Wednesday, December 30, 2009

car talk for caregivers

Is it possible to wear caregiving on your sleeve? I am beginning to wonder if it is not some kind of aura.

Our old faithful 2000 Ford Taurus SE Wagon was declared ‘totaled’ on Christmas Eve following a snowy accident the week before. (stranded in the snow)

Ever since living with Multiple Sclerosis entered our lives vehicle needs are different than most people.

Pulling out my measuring tape tends to derail sales pitches. There must be room for a wheelchair or scooter. While yes we have our Dodge Grand Caravan IMS RampVan (wheelchair van), our second car must be able to serve as a back up.

Patti needs the option to pull herself up on the vehicle’s door frame out of her wheelchair, the strength of door and height of vehicle matter. You may be surprised how many vehicles only have a door bottom with the upper part window glass only.

Dealers often were in the ‘inquiring minds’ mode. Some either had a relative or friend caring for an aging parent or special needs child.

They more than knew the ‘statistics’ of US auto accidents after all it is part of why people need to buy cars. 

The ripple effect of those dependent on that ‘statistic’ is a sobering perspective. Every 12 minutes someone dies, every 14 seconds someone is injured in an auto accident – what happens to those at home dependent on that person?

The majority of car accidents occur less than 5 miles from your home. How many home caregivers roll the dice every day, just quickly running out for something?

To me a 20 yr caregiving veteran, that’s life. I was surprised to see non-caregivers give it thought and concern. Of course, they are sales people and who knows how genuine.

Whatever … after days on the internet and days visiting dealers it was time to park a 2008 Kia Rondo V6 LX in the driveway, kind of a station wagon on steroids.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

care facility calendar

Visits and outings are functions of time to those on the outside of a care facility. They may be perceived quite differently to those who reside in a care facility where time often moves at a different pace.

With New Year’s comes an annual focus on calendars. We use oversized wall calendars, 30” high X 20” wide (76cm high X 51cm wide) both in Patti’s room at her care facility and at home in our kitchen.

The calendar in Patti’s room serves double duty allowing visitors to sign in and staff shifts to get a better picture of Patti’s world. Additionally the wall calendar helps to supplement Patti’s Multiple Sclerosis related memory loss.

More importantly to me is that the wall calendar at home dramatically tracks 'care time'. It is too easy to allow day to day life to swallow up your time. When it is in your face every time you enter the kitchen you are less apt to forget to make time for an outing or a visit.

December was a good example. In spite of three snowstorms, holiday shopping, busier work schedule, stranded away from home for two nights following a car accident, and oodles of time associated with that I was still able to average 4 nights per week of outings with Patti and getting her ready for and into bed at her care facility myself. My usual average is 4.5 nights per week.

Believe me that kitchen wall calendar in my face makes the difference time after time. There are so many days when considering my ‘to do’ schedule that I glance at it and realize I must revise my schedule because I MUST work an outing into ‘this day’ to keep my weekly goal.

In the care facility era it is simply too easy to get distracted, you MUST keep ‘care time’ in your face not just your heart and thoughts.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

stranded in the snow

Driving home from Washington DC Friday evening (Dec 18) with only the earliest traces of snow beginning to fall, another driver lost control of his car spinning across 4 lanes of traffic ricocheting off a Jersey barricade and ending up crashing onto the front of my car.

Fortunately no one was injured, unfortunately my vehicle was disabled. Towed to the closest hotel I was swallowed by the ‘Blizzard of 2009’ as snow continued to fall for over 24 hrs totaling 22 inches (56 cm).

With daylight I went hiking in zero visibility snowfall in only walking shoes to forage for toiletries, food, and a change of socks and underwear. I discovered a Burger King basically catering to snow plow operators. When is a whopper “haute cuisine”? When it is the only hot meal in 36 hrs.

Stranded you meet people you never would have ever met or shared a warm cup of coffee with. After two nights at a Red Roof Inn I was finally ‘extracted’ Sunday afternoon by Jennifer and Tyler!

Procrastinated shopping and holiday activities are now replaced by insurance related activities and ‘waiting’.

It is oh so easy to be blinded by frustration when there really is so much to be grateful for. Even the driver who crashed into my car called me to apologize and thank me. He had been praying and thanking God for sending me to that moment in time when his car was spinning out of control; so many catastrophic outcomes could have happened.

So far, GEICO representing him could not be trying any harder to make things right. While tempted to declare their gecko as my new BFF, let's see how this plays out, first.

When I finally could spring Patti for an outing from her care facility she was in good spirits and ‘yes, no, maybe’ kind of aware of my odyssey. Multiple Sclerosis memory loss and mental confusion creates its own timeline. Though she was certainly ready to roll decked out in her wheelchair gloves and holiday painted nails.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Care Jacket

The weather outside is frightful but this offer is so delightful.

Join one of the latest pop-culture phenomena!

The Care Jacket™ keeps you totally warm and gives you the freedom to use your hands!

Perfect for:
  • Pushing wheelchairs
  • Transferring
  • Promoting your favorite care products
  • And much, much more

Buy one NOW and get this eclectic caregiver collectable, “The Transfer”, Free!

Watch out Snuggie! WE are 44 million strong in the US and growing.

P.S. All pictured products are figments of this author’s imagination, but “one never knows, do one”?

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:

Monday, December 14, 2009

wheelchair dance

While visions of sugar-plums dance in everyone’s head this time of year, some special ones work to bring dance, dreams and caring to life.

"One dances in the wheelchair and the other dances near the wheelchair, and spectators marvel at their friendship as well as their moves...."

12 Days of Caring: Girls find the right way to move in wheelchair dance class

"... Katrina Thomas and Kirsten Stewart are 12-year-old best friends from York County who are starting a new dance season in a wheelchair dance class run by Nancy Ehrlich. The class is part of the non-profit PECAN, or Progressive Education of Children in the Arts Network...."

" ... Ehrlich is a lifelong dancer who suffered a spinal injury in 2002. Using her own wheelchair, she started the dance program that is entering its sixth season. ..."

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:

Friday, December 11, 2009

too busy caregiving for affair with Tiger Woods

Alas, I confess I have never had an affair with Tiger Woods. Though I suspect this entry may get more hits than those simply entitled caregiving, Multiple Sclerosis, or teen Autism.

Thanks to the National Alliance for Caregiving, AARP and MetLife Foundation:

If the 74 pages do not interest your curiosity they SHOULD and if not now, they WILL.
“More than 3 in 10 US households report that at least one person has served as an unpaid caregiver in the last 12 months, leading to an estimate of 36.5 million households with a caregiver present.”
Even if already a caregiver it gives you an idea how you may be perceived or misperceived.

According to “Caregiving in the USA, 2009”, caregiving lasted on average 4.6 years. Just past my 20th anniversary as a caregiver, obviously I am a horse of a different color. Life long caregiver parents of special needs children who grow up to become special needs adults obviously warrant elite status.

Regardless of distinctions it IS a detailed look into what SHOULD be capturing our attention.
"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who … are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped." Hubert H. Humphrey
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site:

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