Sometimes the physical aspect of caregiving is the same for older parents – helping feed, bathe, transport them. But the emotional and communication side of caregiving can be very different when it comes to caring for our Moms versus caring for our Dads. Read our CEO Sherri Snelling’s article for PBS Next Avenue about the Difference in Caring for Moms versus Dads.
Multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks the central nervous system, afflicts more than 2.5 million people worldwide. Among those families impacted are some whose names we know including the Osmonds and actress Marg Helgenberger of TV’s CSI fame.
Alan and Davis Osmond, father and son, are both living with the disease. Sherri Snelling interviewed them for PBS and her book about the challenges, what gives them hope and how family and faith are two of their biggest prescriptions for facing a disease which today has no cure.
Click here to read Sherri’s PBS interview with Alan and David:
The Osmond Family’s Greatest Act – Winning the Daily Battle Against MS (Sherri also featured both Alan and Davis in her book, A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care)
Marg Helgenberger was a young college student in the Midwest when she suddenly became a caregiver for a father with MS (and shortly after a caregiver for her mother with breast cancer). Her experience through caregiving has led her to become a passionate advocate for both diseases. Sherri Snelling interviewed her for Third Age and featured Marg’s caregiving story in her book, A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care).
Read Marg’s story – click here:
Also read Sherri Snelling’s article on Huffington Post about the 1.5 million children under age 18 who are primary caregivers for a loved one – typically a parent or grandparent and her article for PBS Next Avenue about the difference in caring for a mom versus a dad:
You can watch Sherri Snelling interview Marg Helgenberger from the red carpet at the Race to Erase MS Event:
Following are all of Sherri’s articles for PBS Next Avenue:
Are You a Caregiver or Just a Good Child? (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)
Finding Affordable Home Care for Your Parents (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)
How Strong is Your Living Will? (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)
How to Care for Your Parent Without Losing Your Job (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)
A Victory for Alzheimer’s Patients and Caregivers (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)
Following are the caregiver profiles Sherri has contributed to Caring.com:
September 22 is the first official day of fall as well as National Falls Risk Prevention Day. It’s a great time for the 44 million caregivers of those over age 50 to brush up on tips to help prevent parents from falling. Check out Sherri Snelling’s article for Examiner.com on seniors and falls prevention.
Are men and women different when it comes to dealing with the stress of caring for an older parent? Read Sherri Snelling’s article for Huff Post 50 on how men and women can learn from each other in managing the stress expectations of caregiving.
You may not immediately recognize her name, unless you are one of the millions of readers worldwide who have made Tess Gerritsen’s novels about female buddy crime solvers, detective Jane Rizzoli and chief medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles of the Boston police department, international best sellers and a top-rated TV drama.
When I spoke to Tess last week, it is not the fourth season premiere of Rizzoli & Isles on TNT or her latest novel, Last to Die, which is on her mind. It is the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and her new philanthropic campaign, which kicks off this month and ends on July 23rd offering donors an entertaining plot twist, that is top-of-mind for this former physician turned award-winning author who also happened to be a Sandwich Generation caregiver.
Appropriately named, Tess Gerritsen’s War on Alzheimer’s, the campaign asks for $5 donations in exchange for a chance to win prizes including naming one of the characters in the new Rizzoli and Isles medical and crime thriller novel she is currently working on to be published next year. Gerritsen has pledged to match all donations up to $25,000 of which 100 percent of the funds raised will benefit the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California – one of the largest independent nonprofit organizations for biomedical research with a leading four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
It was in the early ‘90s that Gerritsen felt the full-blown drama of Alzheimer’s in her family. Her father was working for a large defense contractor in San Diego, California but was experiencing trouble with math and numbers that had been his forte throughout his career. Simultaneously, he spent nights as a popular chef in a family-run restaurant which Gerritsen explained as the “typical Chinese immigrant mentality of working two jobs to care for your family.” When his performance in his daytime defense job became unmanageable, he was let go and focused on his passion for cooking.
“My dad’s cooking was magic in the kitchen,” remembers Gerritsen. “But eventually over the years his personality changed and his ability to remember recipes failed. He became paranoid and thought people were stealing from him when often he was just misplacing things.”
He was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in his mid 60s which Gerritsen says, “is so young” given the statistics for AD. Early on-set or younger on-set Alzheimer’s accounts for approximately 5 percent of all Alzheimer’s patients – about 200,000 Americans who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s – whereas one in every two Americans will develop dementia after age 85.
Gerritsen, who resides with her husband and children in Maine, became one of the eight million long-distance caregivers for her divorced dad yet she credits her aunt, her father’s sister, with managing his daily care. Both women consoled each other as the father and brother they loved eventually became unable to speak and lost many of the joys in life, such as cooking and even eating.
“It really hit me when I lost my dad in 2003 how impactful this disease can be,” states Gerritsen. As I learned more, including one in every three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s disease, I decided we need to solve the mystery of treating this disease before it overtakes us.”
Gerritsen is particularly troubled by the lack of funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where annual budgets authorized by Congress for Alzheimer’s, which now ranks #6 among diseases on the top 10 list of causes of death in the U.S. , is less than 1/10th the spending on other health issues such as heart disease, cancer and AIDS.
“Alzheimer’s is literally killing us and the only way to fight this ‘crime’ is through a groundswell of people who continue to raise their voices and funds to ensure it gets the attention it deserves,” says Gerritsen with the passion evident in her voice.
Gerritsen created her famous characters, Rizzoli and Isles, as two women with very different backgrounds and lifestyles who work together toward a common goal – solving crime. She believes pop culture has a place in capturing attention for social causes and her Alzheimer’s campaign is her contribution to have different people work together to help eradicate a known killer.
Sherri Snelling’s book, A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care, blends pop culture with caregiving expert advice, information, resources and self-care tips.
Disaster season is here – with the second tornado to rip through Oklahoma in the last few days, disaster prep should be top of mind for caregivers. Read Sherri’s emergency preparedness article for PBS/Next Avenue about ensuring your loved one’s safety by having a family disaster plan in place.
Help us reach 10,000 registrations by May 31 – it’s FREE. Sign up at the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative, an international collaboration to find ways to prevent the Alzheimer’s disease that affects 36 million worldwide. It’s about ADVOCACY. It’s about ACTION. It’s about ending ALZHEIMER’S in our lifetime.
Sherri Snelling’s blog about how caregivers can help aging parents find the best alternative senior living arrangement on the first try appeared on Forbes and originally was published on Next Avenue. Read the full articles which include 5 Tips on how to best plan for moving your loved one into their new home.
Read our blogs this month celebrating the 24 million Americans who are Sandwich Generation Caregivers. Squeezed between caring for two generations – children and older parents – 33% of boomers and 42% of Gen Xers are Sandwich Generation caregivers.