easy to follow) in my office who's in the Sandwich Generation - not only does Jane belong to the Silent Generation but she's labeled Sandwich too! Anyway, Jane has children who are ages 10 and 14, very active in school and sport activities. She also has a mom living with her who's had several strokes and is confined to a wheel chair. Jane supposedly works full-time but is rarely on the job "full-time." Now, I'm not telling you this to be critical but instead to talk about the truth and what really happens in the work place.

Jane, along with several others, arrive late and leave early. Not because they're goofing off... instead they're running errands, shuffling kids to activities, taking mom to the doctor, checking on mom, etc. You understand if you fall in the sandwich generation. All of this makes you wonder how much productivity gets done on the job?

This is a growing issues now that boomers are aging... what are some doable options for us? There are some good companies that are looking at ways to help increase our time on the job.. but there are many who ignore this hard and fast-growing dilemma.

My next topic will address what the employee or working family caregivers can do to be more productive at work. Please visit our website and sign up for our free CareBuzz Newsletter - loaded with good tips and solutions.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do You Listen Well?

One of the best skills for a caregiver to develop is listening! As someone once quoted to me, God gave me two ears and one mouth. Sometimes it's difficult to listen, especially if we believe we know better. But out of respect and dignity of our aging seniors, let's assume they can speak for themselves. Most aging seniors really do know what they want and what?s best for them.

It's taken me several years to learn to listen well. And in the meantime; bite your tongue! Here are some guidelines that are helpful. These guidelines are derived from Texas Legal Services Center.

Considerate versus Inconsiderate

Inconsiderate listening includes daydreaming, discounting, jumping to conclusions, interrupting and ignoring.

Considerate which is where we all want to be takes a bit more effort. These skills include; paying attention, not judging, eye contact, don't finish sentences, and separating content from personality.

The speaker senses if you are listening by the amount of information she/he discloses. If you ask questions, it's a sign you are listening.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Great Place to Work for Family Caregivers

Now that's a topic I want to see addressed more often. If you're a working family caregiver, what would some of your expectations be? I know what mine are!! First, I want to be acknowledged that it's tough. I don't want sympathy (but that would be nice), it would be great if my HR Benefit's manager would give me the respect that we caregivers deserve.

How many of you are given empathy and hear the words, "I know it's tough and your family must appreciate all you're doing, but we have a job to do here." When I hear that, it's like all those good vibes you poured my way went down the toilet.

One day I asked the HR manager if we, the family caregivers, could set up a support group at lunch just to share the treasures we've found that help us save time and energy.. the ones that help us balance our lives?

"You know, we wish you could, but that's against company policy. If we allow one group to meet on site, then we're opening ourselves up to all sorts of issues."

Hmmm... I wonder what those issues are? I thought quietly. Then asked, "well, can we at least send one another an email sharing our resources?"

"No, that's company property, you can't use it for personal usage."

Okay, I thought to myself... I guess you just want us to spend time away from our tasks to do online research while we're sitting at our desks!! And if we can't share our information that means you can multiply that non-productivity by at least 25 other employees doing the same research!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Buzz on Caregiving Burnout

Most family caregivers are thrown into the endeavor of helping their aging mom, dad, grandparent or relative soon after a senior event. That's what happened to me and my siblings. That's probably, as those of you who have experienced, is the worst time to start searching for elder care issues and solutions. Think about it, if you wait till after a senior event to do your research, aren't your elder care decisions based on emotion rather than a prudent, well thought out plan for the ones you love?

Many of us ignore that ever looming endeavor - caring for an aging relative as long as possible. Why? Because who wants to admit to aging and getting old? Not me! I hate the fact that I'm over 50! There's so much stigma in our society on growing old. Isn't that why we're so interested in topics on ageless and the fountain of youth? I had a friend tell me the other day, she plans to live to 120! I don't know about you but that's a ghastly image!

Well, for me as a family caregiver while working full-time and living at a distance wanted to avoid aging as much as possible. But because I avoided it and did not prepare myself or my family for it, created a huge mess of challenges, stress, and confusion. And not to mention the emotion that shades any good decision.

First, let me say aging and caring for an elder is inevitable and it is in your future. So, accept it. Once that's accomplished, you are half way there to making your caregiving days less stressful and eventally will not experience caregiver burnout easily. This is step one of getting prepared.

There are many valuable resources available to us and that will make your life as a working family caregiver easier. Our website delivers a weekly newsletter called CareBuZZ that's delivered for free to your email inbox on a weekly basis. It's loaded with targeted solutions for elder care. Save it for later or use those tips now. It's yours for free simply sign up at our website

And visit here often. More tips on easing the caregiving road ahead. I hope you learn from some of my mistakes and you live stress-less, healther, wiser, and playful. There can't be a better thank you to your aging relative than to see you happier.

Relieving stress in caring,

Carol Marak


Sign up for our CareBuZZ - FREE Newsletter - loaded with tips on living a stress-less, healthier, wiser and playful life as a Caregiver. It's fun and gives you valuable how to's and tips. JUST DO IT.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Celebrating Dad

This week is dedicated to celebrating dad! It's over a month ago that he passed from my world unto a better one. I know it's better than the one he lived in for several years... especially the last one. He lived with Alz, wheel chair bound, incontinent, unable to feed or care for himself in any way, really. Remembering him this way brings tears to my heart.

I'd prefer remembering the quiet man who could fix anything he got his hands on; cars, houses, toilets, little girls broken dreams... he did that one time in my life.. he ended that sweet conversation with, "The only thing important Carol is that you are happy. That's all." Oh, how I loved that time spent with him. When I didn't know it all and he found some time just for me. There were four siblings so his time and energy was limited. And there was the full-time job too. And fixing things around the house. All took his time and attention.

He was a silent man and always available to his family. That was the most important thing in his life, being there and ready to help us anyway he possibly could. Aren't dad's great?

I miss my dad. Through-out the years I didn't pay much attention to showing him my love. Now I wish I had made more a point to express my heart to him. He deserves the best, where ever he is. "The only thing important dad is that you are happy. That's all."

Your loving daughter,

Friday, June 8, 2007

Caring for an Aging Senior

When I read stories about caring for aging relatives especially when the caregiver is a young mother, shows me the irony in caregiving roles. We contribute to another’s care to the point of losing our own good health, our peace, and ultimately our sense of well being. The question and concern for us is “how can we contribute to someone else when we have nothing left to give to ourselves?”

Family caregivers need to balance love, caregiving, and guilt. Close to 54 million Americans care for a disabled or sick family member, according to the 2006 survey conducted by Met Life. And although most bear the burden with love, social workers say caregiving is so demanding that most people feel inadequate. Yes, we do. Remembering the times caring for my mom as she waited in clinics to have her lung drained of fluids sorely reminds me just how inadequate I felt! Relieving her pain was my hope but my attempt to do so was extremely insufficient.

Beware of guilt, experts warn us. Eventually, such emotions can extract a heavy toll on the health of the caregiver -- and that hurts everyone involved.

Of all the emotional hurdles family caregivers face, including anger and resentment, guilt is the most pervasive, says Mimi Goodrich, a licensed clinical social worker at the Wellness Center in San Mateo, CA. “its right up there on the list. Caregivers feel it’s their obligation to make these years the happiest. But none of us has that power. When caregivers have expectations that are unrealistic, that’s when the guilt comes in.”

Ah, the truth in that statement by Goodrich brings me to the realization that I, as a caregiver, need to re-adjust my expectation level. But before I can do that, I must choose to care for myself first; making my life a priority! Who'd a thought?

Looking at my own family’s experience; my sister’s cholesterol is now higher due the stress of caring for our dad. Janice fills her life with dad’s day to day care requirements; overseeing the meds, naps, eating and his comfort. While I commend and praise her for the fabulous contribution she makes to his life, she is exhausted and stressed! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear “I’m exhausted,” from her. Her recent physical exam shows that she has an increase in her cholesterol level, many times a symptom of stress.

Which reminds me what Pat Coleman, an elder care consultant, says about caring for an aging senior when asked what can caregivers do? Most importantly, turn to community programs and professional resources for help, as well as to family or friends. "Guilt is driven, in part, by the lack of access to information, especially during a crisis, It’s brought on by trying to get through the morass of needs and decisions and not knowing what supports and services are available. Often there hasn't been anyone there to tell us what we might need until we actually need it, so there's tremendous guilt in feeling we haven't done enough."

Family caregivers.. honor your deeds! You are earth angels, believe me!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

BackUp Care for Employees

Did you know that more organizations are starting to use backup care? Employers are considering adding as a work/life benefit because it can reduce absenteeism due to child and family caregiving issues. They are providing temporary care solutions when regular care is not available or when unexpected situations arise. This will be a considerable value for working caregivers! Having an alternative care arrangement will be provided in a variety of settings, including dedicated care facilities, employee homes or the homes of employees’ distantly located family members. This employee benefit - backup care is one of the fastest growing benefits offered by employers.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, unscheduled employee absenteeism affects most organizations. 25% of HR professionals (22%) reported that unscheduled employee absenteeism was a problem "to a large degree" and an additional 43% reported that it was a problem "to some degree."

Even though many U.S. employers offering backup care benefits, the majority of HR professionals reported that they were not at all awarae of backup care. Only 7% of respondents reported that they were very aware of backup care benefits. The good news, most HR professionals are interested in adding back up care benefits after reading about temporary care solutions and alternatives.

Hopefully, for the working family caregiver, the percentage of U.S. employers offering backup care benefits continue to grow in the coming years as recognition of the attributes of backup care arrangements increases.
Carol Marak, Founder,