The Battle of the Bath Thursday, Apr 7 2022 

Getting a loved one with later stages of dementia into the shower is like setting them up for torture. They can put up quite a fight over things we commonly do. We need a hefty dose of patience and compassion to move our loved one through the process.

Bathing is a necessary, albeit challenging, component of Alzheimer’s care. Not only do the people around us appreciate cleanliness, bathing aides in the prevention of rashes, skin disease, and urinary tract infections. We can reduce frequency to three times a week because skin tends to thin with age and illness. However, hands, face, and private parts should be kept clean throughout each day.

The reasons people with Alzheimer’s detest bathing are many. 

  • They no longer understand why they need to bathe.
  • The concept of time is lost, so it can feel as if they just took a bath.
  • The cleansing process is confusing and forgotten.
  • People with dementia cannot regulate body temperate very well, which makes them feel cold.
  • The sensation of the water on their body is uncomfortable.
  • And they may be embarrassed about being naked and needing assistance.

Reasoning with someone with Alzheimer’s is not possible. An argument is sure to develop if we try to explain why a bath is necessary. But there are a few things that can be done to make it a little easier and safer for both the caregiver and bather.

  • If your loved one is emphatically resisting stepping into the shower, let it go for an hour or so. Our loved one may be more agreeable if we try again at a later time.
  • Engage them in a story, perhaps with a topic they still like to talk about or sing a song while you undress them and escort them into the shower.
  • Offer a treat, such as potato chips, a cookie, or ice cream as a reward once the shower is over.
  • Provide a safe shower with a hand-held shower head, safety bars, non-slip flooring, and a seat or bench.
  • Ensure that the room and the water temperature is comfortable.
  • Offer a washcloth, toy, or fidget item for them to hold.
  • Speak softly, respectfully, and directly to help move things along.

My recommendation for everything we do while caring for our loved one is to consider health and safety for both our loved one and ourselves. When that health or safety is compromised for either of us, it’s time to think about additional or different support. I know the challenges and 24/7 responsibilities you’re experiencing. I’ve been through it myself, and I hold you close in prayer.

**You’ll find many helpful hints in books written with you in mind: Navigating Alzheimer’s, The Alzheimer’s Spouse and Inspired Caregiving.

The Little Black Dog Wednesday, Apr 6 2022 

When my Grandpa McCarthy passed away, we found a little folded piece of paper in his wallet with a poem printed on it. My grandmother knew I loved poetry, so she gave me the paper.

The poem is meaningful to me on so many levels. It is beautifully written, and its message is thought-provoking. I can’t help but to ponder the scene when reading it. Mostly, the poem reminds me of my grandparents and their love for their German Shepherds.

Here is that special little poem.

The Little Black Dog

I wonder if Christ had a little black dog,

All curly and wooly like mine

With two silky ears and a nose round and wet,

And two eyes, brown and tender, that shine.

I’m sure if He had, that little black dog

Knew right from the start He was God,

That he needed no proof that Christ was divine

But just worshipped the ground that He trod.

I’m afraid that He hadn’t because I have read

How He prayed in the garden alone;

For all of His friends and disciples had fled –

Even Peter, the one called a stone.

And oh, I am sure that little black dog,

With a heart so tender and warm,

Would never have left Him to suffer alone,

But creeping right under His arm,

Would have licked those dear fingers, in agony clasped;

And counting all favors but loss,

When they took Him away would have trotted behind

And followed Him quite to the Cross.

– –Elizabeth Gardner Reynolds–

*I’m currently working on a couple of books on poetry. One should be out within about a year.

Step on It. Wood or Laminate? Tuesday, Mar 22 2022 

Hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, or carpeting. Choosing the right flooring for our homes comes with compromises. We make the best choice based on factors such as cost, required maintenance, and environmental impact. But we can’t have everything with one product.

I’ve gradually replaced most of the flooring in my townhome over the last five years. Except for the top floor landing and the stairways, carpeting has been removed. The remaining floors are either laminate or porcelain.

I chose these types of flooring because they are easy to maintain, don’t hold dust like carpeting, which is better for my asthma, and are more affordable. I had hardwood in my last home and appreciated its beauty and that it was organic. But at this point, I couldn’t afford the hardwood and wasn’t keen on the periodic expense and inconvenience of refinishing it every 7-10 years.

Here are some things to consider when choosing your next flooring:

Composition

  • Laminate is a synthetic flooring manufactured from melamine resin and fiber board. The top layer is imprinted with a textured image to replicate wood. Laminate is a floating floor. Planks lock into one another without glue or nails.
  • Engineered hardwood is a type of flooring consisting of several layers of wood or plywood. This flooring is stained and prefinished in the factory.
  • Solid hardwood flooring planks are produced from single pieces of wood and is available prefinished and unfinished. Wood is organic, breathing material that fluctuates with temperature and humidity.

Cost – Engineered wood flooring is 3-5 times more expensive than laminate, and hardwood is considerably more than that. The engineered wood and hardwood flooring also are more expensive to install.

Durability-Laminate is very forgivable. I (carefully) slide furniture across mine without scratching. It’s easy to mop, sweep, and vacuum. It’s also highly resistant to damage from moisture, staining, and fading. Planks can be swapped out if damaged. Good quality laminate can have a lifetime warranty.

Comfort and Sound-The floating aspect of laminate flooring, in addition to its composition, results in a soft, warm product to step on. It’s also quieter than hardwood.

Environmental and Health Concerns-Hardwood is thought to be the best for the environment, but I question as to how that truly compares with laminate. All materials used in manufacturing, finishing, and installing needs to be considered.

According to the site, Coswick.Inspire, it’s important to research the product’s level of safety before buying. The glue used to bond composite material in the manufacturing of laminate can contain formaldehyde resulting in toxic substances emitting into the air. However, there are eco-friendly products available. Laminate is thought to be 84% recyclable.

Hardwood is biodegradable, organic. Most European and North American hardwood flooring manufacturers produce flooring that contains zero harmful VOC emissions and use glues that are free from formaldehyde.

Appearance-Quality laminate can be quite attractive, but there’s no denying the beauty of hardwood. It also offers the best resale value.

*

We can’t care for our loved ones if we don’t care for ourselves. Check out easy ways to do just that along with information to ponder, stretches to keep us healthy, and even a few laughs in my book, Inspired Caregiving.

Breastplate of St. Patrick Thursday, Mar 17 2022 

We’ve experienced disturbing issues for years now. The constant onslaught can make us feel helpless. But we never are. There’s always something we can do.

For example, we can donate to the needs of the desperate people of Ukraine and all those who are hungry using reputable organizations. We can pass on clothes and household items we are not using or literally open our doors to the homeless and displaced.

And prayer is always an option and so very powerful. Today, being St. Patrick’s Day, is an especially good day to pray the prayer of St. Patrick. Most often, I simply pray the “Christ, be with me…” part, but the entire prayer isn’t that long. I also change the “me” to “us” and the “every man” to “everyone.”

Try it for yourself. You may be very surprised at the protection you feel for yourself and others.

Peace be with you.

*Have you read The Rosary Prayer by Prayer or Grieving with Mary? Please write a review on Amazon if you have.

Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem Tuesday, Mar 15 2022 

While pilgrimaging in Israel and Italy in 2019, I followed the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, a processional route symbolizing the actual path Jesus walked to Calvary. Catholic churches typically display images of this path around the church so parishioners may walk and pray while meditating on Jesus’ Passion. I’ve walked this many times in churches, and it’s always meaningful. However, it’s nothing like walking the actual path in Jerusalem.

Following are photos from my pilgrimage in regard to the Stations of the Cross. When looking at the tree with thorns, notice how long those terrifying spikes are and remember that they were formed into a wreath and pressed into Jesus’ skull.

+ + +

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

  1. Jesus is Condemned to Death
(Site Where Jesus Was Condemned to Death. Jerusalem)
(Thorns as Used in Jesus’ Crown, Jerusalem)

2. Jesus Carries His Cross

(Via Dolorosa. The Path Jesus Walked to His Crucifixion)

3. Jesus Falls the First Time.

(Location Where Jesus Fell the First Time. Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

4. Jesus Meets his Mother Mary

(Location of the Fourth Station of the Cross, Where Jesus Met His Mother. Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

5. Simon Helps Jesus

(Site Where Simon Helped Jesus Carry His Cross. Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

6. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

(A Woman Wiped Jesus’ Blood and Sweat from His Face. Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

7. Jesus Falls the Second Time

(Jesus Fell a Second Time on This Site. Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

8. Jesus Comforts the Women of Jerusalem

(Jesus Comforted the Women on His Way to the Cross. Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem)

9. Jesus Falls the Third Time

(Jesus Fell Three Times. Image in the Church of Condemnation. Jerusalem)

10. Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

(Before Jesus Was Crucified, He Was Stripped of His Garments. Jerusalem)

11. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

(Jesus Was Nailed to a Cross. Jerusalem)

12. Jesus Dies on the Cross

(Alter Over Site of Jesus’ Crucifixion. Jerusalem)

13. Jesus is Taken Down form the Cross

(Pieta, Vatican, Italy)

14. Jesus is Buried

(Stone of Anointing Where Jesus’ Body Was Prepared for Burial. Jerusalem)

+ + +

Meditate on Christ’s Passion with the book, The Rosary Prayer by Prayer, available from Amazon and ACTA Publications.

Orchid Paradise Wednesday, Mar 9 2022 

I’m excited to share some photos from a recent Orchid Show, titled Untamed, at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I’ve seen orchids in abundance in Hawaii and growing in the Costa Rican jungles like weeds. But I’ve never seen the variety as I did at this show, and I want to share some of the photos with you, so you too can enjoy a few moments of peace.

The blooms were incredibly diverse and spectacular in colors, sizes, and styles. Orchids were speckled, spotted, and striped. Some reminded me of other flowers, such as narcissist, and the patterns on animals, such as giraffes or wild cats.

Orchids were arranged with other tropical plants in assortments hanging overhead, on the ground, and everywhere in between. Guests were treated to a paradise overflowing with orchids.

Orchidaceae, commonly called orchid, is a diverse flowering plant with about 28,000 accepted species. Many are fragrant, others have little-to-no scent, and some smell quite awful.

For home gardeners, growing orchids can be addictive but also challenging. If done well, the rewards are abundant with plants that bloom for many years.

According to the American Orchid Society, the trick to successful orchid gardening is determining the correct balance of light, air, and water appropriate for each plant in its particular environment. When orchids do not get enough light, they do not bloom and their foliage is dark green rather than a desired yellow-green. The goal is to give the plants as much light as they can tolerate without burning.

Orchids need air circulation around the plant and roots. The recommendation is to water a 6” pot every 7 days on average insuring that the plants do not dry out. Water should run through the pot when watering allowing the potting medium (typically not soil) to soak and flush out the salt.

Orchids should be fed by watering the plants first and then adding the fertilizer at ½ strength stated in the directions on the packaging.

Most of the information in this post was taken from the American Orchid Society website. You can learn more about caring for these plants on their site.

**Alzheimer’s disease is fatal disease that requires someone to have 3-5 caregivers for an average of 8 years. Care is a relentless 24/7 responsibility. Learn more about caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and the needs of the caregivers in The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Navigating Alzheimer’s, and Inspired Caregiving.

If you’ve read any of my books, please post a comment on Amazon. I’d really appreciate it!

Mary’s Peace Plan is Today’s Peace Plan Friday, Feb 25 2022 

Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine has everyone on edge. Putin’s been taunting the country for weeks reminding the people of previous days of terror. His unpredictability and bullying make us wonder how far he will go. Could the invasion of one small country lead to an all-out world war?

We can’t turn our backs on the Ukraine, or anywhere else. From a selfish standpoint, what effects one, effects all, in one way or another. In addition, we know the Ukrainian people. In this technologically, interconnected world, we know people across the globe through online chatting, news coverage, and business dealings. We may even be neighbors, coworkers, or related to them.

The Virgin Mary says there is a way to prevent war. World peace is possible, and Mary explained how it could be achieved. She clearly spelled out a plan in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal through a series of apparitions to three young shepherd children: ten-year-old Lucia dos Santos, nine-year old Francisco Marto, and seven-year-old Jacinta Marto.

Mary’s peace plan consists of specific instructions, but overall, her point was to pray, and to pray unceasingly. In particular, she instructed to pray the rosary every day.

“The rosary is a path to peace because it promotes peace within us, and that peace reflects on everyone we encounter. The rhythmic sequence of prayers is very calming and allows us to meditate more fully on the life of Jesus. It draws us closer to Christ because it is Christ-centered. And where Christ is, there is peace.” (Excerpt from Fatima at 100. Fatima Today)

At that time, the world was at war (WWI), and Mary warned that if we didn’t change our ways, a greater war would result. We know, in fact, that a greater war (WWII) did occur resulting in the loss of more lives and destruction.

Mary’s peace plan is as important today as ever. We don’t have to sit by and watch the pain and destruction across the globe while hopelessly ringing our hands. We can take action in a real way, because prayer works.

We can pray in our own way or pick up those rosary beads. Praying the rosary only takes about 15-20 minutes. Isn’t that investment of your time worth personal and world peace?

*For more information on how to pray the rosary, read The Rosary Prayer by Prayer available from Amazon.comACTA Publications, and my website. 

Author Marketing Advisor Wednesday, Feb 23 2022 

I’m excited to share with you that I have a new position as an Author Marketing Advisor with ACTA Publications. I’ll be working with authors inspiring them and informing them of the competition they face, the responsibilities of the publisher, the need for authors to self-promote, and especially, ways in which they can bring their book to the attention of readers. In addition to several of my books being published by ACTA, I’ve also worked for them as a trade rep and wrote a blog reviewing their books as they were released.

After researching, writing, and rewriting for several years, authors balk at the thought of having to market their book, as well. However, the fact is, publishers package books, align the books with distributors, print and warehouse copies, and fulfill orders. Their marketing consists of listing them on Amazon, in catalogues, and on their website; sending out review copies; and producing sell sheets. They may also nominate books for awards.

Authors must do the rest to alert the public of their new book. Considering the millions of books released each year (more than 4 million books were published in the U.S. in 2019) in addition to those previously published and still available (perhaps as many as 20 million worldwide), an author’s new title is just one in a stadium-sized library stacked floor to ceiling.

After all the time and passion an author invests in a book, it is of little value if no one knows it exists. Authors who actively get the word out about their books do sell copies. The rest see their books collecting dust on their own shelves.

Publisher Greg Pierce at ACTA Publications made an ingenious move in hiring an Author Marketing Advisor. By doing so, he’s investing more money in the title, but also, and more importantly, in its success. In the end, publisher and author should benefit much more than they would without this guidance.

As authors, we don’t just write books. We start a business of book selling that may even include public speaking, one of the most lucrative ways to sell that book. The challenge for most of us is that, although we may be powerful storytellers in print, we are not particularly business minded. The marketing, selling, payment collection, bookkeeping, and tax filing make us uncomfortable. We find we must push ourselves to complete these other tasks.

It’s all very time-consuming. We must decide how much time and money we are comfortable investing in our book’s success and where we want to focus. Does our budget and time allow for building and maintaining a website and/or blog? Are we active on social media and want to post about the topic of our new book? Are we socially active and able to talk up our book or make cold calls to organizations that will find our book of interest?

Publishing our books is like giving birth to children. Our responsibility is to send them out into the world, especially if they serve a public need. Creative marketing offers countless opportunities to do just that.

*Have you read my books? You can find all of them on my website, most on Amazon, and some on ACTA Publications. Check out my newest ones, Inspired Caregiving, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, Navigating Alzheimer’s and my best sellers, Grieving with Mary and The Rosary Prayer by Prayer.

*Winter Photo taken at Cantigny Park, Winfield, IL, 2/18/22

Reality Wednesday, Feb 16 2022 

Is my reflection

any less real than my

physical being?

(Mute Swan, Schaumburg, IL., 5/15/21)

* Would you like to connect with me on my Facebook page, website, or Linked In?

Nurture Yourself Tuesday, Feb 8 2022 

Midwest winters can be not only cold and snowy but gloomy, especially when we don’t have sunshine. The frigid temperatures and icy/snowy road conditions restrict our ability to get out. We end up tired and depressed.

When feeling down, take note, and take care of yourself so, you can better care for the other people in your life. We have lots of little ways to do this that don’t cost much in time or money. Take a walk in nature. Even gloomy days in a forest or park offer natural beauties and wildlife to brighten our spirits. Meet a friend for coffee or lunch. An hour or two offers us a distraction and warms our hearts as well as our bodies. Or watch a humorous program. Laughter reduces stress hormones and depression, reduces pain, and increases creativity.

You can find more ways to care for yourself in my book, Inspired Caregiving. I wrote it with you in mind!

*They all laughed when I said I wanted to be a professional comedian. Well, no one is laughing now.

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