Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful For Caregivers: A Poem

 Thankful For Caregivers
by Grace Thorson

I'm thankful for your ears that listen to my everyday plight,
I'm thankful for your perseverance throughout each night,
I'm thankful for your early-morning rising at dawn's first light,
With remembrance, I thank my caregiver for their day-to-day fight.

I'm thankful for your humble attitude against the daily grind,
I'm thankful for your encouraging words that always free my mind,
I'm thankful for your nursing skills that keep us intertwined,
With gratitude, I thank my caregiver for they are one-of-a-kind.

I'm thankful for your gentle prodding that forces me into motion,
I'm thankful for your honest soul in showing sincere emotion,
I'm thankful for your big heart because it's as deep as the ocean,
With love, I thank my caregiver for their ceaseless devotion.

In honor of all caregivers to their family members and patients,
thank you for all that you do! You are such a blessing!

Monday, November 16, 2015

November: National Caregiver Month

Did you know that November is National Caregiver Month? In all honesty, neither did I, not until my Mom shared that bit of info with me. It's probably not something that most people know about or truly remember. We should, though. It's not a thought that you can just brush under the rug, because more than likely, you know a caregiver. According to studies, there are millions upon millions of caregivers in America that work 24/7 with their own family members. That's quite the number!

If you have a little extra time today, I would encourage you to appreciate a caregiver in your life. It doesn't have to be huge, just a simple gesture to let someone know that you're there is often enough. But, in case you're not sure on how to help your friend, you can do these things for him or her:

1) Show them your appreciation by sending a thinking of you card.
2) Gift them a special mug, gift card, or devotional.
3) Send them a personal message on Facebook with words of encouragement.
4) Lift them and their family up in prayer.
5) Give them a hug and a smile.
6) Offer to pick up their groceries and run misc. errands.
7) Do they need a wheelchair, walker, or even a heated blanket? With their permission, start a fund to supply that needed item.

In 2014, I wrote an article on 16 Things To Do For A Weary Caregiver. If you feel led in helping us spread this appreciation to others, be sure to read my article (provided as a link above). In all truth, there are many ways that you can show a caregiver in your life some appreciation during this month. Just remember to do whatever feels best, and I'm sure that caregiver in your life will feel cherished.

Most of all, though, caregivers just need your love. Be there for a caregiver, and they won’t feel alone. And I'm sure that because of your kindness, they will know that someone out there cares about their well-being. So what are you waiting for? Go on! Cheer on a fellow friend or family member today!

In honor of caregivers everywhere, author and caregiver Pam Thorson is offering her newest book in a Goodreads giveaway. Enter for a chance to win one of ten paperback, signed copies of "Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver." To put your name in the hat, click here to join other Goodreads members in the drawing.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ten Things Caregivers Deserve from their Healthcare Providers: A Nurse’s Wish List

The medicine has become a bewildering world for both patients and their families. Often they endure as much suffering from medical procedures and drugs as they do from their disease or disability. Our responsibility as healthcare providers is to mitigate their pain as much as possible as we provide medical care.

This November, as we celebrate National Family Caregiver’s Month, we’re offering ten ways that healthcare providers can relieve the stress caregivers endure as they care for their loved ones.

As a nurse and full-time caregiver myself, here is my wish list of what caregivers everywhere deserve:

1. Two ears, turned all the way up.

Someone to listen is often the most important need of the caregiving family. If we are paying attention, the family will tell us what they need. Sometimes it’s not what they called about.

2. A teamwork approach. 

Acknowledge their knowledge. We may think we know what’s best for them. But giving them a voice will help them to both deliver and receive for themselves the best care possible.

3. Real words. 

Our caregivers are intelligent people learning a new language. Sometimes it just takes a bit of translation.

4. A streamlined approach whenever possible. 

A lot of unorganized information thrown at a person is overwhelming, as is the stress of trying to negotiate the bewildering world of programs. Help them target what may work best for their situation.

5. Everyone on the same page. 

It’s frustrating to call three different times and get three different answers. Knowledgeable medical staff is a must.

6. Longsuffering. 

Have patience with those struggling to grasp medication changes, physical therapy orders, or application instructions. The person we’re talking to may have just been up all night with an ailing spouse or child. They may be elderly themselves and dealing with their own health issues. You may be the only person they can vent to.

7. The ability to step down from the soapbox.

It’s important to resist projecting our own agenda into their situation. Just give them what they need. 

8. Professionalism.

Give the family the dignity they deserve.

9. Empathy, not sympathy.

They should feel better after talking to their healthcare provider, not worse. We want them empowered, not pitied.

10. Quick response time.

Don’t leave them hanging without some resolution.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Out from the Shadows

Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver by Pam Thorson. 5 Stars

Out from the Shadows is a devotional with thirty-one inspirational segments. Each chapter includes a verse at the beginning, a short life lesson, a personalized prayer, and a section for private reflections. Written by author Pam Thorson, she offers Caregivers a peaceful reprise from their weary-laden days.

Released through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Out from the Shadows serves to bring devoted Caregivers out from the darkness and into the light of hope.

{My Thoughts}

I know that in writing this review, I will be a bit biased in favor of my Mom’s book. I would say that you’re probably right, but I wanted to give her one, anyways. Since I’m a book reviewer, I couldn’t possibly say no to adding my own thoughts to her two titles (her first book is Song in the Night). Putting that all aside, I wanted to pen an honest and detailed analysis of Out from the Shadows.

While Out from the Shadows is geared towards Caregivers, it is not exclusive to that niche. Anyone can pick up a copy of this title and find the same encouragement from within. What I liked most about this devotional, is the secluded area for my own personal reflections. There’s a set of five questions arranged at the end of every chapter with extra lines for written notes. Love it when a devo has this! I am inadvertently a notetaker, so I need lots and lots of space for my writing.

I like to list my favorite devotionals/chapters and book quotes into my book reviews. Here’s mine for Out from the Shadows - Chapter One: Jimmy’s Hunger. This chapter is dear to my heart because it’s a true tidbit from the childhood of my Grandpa – an amazing man of God. I don’t want to reveal why, exactly. You will need to read it and find out for yourself. Favorite book quote is, “My dad’s hunger for God inspired my own search for life’s meaning. His determination to break free has challenged me to wear my heavenly Father’s name with integrity and leave a legacy my family can be proud to claim.”

The book cover is perfect for the theme surrounding Out from the Shadows. I’m reviewing the paperback copy, so I can really see the transition from black to white on the image. It portrays a beautiful message to Caregivers that we can walk out from beneath our burdens and into a state of joy.

I am honored to be a part of my Mom’s authorship. Being her Office Assistant has been a blessing, and I wanted to honor her hard work with my acknowledgment in this book review.  Normally, I mention if I received a book in exchange for my honest review. In this case, I bought a copy of Out from the Shadows for my own use without the agreement of writing a book review. In other words, I did not receive a copy from the author or publishing house in exchange for a review – still honest, however! Hehe.

There is obviously no area on Amazon for any autographed copies of my Mom’s books. If you’d like a signed paperback edition of Out from the Shadows, please send me an e-mail here. Be sure to also read Pam Thorson’s first self-published book, Song in the Night: One Family’s Journey from Darkness to Dawn – a true life chronicle on our family’s response to a tragic accident.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

15 Inexpensive Ways To De-Stress As A Caregiver: Part 3

11. Need some serious quiet time? Pull out your Bible (or Bible Study), grab a favorite drink (tea or coffee), and find a comfortable chair. In case you like to write down your thoughts, be sure to include a notebook and pen for any spiritual revelations. Finding the time to read God's Word is not only relaxing for the body, but it's also refreshing to the soul. When you can combine both physical and spiritual rest, this is the key to a full and complete de-stress.

12. Take the time to catch up with old friends or close family members. Put aside a little free space from your schedule to talk on the phone with a loved one. Don't just call up anyone, call that one person that makes every day brighter - the one that listens - the one that makes you laugh - the one that understands you. Are you more of a writer? Find someone who would like to be your pen pal, and start writing some letters back an forth. It says in the Bible that "a cheerful heart is good medicine." What better way to de-stress than to laugh away the problems with a good and faithful friend/family member?

13. If you own a pet (whether it be a cat, dog, bird, etc.), buy it a new toy to play with. You can find pet toys anywhere - at a grocery store, pet store, online at You don't have to spend much on the gift - just get one that you and your pet will really enjoy. This is a fun and effective way to alleviate stress. Not to mention, your furry friend will love it too!

14. Do you feel better when tasks are completed? Don't be afraid to ask someone for a little help with your home. If there's a certain individual that you know would be happy to offer assistance (and has mentioned it to you before), go ahead and call them up. Set up a day and time that works best for the both of you. You and your friend can clean, laugh, and catch up on life. Be hospitable. Provide a delicious snack and tea/coffee for a well-deserved break.

15. Put on some of your favorite music (a playlist is best) and light up an airy-scented candle. Set the mood for peace and tranquility in a secluded space in your home. Following the music, do a line of easy aerobics and stretches (don't over do it!). Remember, take it slow with each solid movement. Doing this every day will not only make you feel happier, but your physical body should feel more at ease.

As a young Caregiver, I hope this 3-part series benefited everyone in some way. Through the process of brainstorming ideas for this article, I learned new stuff myself. Curious... do you have any tips for Caregiver stress? I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment on this post with your suggestions. *Thanks*

Thursday, August 6, 2015

15 Inexpensive Ways To De-Stress As A Caregiver: Part 2

6. Are you a music lover? (a Christian music website) offers free downloadable songs from their website (legal and 100% free). There's also online radio stations that offer a streaming of popular Christian tracks (all free): K-Love, Effect Radio (Christian Rock), Positive Life Radio, NRT Radio One - this is a selective list only, there's many more available online (especially, if you search for it on the web).

Looking for more? YouTube is the perfect way to discover new music. Type your criteria in the search field for what you want, and listen to your heart's content. There's music videos from artists themselves, lyric videos, instrumental music, and so much more!

7. Do you enjoy playing games? offers a variable string of games (for PC and mobile devices, alike). Prices for games vary between $6.99 and up (this depends on if you buy the standard edition or collector's edition). Be sure to check their website regularly - they offer great deals on titles. You can also join a monthly membership for $6.99 - this provides one game of your choice for each month plus special offers/discounts. includes a wide range of games for purchase - downloadable PC games, platform titles, and gaming apps. Don't want to spend the money? Big Fish Games allows a downloadable free trial play on most of their titles (you will need to download their game manager app to play). *Note* If you search "free games" online (Big Fish Games should be safe - I've used it), always be careful about downloading them - you could unknowingly add a malicious bug to your computer.

8. If you like to cook, Pinterest is your place. Unfamiliar with this site? Pinterest is an online community with "pins" from all sources imaginable (online or uploaded from users). You can find photos, videos, self-help articles, art, and etc. - this includes a number of recipes! Take the time to search for a meal that makes your mouth water, and save the recipe to your board (if you have one) or write it down on a piece of paper. Gather the needed ingredients, and cook yourself/family a delicious new serving of food. Want to save money? No problem. Pinterest also offers pins with meals on a tight budget.

9. Are you a sociable type, but can't leave the house? Blogs are a constructive avenue to connect with others like yourself. You can start your own blog with or (both free), and share your ideas, life, and adventures. Without creating your own blog, another way to connect is to search the internet for like-minded bloggers/writers. Narrow your search down with what interests you (motherhood, photography, books...), and spend some time within that community. You can do so much on a blog - enter a giveaway, read articles, and chat with people.

10. Take up a hobby or pursue one of your favorites pastimes. You can scrapbook, piece a puzzle together, take photographs, sketch, read a book - do what brings you joy! You'll find that these are some of the best ways to de-stress from any situation.

Next week: Part 3 of 15 Inexpensive Ways To De-Stress As A Caregiver

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

15 Inexpensive Ways To De-Stress As A Caregiver: Part 1

1. Soak your feet in a plastic tub (whichever you have that would work) of warm water (you could also put in a little Epsom Salt). After a few minutes, dry your feet with a towel. Use your favorite lotion and give your feet a gentle massage. Once you're done, take the time to paint your nails with a fun color. If this is something you enjoy doing on a regular basis, be sure to buy some new nail polish to use (this is an inexpensive way to relax and your feet will thank you as well).

2. Like to read? Stop by the library and pick up a book. Are you a slow reader like me? Consider buying a used book from - check the shipping prices on each item. Compare the overall price with the new book from Amazon itself (ask yourself, is it cheaper to buy it used or new?). Like to read e-books? You can scan's listing of Kindle book deals or free e-books to download. When you read, don't forget to grab a delicious drink (tea, coffee, lemonade, and etc.). Finally, pick out a comfy chair in a secluded nook and escape for a few chapters.

3. Ready for a movie night? Rent a title from (prices range from $1.99-5.99 - Standard Version). Without first watching it, a rental should last from 15 to 30 days. Once you begin watching the rental, it usually lasts 48 hours. Be sure to finish it! Another option is to pick up a movie from RedBox - these are usually found interspersed within a town/city. Prices range from $1.50 a day for standard edition to $2.00 for Blu-ray a day (sometimes you can find a great deal on these!). Of course, none of this would be complete without a couple of your favorite snacks - popcorn and candy bars.

4. This can be the same as above, but with a television series instead. I love buying episodes from - standard version is only $1.99 per episode for 59 minutes or less. I usually try to stay away from buying an episode that's only 21 minutes long - doesn't seem like much for $1.99. Be careful, though. Because of the price, you may be tempted to buy one episode right after the other. Savor them and make the experience last - buy an episode every so often of your favorite show. This is nice because you can re-watch the episodes over and over again.

5. Not willing to spend the money? That's okay. There's ways to watch in a legal and free manner. Visit and be random with your viewing experience. Spend your time watching funny cat videos, music videos, or even of a traveler in a different country (the possibilities are endless!). The videos on youtube are without limits, so type out a line in their little search box. And watch away! You can spend countless minutes without spending a single dime.

Next week: Part 2 of 15 Inexpensive Ways To De-Stress As A Caregiver

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

You CAN Thrive

"That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." -Ephesians 3:17-19

Rooted in Love: You CAN Thrive

 Practical Tips for Successful Caregiving

When our son was paralyzed in a fall back in 1997, we were told it would be “impossible” to care for him at home. We were determined that he wasn't going to a nursing facility, though. He came home with us after his discharge from the hospital, and he has been at home ever since. We are thankful for the support of family, friends, and the medical community which have helped make the “impossible” a reality. Every day we are thankful to a faithful God who has taught us this:

“For with God nothing will be impossible.” – Luke 1:37 NKJV

“Possible,” however, doesn’t mean “easy.” Caregiving is a marathon, an ongoing investment in the life of another human being. Since our son’s medical needs require twenty-four-hour supervision, it has been imperative that we develop strategies to cope with the pressure.

Over the years, I’ve learned some vital practical tips for keeping sane. Today I want to share one tip that has helped me.

Simplify your home

I know that's lots easier to say than to do. Especially if you're a new caregiver, you may feel like you have the energy for anything else. But life beyond caregiving does go on. Along with caring for your loved one, there are bills to pay, birthdays to remember, and appointments to make. I recently had to spend hours digging through twenty years of non-digital photos for a memorial service for a relative. Nothing was in the right place. Nothing was dated. What a mess! It was my reminder that a couple of simple changes could have kept this from happening.

Hopefully, I learned my lesson.

Trust me. Life is easier if you get organized.

1. Use what’s on hand. 

Get shoe boxes (or plastic tubs if you want to invest in them). Label them “Pics,” “2015 Receipts,” etc. Set them in a place where they will be easily accessible. When you run across a receipt, photo, or anything else you need to save, throw it in the right box right then and there.

2. Label photos immediately. 

Take the extra 30 seconds to write a date and any other pertinent info on the back of non-digital photos before you toss them into the abyss of a box. Believe me, there will come a time someone will thank you for that.

3. File, file, file. 

Place important papers and medical information in file folders and 3-ring binders. Don’t turn this into a project. Just grab some folders at the store, label them, and put them in a drawer or box that you can keep handy. The important thing is to get into the habit of tossing things in the right place right away, before they get lost in a pile or, God forbid, thrown away.

If you’re tech savvy, you can take screenshots or digital pics of bills and papers and file them digitally. Be sure to back them up on a system like the cloud, external hard drive, or flash drive.

The important thing is to know yourself. Don’t set up a system that you’re not going to use. I’m old-school, and that’s why I love using file folders and boxes. It’s so easy to just pitch them in their proper place. But do what works for you.

4. Communicate. 

Keep a large calendar in the kitchen with a pen and sticky notes nearby. This way, family members post their appointments and events on the calendar so everybody knows what’s going on for a particular day. 

Let's get started!

Just doing these things should help relieve the mental burden of trying to coordinate a home and caregiving duties. We'll be sharing more as we explore how to survive - and even thrive - as caregivers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guest Writer: Linda Brendle

Bearing the pain of others | by Linda Brendle

My goal in life was not to become a caregiver. However, when my loved ones had a need, I stepped in to help.

Whether by small increments as the need progresses, or suddenly because of a catastrophic event, many of us become caregivers regardless of our intentions. Those of us who have been drafted into such a role, in searching for some meaning, often lean on Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

There is comfort in Paul’s words, but when you find yourself in the middle of hardship, it’s difficult to see how even God can find any good in your circumstances. As I watched Mom and Dad slip away into the abyss of dementia, I knew there was nothing good about Alzheimer’s. Still, through my experiences, God worked for my good and His purposes.

One good thing God did was to teach me the real meaning of Proverbs 3:5-6 which says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

For most of my life, I found security in control. The need for control increased as I cared for Mom and Dad. I developed what I believe is a common, if often subconscious and always misguided, belief among caregivers that, if I did everything just right, my parents would get well. While this might be the case with some illnesses or injuries, it is not the case with Alzheimer’s. I soon learned that I had no control over anything. For a co-dependent like me, letting go of the reins, even if they were connected to nothing, was a terrifying thing. However, God understood, and He worked for my good and His purposes in all things in my life – even in caregiving and Alzheimer’s.

Another good thing that came out of my caregiving experience is that I have a story to share. “Story” is the modern word for what we used to call testimony, but whatever you call it, God can use your story when you share it.

Becoming an author was not one of my life goals either, but after I became a caregiver, I often sought advice from Aunt Fay. She had cared for both her mother and her husband, and one thing she advised was to keep a journal, because one day my experiences might be of help to someone else. I wrote sporadically, mainly after a particularly trying day, but when we planned an epic RV trip, I decided to keep a daily journal. That journal eventually became my book which is titled A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos. Here’s a brief look at what the book is about.

“Sometimes, reality really bites. Alzheimer’s has wrapped Mom’s brain into knots; vascular dementia has attacked Dad, and instead of carefree retirees, we have become caregivers. Regardless, dreams die hard, and we somehow stumbled into the purchase of a forty-foot motor home. That’s when all four of us set out on this seven-week trek across sixteen U.S. states. Now, Dad stopped up the toilet again, Mom wet her last pair of clean jeans, and David just announced he was hungry. My head is beginning to pound, and I know this isn’t going to be the easygoing retirement we imagined for ourselves.”

Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving.

At its simplest level, my book is an entertaining story. My somewhat skewed perspective on life sometimes makes people laugh, so I intentionally included as much humor as possible. When going through the valleys, you have to laugh whenever you can. Solomon said, A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Generally speaking, dry bones don’t make very good caregivers.

At a deeper level my book offers caregivers the comfort of knowing they’re not alone. It also gives them the permission to share their own story and to admit that caregiving is hard. Even Moses couldn’t carry the burden of the children of Israel alone. During the battle against Amalek, Moses’ arms grew tired, so Aaron and Hur stood on either side of him and supported his arms. Without their help, the Israelites would have lost the battle. In Galatians 6:2, Paul tells us to Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. People can’t help you bear your burdens if you don’t share them, and someone who is watching you may be reluctant to share her burdens if she thinks you have none.

At a third level my book encourages caregivers to take care of themselves and to continue to have a life of their own. It also offers the hope that, with God’s help, life can go on in spite of whatever trial you are facing.

In Joel 2:25 God makes this promise to the Israelites: I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten. While this was a specific promise to a specific group of people, I believe we can apply the principal to our lives today. That principal gave me hope that there would be life after caregiving, but in order for there to be life after caregiving, you have to live through it. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first, and you have to maintain a life of your own.

When we are in the middle of hardship, it’s difficult to see what possible good even God can bring out of our situation. Paul gives us clues as to what a couple of those purposes might be.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Ephesians 2:10  

Ravi Zacharias once asked a group of church leaders this question: What portion of the world’s pain has God called you to bear? I don’t believe that God gave Mom Alzheimer’s, but I believe, in His sovereignty, He prepared me to care for her and to help bear her pain. He also prepared me to share my story and to help bear the pain of other caregivers.

When God shows you what work he has prepared for you to do and what portion of the world’s pain He has called you to bear, remember to lean on God rather than your own understanding. Then, share your story and help comfort someone with the comfort you have received from God.

About Linda:

After fifteen years as a family caregiver, Linda began writing to encourage, inspire and amuse other caregivers. She loves to travel and since retiring has traveled mostly by motorcycle and RV. She and her husband live in a small East Texas town where she gardens, writes, and works as part-time secretary for her church.

Find Linda at:

Author Video (Tour of RV):

Monday, February 16, 2015

What Caregivers Really Love

If you know someone who is a caregiver, you've probably had the frustration of wanting to help but not knowing what you can do. In the past, we've shared some ideas for helping a caregiver you love.

This past Valentine's Day reminded me of one simple thing you can do that will really mean a lot.

Give them a special dinner.

Years ago, my mother and my eldest daughter conspired to put on a "Sweetheart Dinner" for the family on Valentine's Day. It was a sit-down dinner, complete with candles and the good dishes. Each person had a valentine on their plate. They decorated the table beautifully and made a lovely meal.

It was a hit. On a day usually reserved for celebrating passion and romance, it was refreshing to see the family expressing Godly devotion for each other. We continued it for years.

Then our daughter left home, got married, and started her own family. Our son was paralyzed in an accident, and we became his full-time caregivers. The sweetheart dinner fell to the wayside for us. But our daughter continued it with her family.

This year, on a whim, I revived it in our own home. We made a simple meal, lit the candles, and made sure there were plenty of flowers and candy.

Once again, it was a hit. As I thought about it later, I realized why. People aren't used to having others do something lavishly nice just for them, just because they have value in someone's eyes.

Caregiving is a lonely job. It's easy to feel lost in the duties and hard work. It's tough to hang on to our own sense of person-hood sometimes on this journey.

If you really want to encourage someone you know who is a caregiver, give her (or him) a sit-down dinner. The food doesn't have to be exotic. Just light lots of candles, use the good dishes, and let her know that she is appreciated and loved for who she is.

You don't have to spend a lot of money, either. Be creative. Instead of gifts at the plates, set out little scrolls of inspirational Bible verses or quotes from your favorite authors, tied with ribbons. If they can't leave their own homes, take the dinner to them. Sit down with them, listen to their stories, and enjoy a leisurely meal. It doesn't even have to be at a holiday. You can make any day a celebration by bringing joy into the gray lives of someone around you.

Yes, it will challenge you to step beyond your comfort level--just like they have to do every day.

The idea that you cared enough to invest time in them will refill their tired souls. Caregivers know how precious time is. It will bless them.

I promise.