Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Things to Do, People to See.

Well, it's Summer in Seattle again (no, really, check the calendar) and as I was driving over to see Dad, I started thinking about all the fun things I love to do in the Summer; like walking at the lake, being in my garden, taking picnics to the park, watching outdoor movies, taking road trips, and going to car shows and craft shows. Dad used to love summer, primarily because he loved to swim in Lake Washington, but also because we took our annual family trip, and occasionally did other fun stuff outside.

Dad doesn't go out now, but I was remembering back to when I lived with him and we would go out and about on a sunny, summer's day. We spent time walking around the lake, of course, especially Green Lake in Seattle and Gene Coulon park in Renton. We also went roller-blading a couple of times and I rented bikes for us. We would find restaurants with patios and eat our lunch outside in the fresh air, and walk around some of the nicer, open-air shopping centers in our area. We went to State parks that weren't too far away, like Mount Rainier. We also did our usual year-round activities like the Museum of Flight, one or two of the other museums in the city, and the mall.

I look back on these good memories and it makes me happy. One of the things we both liked the best was the people watching - since we were both inveterate people watchers. Summer in Seattle is great for that because everyone comes out, after a Winter of drizzle and gray. We would park ourselves at Starbuck's at the park, he with his favorite root beer, me with a lemonade, and enjoy the show. I'm sorry that he can no longer go out with me, especially since my husband and I like going to classic car shows, which he loved!

But it made me think about caregivers, of course, and what they could do with their care receivers, since both people are probably tired of being cooped up inside. So here are a few suggestions, some for the Seattle area, and some just in general. Depending on where your care receiver is in their disease process, some of these may not work.Whatever you do, I hope you all have a lovely Summer!

  • Museum of Flight
  • Seattle Art Museum
  • The Frye Art Museum and their programs for Alzheimer's patients and caregivers
  • Pike Place Market (another favorite for Dad)
  • Green Lake park, Gene Coulon park, Gasworks park
  • Electric boat rentals on Lake Union
  • Many car shows, craft and art shows, and neighborhood festivals
  • Alzheimer's cafe's in the area - please check the blog, there are more and more around.
  • Ivar's on the waterfront
  • University Village
In General
  • Museums in your area
  • Local festivals, shows, and fairs
  • Senior center activities
  • Alzheimer's cafe's
  • Local and State parks
  • Mini golf or other small course
  • shopping malls and outdoor shopping centers
  • any local tourist attraction can be fun - rediscover your city!
  • lunch on a restaurant patio
  • local off-leash dog parks (Dad loved this!)
  • swimming at the local pool
  • sitting outside, enjoying the sun and fresh air

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Classes for Caregivers.

Here is a link to an article providing a link to free webinars and classes for caregivers of veterans! Thanks to the Care Givers blog for putting this information out there. You might want to check out their site while you're there.
A lot of my support group members are or were caregivers for veterans so I know how difficult it can be to navigate the VA systems to get the support and health care your loved one needs. Hopefully, classes like this can help caregivers find the resources they need.


"The Family Caregiver Alliance, a leading advocacy organization for family caregivers, is hosting a webinar Wednesday, June 18, 2014, from 1-2 p.m. PST, which will explain the VA Caregiver Support Program and services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs. It should help you find more support and understand the benefits available to you as a military caregiver. The webinar costs $15."

 "Enroll in the VA’s Free On-line -Workshop “Building Better Caregivers” Although the title of this free on-line class reminds me of TV shows about cyborgs like The Six Million Dollar Man, the VA workshop “Building Better Caregivers” is an excellent resource for caregivers of veterans. A six-week class that you can take whenever you want, on your own schedule, the workshop will help you learn a variety of skills like time and stress management, healthy eating, exercise and dealing with difficult emotions."

Monday, June 9, 2014


I'm so excited to once again be named one of Healthline.com's 20 Best Alzheimer's Blogs of 2014! It is a true honor to be in such good company and to be thought of so highly. This is what they were kind enough to say about my site.

"A diagnosis of Lewy body dementia (LBD) includes Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, the proteins that cause Parkinson’s. This condition affects memory and mobility. Cleaning House Book offers a close view of the LBD patient and caregiver experience.

Joy Walker, who cares for her father, began blogging in 2009. The blog is a vast collection of information and personal insight on dementia and the caregiver’s role. It includes plenty of helpful resources and news information, and is a must-read for the next generation of caregivers."


Thank you again to Healthline.com!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Can I Help? Why Yes, You Can!

At last! A solid answer to that question, "Is there anything I can do to help?" This seems like a great idea; check it out.


It is an on-line service that allows your friends and family to schedule their own efforts to give you a helping hand. Apparently you need to be a member of Alzheimers.org to use it. This fits in with my post on technology and caregiving. There are lots of good apps, programs, on-line services, etc. that can help with a difficult job.

As is says on the home page, the next time someone offers vaguely to help, get their email and have them sign in to this service!

Even if you don't want to use a service or setup like this, it is worth thinking about the whole concept of help. I know that people often ask if they can help, or say, "Give me a call if I can do anything." It is true that not everyone means it when they say it - sometimes it is a reflexive action. I also know that most people genuinely do mean it and really would like to help, they just don't know how.

I am constantly telling caregivers to look for help, to accept help, to even (horrors!) ask for it. And I tell them the best way to do it is to be specific. Assign people tasks - tell them one thing you need them to do or pick up or prepare, one call that you really need them to make, one meal you need them to make. This makes others feel useful, it ensures you get done what you need to get done, and it can help you ease into the whole messy business of asking for, and accepting, help.

Speaking as someone who really hates asking for help, and is really bad at accepting it when it is offered, this can be a tough issue. I don't want to bother them, or I don't want to be needy, or I want to prove that I'm capable and independent. I have had to train myself over the years to accept help from my husband and my friends - because I really do need it, but also because I know they want to give it. You may be really good at giving and helping and doing for others, like I am, but sometimes other people want to be able to give to you. I have to keep reminding myself of this.

And besides, we all need help. We need to work on doing away with the whole "needy" label and just be human. If it makes it easier, use a service like the one above, or develop your own. You caregivers are doing an amazing, difficult job and you need some help; so ask, or let others do for you. Believe me when I say, I've been where you are, clenching my teeth around the words, "Yes, thank you, I do need some help."