USA Today articles

How to Avoid the Caregiving Cost Drain

7 Tips to Beat Caregiver Burn-out

Silver Surfers – Aging and Technology

Paying it Forward – Volunteerism Among Caregivers

How to Have the CARE Conversation

On Demand Caregiver Help

A Year of Caregiver Hugs, Hygge & Happiness!


Our wishes every year are for caregivers to find the balance they feel they may need in caring for their loved one and caring for themselves.

This year we’re sending caregivers more hugs (eight hugs a day have proven to be neuroprotective), more hygge (the trend of 2017 continues with caregiver coziness tips) and more happiness (scientific studies have shown that people who are the healthiest and live longer have quality-time based relationships.)

It’s nice to know that caregiver health is not all about good nutrition and exercise (although they are still important!). Instead, there are simple but impactful avenues to achieve caregiver self-care and we’ll be blogging about this all year.

Read more:

You can also read these articles from our CEO Sherri Snelling:

Why Laughter is Crucial for Caregivers  (originally published on PBS Next Avenue)

Caregiving Is A Small World After All (originally published on Huffington Post)

Watch more:

You can also watch our Me Time Monday video for more tips on finding caregiver happiness and avoiding caregiver burn-out:


Caregivers of the East Wing – Celebrating First Ladies

On President’s Day, we honor two great men who have led this country through its creation and one of its most trying times – namely George Washington and Abraham Lincoln respectively.  And while feature films and mini-series have celebrated our former presidents, it is the First Ladies who have served as caregivers that I honor today.

Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Barbara and Laura Bush and the caregiving pioneer, Rosalynn Carter, are passionate advocates for our nation’s 65 million caregivers because they have taken the caregiving journey themselves. And, Michelle Obama showed the nation how to manage a multi-generational household when her mother moved into the White House to help the former First Lady with rearing daughters, Malia and Sasha.

When current First Lady Melania Trump takes up residence in the White House next month, she may not be caring for her older parents or other relatives but she has pledged to support women’s issues and there is no bigger issue for women today than the juggling act of caring for an older parent. And, First Daughter, Ivanka Trump Kushner, has been instrumental in pushing her father, President Donald Trump, into adopting an expanded family leave act for working caregivers of children and older parents.

Rosalynn Carter – The First Caregiver Pioneer


Long recognized as one of the pioneers of the caregiving movement, Rosalynn Carter is known for her famous description of the life event of caregiving in America:



You have been a caregiver

You are a caregiver

You will be a caregiver

Or someone will be caring for you

In her book, Helping Yourself Help Others – A Book for Caregivers, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter writes, “We can learn to approach caregiving as a blessing as well as a challenging task.”

She knows of what she speaks firsthand:  Rosalynn was only 12 years old when her father was diagnosed with terminal leukemia.  As the eldest daughter, she helped care for her ailing father and supported her mother by also caring for her younger siblings.  She took up caregiving again for several relatives with cancer after she left the White House and most recently was caregiver for her mother who died in 2000 at age 94.

Rosalynn’s gift to caregivers comes from a lifetime of understanding the challenges – emotional, physical and financial – that accompany caring for a loved one.  She was the first to hold a caregiver conference that identified “burn-out” that is so often a side effect of caregiving. She is also a long-time devoted and determined advocate for those Americans with mental health issues. It was the recognition of a national center to focus on the future caregiving issues facing America that led Rosalynn Carter to create the Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia.

The mission of the RCI is to establish local, state and national partnerships with organizations focused on quality, long-term home and community based services to help caregivers.  The RCI activities include a variety of advocacy, academic, and awards and scholarship programs.  While many of the caregiver programs are Georgia-based, these programs are examples that help serve as models for nationwide caregiver support, education and training.

Nancy Reagan – The Legacy of Alzheimer’s and the Long Good-bye

When Nancy Reagan passed away last year, she left a legacy of advocacy for the disease that took her beloved “Ronnie”: Alzheimer’s. Nancy and Ronald Reagan’s touching affection for each other was evident in the letter former President Reagan wrote to tell the world he was suffering from this neurodegenerative disease that afflicts 5 million Americans today.  In the letter, President Reagan not only helped shine his celebrity spotlight on a disease many Americans did not understand, but he also highlighted the concern he had for Nancy who would be caring for him.  He understood the difficult emotional toll it would take on his wife and as the disease progressed, and the last 10 years of his life he did not even recognize her.

Today more than 15 million Americans are doing what Nancy did – caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s – and suffering the emotional toll of caregiving for a loved one with dementia known as the long good-bye. While Nancy had the resources to care for her husband in ways most Americans do not, the emotional toll it took on her cannot be ignored.

What was perhaps most heartwarming was that the strained relationship Nancy had with her stepchildren and with her own son and daughter, actually improved over the course of President Reagan’s disease diagnosis and decline.  Family dynamics are sometimes difficult to navigate during caregiving and can lead to added stress and strife.  But, in this instance, it brought a family closer together which is one of the gifts that can come from caregiving.

After President Reagan’s passing in 2004, Nancy became one of the most passionate advocates for Alzheimer’s disease awareness and education and especially lending her voice and support for the research around embryonic stem cells that can hopefully lead to a cure.

Barbara Bush – Caregiver for a Chronically Ill Child and an Aging Husband

At this year’s Super Bowl, one of the most poignant images was Barbara Bush pushing her husband, wheelchair-bound President George Herbert Walker Bush (known as “41”) onto the field for the coin toss.

At age 91 for Barbara and 92 for George (who is the oldest living former President), it was only days earlier that both had been hospitalized (he with pneumonia and she with bronchitis). But football in Texas is serious business and it would take more than illness and age to keep the Bushes from participating in an American tradition. And, while both have had illnesses over the years, it is Barbara who has stepped up to care for her husband over the last several years even though he was determined to be a vital senior, skydiving on his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays.

However, in 2012, Barbara Bush was called into service as caregiver George when he was hospitalized with bronchitis and his fever had spiked. As a spousal caregiver, Barbara joins more than 3 million other spouses who are caring for their husband or wife, and the one in three caregivers who are over age 65 when the become a caregiver. And the stress of having a spouse in declining health can accelerate the stress caregivers feel.

We often witness the stress of the presidency – look at all presidents during the campaign and then after they leave office where their white or gray hair betrays the emotional burdens they have lived through. It is fact that the stress of being president prematurely age the men who have held office. But it was Barbara who suffered incredible stress and depression and subsequent “white” hair after caring for her ill child and then experiencing the premature death of her four-year-old daughter Robin to leukemia in 1953 when Barbara was only 28 years old.

Hillary Clinton – Caregiving Daughter and Champion

In 2011, Hillary Clinton lost her 92-year-old mother, Dorothy Rodham.  While the details of her mother’s passing and possible illness were kept private from the invasive world of 24/7 news media, Clinton has been a long-time advocate of the nation’s caregivers when she was a senator from New York.  She supported several pieces of proposed legislation that offered more services to support those family mebers who are providing 80 percent of the long-term care to keep a loved one living at home as long as possible.

In an interview from Clinton’s campaign days for the Democratic presidential nomination, she credited her mother with giving her the tools — and toughness — to enter politics.  In the end, her mother had also given her daughter the tools to be a compassionate caregiver.

Laura Bush – Sandwich Generation Caregiver

Laura Bush, an only child who grew up in the oil town of Midland, Texas, played caregiver to both her mother and her father.  While campaigning with her husband George “W” Bush who was running for governor of Texas, her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  While Laura, who was raising twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, played back-up to her mother who was primary caregiver, she poignantly wrote in The Shriver Report:  A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s about the impact to families when Alzheimer’s disease happens.

“What my mother noticed first was that my father could no longer fill out bank deposit slips. He would stare at the lines on the forms, a look of confusion washing over his face. So Mother began to make the deposits for him. We never got a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or a specific form of cognitive failing. But we saw his mind erode. Once, he asked our daughter Barbara to get him some ‘B & Bs.’ He meant M&Ms, but he kept saying ‘B & Bs.’ In her 10-year-old way, she understood him and came out of the grocery store with the brown bag of the bright candy just the same.”

Laura stepped in again to care for her mother, Jenna Welch, who was diagnosed with and survived breast cancer when she was 78.  Laura’s support of Susan G. Komen for the Cause and her activism on behalf of women’s risk of heart disease has led her to play a leading role in women’s and caregiver health issues. She was an ambassador for The Heart Truth campaign created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and dedicated the inaugural display of the First Ladies Red Dress Collection at the John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts in 2005.

First Lady, First Daughter – Sandwich Generation Champion and Made the White House a Multigenerational Household

Former First Lady Michelle Obama joined the ranks of caregiver growing up as the daughter of a father with multiple sclerosis.  Her experience in helping to care for a father with an autoimmune disease currently affecting more than 400,000 people in the U.S. – with 200 more people diagnosed every week – gave her early insights to the impact of caregiving on families.  Michelle has been a true champion of the Sandwich Generation – those caregivers squeezed between caring for two generations – children and older parents.

Michelle also turned the White House into a multigenerational household when her husband held office. She invited her mother, Marian Shields Robinson, to come live in the White House to help care for her daughters, Malia and Sasha, who were only 10 and seven respectively. Dubbed the “First Granny,” Robinson was the first live-in grandmother in the White House since Elivera M. Doud, the mother of Mamie Eisenhower, during the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s. Recently, Pew Research reported that one in five Americans – approximately 60 million – live in multigenerational households.

While women may be seen as “the power behind the throne,” these First Ladies are proof that women also put the heart into caregiving.

This is adapted from Sherri Snelling’s upcoming book, A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care.


©2017 Sherri Snelling

Caregiving Is A Small World

Global heartCaregiving is a global phenomenon – affecting every culture, every society, every community worldwide.

Click here to read our CEO Sherri’s Snelling’s Huffington Post article on how customs in other countries may help American caregivers on their journey.

The Health Risks of Being “The Good Daughter”


Grandmother with adult daughter and grandchildIn this interview for, Sherri talks to a caregiver who was a good daughter, a good niece and good mother – caring for everyone around her but neglecting her own health needs.  Studies show caregivers typically put their own health at risk and are twice as likely to develop chronic illness earlier in life due to the prolonged stress of caregiving.

Read Sherri’s articles on how caregivers can:

Use Me Time Monday to Stay Healthy and Happy

7 Magnificent Ways to Avoid Burn-Out

Caregiver Stress is No Joke


Examiner Articles

examiner_LogoFollowing are Sherri’s articles for

7 Magnificent Ways the Sandwich Generation Can Avoid Burn-out

12 Tips to Help Prevent Parents from Falling

Caregiving Matchmakers – How to Find “The One” for In-Home Care

Glenn Close on Mental Illness Awareness

Heroes on the Homefront – Caring for a Veteran

How Dogs Help Those with Dementia

How Friendships Help Caregivers Cope

How to Prepare for Disasters When Older Parents Live Far Away

Southern California Hosts World’s Top Minds on Dementia Care

Happy Birthday to a Caregiving Pioneer – Rosalynn Carter

Photo: The Carter Center

Photo: The Carter Center

She said it first and she said it best:  “There are only four kinds of people in the world:  those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

As one of the pioneers behind a growing caregiving movement in this country, Mrs. Carter became the first public figure to truly champion the cause of those 65 million Americans today caring for loved ones who are older, chronically ill, disabled, have special needs or are challenged by mental illness.

I talked with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter about the strides made for caregivers over the last few decades and what her hope is for the future.  They also talked about her caregiving roles – providing comfort and care to multiple family members over the years.  As Mrs. Carter gets ready to celebrate her 86th birthday on August 18, Sherri asked her to share her wish list for caregivers in this country.

A Backwards Glance

“My work with caregiving grew out of my mental health work,” says Mrs. Carter. “I had seen so many families burdened with caregiving for those with mental health issues.  When we convened a meeting in the 1980s to discuss caregiving issues, it quickly spread from there.”  She had reached out to organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association and other groups that could help both family caregivers and health care professionals.  Amazingly all these groups agreed that caregiving was critical to the health of the patient but no one had any focused caregiving programs.

That was then.  Over the last three decades, Mrs. Carter is encouraged by the public support for caregivers.  She points to essential government programs such as the National Family Caregiver Support Program, authorized as part of the Older Americans Act, and administered through the Administration on Aging, it provides grants to states to help caregivers keep loved ones at home as long as possible.  She also believes programs such as the Lifespan Respite Care Act are critical to helping caregivers with a huge issue identified back in those early 1980s meetings:  burn-out.  To avoid burn-out, caregivers today can find respite services, training and other information through the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center.

“Of course we always want more but it is wonderful to see how this issue [of caregiving] has become a major, major issue,” says Mrs. Carter.

She is also proud of the fact that the program she founded and which bears her name, the Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University is the “only university with a caregiving program.”  In talking with Dr. Leisa Easom, executive director of RCI, the Institute is focused on taking evidence-based research to understand caregiver needs and then translating that research into programs.  Since 1987, RCI has been a leading advocacy, education, research and service unit for caregivers at the university and beyond the campus.  Working with numerous national organizations and community-based services across the country, RCI recently launched a satellite program in Korea and will continue to expand its caregiving expertise and support internationally.

While Mrs. Carter is proud to have founded the first university-based caregiving program, she has only started.  Her hope is that the global aging crisis will encourage even more sectors, including government, academia and U.S. businesses, to understand the importance of focusing on the caregivers and the services and support they need.

Birthday Wishes for Caregivers

Mrs. Carter has several wishes for caregivers that she would like to see come true over the next several years.  They include caregiver education and support to deal with grief as well as guilt.  She feels coping with these twin demons can help caregivers on their path to self-care which is so critical for dealing with the overall long term care issues in this country.

“The first thing we focused on back in the 1980s was caring for the caregivers,” she recalls.  “I spoke at a caregiving event back then and audience members came up to me afterwards crying saying that this was the first time someone understood what they were going through.”  She also advises, “People don’t want to admit that they are caregivers, they feel it is just their responsibility to care for a mother or a grandmother,” says Mrs. Carter.  Beyond self-identifying as a caregiver she also believes, “They also have to recognize the need for help and be willing to receive help.”   She realizes this is easier said than done.  I asked her if she had identified herself as a caregiver through the years and she laughed, “No, I didn’t realize I was a caregiver until I got involved in this work.”

She also hopes for continued understanding and acceptance of those with mental health issues, with a move toward eliminating the stigma that surrounds these individuals and their family caregivers. While she believes there is more attention to issues such as bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), we need to move beyond awareness to acceptance and she feels that we are not there yet.

The programs that support the participation that Dr. Easom and RCI had in Averting the Caregiving Crisis, a report issued this spring by several caregiving thought leader organizations that identifies six key caregiving strategies are also part of Mrs. Carter’s hope for the future of caregiving:  1) Educating the public; 2) Understanding needs through evidence-based research; 3) Translating that research into programs; 4) Leading policy change around long term care; 5) Investing in sustainability for programs; 6) Creating more leadership around caregiving through public and private partnerships.

Her passion and advocacy come from a personal place and a lifetime dedicated to understanding the challenges – emotional, physical and financial – that accompany caring for a loved one.  Rosalynn was only 12 years old when her father was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, a battle he lost just three months later.  As the eldest daughter, she helped care for her ailing father and after his death supported her mother by also caring for her younger siblings.  She took up caregiving again for several relatives with cancer after she left the White House.  She relates how all of President Carter’s siblings succumbed to cancer and he also lost his mother to breast cancer.  Rosalynn helped care for several of these in-laws and also cared for her mother for many years until she passed in 2000 at age 94.  In 2002, she was called to care again for her younger brother who had a stroke.  He was living all alone in Ohio so he moved closer to Rosalynn in Plains, Georgia, so she could care for him.

“I have seen firsthand why it is important for families to have places to go to for help – it is so crucial.”

As Mrs. Carter gets ready to blow out the candles on her birthday cake, she is looking forward to the fly-fishing vacation with former President Carter he has promised her.  On August 18th we celebrate a true caregiving champion and let us wish that the spotlight Mrs. Carter has put on caregivers never dims.  Happy Birthday Mrs. Carter!

Caregiver Tipping Points

tipping_point-Egg1In every caregiving journey there is a point where things must change.  Sometimes it is based on a loved one’s increasing needs, other times it is to avoid the stress and burn-out that may be impacting a caregiver’s own health. Every caregiver’s tipping point is different. Read Sherri’s articles here on “Caregiving Tipping Points” originally published on Forbes and PBS Next Avenue.

7 Ways the Sandwich Generation can beat burn-out



Contributing to, Sherri Snelling’s first article offers 7 magnificent ways for caregivers to manage stress and avoid burn-out. Approximately 47% of Americans in their 40s and 50s are considered the “Sandwich Generation” – those who are caring for both children and older parents.  The “Sandwich Generation Juggling Act” is balancing children + career + caregiving but often means neglecting self-care.  Read the full article here for 7 tips on achieving better health and wellness.

Celebrity Spotlight

Caregiving Club CEO, Sherri Snelling, interviews celebrities from movies, TV, Broadway, sports, news, music and politics who are or have been a family caregiver.

In November we honor all the nation’s caregivers – those caring for older parents or family members, those caring for spouses, those caring for siblings or special needs children and those caring for friends — with special interviews all month long.

Read all the celebrity interviews by clicking here.

USA Today Spotlight on Caregiving





Each November for National Caregiver Month, Media Planet teams with caregiving organizations such as the Caregiver Action Network and experts to showcase the issues of our nation’s 65 million caregivers. This year’s cover story features Montel Williams, TV personality, radio talk show host and actor, a champion for those with mulitple sclerosis (which he lives with) and our nation’s family caregivers (which he became when caring for a daughter with lymphoma).

The special supplement is featured in the November 11, 2016 issue of USA Today as well as seen online at and other partner sites such as

Our CEO Sherri Snelling is one of the expert contributors to this special caregiving issue. Her articles can be read by clicking on the links below:


Click here to read Sherri’s article on a new era of on demand caregiving help:

Caregivers On Demand Help Is Here At Last



Click here to read Sherri’s article on how to have the CARE Conversation:

How to Have the CARE Conversation



Click here to read Sherri’s article about the volunteerism spirit of family caregivers:

Paying It Forward – Caregivers Are a Volunteer Force



2015 USA Today and Media Planet Caregiving Feature

Sherri contributed to the same annual feature supplement last year with these articles:

How to Avoid the Caregiving Cost Drain


7 Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burn-out


Silver Surfers: How Technology Helps Seniors and Caregivers


2013 USA Today and Media Planet Caregiving Feature

Sherri also contributed to the 2013 Caregiving Feature Issue. She provided excerpted celebrity interviews with Holly Robinson Peete and Joan Lunden from her book, A Cast of Caregivers, as the cover story and feature articles for the March 2013 caregiving supplement for USA Today weekend magazine.  The supplement also included the Caregiving Club’s Me Time Monday program.  Read the full supplement here: Caregiving Supplement March 2013

The Caregiving Version of the Olympics

When it comes to caregiving, staying fit so that you have the energy to care for your loved one is like training for an Olympic marathon not a sprint.  Even though your caregiving race may begin with a crisis event, very often it lasts far longer than you may anticipate – not days but weeks, months, years.  According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, caregivers spend on average 4.6 years caring for a loved one with 15 percent spending more than 10 years.  A world-class runner who can finish the 100-yard dash in 9.1 seconds cannot keep up that pace for 26 miles – it is simply impossible.

Although caregiving may leave you exhausted and without any time to get to the gym or exercise on your own, you have to find ways to get some type of physical exercise into your daily and weekly routine.  Ask a friend or neighbor to give you a break or create an online community where friends and family volunteers can help lighten your load so you can squeeze in some “fitness time.”  Staying physically fit actually gives you more energy for caregiving and finding these minutes for your body health improves your mental health as well.  It is a 1-2 punch that will help you banish the burn-out and stress that so many caregivers face.

Taking our cue from the 2012 Olympic athletes, here are 5 ways you can “train” for just a few minutes a day so that you have the energy to keep going as a caregiver:

Stretch – Offering a whole host of physical benefits such as improving your flexibility, circulation, alleviating lower back pain and lowering your blood pressure, stretching also helps your balance and coordination.  Make sure you go slow and don’t overdo it – there is no gain in pain.  Check out The Stretching Handbook for ways to adopt 10 minutes of safe, easy stretches into your daily routine and watch Team USA Dawn Harper “stretch” for her second gold medal in the 100mm hurdles.

Lift – You don’t have to be able to lift as much as Team USA weightlifter Sara Robles to help build strong bones and muscles.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, every year we lose 1 percent of our bone and muscle mass.  Lifting light weights (2-5 pounds) will not only help prevent osteoporosis as you age but also boosts your energy levels and improves your mood.  If you don’t own weights or have a gym membership, you can lift soup cans or do isometric exercises like lunges and squats in your own living room.


Core Strength/Dance – The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team is expected to take team gold at the London Olympic Games – and core strength is what they are all about.  One of my favorite gymnastics events is floor exercise because it combines dance with strength and balance.  Dancing makes you strive to achieve full range of motion for all the major muscle groups, it improves strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer’s own body weight, it increases your endurance because your muscles have to work hard for increasingly longer periods of time without fatigue, and it elevates the heart rate which increases stamina. You can dance solo at home to music or take a class at a gym or community center. The latest craze is called Zumba – a Latin-inspired dance “fitness party” that encourages you to be social as well as get physical.  Studies have shown that strong social ties and socializing with friends contribute to high self-esteem and a better sense of well-being.

Swim – Hydro-exercise requires a pool but it can be an extremely effective way of exercising that tones your whole body.  It is a low impact way to move all your major muscles where the buoyancy of the water helps you avoid stress and strain on joints and limbs.  The water also helps you improve your balance.   Just close your eyes and think of being in the pool next to 2012 Olympic Gold Medal winner Ryan Lochte – hand me my bathing suit!

Breathe/Focus/Relax – There are many things which set Olympians apart from the rest of us and one of those things is their ability to focus, relax and create calm around them to go for the gold.  This is not an easy task but one that can be mastered by anyone.  Meditation research pioneer Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind/Body Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and author of The Relaxation Response, prescribes doing the following twice daily:

  1. Choose a word, sound, short phrase or prayer that you repeat continuously for 10-20 minutes.
  2. Sit still and comfortably.
  3. Close your eyes and relax your muscles.
  4. Focus your attention on your breathing, simply observing the in-and-out breaths.
  5. Begin repeating your word.
  6. As other thoughts may enter your stress-filled mind, don’t force them away or become annoyed, simply, gently ignore them and continue your repetitive word or phrase.

What Dr. Benson found is that this simple exercise when done daily can help with a host of health issues including fatigue, hypertension, asthma, constipation, infertility, insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis, chest pain, allergies, allergic skin reactions and more.  You should notice improvement in your health and stress levels in less than one month.

When it comes to caregiving, by adopting some Olympic fitness habits into your routine, you too can be a winner.

Hear Sherri Speak


Sherri is presenting at several conferences and is a featured speaker on upcoming Webinars, radio programs and podcasts.  Click here to see upcoming events.