Hope with Hospice

Hope with Hospice

In light of Rev. Billy Graham’s homegoing, I would like to address the topic of Hospice.  Hospice focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting patients with a life expectancy of months, not years. It involves a team-oriented approach to give expert medical care, pain management and emotional and spiritual support not only to the patient but also to their caregivers. In most cases, this care is provided to a patient in his or her own home. However, it can also be provided in a freestanding facility, the hospital, or a nursing home.

It can be frightening if you dwell on the fact you may be alone with your loved one as they are facing the end of life.  “What will I do? Who can I call?” are a couple of the questions most caregivers think about.  Hospice can provide a tremendous amount of support and comfort.  Specialized nurses prefer to accept new patients into the program who are not imminently facing death.  They will provide care for up to six months and renew it every six months as needed.  Knowing someone will be there for you and help you with pain management, respiratory care, bowel and bladder care or other issues will never be a waste of time! 

In some areas, there are multiple agencies providing this care.  If you happen to not like the first agency, do not be afraid to talk to your doctor and request a different agency. 

Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Love for those with Dementia

February is called a month of LOVE. I was asked in the past, “What do you do when your loved one acts like a child?”  My response was, “You treat them with respect as your elder”.

What are some ways to love the person with dementia?  All senses are altered, and it is difficult for the brain to process the changes.  Reaching out and touching, hugging, or holding hands can go a long way in calming an agitated loved one.

Playing old hymns or other soft music of their era will sometimes provide comfort and calm. 

It is never easy for the caregiver, but showing love in facial expressions and actions can go a long way in maintaining a peaceful environment.

If you are in the Clemson, SC area, I will be teaching a course titled “Dealing with Dementia” at

OLLI (Clemson’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute)


100 Thomas Green Blvd.
Clemson, SC 29631

Phone: 864-633-5242

Wednesday, February 21 at 11 AM - 12:30 PM

Sign up at www.olliatclemson.org – Limit 20


I have said many times “The days are long, but the years are short” and never is that more apparent than at the start of a new year!  About halfway through last year, I adopted the phrase “Choose Joy” as my theme for the year.  (James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”). 

I am trying to decide what theme will help me serve and encourage other caregivers as well as myself on our caregiving journey.  Below are some options.  What do you think?

1.     Choose Joy

2.     No Fear

3.     Trust God

4.     Making Memories

5.     No Regrets

6.     Accept Help

7.     Stay Faithful

8.     Other: _____________

I would like to challenge you to choose a theme for this year and select a scripture verse to back it up.  Also, ask someone to hold you accountable for your choice. You are welcome to share below your choice and/or thoughts as we Stay Faithful to what God has planned for 2018. (Comments only require Name and Email address)

1 Thessalonians 5:23-25, “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”


Merry Christmas, 2017!

Merry Christmas!

Another year has come and gone.  How much TIME have you spent with your senior loved ones this year?

Time is the number one gift you can give, but what are some other gifts you can give to the elderly in your care?  There are many gifts I would NOT recommend: perfume, powder, makeup, knick-knacks, new ‘techno’ gadgets to name a few.

What are some good gifts?  Fuzzy socks with rubber dots on the bottom, a twin-size electric blanket, flowers are ok – but make sure they are not overly fragrant, a new pillow and sheet set, or new towels.  Please note: if you purchase a new towel and washcloth for the elderly, make sure it is “thin” but soft.  Thick and luxurious towels are only wonderful for non-arthritic hands.  Pre-made meals for one (one cup size for one person) to put in the freezer are always welcome.  Sugar free cough drops or candy are great to place near their chair or bedside.  Light-weight drinking cups with a lid and an optional straw are wonderful to prevent spills from shaky hands.  Christmas mail is also wonderful.  I have seen many seniors who still love to get mail.  (That is snail-mail not email).

Love your senior adults, spend time with them and live with NO REGRETS!

Choose Joy and Give Thanks!

November, 2017

Fall, cool weather, sweaters, coats, electric blankets, etc, etc, etc.

Oh the joy of changing seasons!

As your house gets cooler and the thermostat goes higher so will your power bills. One way to keep your loved one warm (without roasting everyone else), is to purchase a twin-size electric blanket and use it not only for the bed but also for them as they sit in their chair during the day. Heat their clothes in the dryer (not the microwave) before dressing for the day or for the night. Warm, fuzzy socks are always appreciated but this time of year, you can purchase them with rubber dots to prevent falls. Stock up on them to use all year!   

As you plan for Thanksgiving, remember to CHOOSE JOY!  Many stressors will come and go throughout the month with additional family, friends and food.  Don't let it get you down!  Choose to give thanks and rejoice in the position God has given you!

To insist or not to insist...?

I have recently been asked, on several different occasions, the following question:

“My “Mom or Dad” does not want to get out of the house.  How important is it to get them up and moving and out socializing or is it ok to let them sit at home all the time?”

The answer is either one!  It is important to help keep their mind active by getting out of the house and interacting with other people.  This can be done by going shopping, going to the hairdresser, going to a senior center for entertainment or attending a movie.  It is also important to take them to their church or attend an event in the community such as a play or a concert.    Old hymns and music will quickly soothe an agitated mind. Be sensitive to the stamina and health of your loved one if you do take them out of the house.

On the other hand, it is your loved ones’ choice to go out or stay home.  After 70+ years, they have earned the right to do nothing if that is their choice.  My sister is a retired librarian and she now loves to sit and read all the books she never had time to read while she was still working. 

Whether you go out of the house or stay at home, there are ways to stimulate the body and mind through walking, reading, and playing games with your loved ones.  Playing older music or hymns, providing the newspaper, puzzle books or even adult coloring books will also provide stimulation.  Time spent with your loved one is never time wasted!

Please comment on your tried and true method of stimulation for your loved ones.

Write it down!

Write it Down!

My heart goes out first and foremost to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey!  The images are devastating!  What will be salvaged from the partially to wholly flooded homes?  Last month I wrote a ‘to-do’ list before taking a vacation from your loved one.

This month I would like to recommend an activity that means a great deal.  My father was a WWII veteran but never spoke of the war.  After my mother died suddenly, to help pass the time, my father wrote his autobiography including his time in the war.  He always wanted it published in book form but the best I could do was get it spiral bound on 8.5 x 11 paper.  He is now deceased, but I would like to encourage you to get your loved ones’ stories ‘down in writing’ and produce a book not only to preserve your loved ones memories but to also pass their stories to the next generation and beyond.

With that in mind, there are several internet options to facilitate the book and you can even go to your local office or printing store and they will help.  However, compiling a book and gathering pictures can seem very overwhelming.  I was introduced to one option, www.catchmystory.com, and am impressed with their ease of use and encouraging simplicity in the collection of your story!  From the owner of the website: “I invite you to visit CatchMyStory to watch the video and click on HELP to see the tools that make it fun and easy to do. Please feel free to contact me via email: david@catchmystory.com or 704-698-5948 with questions, comments, or to share your story.”  Coupon Code: BCG (David Holton)

Let me know if you use this service or something else but most importantly “write it down”

I will also be teaching a class for caregivers, September 27 from 9-10:30 at OLLI in Clemson, SC.

Click on this link to register:  https://reg138.imperisoft.com/ClemsonUniversity/Search/Registration.aspx

August - How to get away!

Last month, I encouraged all caregivers to take some time off and get away for at least a day or two. I would like to follow-up on that and give some practical ‘how-to’ suggestions. If you have not already done so, create an emergency folder with the following:

  1. Legal documents: Power of Attorney...Health Care POA...Living Will
  2. Phone Numbers: Location where you will be staying...Your cell number...Your loved ones Medical Doctor/Dentist/Preferred Hospital...Power Company...Clergy...Funeral Home
  3. Prepare food/meals that are easy to heat up or arrange for someone to come and assist at meal times.
  4. Prepare medicine in individualized containers and mark clearly the day and time to be taken.
  5. Turn off alarm clocks you may have set – (this from a friend whose parents could not figure out how to silence them!)
  6. Have laundry done and clean clothes available.
  7. Depending on their level of self-care, you may want to ask someone to come and physically stay with your loved one or at least come and check on them once or twice a day. (Give them a key to the house!)
  8. CLEARLY explain to your loved one when and where you are going and when you will return.
  9. Set up a calendar with large numbers and mark your vacation.
  10. If you still are unsure, check with an assisted living facility as they frequently will provide Respite Care for a week or more.

Above all, pray and vacate!  You need the time away to re-charge and renew your desire to fulfill the responsibilities God has given you to honor and care for your loved one!



Caregiver Freedom

Our country is celebrating another Independence Day and our nation’s freedoms. We are free to worship when and where we want, free to bear arms, free to vote, free to pay taxes.  

As caregivers, do we have freedom? No and Yes!

No – We do not have the freedom to go on vacation anytime we want. We do not have the freedom to run to the store for the latest sales. We do not have freedom to take our children or grandchildren to see the beautiful fireworks displays after dark.  

Yes We do have the freedom to not worry if we go on vacation.  I remember leaving for a couple of hours and half-way to the neighboring town I suddenly began to stress…Why am I leaving? What if something happens to my dad while I am gone?  I should turn around and go home.  I pulled to the side of the road and immediately, I remembered the verse “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8.) I took a few deep breaths and realized what is true is that my father was in great care with my husband (a physician). It was a very lovely day and I was about to enjoy a shopping trip.

Vacations for a caregiver take even more planning than the normal family planning. We have two options, hire someone/someplace or ask a family member to stay with our loved one. We need the mental break to enable us to continue our job of Caregiving.  Do not be too proud to ask for help.

Think about it, pray about it and allow the Lord to work in your heart and the hearts of others. Celebrate HIS freedom for you!

"Scammers or Friends"

There are more than 80 million elderly parents without a spouse in this country alone. What a goldmine!  I recently talked to a friend whose parent was lonely and met a ‘friend’ who was introduced as their ‘caregiver’.  This caregiver went on a spending spree ‘caring’ for this family member.  They would go to the bank together and cash a check. 

How can you protect your loved one from being swindled out of their hard earned money without offending or alienating them? Long before the need arises, sit down and have an open discussion with your parents.  One way to introduce the subject without making them feel inadequate is to discuss the laws in your state regarding inheritance taxes and probate court.  If they want to avoid probate court, all their assets need to be listed in his OR her name.  After the death of a spouse, go over all the assets and change the name of the deceased spouse to your name if you are the designated POA.  This will accomplish two things: you will avoid prolonged probate after their death and you will have the right as their second name on the account to make decisions for their assets. 

If you feel a loved one is being taken advantage of at the bank, go to the bank manager and talk to them regarding their account.  Move most of their money out of their checking account into a CD (you can show your parent the money is still at the bank if they ask).  Ask the bank manager to flag their account and not allow anyone to withdraw over a certain amount ($250) without calling you first.  While you are at the bank, ask that all ATM cards be flagged to also not allow over your limit to be withdrawn.  Request notification for any unusual request such as: refinancing the house, or securing a loan for a large purchase.

As the second name on the bank account, regularly check online for unusual expenditures.  Be very careful if you feel the need to ask your parent about the expenditure, as this may cause division regarding ‘invasion of privacy’. When you are initially talking with your parent, ask them to get a folder with all their “Important Documents” together and give them a fireproof box to keep them all together. This is a great Father’s Day or Mother’s Day gift and provides an open door to offer help.  Help them make a copy, both front and back of their credit cards.  As soon as possible, make the multiple credit cards go away and give them only their bank card.  This will make security of their funds much easier to track.

Anyone who is a regular visitor to your loved one, should have an In-depth Criminal Background Check completed.  Do not take the word of their agency but rather do this yourself online.  Regular visitors include any new friend, caregiver, or worker who is coming to their aid more than seems necessary.  Ask the neighbors to keep an eye out for this type of individual and get their names.

Two additional ideas: Cancel their home phone and encourage them to use a cell phone (avoids most scammers) and regularly check their credit report for unauthorized new accounts opening in their name.

These are just a few ideas for protecting your loved one from unscrupulous individuals who prey on the elderly.  I would love for you to share your ideas and stories that may help others facing a similar situation.

Good resource for additional help:  http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-08-2013/protect-your-parents-from-scams.htmlJUNE2017 blog.docx