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In past years at the end of December, I usually posted my “top five” most read blog posts of the year.  This year I will be writing a different kind of article.

Many of you have noticed my lack of writing … due to another year of  intense caregiving challenge and crisis.  As I share a bit about my journey, I also want to leave you with some lessons learned that may help you in the future.

For me, 2014 started in a fury of work and caregiving.  I led the  start-up of our area’s first memory care assisted living community.  The specially designed building, programming, staffing, training, and family education was truly a dream come true for our community-at-large and for me, its administrator.  The opening in February was bittersweet in that my mother took a turn for the worse.  Her year battle with stage 4 colon cancer seemed to be at an end.  Actually it seemed that the IV chemo would kill her before the cancer did. [click to continue…]



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While on a trip to Seattle, I recently met up with friend and colleague Lisa Sneddon, founder of  As we chatted, we talked about how we initially met 5 years ago!  She found me through the following blogpost, and told me how helpful she had found it.

So, for all those readers who were not following me 5 years ago, here is the post once again.

I hope it is helpful to you as well.  Dale…


Here is my list of the top 10 changes I saw in Mom after she moved into a retirement community (Fairhaven, Sykesville, MD)

It seems like only yesterday, but Mom has now been in her new home/retirement community for 6 months!

For those of you (and your aging parents) who are considering the retirement community option, please read on… my top 10 list:

1. Mom ditched her walker and now enjoys walking with her friends. Not only is this great for her health but also for her spirit!

2. Her doctor has been able to cut back all her medications due to healthier eating, exercise and weight loss. Her doctor is thrilled that she has lost 40 (unhealthy) pounds and she is also proud of her appearance.

3. Mom enjoys and takes advantage of the wide variety of healthy and delicious food served in the dining rooms. They usually have her favorite dessert: sugar-free butter pecan ice cream. This puts a real smile on her face.

4. She proactively sought out the onsite nutritionist to understand what foods and how much she should eat, given her diabetes. In the past, my mother had been passive, letting life happen to her. This is a new and good change for her to start asking for things on her own.

5. She has access to many of her life-long doctors right on site; and the Wellness Center ensures she stays on track with all her check-ups. The only two things she goes off site for is mammogram and her specialist at Johns Hopkins. She likes having the convenience of on-site but also the need to go off-site sometimes.

6. Her mood and outlook on life have gone from sad to joyful. I can hear this even in her conversation. She used to speak in short phrases in a monotone. Now, she sounds like a different person. She articulates, is descriptive in her language and has the cutest lift in her voice.

7. Before moving to the retirement community, her network of friends had dwindled down to two dear ladies who had health problems themselves. She had been housebound due to health problems. Now she has a wonderful new group of friends, who truly look out for each other. She loves to tell me about conversations down in the laundry room…and how their floor has decided to sit together at the New Year’s Eve dinner party. Yes, they plan to stay until midnight, partying!!!

8. Her view has now changed from being focused on her ailments to more of a world view. She’d much rather talk to me about the economy, politics or her new friends. She says she takes advantage of every lecture / performance that’s offered. She was quite excited about seeing her first opera with sub-titles.

9. There is no longer a threat of her safety (of her falling in her home or on the ice as she walked to her mailbox). And, she feels so much more secure. A presentation was made last week, informing residents of what exactly happened if they had to be taken to the hospital. She said it took all the fear out of an unknown situation.

10. Mom feels respected and loved in a community of her peers. But, she still attends her church and stays in contact with friends, often attending outside lunch events with them. It is important to her to keep her feet in both worlds and stay connected with her community outside.




Aging Parent? How to Keep Your Support Network Strong!

March 29, 2014

Don’t wait for the next crisis. Take the time now to assess your support network. What changes have there been in your loved one’s life and in the lives of those who support you? Let me show you how to re-connect, re-engage and nurture those special people!

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Aging Parent? An Insider’s Guide to Assisted Living

March 19, 2014

As I reflected on my role as ED for a facility and as a caregiving daughter to my Mom, I thought of several “insider” tips that would help families as they contemplate a move to Assisted Living. Know that there is an increasing need for Assisted Living these day, and you will likely find many new facilities popping up in your area. It is critical that you do your due diligence before making the selection for your loved one.

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The Red Suitcase: “a mother-daughter movie about new beginnings”

November 24, 2013

How many of us have been transformed by an indelible experience with our aging parent? Filmmaker Dana White brings her road-trip story to life. Her film is a “tribute to her mother for being an inspiration and for having the strength to know it is never too late to start again.”

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Traveling with Alzheimer’s disease

November 3, 2013

Thomas Stern’s grandmother, Nati, taught him a lot about the ins and outs of “dementia-travel.” In this guest post, Thomas shares some ‘lessons learned’. Don’t let dementia prevent your loved one from experiencing the joy of travel and enhancing their quality of life.

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Aging in a Compassionate Community

September 22, 2013

Can you remember the last time you were the recipient of compassionate caring? What did it look like? How did it feel?
It’s exciting to know a group of professionals, members of The Michiana Gerontology Institute of Holy Cross College, plan to focus on compassion in a daylong conference on October 23 2013 at Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, Indiana. Professionals as well as the general public are invited to register for the conference.

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A Simple but Lasting Gift for your Aging Parent

September 2, 2013

It seems that most of us, caring for an aging parent, are dealing with some form of chronic disease. Thanks to a dear friend, I found the key to regaining choice and control … when for the past 9 months, my mother and I were controlled by cancer. It has nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with what is most important to my mother.

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Aging parent? Not All ‘Cancer Centers’ Are Created Equal!

August 27, 2013

I’ve been a caregiver for over 5 years now, and I still get things wrong. I falsely assumed that any medical facility that had the name “Cancer Center” (and was associated with a leading hospital) would provide integrated, holistic care to its cancer patients. Wrong!!!! Hopefully, you can learn from my mistake!

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Honoring Elders on first-ever ‘National Second Wind Dreams Day’ – September 7, 2013

August 18, 2013

People from all walks of life will soon celebrate the journey of aging and honor those who prove every day that AGING ROCKS! when they visit an eldercare community on the first-ever National Second Wind Dreams Day. September 7, 2013.

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