Care issues to receive holistic approach in new administration

Good News for Caregivers from the (New) Government
This is re-blogged from the 2020 eMediHealth Best Blog award winner!
Thanks, Joy!
You might also take the time to read the government page on this topic! I think our prayers may finally have been heard!!

The Memories Project

There are no adequate words to describe what America has experienced over the past week. But it is important to not lose sight that a new administration will be sworn in later this month, and while they will have their hands full with dealing with the aftermath of an attempted violent overthrow of our government and a raging pandemic, there is optimism that the Biden-Harris administration recognizes the need for a comprehensive plan to address caregiving issues. Joe Biden has been a caregiver, so he understands the issue at a personal level. Kamala Harris supported domestic workers’ issues while serving in the Senate. With a slim Democratic majority in both houses, there is a greater chance that some of these initiatives will become law. Let’s take a brief look at how the Biden-Harris administration wants to address caregiving issues. The complete Biden-Harris caregiving plan is available online.

  • Holistic approach: Care…

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Music Therapy

Today is Beethoven’s 250th birthday.
Happy Birthday, Ludwig!

The Caregiver's Corner

Today, December 16th, would have been Ludwig von Beethoven’s 245th birthday, and so the radio has been playing beautiful pieces of his music all day long.  It is a fitting day to begin my blog about my time at home as a caregiver for my elderly mother as we both adore classical music.  How much pleasure it gives my 88-year-old mother to listen to his symphonies and piano concertos! In a while, we will watch the movie, “Immortal Beloved,” and although I will have to explain to her what is going on, it has become an annual ritual for us to sit on the couch and cry together.

It doesn’t matter to us that the story may be a fabrication of a possible event in the composer’s life, we enjoy it immensely. What does matter is that at a time when Mom and I cannot take part in some of the same pastimes…

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Pick your battles

I wrote this blog a few years ago during the last election when my mother was still alive. I’m reblogging it because it fits in perfectly with the ‘Growing up in the 1950s’ series I’ve begun on my other site, as well as what I feel about our current media and it’s effect on our society and our personal harmony.

The Caregiver's Corner

I was talking to my sister Andrea yesterday about the election and what’s going on in the world. She’s been fortunate enough to live in a number of enviable places, including Europe, on a boat in the Caribbean, and now in an RV in the Pacific Northwest. Each of these locations limited her access to a lot of the TV shows and news reports (with the exception, perhaps, of the PBS News Hour), but she’s somehow always managed to keep on top of the important stuff.

Even though I’ve been firmly rooted in Central New Jersey, surrounded by hundreds of TV stations and unlimited access to the internet, I, too, have always tried to be really selective about what what I put into my head. I prefer not to hear about murders and mayhem, so I get my information from PBS, NPR, and W-QXR, our classical music radio station that…

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It’s Opera Season: The Merry Widow, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto…

A kindred spirit who shared her love of opera through the generations. I enjoyed her post very much.

Brilliant Viewpoint

When I was a child, my Italian mother always sung songs from different operas. We would go to the library and she would get the tapes. While we were either studying or doing our chores she would have the music in the background.

As each song played with “extreme animation,” she would say, “Children, children, LISTEN, THIS is WHEN…” and she would describe the scene of the next song, so we would “understand” and “value” the beauty in the Italian lyrics and the music.

A few weeks ago, my mother called me. In her sweet Italian accent sounding very urgent told me, “YOU have to go to the Opera.” It was one of those motherly “it’s your duty,” remember “it’s how I raised you” to appreciate good music, you should “never forget” type of moments. I could hear this in her voice.

I was wondering where this was coming from…

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How Music Helps with Mental Health

Will Tottle, an editor at My Audio Sound in the UK, has written an outstanding article on the benefits of music and music therapy on mental health – and that really includes ALL of us, doesn’t it?  I can definitively say that had it not been for classical music playing in the house while I was caring for my mother (almost all the time – even softly under the level of conscious awareness), that our mood, our conversation, and therefore our lives would have been intolerable!

playing music musician classic

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Each morning, I’d walk through the kitchen into Mom’s bedroom and she would know I was coming because I would turn the radio on first thing. It was always set to our local classical station, W-QXR (which is also available online if you are out of range).  Several people I know are caring for their parents now and I have seen how different our household was to theirs.  Without the constant discussion of medications and treatments, or comments that sound eerily similar to the way one would talk to a small child, many have little to talk about with their loved ones once a certain level of dementia is reached.

That was not the case with Mom and I as we talked about composers and instruments, concerts and conductors, or made up stories to match the piece that was playing. Because it was a memory for her from the age of about five when her father had her listen to Beethoven’s “Pastoral” and learn the peasant dance (‘I see you, I see you, tra-la-la-la-la-la’), it was an image that would always remain.  In fact, there were days that I would wonder if I’d made the whole dementia thing up, until she’d call me ‘Mummy’ or ask when Daddy would be home.

The radio or CD is still always on in my home, and I still use the power of music to help me through the times of my life: the classical “Greats” when I am sad or heartsick and don’t want to listen to the inane chatter of current radio announcers; Eric Satie’s Gymnopedie late at night when I have a deadline for a report; Broadway musicals to elevate my spirit and give me energy to tackle a project; opera duets to make me sing out loud, cry and wake up hidden emotions. The soundtrack from the 1983 film, Flashdance, still makes me want to exercise like a madwoman, and oddly, Frank Sinatra compels me to clean my house (that’s another story).

The Fifth Annual Conference for the International Society of Music in Medicine was just held in Barcelona, but it has been well documented since the 5th Century BC that music has been used as therapy for healing the body, soul and mind.  Only now do our MRI’s and PET scans show what the ancient Greeks knew: that listening, playing and writing music has an effect on the brain. I have become acutely aware in the last five years or so of what a large part it plays in our emotions and mental health and I feel compelled to encourage others to use it in the course of their caregiving duties.  Play what your loved ones want to hear, be it Elvis or Tex Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby or the Beatles – even if you need to have them listen with headphones so it doesn’t annoy you. It’s such a little thing but it really does make a huge difference in the quality of our lives!

I have a large collection of CD’s from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s as well as symphonies, sonatas, concertos, ballets and new age music. I choose to listen to them the way a chef

headphones man music person

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selects spices, or a doctor recommends prescriptions. (I do the same thing with favorite inspirational books.) Should I ever find myself suffering a memory loss, I hope my caregivers will look to my collection to keep me happily occupied.

I encourage you to read Will Tottle’s article.  His research is impeccable, and he has included an extensive bibliography to back up his statements. His sources of information are current and relevant to anyone who is seeking an alternative or augmentative solution to drugs for the alleviation of symptoms of depression, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, autism, stress, insomnia, and a host of other conditions – as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

You can find his excellent post here.



Dear Rosamunde Pilcher…

As I sit writing this note to you, my late mother’s copy of “Coming Home” lays waiting for me on the table. It must have been a very special book to her as she strategically placed 234 small post-it notes in it. (I just counted them.)

Mom’s copy of “Coming Home” with post-its

I have delayed reading it as her passing has caused me much sorrow, but now I feel as though the notes indicating her thoughts will be a way for her to speak to me in absentia – to know some of her innermost thoughts and to perhaps experience the flavor of Cornwall and the West Country from which her mother came.

I look forward to reading it now, but felt compelled to first try to find you and thank you for the joy my mother had when reading ALL of your books, but most especially this one. Mom was born in 1927 and I expect I will be able to crawl behind her eyes and see the world a little as she did for she, along with her sister, lived through the book’s time frame. It was her sister who first introduced her to “The Shell Seekers,” and they had many happy conversations about your books, as well as the other Cornwall chronicle, “Poldark.”

I have attached a photo of the book for I believe it will make you happy to know that you have so deeply affected the life of someone with your beautiful writing. Perhaps it is even similar to a book Mom would have wished to write (though she never tried).

I think my mother would have liked for me to do this, and that she and her sister are in heaven smiling.

We are ALL caregivers.

It’s been over a year since my mother passed away, and in that time, I have rarely written a blog because I am ‘in-between causes.’ As I wrote about caregiving for my mother, it all seemed so easy to imagine that I would simply set aside my life and dreams for a time, and then pursue them with a vengeance when my responsibilities of family and career were over.

But that’s not what happened. Amidst the hard and soft grieving-time, I found that I had somehow lost my way. So many, many things beckoned – my desire to travel, my need to clear my home of superficial belongings, my drive to write the books I always said I would, a desire to reconnect with friends and family I had lost touch with, and most insistently…the need to take care of old business.

That last one was the ‘kicker.’ As I looked around my home and sifted through papers I saw that there was more left undone and uncompleted than I had realized.  I came face-to-face with my younger self who must have thought she had all the time and all the money in the world to spend on courses that were never completed, fabric that was never used, hobbies that were started and fizzled out leaving in their wake unused sheet music, half-done needlepoint and embroidery, photographs and memorabilia originally destined for albums purchased and still in cellophane.  Dare I say that my bookshelves were groaning with volumes that I always meant to read, but never actually got to start (or finish)?  But most distressing were the journals that sat in boxes that conveyed hope and promise for a future that never quite materialized.

Recently, I have begun to think about my own ‘third act.’ My high school class is having it’s 50th reunion next Spring; my youngest son just turned 46 yesterday; I reached full Social Security age a few months ago. I seem to be rolling head-first into a time of my life that I really haven’t prepared myself for.

I didn’t plan on having problems walking because my knees (one at a time) troubled me so. I didn’t plan on the lack of energy I experience, or the inability to read for very long unless under a very bright light. I didn’t realize that I’d have such attachment to belongings because they represent memories I’ve enjoyed or hopes for my future.  I didn’t know I’d still worry about my sons.

I’ll never forget watching ‘Romancing the Stone’ back in 1984.  There’s a scene where Michael Douglas is telling Kathleen Turner about how he traveled to South America on a coffee boat and collected rare birds, and it suddenly dawned on me that he (the character) probably had a mother somewhere who would be worried about him. And at that moment, I realized, perhaps for the very first time, that your children are your children for the rest of your life!

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Sounds ludicrous, but it’s true. And I never thought, at that tender age of 33, that thirty years later I would be taking care of my own mother.  Had I known, I would have asked, “When is it going to be MY turn?”

I’ve met so many wonderful people that are the primary caregivers to family members who are not always elderly. There are the parents who have children with Autism, ADD/ADHD, Tourette’s and other mental and physical disabilities. There are families who agonize about relatives who have mental illnesses and parents who wring their hands over their sons and daughters who are hooked on drugs or alcohol. I empathize with people whose spouses and significant others have serious health concerns. Whereas the issues confronting people I knew in the past were divorce, financial challenges, wrinkles and fat, their concerns have now morphed into grief about children who have died as a result of suicide and drug overdose, and family members who cannot be found.

Sometimes I think to myself (one of my mother’s favorite expressions when she spoke aloud) that I am glad that I am as old as I am. I don’t know whether I could handle all the chaos in the world and in life if I were only in my twenties. Then again, every generation seems to be equipped to handle the problems of their time.

And when I worry about all the mistakes I’ve made, the wrong turns I’ve taken, I’m reminded of the lines in the Eagle’s song from the album, “Hotel California:”

And maybe someday we will find,
That it wasn’t really wasted time.

So, I’ll just take my challenges one at a time, and share my thoughts on whatever it is that I’m studying and researching at the moment.  No one can put a value on Life Experience. You can’t learn it all in school, and even when you think it’s pointless, in the end, it’s like the commercial by American Express: “Priceless!”

All this is a very long way of saying that although my blog, “The Caregiver’s Corner” was initially intended to be about natural health with regard to senior caregiving, it seems to be evolving into a generalized site about people caring for others – and not forgetting how important it is to take care of ourselves.








A little bit of human kindness

Ken Ailes, a Regional Manager at  Oracle, received over 11,000 ‘likes’ and almost 400 comments on the following post he made on LinkedIn.  I felt compelled to repost it here…

I was on a #Delta flight tonight from MSP to SFO. fortunate enough to be in the front of the plane. The gentleman in 1C was an older gentleman with some kind of physical challenges- both leg braces and braces on his wrist. The flight attendants were busy servicing a full flight and really didn’t have the time to take care of this guy for the entire flight. There wasn’t a whole lot he could do on his own. I watched him repeatedly ask the guy in 1D for help with a variety of things- help grabbing a magazine, grabbing his water bottle, lifting his mostly useless leg so he could relieve some pain, putting his seat belt on. I was amazed at 1D’s compassion. He even offered to cut 1C’s chicken for him since he obviously couldn’t do it himself. I felt compelled to help, and did when I could , but honestly I don’t know if I would have if 1D hadn’t treated the guy with such compassion. I told him after the flight that he had inspired me. He thanked me and said it felt good to help someone. It was a great reminder. For those of us who get to sit in the front of the plane from time to time, it doesn’t preclude us from having a servant mentality. We should never forget how fortunate we are, wherever we are sitting, and strive to have the compassion for others that the guy in 1D had.

Amen, Ken!

Passing the Mantle

Last Thursday was the first anniversary of my mother’s passing.

All day long I toyed with what I could or “should” say on social media. I thought about all the tributes and photos that people place on Facebook at such a time, all the comments from friends and acquaintances alike who never met my mother, but who would in all probability post something kind or predictable.

I guess I’m just not a Facebook person, and frankly, I don’t know that I will ever be one of those people who advertise what they were thinking, eating, doing – although I acknowledge that for people of other generations, that is a perfectly good way to stay in touch.

However, since Mom’s passing, I have realized that I am now a Senior Citizen and therefore not compelled to act like a Millenial, Gen-X-er or Boomlet.  I am a BOOMER, and proud of it, and I still say VCR and ‘surf the web,’ which, according to, are several of the ten words that will show my age.  If I were they, I’d be less concerned about advertising my age than I would be to not recognize that ‘surf the web,’ ‘wet blanket,’ ‘Dear John letter,’ and ‘long distance call,’ are phrases and not simply words (of which the article declares there were supposed to be only ten).

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What happens to a caregiver after a loved one is gone?

It’s been six rough months.
I am about 180+Adrienne days into my new life as an orphan, and it’s time to do an ‘about face.’ (Play the music if you want the mood.) I got through the holidays all right, reached my birthday in February without falling apart and for the most part have sorted through the majority of my mother’s belongings. But now it’s time to move forward. Now it’s time for me to answer the question posed in my blog title:  What happens to a caregiver after a loved one is gone?

After combing the Internet for answers and talking to friends who have lost 220px-StAugustineLighthouse_StairsLookingDowntheir loved ones (including one who is a psychologist), it seems there’s no right or wrong way to go about this.  I was hoping for some guidance about time frames, some hurdles to get over or benchmarks to look for – that sort of advice. Alas! Like everything else, there’s no magic bullet. You just have to muddle through the best you can. And I’m also learning that just because you’re fine one day, doesn’t mean that grief won’t pop up years later and make you ‘surprisingly emotional.’
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