The Samurai Caregiver

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Biden must make good on his promise to support families with sick loved ones.

Kate Washington – New York Times

Show your appreciation for the family, professional, or volunteer caregiver in your life.

The Caregiving Visionary Awards honor individuals and organizations that act as beacons of hope for family caregivers and former family caregivers.

As everyone knows, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a prominent Swiss-born psychiatrist who developed the five stage model on dying, grief and bereavement.that we’re all familiar with. A sixth, shock, has been added recently as the first stage to this model.

I’m adding a foot note to all of this and that is:

once you’ve gone through the six stages: shock, denial, anger, bargaining. depression, acceptance – none of this means that you have to like it….not while you’re going through it or after it.

You-don’t-have-to-like-it. Really, you don’t.

So, for people/counselors/clergy that help folks go through the six steps, don’t make people feel worse because they don’t like what’s happening to them . They have a right not to like it , during  and/or after.

You “well meaning people”, counselors, clergy, you deal with this while the bereft are dealing with whatever stage they’re in. Back off a little bit and be compassionate here too, ok?

Got it? Good.

Stop being a bully with people who are going through this.

…my rant for today…

I realize I have been absent from my Samurai Caregiver blog for awhile – for a variety of reasons – but all of that is about to change, starting Right NOW.

I came across this great article recently and wanted to share it with you.

No truer words have ever been spoken…caregiving is not for the faint of heart…as we current and former caregivers know, all too well.

Siblings Who Become Caregivers

Caregivers must take care of themselves too. Sounds simple enough, but is rarely followed. Wanting to be there , uncompromisingly and unconditionally for your care recipient can sometimes , innocently and unintentionally, result in injury to the caregiver. And when we go “ouch”, it’s usually not a good sign.

What’s a CG to do? 😦

Well, how about a multi-positional, automated bed, for the care recipient that must be repositioned 24/7/365 , every two hours ( per standard, current protocols) that may prevent pressure ulcers and provides much comfort to your care recipient? One , Yes, Does EXIST! It’s called the PreVenta bed and needs your assistance with bringing it to a hospital or a loved one, in or your near you home!

Join hands (with needed donation from you) with BedLab. Read more about this innovative technology at the above link and at – and get ready to smile, uncontrollably and clap raucously ‘like nobody’s watching you”!


There’s a hole in the room.

I knew it was going to be there, intellectually, but I didn’t expect my emotional response to the hole in the room

The hole I just deliberately created in the room.

As the former caregiver and eternal placeholder in my heart of my Mom, three and a half years later, I am still in the ‘continue to let go phase” of her items that remain in the home she shared with me until she drew her last breath.

The last three weeks of her life were extremely difficult ones for her and I. When they released her from rehab to get hospice set up for her in our home, I purchased an electronic chair that would allow her to recline and snooze while watching television and assist her to a stand when it was time to get up. I was fortunate to find it at a good price. She enjoyed it; it definitely was a help to me when I needed to help her. Previously, it had been of assistance to another mother as well.

I placed it between the long sofa and the love seat couch. The configuration made a nice, comfy, little L-shaped cove that sectioned off a part of the room quite nicely.  It became a little DIY theater area while we watched the Harry Potter movies she so enjoyed and doubled as her dining area, where her every meal was served to her taste  – as her taste for anything dwindled and declined with each meal …until she didn’t want any meals at all.

So, it’s been sitting there, all this time, holding the space together, continuing to make the nice, cozy, living space in the room I spend most of my time in when I’m home. It’s been holding the space when I entertain others in the room. Quietly, peacefully and stately, just sitting there, not bothering a soul, nor asking for anything. Like it belonged there; like it had been here all the time.

…and then, I received a call from someone whose mother-in-law needed a chair. A chair like the one I had. Like the one I wasn’t really using – and that people seemed to respect when they came over to my house to see me since Mom’s transition. They all knew that was her special chair. Interesting? No one would ever sat in the chair and no one ever asked. I tried a few times, but it just-didn’t-feel-right. Maybe that’s what other people sensed when they came over, and that’s why there was no approach, no discussion about sitting in that chair. Hmm…

So when the inquiry came about me selling the chair I and for how much, yes, there was a little clinch, in my chest,  a little hesitation on my part, yes. But I knew it was time. Inside, I knew it was time. It was okay. (Breathe). Someone else needed it now. Someone else’s mom. (Breathe) How could I be selfish and say no?  It was time for this chair to go to a new home and help another mother. Someone needed it, Now, so I needed to let it go, Now, and not waffle on deciding to let it go,  Now!

I called him and told him I was here and he could come pick up the chair.  I cleaned and prepared it for its departure. The similarity of calling and preparing the chair to leave my home was very uncanny as I think back upon it now. It was I that called the funeral home to come retrieve my Mom when she transitioned while I and the nurse cleaned and prepared my Mom for her departure. It was a bittersweet meeting with the gentleman as he paid me, thanked me on the behalf of his mother-in-law,  loaded the chair and drove away. I watched him for a minute as he and the chair drove out of sight.

I did not watch as the hearse drove away with my Mom.

There’s a hole in the room.

…and the scab that continues to grow over the hole in my heart, only to get ripped off over and over again, exposing its hole, is exposed once again. Will it scab over once more? Of course…but will it ever heal…???

There’s a hole in the room.

Caregivers & Taxes!
March 18, 2013
By CareNovate Team Contritbutor

Tax time is almost here, April 15th to be exact. As more adults and boomers take on caregiving responsibilities for their aging relatives, it’s important to plan ahead.
Below, we share some tax tips published recently by IRS, AARP & Bankrate that could help save family caregivers some money, stress and time. As always, always consult a tax adviser, CPA or accountant for information specific to your situation.
Family caregiver might benefit in 3 ways:
You might qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.
You might be able to claim your loved one as a dependent, reducing your taxable income by $3,700.
You might qualify for a deduction for money you spent on your loved one’s medical expenses and care.
Other specifics:

Caregiver tax deductions IS NOT limited to just relatives. Non-relatives could also qualify but only if they are part of the caregiver’s household for the entire tax year.
KEEP ALL YOUR RECEIPTS because some dependent expenses that are deductible includes cost of: food, housing, medical care, clothing, transportation and even bathroom modifications all qualify for tax deductions.
The IRS allows caregivers to deduct the costs not covered by a health care plan for a relative’s hospitalization or for out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, dental care, copays, deductibles, ambulances, bandages, eyeglasses and certain long-term care services and more.
If a caregiver works but pays for care for a relative who can’t be left alone, those costs may also be tax-deductible.
Caregiver’s tax-free flex account may be used to cover expenses for both dependent and independent relatives — as long as you’re responsible for at least 50 percent of their support.
As always, always consult a tax adviser, CPA or accountant for information specific to your situation.

For more information & tips for caregivers, visit

IRS – For Caregivers

IRS – Caregivers & Medical Expenses Q&A

The “Dammit” Moment.

This is just a short little post about leaving the hospital…

We (Mom and I) haven’t had to be an inpatient so far this year (knock on wood) but I’ve always wanted to share this little nugget.

When you have a hospital stay, depending on why you or the care receiver is there, you’ll usually wind up getting a lot of supplies in your room. Lots of times, when it comes time to be discharged, you’re anxious, ready to go…and just want to get the heck out of there. Even though the hospital will sometimes provide you with a big plastic bag to put your personal items in, usually it’s not big enough  to get everything in it that you brought in with you or have accumulated during your stay.  Since it’s a trait of most Caregivers to not want to trouble others, we’ll usually not ask for extra bags…and we’ll feel  that the extra supplies that are left in the room could be given to the next patient; someone less fortunate.

Get over it!

Ask, Ask . ASK!  Ask for the bags, as many as you can carry and take al that you can that’s allowed in your room with you!!!!


One of our biggest hurdles as Caregivers is not asking for what we want, asking for a little help. I think it’s in the soul contract or the DNA of Caregivers or somewhere in a hidden, unwritten but very real code book for Caregivers to not open up their mouths and ask for stuff sometimes. This issue ( the hospital stay and disposable items left behind in the room in particular) has really become a ‘nit’ for me. Ask for them. You or whoever is going to pay the bill have already PAID for them. In most cases, they cannot or won’t be returned to the hospital’s inventory. The employees are generally not allowed to take them home  – hospital policy, blah, blah,  blah – and they’re usually not allowed to take them (on an individual basis) to give the to someone less fortunate.

Such a pity, such a waste….

Plus, every time, everytime, every single  time, later, when we have returned to the sanctity and security of our homes, not once, not twice, but EVERY TIME we, Caregivers , have that “Dammit” moment.

What’s that you say?

It’s when you get home and you haven’t been able to go to the store yet because you came straight home from the hospital, trying to get yourself and/or the care receiver into the house,  the bed, trying to get back on track with the ADL schedule, the med schedule , the sleep schedule …. And then there’s that “ thing” that was back in the hospital room, that the nurses and the aides told you to take with you , but you politely told them ‘no’ – and now – You NEED it.

You need the gauze, the chucks, the pads, the big water cup, the ointment ,the bandages, the steri – strips, the incontinence care products, the wipes, the tubes, the inhalers, the  scissors, the this ,that and the other…you need them now – RIGHT NOW and you had them all , at the ready while you were in the hospital, but, now…

 “Dammit” ….  

…you’re cursing yourself and at yourself, because you can see them, all of these things, very clearly, back in the room you just left!!!

Alright, soooooo next time, don’t be shy, don’t be proud – scoop up and take the items you want. Count your blessings or gifts and walk / roll ‘proudly’ out of the hospital. Be happy that you’re getting out of there but don’t be stupid about it, ok?  If you need some way to justify all of this to yourself so that you won’t feel bad when you cross the threshold of the hospital exit, back out to the outside world, keep the little scenario I just described above in mind as well as this little saying:

“Better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it!”

I’m speaking at the Georgia Gerontology Society Annual Conference this August. Yeah! If you’re in the vicinity August 13 and 14th, drop by!

“””July 2, 2012

Dynamic Speakers Announced for Conference

 Happy 4th of July!

Two additional speakers will be joining us at our 57th annual conference “Enjoying the High Tides of Life: Sailing the Waves to Dynamic Aging” on August 13-15, 2012 at the Sea Palms Resort in St. Simon’s.

 Dr. Sybil Ingram, a respected and experienced professional in the areas of health care information systems and regulatory compliance issues, will be our opening speaker on Monday, August 13 with her topic:  “Providing Empowerment with Integrity!”  Dr. Sybil will also be presenting 2 other breakout sessions at the conference.

Sonny Dixon, anchor of WTOC’s new and innovative broadcast, THE News NOW at 4 PM in addition to newscasts he has anchored for many years, THE News at Five and THE News at Six, will be our luncheon speaker on Tuesday, August 14.

The Conference Tracks and Sessions are now available for viewing on the GGS annual conference page of our website:  Click on the spreadsheet to view the sessions and speakers.  Thirty five breakout sessions are being offered at this year’s conference under the following tracks (tides):  Business and Economics Tide; Aging and Disability Resources Tide; Healthy Lifestyles and Active Engagement Tide; Families, Grandparents and Caregiving Tide; and Safe Communities Tide. 

Please note that this is a preliminary schedule subject to change, but it will give you an idea of the fantastic sessions that are in store for you when you attend our upcoming GGS annual conference.

 Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan will be our Keynote Speaker at the opening session. The GBI was featured recently in an article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution about the maltreatment of at-risk adults by personal care home operators. Here’s the link to the article:

 Diana Scully, Senior Director of State Services with the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) and Kevin Monroe, Managing Partner with X Factor Consulting will be the panelists for an opening day general session on Sustainability of the Aging Network:  Challenges and Opportunities.

For information on attendee registration, exhibiting, sponsoring or advertising visit  You will also find information on making your reservation at Sea Palms on this page.   Please note that the Early Bird rate for the conference is available until July 14 for ALL GGS members–individual members as well as staff of organizational members. 
Please feel free to forward this update to your friends and colleagues

We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

 Matthew Malok, CMP

Georgia Gerontology Society

Administrative Director


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Sybil L. Ingram, MBA, Ph.D.

Dr. Sybil Ingram is a respected and experienced professional in the areas of healthcare information systems and regulatory compliance issues with significant knowledge on INFOSEC, NIST, FISA, FISMA, CFR 210,211 & 820 as well as Lifespan Respite Care Act regulations. With over twenty years of healthcare experience, she has been one of the nation's foremost speakers and active consultants for the HIPAA implementation challenges, addressing all major aspects of the Administrative Simplification Subtitle and affected entities/stakeholders. Dr. Ingram has served as a clinician, clinical researcher and instructor, emergency preparedness and readiness specialist as well as serving as an independent validation and verification compliance manager for multiple national providers of healthcare services. She has held key positions for healthcare industry leaders such as HBOC/McKesson, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Labs, the Georgia Technology Authority and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). In addition, Dr. Ingram is nationally board certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, a former associate with the American College of Healthcare Executives, founder of Ingram And Associates, a certified INFOSEC professional by the Information Security And Audit Control Association and the US National Security Agency. As a volunteer, she is an active senior Georgia state representative for the National Family Caregivers Association and has an inventor's patent (pending) registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Organization. Dr. Ingram speaks nationally and internationally on topics that address information privacy and security as well as family care giving issues.

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