The Caregiver's Beacon Newsletter

The Caregiver’s Beacon (tm)
“Tell me why – Show me how – Hold my hand”
October 15, 2003                                                                                        Vol. 6 No. 14
ALZwell Caregiver Support and ElderCare Online and
Serving the Needs of Caregivers Since 1996


If you have trouble with links, the complete issue is available online at

Feature Article: “Influenza and Pneumonia in Older Adults” by Richard O’Boyle
News You Can Use: “Memantine Officially Approved for Use in U.S.”
Caregiver Store: “The Practical Caregiver Training Video”
Attention NYC Caregivers: “Adult Child-Caregiver Project at NYU Aging and Dementia Research Center”
Eldercare Bookstore: “Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents” by Claire Berman
Chat Schedule: Updates for October
Subscription Information


FEATURE ARTICLE: “Influenza and Pneumonia in Older Adults” by Richard O’Boyle

Most of us have gotten used to coming down with at least one bad cold each winter. Suffering through the sniffles, coughs, and fatigue for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. But for the elderly, winter maladies such as a bad cold, the flu, or pneumonia can be deadly.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 35 to 50 million Americans come down with the flu during each flu season, which typically lasts from November to March. The fever, exhaustion, and aches and pains of the flu can be debilitating for a week or two, but for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, the flu can be much more serious. An estimated 115,000 hospitalizations and about 20,000 deaths occur each year from the flu or its complications.

Influenza, commonly call “the flu,” is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends flu virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus. Flu may, less often, be spread when a person touches a surface that has flu viruses on it – a door handle, for instance – and then touches his or her nose or mouth. It’s a good idea to steer clear of people who have the flu or recently got over an infection. It also makes sense to keep your hands clean.

Read the complete article at

NEWS YOU CAN USE: “Memantine Officially Approved for Use in U.S.”

A Food and Drug Administration officially approved memantine (brand name Namenda) as a new treatment for Alzheimer's Disease in the U.S. The agency said that the drug is safe and effective for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's Disease. Forest Laboratories, the maker of the drug, said it expects Namenda to be available to physicians, patients, and pharmacies in January 2004.

FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. said on October 17, 2003, "The approval of memantine is good news for Alzheimers’ Disease patients. This is the first drug shown to have an effect on the symptoms of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s Disease, and shows a low incidence of minor side effects."

Read the complete article at

CAREGIVER STORE: “The Practical Caregiver Training Video”

The Council for Health Education and Development, LLC (CFHED) is a comprehensive information and training center for caregivers. You are now able to learn the basic caregiver skills that are used by licensed therapists in the healthcare industry. By incorporating these skills, the possibility of injury to yourself or your loved one will be significantly reduced, confidence in your caregiver skills will be enhanced and you will have a basis on which to judge the care others administer to your loved one in various settings.

Developed by a therapist director of rehabilitation in both hospital and long-term care units. The only full-length video available for family members with no medical training. This video can be used in home or professional settings.

The video includes information on:
- Body Mechanics
- Ambulation
- Communication
- Eating
- Self-Care
- Independence
- Positioning
- Transfers

The video comes with a "gait belt" that is used to help another individual to safely transfer in and out of bed, a chair, or a car. The video will train you, the family caregiver, to have the skills and tools necessary to protect yourself from injury and to keep your loved one mobile and independent for as long as possible.

Purchase the VHS video cassette (78 minutes; includes bib and gait belt)
for $90.00 (plus $5.00 shipping and handling)

To place your order in our secure online store, visit us at If you have any questions, call us toll free at 1-888-774-7655.

Throughout this month we continue to offer a special bonus: If you buy ANY product from our store (including the Prism Personal Organizer/Medical Planner) we will give you free lifetime access to our “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial.

Visit our store now and claim your free “Managing Medicines Safely” online tutorial at You can order online with our secure credit card processor, or call us at 1-888-774-7655 to place your order.

ATTENTION NYC CAREGIVERS: “Adult Child-Caregiver Project at NYU Aging and Dementia Research Center”

At the NYU's Silberstein Institute for Aging and Dementia, we try to develop innovative, cost-effective psychosocial treatments and pharmacological research for people with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and their family members. We strive to make information about our projects available as widely as possible, particularly to those most affected by AD. Our new project is specifically designed for adult children taking care of parents in the second stage of AD.

The project is directed by Dr. Mary Mittelman, a nationally known researcher, with a highly skilled staff of family counselors. For the next 12 months, we will enroll caregivers who will be provided with education and support to help cope with AD. The project's goal is to decrease negative effects of caregiving (stress, anxiety, and depression) while increasing positive aspects of caregiving (improving the quality of the
caregiver/parent interaction), as well as to develop a more favorable balance among life's competing responsibilities. There will be three sessions over a three-month period which can be scheduled during lunch hours and/or evenings here at NYU. A light meal will be served. There is no cost for participation.

To find out more information about the study or to see if you are eligible please contact Cynthia Epstein (ACSW) at (212) 263-1056, or Alicia Pierzchala (CSW) at (212) 263-7619.

ELDERCARE BOOKSTORE: “Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents” by Claire Berman

This book would be very helpful to all those who are caring for an elderly or ill parent, especially when you are an only child or have complex family dynamics. The main theme of Claire Berman’s book, Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents can be summed up by the closing sentence of her introduction where she states in bold print: “If we are to successfully manage the care of our parents, we have to learn, first of all, to care for ourselves.”

With its focus firmly set on the needs of the caregiver, this book will be especially helpful to all those who find themselves overwhelmed by the additional burden of powerful, negative emotions that often accompany the care of an elderly parent. When the caregiver’s quality of life is compromised by guilt, anger, frustration, fear, and a total lack of control and power, their ability to provide adequate, competent care for their parent is severely limited. The author’s goal, in writing this book, is to prevent this from happening to her readers.

In addition to addressing the practical, day to day issues that all caregivers will encounter, the book’s highlights include chapters dealing with:

  • The challenges an only child must deal with as the sole caregiver of their parent.
  • Keeping the proper perspective while dealing with the emotional turmoil the caregiver often faces.
  • A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights
  • How to maintain your own life while caring for your elderly parent.

You can read the complete review at

Numerous other reviews, transcripts, and excerpts are available in the Eldercare Bookstore at

CHAT SCHEDULE: Updates for October

We are in the process of revising and updating our chatroom schedule. Please e-mail suggestions on appropriate times and topics. In the meantime we will have a general schedule of every evening Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00pm to 11:00pm EST. Most chats will have a designated moderator, but as we are adjusting the schedule, some chats may be unmonitored.

I welcome your continued feedback on the value and role of our chatroom and sessions. We have taken the responses in the current survey to heart and will be incorporating them immediately.

Enter the chatroom from the front page of either website or at All times are U.S. Eastern Standard Time (GMT –5). We have begun to provide chats that are hosted by caregivers in Australia. Australian times are GMT +10. Hopefully this will not cause a great deal of confusion and instead give us more opportunities to connect with each other.

Enter the chatroom from the front page of either website or at


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