Count Your Blessings

You never know what the day will bring. A phone call from an old friend, an email from someone you knew years ago. Someone might send you a plant, for no reason, you might get an invitation you’ve been waiting for.

You might get a dreaded diagnosis, or like some old friends, they received a phone call that their son was murdered.

Count your blessings! Get out that grateful list. Be thankful for everything you have, from the roof over your head, and the food on your table to your family and friends, people who care about you. Be thankful you are alive and that the universe is all around us, sending it’s energy to us.

Be aware of your surroundings, smile, say thank you, and hold that door open for those older folks. A smile can be worth everything to someone. Have compassion for those around you who are less fortunate.

Give the gift that lasts forever and costs nothing. Adopt A Caregiver and tell them your friend Helene sent you.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene

Compassion

I used to think I was a compassionate person. I looked up to older people, held the door open for them, felt for the underpriviledged, those less fortunate than myself, and then I became a caregiver.

I was a caregiver for seven long hard years when my husband was suddenly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and we were advised to keep the diagnosis a secret. He was a highly functioning individual, still working, and we couldn’t take the chance of his losing his living. Not yet.

I started a secret journal, which I later published as Behind The Mask. This journal showed my emotions, my thoughts, my fears and everything I was going through and I wondered about all caregivers. Did they feel the same way I did? Were they worried about their spouses, their parents, their future, their alone time? Did they worry about being a burden to their children? Did anyone wonder about the caregiver? Did anyone care?

Compassion, now I know all about it.

I started Adopt A Caregiver, which means that in your own community, find a caregiver. Send an email, offer to be their friend. Do not abandon the caregiver, have compassion for what they are going through. Help them, support them, encourage them to help themselves. Do not judge, for you have not stood in their shoes.

Give the gift that lasts forever and costs nothing. Adopt A Caregiver and tell them your friend Helene sent you.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene

Lonely

Do you ever think about caregivers being lonely? They are with someone 24/7, but sometimes the person isn’t really there. Can you imagine what it feels like to be a caregiver?

They have feelings that they can’t express to anyone. Why? Because most people eventually leave them alone. All alone. It becomes uncomfortable, or others just drift away. But the caregiver is there, stuck in the same place.

Always have compassion for others. Stand in their shoes for a little while before you make your decisions. What would you do in their place?

That is what makes Adopt A Caregiver such a good idea. Its the gift that lasts forever and costs nothing. Adopt A Caregiver and tell them your friend Helene sent you.

If  you don’t know what it’s like to stand in a caregivers shoes, read my secret journal, Beind The Mask available at my website.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene

I'm Home

It was wonderful seeing all the kids and grandkids this weekend, but it’s also great being home in our own bed. The trips get harder as we get older, but we will keep doing it as long as we can.

This is a slow time of year for reading blogs I’m sure, so I will spend some time formulating my plans for Adopt A Caregiver. I will share them with you, because they are so simple in my mind’s eye.

Everyone lives in a community, everyone needs to know who is a caregiver, and take some responsibility to see that somene will write to them, be their friend, share their life with them and help them out by just being there. All it takes is an email. Encourage the caregiver to write, to vent, to talk. Many of these people are so alone, and even with a wonderful attitude about life, they are still alone.

In the next couple of weeks, I hope to write to all those courageous men and women  who have written to me and shared their story, or just told me that Adopt A Caregiver is a noble and worthwhile effort. I will not let you down.

At some point, I’d like to talk to Mayors, builders of homes who have Directors of Activities, clergy, teachers, councelors, therapists, assisted living directors, national organizations, anyone who can help me impliment my Adopt A Caregiver plan. It’s not that hard. I need to make everyone aware.

You must stand in someone’s shoes before you can understand what they are going through, and I can help explain that, either by talking to the group, or they can buy my book, Behind The Mask. We all need more compassion. Smile, be friendly, don’t look the other way.

Give the gift that lasts forever, and costs nothing. Tell them your friend Helene sent you.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene

Thankful, Not Judging

Today I am still thankful. Thankful that I was able to meet my friend for lunch, and as I sat waiting for her to arrive I thought about all the caregivers who can’t get out to lunch. What do they do? What keeps them going? What do they do for their mental health?

The first thing most people give up in times like these are important things related to their mental health. Things like massages, therapists, doctor appointments, they let themselves go. Saving money is one thing, but most of us take it to extremes. We forget we need to take care of ourselves, how else can we take care of others?

We need to stop and think what is important for us, for our well being.

And we need to think about all the caregivers. Please help someone who needs you for a friend. If you never stood in their shoes don’t judge them. Remember to have compassion for those who need it. Remember to think about the caregivers who give 24/7 to someone else, and have no time or energy for themselves.

Adopt A Caregiver. Give the gift that last forever, and costs nothing. Tell them your friend Helene sent you.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene

God's Roller Coaster

In 1992, our art collection of kissing couples was shown on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

In 1993 my husband was suddenly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and the Alzheimer’s Association and UCI ( Ujniversity of California, Irvine) insisted we keep it a secret. So I started a secret journal and poured myself on to the pages. Seven years later, God’s plans changed and Howard’s diagnosis was changed. No more Alzheimer’s. When I showed Howard my journal, he insisted I publish it, and I did as Behind The Mask.

This is what being on God’s roller coaster is like.

I wrote, “What is normal? Is it sitting around the dining room table after Thanksgiving and sending the kids out to play after we ate, and then we discussed doctor assisted suicide and what would happen if there wasn’t a doctor assisted suicide program allowed in my state.”

What is normal? Normal is our lives today. Normal is opening your eyes and seeing all the things we have to be grateful for. For the love we have for each other and our family, our friends, our laughter, and even our tears. Normal is living with hope, gratitude and love. Normal is being us.

After my book was published a light-bulb went off in my head. This book’s purpose was to help caregivers. By reading it everyone would know the emotions all the new caregivers are going through. I know I can’t wipe away all their tears, but I can help them get through the day.

Adopt A Caregiver. I am devoting the rest of my life to make this happen. One by one by one, word of mouth is potent. We can all help. We all know a caregiver. All it takes is an email. Be a friend, and really listen.

Determination, passion, compassion is what I have. I need everyone’s help to get my words out to the community. My community, your community.

I guess I am still on God’s Roller Coaster.  Thank God.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene

November is National Caregivers Month

November is National Caregivers Month. We can start early. Together we can make a difference.

Adopt A Caregiver, be a friend. Listen to the caregivers who are lonely, depressed, and wondering what is going to happen next in their lives. Evey day is a struggle. Emotions can run high, and there is no outlet.

We can help. A friend is somene who does not judge, who listens, who is there. A simple hello does wonders for morale. Especially now that winter is on it’s way.

My brochures came today, and they are beautiful. Thank you Allison. I’m giving them out, trying to reach as many people as possible. Spreading the word, one person at a time. The seeds are taking root.

Comments about Behind the Mask, my secret journal, come in regularly. I started my new book, Adopt A Caregiver, and I’m using as many stories and comments as I can. They are so important. No one understands until they stand in the caregivers shoes.

We must lift the stigma from Alzheimer’s Disease. We must remember that it is the disease talking, not the person. One of the problems is they look the same, dress the same, walk the same, but they are not the same. Sometimes they don’t even make sense. And asking the same questions every few minutes, well, we would all lose patience. It takes courage and compassion to be a caregiver. Lets try to help them, those who are so busy caring for others, they have no time for themselves.

Let do it before November’s National Caregivers Month.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene

Courage, Community, Compassion

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, and I was thinking about courage. There are all kinds of courage, but I was thinking about the time we, my sister and I, had to put our parents into a nursing home. It took the courage of our convictions to do it. My sister didn’t agree at first, and that created some guilt on my part. But she soon realized that I was right. I was also twelve years older than she was.

Courage was cleaning out the apartment. The personal belongings of a parent; papers and things from their desk, going through the closets and the closed drawers. It was heartbreaking to see how little was left inside those closed doors and drawers.

Where were the letters and pictures? Why did Mom throw all of them out? To make it easier for us? To make it easier on the grandchildren who loved them? Dealing with the grandkids took a quiet courage.

And then there was the courage to pull the plug. My father had already died, and my mother had no lungs left. She was on life support, couldn’t talk, we couldn’t get close enough to give her a hug, all we could do was hold her hand. It seemed to me her eyes were pleading for us to let her go. We talked to the lung doctor and there was nothing they were able to do.

Yet, when all is said and done, we know we did the right thing, and yes, it took courage.

When my husband was suddenly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and we had to keep this news a secret because he still worked and they insisted we not say anything. So we didn’t say anything.

It took all my courage tp write my guts out on paper in that secret journal. Who could I talk to except the paper? Seven years later the diagnosis was changed, and I showed my husband that secret journal. He said I had to publish it. It took courage for me to do it. But do it I did, and the rewards are now coming in.

My book, Behind The Mask, shows the courage and also the compassion for the new caregiver. My thoughts are their thoughts. I am so glad I took off my Mask. The comments are so heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time.

And now since the book came out, I decided that I want everyone to adopt a caregiver. Older people have courage, dreams and wisdom.

I have a vision for the future. Committment to the community we live in. Find a caregiver, give her your support, write her an email, ask how she is doing, and mean it. Tell her/him you can listen, you have compassion and the courage to do this.

Now my courage comes from within myself. I know where I’m going and with everyone’s help my Adopt A Caregiver will be everywhere There are already many people helping me, planting the seeds.

Remember there is nothing to join, no dues to pay, no committment to anyone but yourself.

Support the caregiver, you too have courage, compassion and community within yourself.

Keep love and kisses in your life. Helene