Falls Prevention Kicks Off Fall

Sept 22 is the first day of fall kicking off Falls Prevention Awareness Week

Sept 22 is the first day of fall kicking off Falls Prevention Awareness Week

Injuries and health issues from falling are big concerns as we age. In fact, every 28 minutes a senior falls at home. Today, (Sept 22) is the first official day of fall and also the day we kick off the Falls Prevention Awareness Week running through Sept. 28.

Read my article for PBS Next Avenue about a falls prevention movement called Falls Stop, MOVE STRONG –  a great program to keep you moving and prevent falls.

Moving Together to Prevent the Risk of Falls

 

Tom Grubb - Fall Stop, MOVE STRONG student

Tom Grubb – Fall Stop, MOVE STRONG studentBS Next Ave Sept 2016)

Verine Morris - Falls Stop, MOVE STRONG student

Verine Morris – Falls Stop, MOVE STRONG student

TV Icon Norman Lear on Longevity, Laughter & Love for America

Norman.tifAs the TV industry honored itself tonight with the annual Emmy Awards (normally we get excited by these events but woefully tonight was a yawn), we offer something far more entertaining: our CEO Sherri Snelling’s interview with TV icon Norman Lear.

At age 94, Lear is the definition of aging well – which is why we showcase him as part of September’s Healthy Aging Month.

Sherri’s interview with Lear is insightful as he believes laughter is essential to living longer. And, in an era when patriotism is being attacked daily, Lear talks about his love for America and why we all have an obligation to uphold the principles and promise of the Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. For you history buffs, Lear owned one of the few Dunlop broadsides – an original copy of the Declaration of Independence — and toured it around the United States over a dozen years ago so that U.S. citizens, especially younger generations, could see “America’s birth certificate” firsthand.  Now that’s putting on a show!

Along those patriotic lines – we give it a caregiving spin — check out below Sherri’s recommendation for the Caregiver Bill of Rights.

Click here to read Sherri’s interview with Norman Lear for PBS Next Avenue:

Norman Lear – Longevity, Laughter, Love of America

Click here to read Sherri’s article on the Caregiver Bill of Rights for Huffington Post:

Let the Caregiving Movement Begin with the Caregiver Bill of Rights

9/11 Created Heroes and Family Caregivers

sept-11-we-will-never-forget

It’s been 15 years since 9/11 – my generation’s Pearl Harbor and another day in American history that will “live in infamy.”

united-93Many, including myself, are reflecting today on the horror that created heroism out of the ashes of Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the fields in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (I just watched the amazingly moving film United 93 on the History Channel – thank you for making your programming all day today about remembrance of 9/11).

 

 

But there is another group who deserves our praise and support – a group who had no choice in their role and who were the unwitting recipients of the fall-out of the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks:  caregivers.

Since that beautifully sunny day in New York City 15 years ago, beyond the almost 3,000 families who lost loved ones in the attacks, the dark shadow of death has visited more than 1,000 families.  These were not the more than 3,000 victims trapped inside the burning, collapsing Towers and explosion at the Pentagon or in the downed United 93 airliner – these are the post-9/11 deaths linked to environmental hazards from “the pile” at Ground Zero.

Many of the first responders – those firefighters, police officers, Port Authority officers, sanitation workers and other survivors – who worked endless hours amidst the dust and debris that became the gaping hole in New York’s Wall Street district have since been suffering from respiratory and pulmonary problems, gastrointestinal problems, PTSD and even cancers from the toxic dust cloud that enveloped the city. In 2011, the National Institute of Safety recommended more than 50 types of cancer be covered for 9/11 responders through the World Trade Center Health Program.

According to an ABC News report, “Those who worked at the WTC site seem to be at increased risk of cancer, especially thyroid cancer, melanoma and lymphoma. According to a study released of nearly 10,000 New York firefighters (half of whom worked at the WTC site), those from the site are 32 percent more likely to have cancer.”

You can read my 9/11 15th Anniversary article for PBS Next Avenue here.

Since I view America’s family caregivers as the first responders in the health care and long-term care crisis in this country, here are my thoughts on how to prepare to care in any disaster:

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 14: US President George W. Bush (L), standing next to retired firefighter Bob Beckwith, 69, speaks to volunteers and firemen as he surveys the damage at the site of the World Trade Center in New York in this 14 September 2001 file photo. Bush was presented with the same bullhorn he used to address the rescue workers in this photo at a ceremony 25 February 2002 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC which was attended by Beckwith and New York Governor George Pataki. The President said the bullhorn would be put on display at his father's Presidential Library. (Photo credit should read PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Never fail to communicate

One of the Monday morning quarterback elements of September 11th was the appalling breakdown of communication between the various agencies established to safeguard our citizens.  Communication breakdown can also occur when you face a family caregiving situation.

Sensitivities to having those uncomfortable conversations about long-term care with your loved one, denial our loved one is ailing or declining, lack of communication or agreement between family members involved can all lead to a lack of unpreparedness.

This puts us in a similar situation as the first responders for 9/11 – dealing with a crisis.  By having the conversation with your loved one and other family members prior to the crisis, you can then have a plan in place to take some of the stress out of the situation and make your caregiving journey Iess fraught with emotional fall-out.

911cover_newsweekCome together

What is so inspiring about the reaction to September 11th was the spirit of Americans to put aside their differences, their selfish needs and care for strangers during a time that connected all of us.

When it comes to caring for a loved one, many caregivers have told me they feel like they are “all alone.”

What 9/11 taught us is we are not alone – we are in this together.  Not only are you one of 65 million caregivers, but there are family, friends, neighbors, co-workers who can help you in your caregiving responsibilities.

Connect with your social network on tasks they can help you with – it will take some of the burden off of your shoulders, help you avoid the typical caregiver “burn-out” and give you the resolve and stamina to continue to care for your loved one.  Two of the online communities that help connect circles of care for caregivers are Lotsa Helping Hands and CaringBridge.  Both sites provide a place for caregivers to receive help from volunteers and post information about their loved one.  Lotsa also has communities dedicated to veterans, Alzheimer’s and other types of caregivers working with more than 50 non-profit partners.

A visitor kisses the memorial wall at Shanksville, PA - site where the first 9/11 Citizen Heroes - the crew and passengers of United Flight 93 -took on their attackers

A visitor kisses the memorial wall at Shanksville, PA – site where the first 9/11 Citizen Heroes – the crew and passengers of United Flight 93 -took on their attackers

Messages of love

One of my favorite movies, Love Actually, opens with a wonderful story about how the terrorists of 9/11 sought to create hatred and divide us when in actuality they brought us together as one nation and one world.  All the messages on 9/11 to friends, family and even the heroes on the plane United Flight 93 to their loved ones before they took on their hijackers – were about love.  Love does have the power to conquer evil – we have seen it firsthand.

 

When it comes to caring for a loved one who is ill, aging or has a disability, there are many feelings:  concern, sadness, confusion, anger, frustration, guilt, helplessness, exhaustion.  What is amazing to me is in the face of all these complicated emotions, the one that stands out, the one that almost all the caregivers I have worked with express is, “I do this out of love.”

There is something rewarding about being a caregiver and the ability to show and give love is one of the most powerful and life-affirming experiences we can experience.

Take time to communicate your message of love and come together with those you care about.  And if you know a family caregiver or anyone touched by September 11 – give them a hug or a call today and just say, “Thanks.”

 

©2016 Sherri Snelling

September is Emergency Preparedness Month

sept-emer-prep-month

Being prepared for caregiving means also knowing the emergency plans to help your older loved one – whether they are “aging in place” at home or live in an assisted living or other facility.

After Hurriance Katrina, a report found 139 nursing home residents died because the facilities did not have the proper disaster plans in place. After Hurricane Sandy hit the tri-state area, many homebound seniors went hungry awaiting emergency meal deliveries. When it comes to natural or manmade disasters, our senior population is among the most vulnerable.

What do you need to know to prepare?

Read our CEO Sherri’s Snelling articles about caregiver emergency preparedness – it will bring you peace of mind when Mother Nature is having a bad day:

Why Caregivers Need to Plan for the Worst – Emergency Preparedness (originally published on PBS Next Avenue)

Combating the Senior Hunger Crisis (originally published on PBS Next Avenue)

 

September 21 – World Alzheimer’s Day

sept-21-world-alz-day

More than 60 countries worldwide will be joining together on September 21 to raise awareness and funds for World Alzheimer’s Day with the theme, “Remember Me” (hashtag #RememberMe).

Worldwide more than 47 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease today and by 2030 this number will grow to 76 million who have the disease and numerous millions more family caregivers who are also impacted.

Statistics show that 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer’s disease. The most recent high-profile death from Alzheimer’s was the brilliant comedic film star Gene Wilder.

Join the movement today to End Alzheimer’s.

Watch our Me Time Monday video on Alzheimer’s:

Sept 22-28 Falls Prevention Week

falls-prevention-week-sep-22-28

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of 10 seniors will fall at home in their lifetime and every 29 minutes an older American dies from a fall-related injury.

Falls are the leading cause of accidental death for those over age 65 and contribute to the overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms across the country where every year more than 2 million seniors are treated for non-fatal fall injuries.

Our CEO Sherri Snelling writes about falls prevention campaigns in an upcoming article for PBS Next Avenue kicking off September 22.

You can also watch our Me Time Monday video below on Home Safety.

July 4 is Independence Day

JUL 4 Independence Day

Independence is something we all want and was a gift to newly minted Americans by our Founding Fathers 240 years ago today.

For some, the weight of caregiving for a loved one threatens to capsize our own independence and freedom. How can you care for a loved one without losing the need to care for yourself?

To guarantee the freedom a newly formed nation sought in our precious Declaration of Independence and further cemented in the Constitution, the prescient Founding Fathers, led by James Madison,  created a Bill of Rights in 1789. Virginian Robert Morris argued for these amendments to “protect the individual if the government should become oppressive.”

Over the years, several organizations have put forth guidelines for caregivers to protect their rights while they protect and care for loved ones.  Our CEO Sherri Snelling has cobbled together her version of the “Caregiver Bill of Rights” and created a Me Time Monday on the 10 aspects of caregiving rights.

A reminder on this day of all days that caregivers rights are as important as the care recipient’s and should be not overlooked.

Read: Caregiver Bill of Rights

Let the Caregiving Movement Begin with the Caregiver Bill of Rights

bill of rights croppedAs we celebrate American Independence Day, it brings to mind how dependent we are on our nation’s 65 million caregivers.  Over the next 20+ years, the next civil rights issue we will face is a growing older population with more seniors needing care – whether diagnosed with a disease, disorder or living with a disability – and the need to recognize and support their family caregivers.  Particularly during July’s National Sandwich Generation Month, we celebrate those who are juggling children, career and caregiving.

Which is why we need a Caregiving Movement similar to other movements and milestones in the last century:

  • The Women’s Movement: Women won the vote in 1920 and 50 years later entered the workforce in droves creating an evolution in work and family life. Today, women comprise 47 percent of the entire U.S. workforce.
  • Civil Rights Movement: Despite becoming emancipated by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, African Americans took to the streets and the mall in the nation’s capital 100 years later in 1963 to declare their equality led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, we have an African American president and more than 40 Congress men and women of African American descent.
  • Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement: In the 1980s there was a cultural shift in the LGBT community and Gay Pride parades became more celebratory than radical events. In June 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a California law barring same-sex couples from marrying and receiving federal benefits as part of their union.  A Pew Research poll shows 45 percent of Americans approve of the Supreme Court’s decision – up more than half from Gallup polls on the topic 20 years ago.

The Caregiving Movement

What’s next?  Family caregivers comprise the largest volunteer health care workforce in our country – 65 million strong. Caregiving also crosses all socio-economic boundaries – it is blind to race, religion, age, geographic location, sexual orientation and income bracket. According to AARP, the annual societal value for the unpaid hours of care provided is more than $450 billion – $42 billion more than the sales of Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer.

Founding FathersMore than 240 years ago, our forefathers set in motion the greatest human experiment in civil liberty the world has ever known. Every July 4th we celebrate their courage, their vision, their dreams for a future where all can live in freedom.

In the late 1700s, the average lifespan was only age 40 (although if you reached age 50 you could expect to live another 20 years). I doubt any of the founding fathers expected the longevity we experience today where 20 percent of those age 65 will live to 90 and 1 in every 50 boomer women will reach age 100.

However, of the seven most well-known Founding Fathers, only two did not reach their 80s (George Washington died of illness at 67 and Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel at age 49).  The remaining five lived to be octogenarians: John Jay (83), Benjamin Franklin (84) and James Madison (85), and even more coincidentally, both Thomas Jefferson (83) and John Adams (90) died not only at unexpectedly old ages but also on the same iconic day – July 4, 1826.

Kicking Off the Caregiving Movement with the Caregiver Bill of Rights

While our forefathers may have been as unprepared for the aging of America as we are today, they gave us the guidelines to create a Caregiving Movement. With that premise in mind, I present to you my version of the Caregiver Bill of Rights.

  1. The right to have balance between caring for my loved one and caring for myself. This includes my desire to avoid the “Caregiver Achilles Heel” – reluctance to ask for and accept help. I will maintain routines and plans as best I can and seek help so as to not lose myself while on this caregiving journey.  I will accept help provided to me by family and friends so I do not feel I am all alone.

 

  1. The right to receive a financial break or tax credit for caring full-time for my loved one. In the same way Americans are granted tax credits for dependent children, I should be granted tax credits for caring for parents who are dependent on me for their constant care.

 

  1. The right to work for an employer that understands and supports caregivers. As part an aging workforce, more and more of us will face the life event of caregiving while on the job. Today, 7 out of 10 caregivers are juggling work and caregiving and represent 15 percent of the U.S. labor force. I have the right to work for an employer that will provide me with the employee assistance to maintain my work performance and productivity, my own health and wellness, and support for my loved one without fear of reprisal or dismissal.

 

  1. The right to expect the nation’s legislators to acknowledge the valuable service I perform and to enact policies that not only support those with the illness or disability but support their family caregivers as well. This includes acknowledging my role as a first responder in the long-term-care crisis in this country. I should expect our legislators to ease the burden of caregiving, especially financially, so I can continue to perform as part of the largest volunteer health care workforce in the country.

 

  1. The right to expect my loved one’s medical advisors and health care professionals to recognize my critical role as part of the primary and long-term care team. I should expect health care professionals to communicate with me without violating my loved one’s privacy rights so I can best care for my loved one.  Especially when it comes to transitions of care, I become a critical player in helping my loved one – the patient – transition from hospital to home or other facility and to maintain their health, medication compliance and other aspects of care that will decrease hospital readmissions.

 

  1. The right to easily find resources that will help me in my caregiving journey. Whether these services are provided by public or private organizations, every caregiver should know where to turn to get the help and education they need at whatever stage of caregiving they are encountering.

 

  1. The right to not take on the financial burden of caregiving all by myself. I should not have to put my financial future at risk to care for my loved one today. It should be the obligation of elected officials and the health care system to ensure costs of care should not bankrupt our citizens and our country.

 

  1. The right to make choices that will help me manage my stress without feeling guilt or depression that I am focusing on myself at times rather than solely on my loved one. This includes the right to take a break – for a few minutes or a few days – and to avoid feeling guilty to care myself as well as my loved one. The need to seek respite in my caregiving duties is essential to my ability to continue caring for my loved one long-term.

 

  1. The right to speak up and expect my close circle of friends and family to understand my caregiving role and to support me in any way they can. This includes the right to expect I can reach out to them so I do not feel alone.  Also that my spouse, my adult children, my siblings, my co-workers and my close friends will lift me up when I am down and help me keep going on this caregiving journey.

 

  1. The right to expect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” even while so much of my time, energy and attention is going to care for my loved one.

 

©2016 Sherri Snelling

Some Famous Men Step Into Caregiving Spotlight

We think of the typical caregiver being a boomer-age woman caring for her older parents yet according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, men make up 34 percent of the 65 million caregivers across the country.

And those are men who are in primary caregiving roles – it does not represent the husbands, brothers and friends who are providing the support network for other caregivers. Whether it’s giving a sister a break like Patrick Dempsey did for his sisters who cared for their mom with ovarian cancer or providing the much-needed comfort and care for a caregiving wife like Seth Rogen does for his wife Lauren Miller who cares for her mom with Alzheimer’s disease, men are essential to the caregiving nation we are becoming.

This article celebrates our men who are caregivers – heroes all.  Following is a list of men you might know who have all been on the caregiving journey.

To the men of caregiving – we salute you!

Sons caring for parents

 

Baldwin-BrothersThe Baldwin Brothers – Alec, William, Stephen and Daniel comprise the famous Baldwin brothers – actors and activists all. Yet in their hearts they are mama’s boys – helping their two sisters care for their mom, Carol, who successfully battled breast cancer. Carol is one of the 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. according to the American Cancer Society.  She formed the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund where all four sons have been actively involved in helping to raise more than $3 million for medical research grants to find a cure.

Patrick Dempsey dreamstime_m_20160433 (2)Patrick Dempsey –On TV he plays “Dr. McDreamy” the brain surgeon eye candy on Grey’s Anatomy. In real life, Patrick has helped care for his mom, Amanda, as she survived two bouts of Stage IV ovarian cancer.  Providing the much-needed support for his two older sisters, Patrick commuted between his home base with his wife and children in Los Angeles cross country to his hometown in Maine where his mom and sisters live.  According to the National Cancer Institute, about 60-80 percent of ovarian cancer patients face a recurrence of the disease. Because of the stealth nature of ovarian cancer, Patrick said in an interview with Web MD, “Be relentless, question information, and double check it. Get a second opinion. Do your research.”

Seth Rogen dreamstime_xs_23106908 (2)Seth Rogen – Star of movies such as Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, comedic actor Seth Rogen is part of the caregiving team along with his wife who care for her mother with Alzheimer’s disease.  Diagnosed at age 55, Seth was shocked at how early Alzheimer’s can strike a family and how little people of his generation know about the disease.  Seth and his wife are two of the 15 million Americans who care for someone with dementia. This star of The Guilt Trip with Barbra Streisand (whose mom also had Alzheimer’s), Rogen realized Alzheimer’s is no laughing matter.  He is now an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association and has created, along with wife Lauren, the annual “Hilary for Charity” comedy improve event with fellow comedians such as Paul Rudd and Steve Carroll to raise funds and awareness among younger generations for the disease.

Dwayne Johnson dreamstime_xs_23274249 (2) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Playing superheroes, military warriors and loving dads on film and starring in the latest Fast and Furious movie, former professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson has also cared for a mom through lung cancer.  In 2010, Dwayne announced his mom had beaten stage 3 lung cancer where she had undergone chemotherapy and radiation. Dwayne told Jay Leno on his late night talk show, “She fought like a warrior.”  Just this summer. Dwayne purchased a white Cadillac for his mom, who had her car repossessed when he was growing up and she was a struggling single mom, in celebration of her ongoing cancer victory and as a thank you for always being there to support his dreams.

Rob Lowe dreamstime_m_19870699 (2)

Rob Lowe – In the ‘80s he was the heartthrob member of the famous Brat Pack and more recently his career has flourished in TV as a star in both dramas and sitcoms on The West Wing, Parks & Recreation and a recent campy turn in the HBO feature on Liberace, Behind the Candelabra starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Rob has also been a caregiver for both is mother and father who divorced when he was still in his teens. He lost his mom (and his grandmother and great-grandmother) to breast cancer and helped his dad through a successful battle with lymphoma. An advocate for both diseases, Rob has been the Lee National Denim Day ambassador for breast cancer and filmed a PSA TV spot for lymphoma about the risk of infection and other side effects of chemotherapy.

Joey McIntyre dreamstime_m_22662550 (2)Joey McIntyre – The ‘90s boy bander is out on the road with his Boston bandmates for a nostalgic tour for the older yet sexier NKOTB (formerly known as New Kids On the Block).  As one of nine kids growing up in Needham, Mass., Joey has also stepped into the spotlight as advocate and caregiver for his mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  When I interviewed Joey at the Alzheimer’s Association A Night At Sardi’s gala event (watch the interview with Joey here), he told me, ““It’s a process and it’s different for everybody . . . it is bittersweet because with my mom, she is still there, she’s got the one liners and she is so funny and she is still a performer but she doesn’t remember five minutes ago . . . it’s tough for the families.”

Bryan Cranston, Peter Gallagher, Victor GarberBryan Cranston (AMC’s Breaking Bad), Victor Garber (TV’s Alias, Titanic) and Peter Gallagher (USA Network’s Covert Affairs) – These three sons and TV/film stars have all cared for moms with Alzheimer’s disease.  Peter, who cared for his mom for the more than 20 years she lived with the disease, shared with me at an Alzheimer’s Association event, “An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be as devastating to the caregiver as to the person diagnosed. Doing it yourself, I don’t know how long you are going to last . . . [but] the more you understand about the disease the better.”  He also said that this disease can be “embarrassing” and “terrifying” but that is why the Alzheimer’s Association is a great place to start to find the help and support needed. (watch my full interview with Peter here)

Henry WinklerHenry Winkler – Even though it’s been 40 years since Happy Days appeared on TV screens, the cool biker with a heart, “The Fonz” is an enduring pop culture icon.  The actor who brought the Fonz to life is also a caregiver.  Henry serves as the ambassador for the Open Arms: Raising Awareness of Upper Limb Spasticity educational campaign with a mission to help those who are impacted by upper limb spasticity and do not know where to turn for help.  Personally impacted by the issue, Henry’s mother suffered a stroke and for 10 years Henry helped care for her she suffered from upper limb spasticity.

Husbands caring for wives

valerie harper and tony cacciottiTony Cacciotti – You may not know his name but you know his wife as “Rhoda” from the famous ‘70s TV show The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Husband of TV actress Valerie Harper who was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Harper offered in interviews how “bereft” her husband was and that he was having a tough time handling the diagnosis.  At first, he hid the diagnosis from her until they received a second opinion.  Since then the couple are living life fully each day.  Harper has said, “We’re all terminal – it’s just a matter of when and where and how.”

Brosnan, Short, Wilder, MurdockPierce Brosnan (Bond movies, Remington Steele), Martin Short  (Saturday Night Live), Gene Wilder (Willa Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein) and David Murdock (billionaire owner of Dole Foods) – All four lost wives to ovarian cancer, known as the silent disease because symptoms are often masquerading as other health issues.  Brosnan helped wife Cassandra battle the disease for years until she succumbed at age 42. Martin Short lost wife Nancy Dolman to the disease.  Gene Wilder and David Murdock took the grief of their loss and turned it into centers for helping others and finding a cure.  Wilder, whose wife was comedian/actress Gilda Radner, sought various treatments for her cancer for three years.  In her memory he co-founded Gilda’s Club, now part of the Cancer Support Community. Murdock lost wife Gabrielle at age 43 and invested $500 million in personal wealth to create the leading research institute, North Carolina Research Campus, dedicated to using plant-based solutions to prevent chronic illness such as cancer.

paul-mccartney1Paul McCartney – As one of the famous Beatles, he sang, “Will you still love me when I’m 64?” When it came to love, Paul’s muse and partner for 29 years was beloved wife Linda.  He would have loved her beyond age 64 if she had survived.  Sadly, he lost her to breast cancer when she was only 56. In an interview with the Daily Mail, McCartney admitted to needing help with the loss, “I got a counsellor because I knew that I would need some help. He was great, particularly in helping me get rid of my guilt [about wishing I’d been] perfect all the time.”

mitt romneyMitt Romney – As a 2012 presidential candidate and successful former governor and businessman, Romney attributes much of his success in life to his wife Anne.  She gracefully lives with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting 2 million people worldwide.

U.S. Open - Round OnePhil Mickelson – The three-times U.S. Masters Golf Tournament pro became a caregiver in 2009 when his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  He suspended his playing career to help his wife through chemotherapy and care for their young children.

Hal Holbrook, Dixie Carter dreamstime_xs_18921771 (2)Hal Holbrook – Film actor Holbrook (Lincoln, Water for Elephants, Into the Wild) cared for his actress wife Dixie Carter (Designing Women) through her battle with endometrial cancer which she lost in 2010.

Facebook photoMichael Tucker – An early breakout role in Diner led to his best known starring role in TV’s L.A. Law where he appeared on the same screen with wife Jill Eikenberry. They are a great example of a caregiving team caring for Jill’s mom who has dementia.  Mike chronicled their caregiving journey in his humorous book, Family Meals.

Dads caring for special needs children

Montegna, Peete, GorhamJoe Montagena (Godfather Part III, TV’s Criminal Minds), Rodney Peete (NFL star quarterback),  Christopher Gorham (USA Network’s Covert Affairs)All three of these fathers have children on the autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Joe’s daughter Mia, now in her 20s, was born prematurely and eventually was diagnosed with autism.  Rodney’s son, R.J., was diagnosed at age three and is now a teen.  He wrote a book about his struggles in coping with his son’s diagnosis, Not My Boy! A Father, A Son and One Family’s Journey with Autism and runs the non-profit organization, HollyRod Foundation, he and wife Holly Robinson Peete founded to help families facing Parkinson’s disease and autism. Christopher’s son was diagnosed a few years ago at age 9 with Asperger’s syndrome.  He has talked about getting outside help with everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and housecleaning so he and his wife can dedicate time to the therapies and interventions needed for their son while also caring for two other children.

colin farrellColin Farrell – known for his bad boy behavior and mesmerizing film roles, Colin says his life changed when his oldest son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder known as Angelman syndrome.  Characterized by jerky movements, sleeping problems, developmental disability and seizures which can be treated, there is no cure for the disorder.  Colin has said in interviews when your child takes his first steps, you hold your breath but when your special needs child finally takes a step after being told he may never walk, “those first steps take you into a whole different realm.”

John McGinleyJohn C. McGinley –Best known for his starring role on TV’s Scrubs, he’s also starred in films such as Platoon, Wall Street  and most recently 42, John has a teen son with Down syndrome (DS).  A longtime advocate for DS organizations, he currently is on the board of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.  One in every 691 births result in a child with DS and after age 40, DS adults have a 100 percent risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Brothers caring for a sibling

Jamie foxxJamie Foxx – He’s an Oscar-winning star (Ray) and music artist but Jamie is most proud of his sister, DeOndra, who has not let her Down syndrome hold her back.  As an ambassador for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, DeOndra has danced onstage with Denzel Washington and appeared with her famous brother in front of millions at the Grammys and even appeared in one of his music videos.  Caring for family comes naturally to Jamie – as he told Entertainment Tonight, “This little lady right here lives with me along with my other sister, along with my father and my mother. So, we’re one big happy family.”

Ashton Kutcher dreamstime_xs_21212521 (2)Ashton Kutcher –Starring on one of TV’s highest rated sitcoms, Two and a Half Men, Ashton is a loving twin brother to Michael who was born with cerebral palsy and cardiomyopathy requiring a heart transplant at age 13.  As the family anxiously waited for a donor heart, Ashton said he actually contemplated suicide just so he could save his twin brother’s life.  Michael told a People magazine reporter, “Ashton never left my side,” talking of his brother’s devotion. “He showed me the love one brother has for another.” Michael currently serves as a spokesperson for the Reaching for the Stars Foundation that helps children with cerebral palsy which his brother also supports.

Tommy Hilfiger dreamstime_m_16272164 (2)Tommy Hilfiger – Fashion designer Tommy has been a 22-year supporter of the Nancy Davis Foundation Race to Erase MS event mostly to raise awareness and funds for a disease his sister has lived with for more than 40 years.  His sister Dorothy, now 61, has lived with multiple sclerosis since her teens.  Her one-year-older brother, Tommy, one of nine children, told WebMD, “When you see someone’s life change as a result of a disease, it really hits home.”

Friends and Lovers

both-of-us-ryan-oneal-farrah-fawcettRyan O’Neal – He was the tragic star of the ‘70s movie Love Story in which he lost his love and soul mate (played by Ali MacGraw) to cancer.  But film turned to reality when he cared for long-time love Farrah Fawcett as she battled  and lost her life to anal cancer.  He chronicled their love affair and those last three years trying new therapies and traveling to Germany for experimental treatments to find a cure for her cancer in his 2012 book, Both of Us: My Life with Farrah.

 CastofCaregivers Cover FINALThese stories excerpted from A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care

©2015 Sherri Snelling

My Favorite Things – CareLinx

My Favorite ThingsOne of our favorite things to do at Caregiving Club is find our favorite services, products and organizations to share with our loyal readers.

We debut the “My Favorite Things” list from Caregiving Club CEO, Sherri Snelling. As part of her role as a national caregiving expert, Sherri advises companies on how to best support caregivers. She serves on advisory boards and often asks these companies to provide a free offer or special promotion for Caregiving Club readers.

Click here to read about the 4 free hours of in-home care you can receive from CareLinx as the first company featured in “My Favorite Things.”

My Favorite Things – CareLinx

 

logo

Special for Caregiving Club Readers:

Click on the word CareLinx  in this article to receive 4 cost-free complimentary hours of in-home care from CareLinx. Click today to get the help you and your loved one need!

The in-home care arena is a booming sector of aging. We know that 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. And, while we all live longer, we also know from AARP that 89 percent of those over 65 want to continue living in their homes as long as possible.

It’s a perfect storm – an ever-growing aging society who is living longer and desires to live out their years at home – yet who is caught in this silver tsunami? Family caregivers.

A few years ago, in-home care services were mostly bricks and mortar retail agencies – some national companies but many, many more were independent mom and pop operations based in local communities across the country.  Today, there are more than 12,000 in-home care agencies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 7.6 million who have a chronic illness or have been discharged from a hospital after an acute illness are being cared for at home. Much of this care is falling on the shoulders of the country’s 65 million family members who have stepped into a caregiving role, yet there is a physical, emotional and financial toll in caring for loved ones at home.

Consider the often prohibitive costs of in-home care according to Genworth’s annual Cost of Care Survey. The report shows families pay on average $45,760 per year for in-home non-medical care. If the finances are not there, some caregivers are leaving the workforce completely to care for aging loved ones that results in more than $300,000 in lost wages and benefits.

 

The Solution? CareLinx

As the nation’s first and only true online caregiver marketplace, CareLinx launched in 2010 and has grown to a professional caregiver network of 150,000 serving families in the top 50 metros across the U.S.

Why do I like CareLinx? Let me count the ways…

1. Trust

Source: KelleyLattaMinistries.com

Source: KelleyLattaMinistries.com

One of the hardest things caregivers face is how to allow for someone else to come into the home to care for your loved one.  We all know no one else can provide the tender, loving, personalized care that you can however…you are burning out, you need a break, you cannot afford to take any more time off work, you see this caregiving role is a marathon not a sprint.

 CareLinx care professionals are backed by liability insurance from Lloyds of London – the CareLinx $4 million SafeGuard Policy. In addition, CareLinx has done most of the legwork for caregivers – performing exhaustive background checks, ensuring credentials of its professionals and requiring ongoing quality reports from clients.

CareLinx MobileCareLinx professionals check in daily with family members by sending photos and other data of the care provided via smartphone communication with clients. Knowing when Mom gets her special chicken soup, ensuring dad gets a walk around the block or knowing the bedsheets are washed and replaced is the peace of mind elixir most concerned family caregivers need from in-home care service providers.

What is unique? The family gets to choose the professional caregiver they want and how much they will pay – based on perfect matches for the detailed care criteria families provide. As opposed to other agencies that just dispatch the available care professional, both the CareLinx care professional and the family decide to team up to provide the best quality care for the loved one.

This mutual agreement between both families and care professionals is uniquely different from traditional agencies who simply send an available care professional to the home. By offering “choice” to family caregivers and professional caregivers, CareLinx can report higher retention rates than the national average due to the higher satisfaction of both parties.

2. Cost Savings

Piggy-BankOne of the drawbacks or obstacles for families is the cost of having care in the home. Many family caregivers dip into their own pockets and savings or even leave work to provide the care a loved one needs.

If you felt the cost of care was unaffordable, think again. CareLinx consistently delivers 30-50 percent less cost to its clients over traditional agency costs. This is achieved because CareLinx is a dedicated online platform whereas most traditional agencies have overhead with retail stores and marketing costs (those TV commercials you see cost millions of dollars!). They also tack on a 50-150 percent commission fee. CareLinx takes a flat 15 percent fee.

 

3. A Built-In Care Team

hand_make_heart_shape

Almost without exception, family caregivers feel alone. This sense of isolation can lead to depression, stress and ultimately other health issues that can severely impact the caregiver.

With CareLinx you have a trusted, reliable resource for giving you a break and ensuring quality care while you are away from your loved one. Whether it’s for just an hour or a few days or a few years, CareLinx has a care team that surrounds you with expertise, compassion and support.

 

In addition to the CareLinx care professional you contract with, CareLinx also has Care Advisors who can guide families through the process, answer questions and are there to respond telephonically 24/7.

One reason CareLinx has grown so fast and has accumulated accolades (everything from a AAA rating from the Better Business Bureau to winning the Consumer Vote at a recent AARP Convention) is at the heart of the company is the soul of a caregiver. The company is powered by technology but it never forgets it is a caregiving service provider.  All the snazzy, bells & whistles apps created by tech geniuses in Silicon Valley cannot replace good old-fashioned compassionate caregiving.

CareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik traveled the caregiving road with both his sister who has multiple sclerosis and his uncle who suffered from ALS. He knows that families need help and that the help needs to be affordable. He walked away from a lucrative senior executive health care job to start CareLinx.  He knew he could deliver the promise of better quality care in the home without breaking caregivers’ piggy banks.

In fact, most of Sherwin’s senior team at CareLinx have been a family caregiver – some to parents, some to spouses and other loved ones.

My Favorite ThingsAs part of my role on their advisory board, CareLinx is offering Caregiving Club readers something really special: Four (4) hours of free in-home care by clicking this link: CareLinx.

Let CareLinx become part of your care team today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liability Disclaimer: Sherri Snelling is a paid advisory board member of CareLinx. While her strategic counsel, spokesperson and other duties are paid by CareLinx, neither Sherri Snelling nor Caregiving Club are paid for clicks, links or new clients such as an affiliated marketing or sales arrangement. While Sherri Snelling provides her opinion of CareLinx, neither Sherri Snelling nor Caregiving Club guarantees the quality and satisfaction of the CareLinx services experienced by individual CareLinx client and thus, disclaims any liability that may result from your involvement with CareLinx.

Resource Links

Our new Resource Links page will be live soon! Check back shortly to get connected to services, programs and products that will help you on your caregiving journey!

Resources image maze

Jodi Foster’s Sandwich Generation Moment

Three years ago, Hollywood actress/director, Jodie Foster received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for a Lifetime Achievement in Film at the Golden Globes ceremony. While Foster’s accomplishment in movies is formidable it was her heartfelt speech that night about her mother that riveted the audience and TV viewers.

For more than 7 minutes she commanded the stage and a worldwide audience in an emotional stream of consciousness as this most private of celebrities shared intimate thoughts about her mother, Evelyn “Brandy,” with dementia in the same way she has shared her art with us through her compelling film performances for four decades.

She spoke directly into the camera as if the crowded room of Hollywood luminaries and millions of viewers at home went out of focus and she was speaking to the single mom who held her 53-year-old daughter’s hand through show business since she was three years old.

“Mom I know you’re inside those blue eyes somewhere and that there are so many things you won’t understand tonight,” said a teary Foster. “But this is the only important one to take in:  I love you, I love you, I love you.  And I hope that if I say this three times, it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul, fill you with grace and the joy of knowing that you did good in this life.  You’re a great mom. Please take that with you when you’re finally OK to go.”

jodie-foster-and-her-mother-evelyn-gettyimagesThis revelation of her 87-year-old mother’s Alzheimer’s disease (although she never said “Alzheimer’s”) was not the first time Foster has talked about her mother’s illness but it was the most high profile and profoundly public acknowledgement of her Sandwich Generation caregiving role. Her young sons, Charles and Kit, were in the audience as their proud mom talked of her boys being the reason she is inspired while she also said her mother was the “greatest influence of my life.”

In a 2010 interview with the Daily Mail in the UK, she said about her mother’s illness, “She’s really a new person, not the mom I grew up with, and I have a real nostalgia for who she was. She spent years and years alone because she never remarried after my father left and she raised us by herself.  She used to say: ‘I’m an only child so I prefer to be alone,’ and she didn’t keep up with her friends.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans and 36 million people worldwide are diagnosed with dementia and an additional 17 million Americans care for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (the most common type of dementia).  In fact, every 67 seconds someone new develops the disease and while early on-set Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed when someone is in their 40s or 50s, one out of every two people age 85 or older will develop dementia.

Jodie Foster joins the ranks of the 24 million Sandwich Generation caregivers – those caring for children still at home while simultaneously caring for an older parent – including high-profile caregivers such as Diane Keaton, Maria Shriver, Brooke Shields, Joan Lunden and Holly Robinson Peete.

While some caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s find it hard or almost impossible to care for their loved one at home because of violent outbursts, sundowning (extreme paranoia and frightfulness that can including screaming that begins at dusk) or wandering off, Foster has stated she will keep her mom in her home as long as possible.

When asked in an interview if she would consider seeking residential care for her mother, she said, “Oh God no way. I’m going to feel good — I’m going to feel that the end honored her and that she didn’t have to lose her dignity.

“Dementia is an interesting thing,” continued Foster. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve been through and yet also strangely sacred… I’m just here to care for her. I have no axe to grind. Mine will be the last face she sees.”

Jodie Foster has never wished to be a symbol for her choices in life: Child actor free of scandal (if you don’t count the pre-pubescent prostitute she played in Taxi Driver which had some people up in arms); college co-ed career disrupted by a would-be presidential assassin (that forced her even further into her privacy shell); actor turned director (whose latest offering is Money Monster starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts opening this month); but I would love it if the Sandwich Generation could count on Jodie to continue to raise awareness for a role many of us will play in life: caregiver.

©2016 Sherri Snelling