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

CANCER101 Planner: The Information And Resource Toolkit

Posted on October 3rd, 2013 by karen

C101 Planner

by Karen Keller Capuciati

One of our readers gave us a great tip about a helpful resource she uses to care for her 82-year-old father who has cancer.  She found a toolkit that has been “the greatest way to stay organized” throughout the process.

She’s referring to the CANCER101 Planner. It’s a three-ring binder designed to keep all your information organized and handy. It also provides information, advice and references.

The planner was created by Monica Knoll, who was a marketing director for a health club when she was diagnosed in October 2000 with breast cancer. She was overwhelmed and frustrated by the “strange new world of medical information and confusing terms.” Sifting through such excessive amounts of information caused even more anxiety. So Monica created the planner after she completed her treatments in 2002. She had two goals in mind to help those with cancer and their caregivers:

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The Golden Girls: Friends Who Light Your Way

Posted on September 26th, 2013 by karen

Belly Dancers

by Kim Keller

“We are a troupe of belly dancers!” Mary Lou enthusiastically explained to the waitress at Ruby Tuesday’s, who was curious about this large group of fun-loving, older women at her table. “And she,” Mary Lou said, pointed to my mother, “is our leader!”

The women all burst into laughter.

My mother, I assure you, is not the leader of any belly-dancing troupe. Rather, she is one of 12 girlfriends, all widows, who have banded together in friendship and support.

And together, they’ve found a way to laugh again.

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Bright Ideas: Improving Safety And Accessibility

Posted on May 9th, 2013 by karen

Intense Burst of Light

by Karen Keller Capuciati

I came across a terrific idea the other day while scanning through Parkinson’s Disease: 300 Tips For Making Life Easier, by Shelley Peterman Schwarz: “Purchase touch-sensitive lamps if manipulating the small turn-screw on most lamps is difficult. Touch any metal on the lamp base and the light goes on; touch it a second time and the light goes off.”

A good tip, I thought. Not only can the switch itself be difficult to turn, but getting to it often requires bending down to reach under the lampshade, which could throw an unsteady person off balance and possibly cause a fall.

This is also a good idea for people with arthritis, vision impairment, cognitive disabilities or anyone assessed as a fall risk. Our dad, for example, had rheumatoid arthritis and this would have been a nice convenience for him.

But instead of buying new touch-sensitive lamps, I set out to  find out how easy it would be to adjust the lamps in our home in a similar fashion, and I discovered it couldn’t be simpler. Here are three small, low-cost options to make your own lamps easier to operate.


Touch Adaptor

This gadget allows you to turn on, off, brighten or dim a metal lamp by a simple touch. It’s inexpensive and easy to install. A couple of considerations: it only works with a metal lamp, and the addition of the 2-inch adaptor reduces the bulb space created by a traditional lampshade bracket. A lampshade that clips onto the bulb, or a bracket that sits at the base of the light bulb, as shown below, eliminates that issue.

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Managing The Move

Posted on March 7th, 2013 by karen

Moving boxes

by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC

Moving from your home is rightfully included on the list of life’s most stressful events. It’s stressful even when you’re young, but overwhelmingly so when you’re older. Leaving the “ancestral home” where you may have lived for 30 or 40 years, where your children grew up, is tremendously difficult, fraught with anxiety and a combination of dread and grief. For some, it may be exciting to locate and create a new home but for many elders, the attendant changes in residence, social network, recreation patterns and sense of community can cause a deep feeling of disconnection.

Just the thought of cleaning out years of accumulated stuff is burdensome: outgrown toys, old clothes and other childhood artifacts, broken tools, boxes of tax returns and other out-of-date papers, old bicycles and chairs that someone meant to repair but didn’t, skis, ice skates, tennis racquets, sports equipment that hasn’t been touched in decades, odds and ends of the family’s history and overflowing collections of just plain old household junk, all piled high in attics and basements.

The seemingly endless list of decisions to be made can be paralyzing: what to take, what to leave, what to give away, what to throw away, what to sell . . .  And sometimes there is troubling internecine warfare over which children get to take what family treasures and heirlooms.

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Gifts & Gadgets: Shoes That “Earth”

Posted on July 24th, 2012 by karen

by Karen Keller Capuciati

After publishing our blog about Earthing in early June, we heard from a footwear company called Juil which makes shoes with copper in the soles, allowing your body to be in contact with the natural healing energies of the earth.

Peter Coulter, a representative of Juil, shared with me his interest in the benefits of Earthing and suggested I try their leather (and vegan) sandals and clogs, made for both men and women.  The copper-infused soles allow for conductivity, so the wearer is connected, or grounded, with the planet’s surface.

What’s behind Earthing?  There is emerging research that indicates our planet has healing properties.  With simple contact, the energy of the earth has been found to neutralize disease-causing free radicals, which are uncharged electrons (neither positive or negative) that build up in our bodies due to environmental toxins, poor diet and stress.  These free radicals can cause all sorts of damage to our body’s systems.  So, in effect, our planet serves as a natural antioxidant force, healing our bodies from many ailments, including autoimmune disease, headaches, insomnia, pain and disease caused by inflammation.  And all it takes is simple everyday contact with the earth, like walking barefoot in the grass or in the sand on the beach.  For more information, including links to research results, you can check out the In Care of Dad blog called Earthing: Can Our Planet Heal Us?

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Making The Photo Book Of Love

Posted on May 1st, 2012 by karen

by Karen Keller Capuciati

If it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what a whole book of pictures is worth.

For some people, the worth is incalculable.  Let me give you an example.

Recently I met a woman who was creating a beautiful photo book filled with the memories of six best friends and first cousins growing up together.  The book was intended as a gift for one of the six who is battling cancer.  It starts when they were all young girls at the beach in Montauk, NY, and spans 53 years, up to the present with photos of them together with their now-grown children.  In between those two points, the book details the story of the wonderful life these six women shared — the history and specialness of their sisterhood.  The author has included captions throughout the clean, upbeat design for added personal touches.  It’s a beautiful tribute for a dear friend, filled with love — a gift all of the women will undoubtedly cherish.

Instantly I wanted to share this wonderful idea!  It’s a great gift for anyone, but an extraordinary one for a friend in need of some loving support.

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Geriatric Care Manager To The Rescue

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by karen

Geriatric Care Managers To The Rescue

by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC

Emergencies come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of severity.  Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) deal with emergencies a lot.  As a GCM, I have to be on my toes, ready to respond to emergencies of all kinds at any time.  It is part of what I love about my profession.

My work is so varied, challenging and useful.  Here are some examples of emergencies I have responded to:

Emergency 1:  Doris, Sarah’s live-in aide, called me just as I was sitting down to dinner to say that Sarah was having difficulty breathing.  Sarah had congestive heart failure (CHF), among a number of other serious medical issues.  Doris had already called the doctor who ordered Sarah to the hospital.  They were waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

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Our Favorite Tools: A Celebratory Retrospective

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 by kim

Green Tool Box Photo by Sue Schultz

by Kim Keller

Today In Care of Dad publishes its 101st blog!

It’s quite a milestone for us.  To celebrate this landmark occasion, we’re taking a look back at some of the most useful tools and resources we’ve written about here at In Care of Dad, items that have helped many people — just like you and me and my sister — to care for our aging parents.

Here are some of our favorite finds: — This wonderful service helps friends and families sharing a health crisis by offering space and access to any group, extended or otherwise, that wants to stay abreast of a loved one’s health status.  But more than that, Caringbridge helps families arrange their websites with the following format features:  1) journal entries to keep everyone up-to-date; 2) photo uploads to provide a visual component; and 3) a private message center where family and friends can deliver words of encouragement and support.  This service is easy to use and completely free!

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In Care Of Gifts

Posted on December 13th, 2011 by karen

Bamboo-Chic Blanket

by Karen Keller Capuciati

Need ideas for gifts?  We wanted to share a few of our favorites.

The BambooChic Blanket from Barefoot Dreams.   My sister Kim gave me one, and it is the softest, most luxurious blanket that I have ever owned.  I thought I had outgrown needing a blankey, but when I’m not feeling well, this throw gives me great comfort.  Even though it is super cozy and warm, it is not heavy and will not weigh you down.  It can also be thrown in the washer and dryer.  You can buy one on and receive free shipping with no minimum purchase.  There are three blanket sizes: the throw will cost you $132.  This is a sublime gift that sends a message of love.

You might also check out Barefoot Dreams’ BambooChic Bathrobe.  It comes in beautiful colors and is just as plush and luxurious as the blankets.  The very cozy robe cost $121.

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Google Calendar To The Rescue!

Posted on September 19th, 2011 by kim

Google Calendar

by Kim Keller

Some of you may remember our earlier In Care of Dad articles about “Team Alice,” the extended family of 86-year-old Alice, a family matriarch from Muskego, Wisconsin, who is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.

Well, Team Alice has another great tip for families in a similar situation, with many different people contributing to the care of one cherished individual.

Every week Alice’s daughter, Mary Clare, would field phone calls and emails from her siblings who were all signing up for various responsibilities concerning their mom’s care.  All eight kids, in addition to their respective family members, would take turns with duties like driving Alice to the store, or to church, or to her doctors’ appointments.  Making sure that all the visits to Mom were properly spread out, that all the various appointments and errands were covered, was a coordination nightmare for Mary Clare.

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