Archive for the ‘Things That Make Life A Little Easier’ Category

Forgive, Release, Let Go

Posted on October 22nd, 2015 by karen

Forgiveness Stone

by Lisa M. Wolfson

I have always been an advocate for self-improvement and growth, but in recent years, as a breast cancer survivor, my desire to make necessary changes has become a priority. I’ve come to realize that inner peace is at the core of maintaining a happy, healthy life.

Struggling with situations that don’t serve me well, but often feeling guilty about letting go of them, has been a continuing source of disquiet for me. Harboring resentments for the actions of others has brought me down and into a dark place. I would tell myself “let it go.” But how do I accomplish that?

When someone’s behavior hurts us or makes us angry, we may hold onto a resentment for the person or situation they’ve created or helped to create. We think of forgiveness as a timid act, an act of giving in. We focus on the source of our pain and decide that forgiving the person who caused that pain allows them to win. What we overlook is that dwelling on the pain hurts us more, lowering our energy, overwhelming our concentration, and undermining the better angels of our nature. In short, the act of holding onto pain hurts us more than it hurts anyone else. It holds us captive and renders us helpless.

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Meal Train: The Best Thing Since Chicken Soup

Posted on October 15th, 2015 by karen

Chicken Tortilla soup from Rosie in New Canaan CT

by Karen Keller Capuciati

When you have a sick friend and you want to help out, sometimes you don’t know what to do. Offers to help — Don’t hesitate to call me! — seem perfunctory. You don’t want to be intrusive or force your sick friend to assign you a job, but you’d really like to show your love and concern . . .

Helping can get complicated.

Well, it just got less complicated. Meal Train is an interactive online service that allows family, friends and neighbors to sign up for delivering meals to friends and loved ones going through difficult times and/or significant life events, whether it’s surgery, cancer treatments, grieving a recent loss, arrival of a new baby, or just to ease the strain of everyday caregiving.

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The Nine Secrets To A Long Vibrant Life

Posted on September 3rd, 2015 by karen

Blue Zone healthy habits

by Kim Keller

If you were told you could live into your 100s, with good health of both mind and body, would you be interested?

If the answer is yes, then you might want to read this article, and maybe even take notes!

According to the findings of a joint investigation by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Geographic Society, and bestselling author Dan Buettner, the key to longevity — what these social scientists have labeled as “Blue Zones,” meaning communities around the globe where lifestyle choices have led to unusually long and healthy lives — is a combination of diet, exercise, family bonds, spirituality and personal fulfillment. The study explored places throughout the world where indigenous populations live vigorous and dynamic lives into their ninth and tenth decades. The researchers have examined the societal habits of these communities and noted what they have in common in the hopes of helping us all live longer and healthier lives.

The formula for longevity comprises these nine common features:

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Five Simple Strategies For Living With Dementia

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by karen

Alzheimer's caregiver tips

by Kim Keller

Sometimes it’s the simplest action that has the biggest impact. That’s why I love these five “good ideas” to help anyone who’s caring for a loved one with dementia. Take a look.

  1. The Magic of Music — Music, as we’ve come to learn, has a powerful and transformative effect on those with dementia. Check out the movie trailer from this must-see documentary, Alive Inside, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s relatively easy for you to try out — just put together a playlist of your loved one’s favorite music and load the songs onto an iPod shuffle (or any other device with simple controls). To get the biggest benefit, the music should be listened to with earplugs or a headset, in order to minimize potential distractions and allow your loved one to be totally engaged by the music. By the way, Alive Inside is now available for purchase on DVD or iTunes.
  2. Create a Routine — Have a routine for daily activities like eating, exercising, bathing, sleeping. The discipline of a routine tends to provide calm and focus, and no energy is wasted on superfluous decision-making.
  3. Calling Cards — One of our contributors, Colleen Lanier, gave us this great suggestion: create calling cards for your loved one. Handing a stranger a card that alerts him or her to your loved one’s impairment can discreetly reduce the potential for awkward and/or misunderstood moments. Alzheimer's caregiver tips
  4. Sundowning Strategies — “Sundowning” is a psychological syndrome that entails increased confusion and restlessness among patients with some form of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. The term itself refers to the most common timing of the confusion. Finding simple activities, whether it’s helping with household chores or playing a board game, can help to ease problematic behavior. Dr. Paul Raia, a regular contributor to In Care of Dad, provides some important insight into sundowning here.
  5. Safe Return — The Alzheimer’s Association has collaborated with MedicAlert to create a nationwide emergency response program called “MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®” which provides a bracelet or pendant for your loved one to wear at all times. The jewelry is inscribed with the words “memory impaired” and an emergency hotline number that operates 24/7, as well as any critical medical information. So if a loved one goes missing, you can call the emergency number and immediately set in motion a search by law enforcement and personnel from the local Alzheimer’s Association. The emergency hotline operators also have full access to all pertinent medical information. The registration is simple and can be done online. The cost, as of this writing, is $55 for the first year, with a $35 renewal fee each year thereafter, plus a $7 shipping fee for the bracelet or pendant. Another consideration is “Comfort Zone,” a GPS tracking service linked to your family’s home computer that monitors your loved one’s whereabouts at all times. The information can also be delivered through text messages. This service is $42.99 per month, with a $45 activation fee. This monthly plan also comes with the MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return package mentioned above. There may be an additional fee for shipping and handling of the jewelry. Here’s more information from the Alzheimer’s Association.


Kim Keller is the Co-Founder of In Care of Dad. She lives and works in New York City.



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Socializing Alzheimer’s: The Connection Cafe

Posted on January 21st, 2015 by karen

Alzheimer's Cafe

by Karen Keller Capuciati

Charlotte and Cati were the least likely of friends. Charlotte, a therapist for a rape crisis center, is straightforward and serious by nature. Cati, a former athlete who has worked as a prominent international tennis judge, is extremely upbeat and quick to laugh.

They met at a café five and a half years ago and, despite their disparate personalities, they quickly became close friends and great support for one another. They would get together a couple times a week for coffee or to walk their dogs. They got to know each so well that they would sometimes finish each other’s sentences.

There was this one thing they had in common — both had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

They might never have met if it weren’t for the Alzheimer’s Café they started visiting along with their caregiving husbands.

What is an Alzheimer’s Café?

The Alzheimer’s Café is a regular get-together organized in many towns for those with dementia and their caregivers, as an opportunity for all of them to get out of the house and into a social setting. It is an opportunity to relax and socialize in an environment that is both supportive and non-judgmental. They take place at public venues that have donated their space during their closed hours. For example, it might be at a luncheonette from 4 to 6 pm on the first Monday of each month or at a children’s museum cafeteria from 5 to 7pm (when it’s closed to the public) one Wednesday a month.

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Emergency Concierge Tool: The GreatCall Splash

Posted on September 24th, 2014 by karen

medical alert device

by Kim Keller

Karen and I just discovered a terrific emergency safety tool this last weekend while visiting our mom in The Villages, Florida. A couple of our mom’s gal pals, who are all part of a rather large and close-knit group of women friends sharing the challenges of widowhood and living alone, told us about the GreatCall Splash emergency alert button that a few of them are now happily wearing around their necks.

Naturally, Karen and I think it’s a smart idea for anyone living alone to have an emergency-alert button, but we were nonetheless a bit surprised to find that Mom’s friends, who are all active and full of life, had decided to take the leap of buying their very own alert buttons, which, for many people, carry the stigma of old age.

So we asked one friend, Carol, “What made you do it?”

“I always thought having an alert button was a good idea for someone living alone,” Carol explained, “but I didn’t want to think that it was time for me to have one just yet. And then Joyce [one of the other girlfriends] fell in the foyer of her house, and she laid there for a few hours with a broken femur before someone found her, and I thought, well, that could happen to me too, since I live alone. So, I decided it was just a good idea, and now that I have it, I feel safer. It gives me tremendous peace of mind.”

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Caregiver Tools: Top Five Resources

Posted on June 18th, 2014 by karen

Caregiver Tools

by Karen Keller Capuciati

Here is a Top Five list I simply had to share — my favorite caregiver resources that I put together for Mary Underwood, Vice President of Memory Care and Resident Experience at the beautifully appointed Maplewood Senior Living in Westport, CT. Mary is putting together a resource library — books, CDs, DVDs, and websites — for professional and family caregivers alike.

It’s a thoughtful gesture on Mary’s part that will no doubt be highly useful. Knowing what resources are available is the first step in making one’s arduous caregiving duties go a little smoother.

It was not easy narrowing down the extensive list to only five resources, so stay tuned for more top picks.

  1. Eldercare Locator is a nationwide public service that connects aging Americans and their caregivers with community resources. Whether you’re looking for home-delivered meals, help dispensing medications, transportation to various appointments, adult day-care or respite programs, Eldercare Locator will help you find the resources available in your ZIP code. Visit or call 800-677-1116.
  2. Health Journeys is a guided-meditation clearinghouse, offering CDs or downloadable meditations to assist with many of life’s health challenges. Fight Cancer, Healthy Heart, Successful Surgery, Ease Pain, Healthful Sleep are just a few of the available titles. These meditations provide the kind of supplemental support that we need to actively participate in our own health and recovery.
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‘Tis The Season To Pay It Forward

Posted on December 17th, 2013 by karen

Pay It Forward

by Ed Moran

In case you haven’t noticed, the holiday season is upon us once again, for better or worse. If you’re like me, the cloak of denial has only recently been shed. Though the signs have been there since the first holiday decorations appeared on the shelves at Costco in October, the calendar has finally made it real, causing many in the community to experience a fairly unpleasant combination of excitement and dread.

When we’ve lost someone dear to us, the pressure to be jolly can be difficult to manage. The idea of doing for others, and feeling good about it, can suddenly feel foreign. As it turns out, though, doing for others may be just the shot in the arm we’ve been looking for to break out of the holiday doldrums.

At one time or another we’ve probably all been a part of the classic debate about whether a truly selfless act is possible. A simple Google search online will bring up thousands of opinions on paying it forward; doing something for others with the hope, and in some cases the expectation, that a good deed will be done for another in return.

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Great Gift Ideas: Some Of Our Favorite Things

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by karen

black and red gift

by Kim Keller

Several years ago, Karen and I started a gift-giving tradition that we call “our favorite things.” It means that our gift ideas come from things we already own and love. We give each other items we’ve tested and wholeheartedly approve, rather than struggling to come up with unique gift ideas that may or may not hit the mark.

Like many people, we find this time of year to be particularly stressful, and we thought this “favorite things” concept might ease some of the strain that comes with the season. As it happens, we’ve had a lot of fun with this new tradition, so we thought we’d share it with you and give you a peek into some of our best-loved ideas over the years.

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The Patient’s Checklist

Posted on November 12th, 2013 by karen

The Patient's Checklist

by Kim Keller

Consider this:

“A hospital patient, on average, is subject to one medication error per day.”

— Preventing Medication Errors, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2007

Or how about this one:

“Every six minutes a patient dies in an American hospital from a hospital-acquired infection — an infection acquired after admission — usually from a health-care worker’s failure to simply wash his hands.”

— Hospital Acquired Infections,

These are frightening statistics but not surprising, at least not to me. That’s because both my parents have been victims of countless medical snafus. My father’s medical ordeal was so chaotic and painful that, after his death in the summer of 2006, my sister Karen and I made a pact to dedicate ourselves to helping other families with their own medical challenges. Such was the genesis of In Care of Dad.

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