Winter Holiday Donations (and a Little Bit of Guilt)

It is that time of year again when I try too keep extra change in my coat pockets. I am going to the grocery store and I subconsciously predict there will be someone at the entrance, braving the cold, to ring a bell standing next to a red container.

As I approach the building I hear the familiar sound even before I see who rings it. I am grateful that I am able to toss coins in the bucket and I have a decision to make. Do I do that before I enter the store or after?

The bell ringer looks at me as I draw near. There are no words or smiles coming my way. I carry a perception of judgement from a person I don’t even know as to whether I will walk right past or not. In a split second I say, “I will stop on way out.”

The decision has been made. I conclude that by donating before my shopping the person may not remember I already gave and I might be another faceless person who seems not to care.

Walking up and down the aisles my attention is focused on crossing items off the shopping list as they are dropped into the shopping cart.

After paying the cashier I push my cart filled with groceries towards the exit. I again hear the sound of the bell. I put my hand in my pocket feeling for the coins to be thrown into the bucket. This time smiles and words are exchanged. I walk toward my car feeling a slight sense of approval.

I realize the only approval I was really seeking was my own. Next time I will pitch my offering in the bucket before entering the store. I care about donating and my sense of peace within could come before or after I did my shopping.


Contributor Badge for Chicken Soup for the Soul

I very much enjoy writing for and reading personal stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Everyone has a personal story and it is so satisfying to be a contributor knowing that my experience might be helpful and uplifting to others.

I also am grateful to tell a story about people who have made a difference in my life and those that I wish to honor.


Shopping Cart Invented by Albama Mom,AAAAPLMIMAE~,kKetLjW2WxUgiRmvwWvrX1zHOEtf9iIT

Caroline’s Cart, the shopping cart for special needs children created by Alabaster mom Drew Ann Long, will soon be found in Target stores nationwide.

I did not know how to post this article and video from Face Book. I hope you will click on this link to view this shopping cart designed for people with disabilities. It will start after a very short advertisement. Target stores are the first ones to have these. Hopefully this will start a trend where ever there is a need. The story is written by Dawn Kent Azok.


I Don’t Go to Bed Disappointed in Myself Any More (Continuing Diabetes Series)

          Before the diabetes diagnosis it was a typical ritual. In the morning I would mentally declare my intentions to have a day of perceived normal, healthy meals. I am not hungry in the morning so that worked for the first few hours of my day.

Around 10:00 was my break time at work. Still having a healthy resolve I would eat yogurt unless someone brought in donuts or bagels and cream cheese. Occasionally a patient would surprise the staff with fudge, homemade caramels, or cookies. I would think, “I will have the yogurt tomorrow…maybe.”

I could eat for any reason or emotional state. I was bored. I was lonely. I was happy. I was sad. I was depressed. I discovered snacks made a fine substitute for a companion while I was reading or watching T.V.

I would walk through the stores keeping an eye out for sales on holiday specialty candy. There was a time bagged Cadbury eggs came out only during Easter. It was a happy day when they started coming out at Christmas. M&Ms also expanded their line and I got hooked on the white chocolate ones. When they were on sale I would by at least 2 packages thinking they would last for weeks.

At the grocery store I would always walk through the bakery department. I loved the frosting stuffed sugar cookies and the small decorated cakes.

I ate these tasty treats almost until bed time. When I fell into bed I would scan the day. I sure did not like myself. It was shocking to realize how much I felt I let myself down. A part of me didn’t care as I felt things would never change. Given the choice, sweets would win out.

After the diabetes diagnosis the ritual changed drastically. The day I walked out of the doctor’s office I told myself no more processed sugar. If nothing else I would not ingest cake, candy, etc. I was scared straight. I have learned to bypass candy isles and bakery sections.

I discovered fruit tastes sweet when I am not consuming sugar. I try not to plan food more than 2 days out. I adjust my food accordingly while keeping my eye my application of the Fitness Pal to monitor carbs and calories.

In the evening I am often pleasantly surprised to see that total counts for the day have come in under my allotted food allowance. Now when I go to bed and scan my day and feel at peace.

Sweets Can Be the Death of Me

I love frosting. My husband would ask if I would like a little cake with my frosting. I’m the one that asks for the corner outside piece of decorated sheet cakes. I am filled with dismay when at a birthday party I see the person next to me scraping the decorated sugar flowers off the cake and leaving them discarded on the plate.

The last frosting I consumed was over 3 months ago. I am a sugar addict proclaiming, “I am 90 days frosting free!”

It took a major medical diagnosis to bring around a transformation for me. I found out I am diabetic and this is a big adjustment.

It is my intention to share my reflections and experiences on this new road that I must navigate. It is my desire that my musings might be helpful to others learning to live with diabetes. To be notified of new posts just add your e-mail to follow me on the right top of the page. Please feel free to share with other interested parties. (Occasionally there may be other topics in my posts.)

Handling the holidays with Alzheimer’s: experts offer advice (printed in WP)

I know that it is one day past a major holiday. I read this article and wanted to share it anyway. I think it has very helpful information for anytime of the year. I believe it is sometimes the people who visit periodically that may more easily identify changes in individuals than those who see someone on a day-to-day basis. In my own experience of caregiving for my mother I often wonder if the changes might have been so gradual that I missed signs of early detection or possibly might have been in a bit of denial.

This article has several gift ideas. I suggest however, don’t wait for a holiday. My mother especially enjoyed music, outings in the car, a toy stuffed dog, and watching/listening to old movies. Also to my surprise, she liked the Western channel.

Below is the article I read that was printed in the Washington Post by Fredrick Kunkle.

By Fredrick Kunkle December 18
The holidays can be stressful for families coping with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, as people search for meaningful ways to honor traditions with loved ones whose memory of them may be fading.

They’re also a time when some family members, flying in from distant places, first notice signs of physical or mental decline in relatives they haven’t seen in a while, said Karen Lincoln, associate professor in school of social work at the University of Southern California.

“The change is more noticeable when there’s been some time since your last visit,” Lincoln said. “If you return home for the holidays and you notice change in your older adult – their physical condition, their walking, the condition of their house — then obviously it’s time, first and foremost, to sit down with that older adult and get a sense of what their health condition might be.”

Some advocacy organizations have compiled suggestions for handling the holidays, including gift lists for those who are newly diagnosed with cognitive decline and those in the later stages. Advocates also challenge people not to underestimate their loved ones.

“I think too many times, we as a society say, ‘Oh, they have dementia or they have Alzheimer’s disease — they won’t appreciate these things,’ and we just check them off our list — to just go buy them something quickly like a bunch of blowers or a box of candy,” said Cecilia Rokusek, executive director for the Geriatric Education Center at Nova Southeastern University.

Yet, Rokusek said, a woman who loved purses as a young healthy woman might be tickled to get a new one. Items that connect people to their memories are especially useful, she said.

“We really need to look at the person, even though we may think they don’t have the feelings or the [verbal] articulation,” Rokusek said. “We should never take for granted all the possibilities, because they’re still a person.”

Some gift ideas suggested by advocates in the health care community are common sense, such as arranging outings so that the person with dementia can participate in activities they’ve always loved, whether fishing or attending a theatrical performance. It’s also fairly obvious that it’s not a good idea to buy power tools for someone who is beginning to show cognitive lapses, and giving new high-tech devices is liable to create as much frustration as pleasure.

Several advocates urged family members to select gifts with the idea of helping loved ones come to grips with their condition, define their legacy, and reconnect to memories of the past. Others said gift ideas can be as simple as finding something that would give cheer and dignity to people in the later stages of the disease.

“Giving a journal is a great gift,” said Cat Koehler , social media advocate for Home Instead Senior Care, an agency based in Omaha, Nebraska. “For those who have dementia in the early stages, really, a journal is a great way to start talking about things that they want, what are the legacies they want to leave.”

The Alzheimer’s Association put together a list of items for people in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, including a list of helpful books. For those in the early stages, the association recommended items such as a family calendar with photos and dates for special family occasions. Other advocates suggest crossword puzzles and games that keep one’s mind nimble.

Those in the middle stages might benefit from being enrolled in MedicAlert and Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return, the organization’s 24-hour nationwide response service for wandering and medical emergencies.

For those in the late stages, framed photographs, comfortable clothing, and spending time together reading aloud can be comforting choices. Rokusek said that items that may seem childlike can nevertheless provide comfort for people in the most advanced stages.

Music is a popular choice for people in any stage of the disease, particularly from genres and eras that an aging person has loved for a long time. That’s because short-term memories tend to erode before more distant memories, Lincoln said.

As for caregivers, several advocates agreed that perhaps the best gift of all is a break from their duties.

Koehler’s agency, for example, has been arranging “caretaker cruises” for about five years — booking cabins for the adult child who is caring for an aging or disabled parent and a guest for a short cruise, often for under $1,000. And since that might be out of reach for many, families might still spring for a night or two at a local hotel.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s


Walk To End Alzheimer’s South Wind Park Springfield, IL 9-20-14

(Below was the introduction read at the Kick-Off Celebration Walk to End Alzheimer’s)

Jean Ferratier is a person who wears many hats. She is a retired teacher, photographer, care giver, life coach and author. Currently it is in the role of author that she has been able to express her personal experiences and share support around the subject of Alzheimer’s.

Jean has asked, “What comes to mind when you hear the word Alzheimer’s?”  Do you think of a parent, a friend, or maybe the neighbor down the road?

When you hear the word, does a tinge of worry enter your consciousness as you silently pray that there will be a cure should you ever develop symptoms?

She says she is a supporter of Alzheimer’s research. This is a disease that touches the lives of so many of us. We are members of a huge club that is needed to support each other and help fund education, research, and support groups.

Jean has written two chapters about Alzheimer’s that appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Books: Think Positive and Living With Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.


Orbs in the the Rain


As an avid orb photographer, there is always a camera within my hands reach. I love to take pictures under a variety of occasions, places, circumstances, and in nature. I am always curious and constantly experimenting to see what I may see when I download (upload?) my pictures. Technology is not my strong suit and so I am delighted to get my pictures from the camera to the computer. Then with luck they can be posted on Face Book, You Tube, Pinterest, or other social media.

This particular orb picture was taken during a very heavy thunder storm. I love taking pictures in the rain. The results are amazing and provide a very good opportunity for examination of orbs, elementals, rain, and whatever just appears in the picture.

Some of the things I view in this picture are rain drops, orbs, elementals, and other things that I don’t classify at all. I find it interesting to see two well-defined orbs of different hues of blue. I am not sure what to call the image to the right of the bottom orb. These elementals (for lack of a better word) often appear side by side. On the picture they appear for the most part to be very small. When zoomed in however, they are extraordinary beautiful in their makeup and colors.

Really looking at pictures taken in the rain is very time consuming. First I look at the over-all picture and then start to zoom into small sections. I love what is revealed. Although I don’t interpret for others what my impressions might be, I feel safe in saying that orb pictures are a tangible way of seeing other things around us. To me orbs in nature often make me think of protection especially when I see them around anything physical such as a car, house, flower, tree, etc.


An Amazing Village Designed Just For People with Dementia

When I saw this on FB I felt I had to share to share this story and information. I would like the article to reach as many people as possible.

Elder care for dementia patients often carries such a sad and depressing outlook. When I read this I thought, “Thank goodness, there is a more humane approach to this situation.”

I hope this idea takes off. My mother had Alzheimer’s and I would have definitely investigated this further if it had been available. If I should ever be in need of supervision, this is something that I would like my children to keep in mind if it should be come necessary.

I am a big advocate in discussing elder care with my children. When I wrote Shopping for Nursing Homes in the Chicken Soup Book Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias, I had no idea that this would someday become another option. With the possibility of this type of care I believe more families will receive the care and compassion so anxiously sought.

Living With Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias

CSS Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

I am a contributor to this book. My story is called Shopping For Nursing Homes. I received my early copies and ordered an extra case because I knew this is a book that I would want to share with others. Once you know someone who has any type of dementia it is almost like you share a bond with that family, friend, or stranger sitting in the booth behind you at a restaurant. I sat down to read a few stories and just kept turning the pages. My mother had Alzheimer’s and I found myself identifying and agreeing with so many of the stories. It is filled with advice, simple strategies I had not thought of, and comfort. The book will be released on April 22nd, 2014.