Newsletter – November, 2002

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 4, No. 11 November 2002

Caregiving is something that I have become very familiar with since coming to Goldenrod. In our case, the caregiving involves persons with disabilities. However, I have recently become more aware of the fact that many persons will become caregivers sometime during their lifetime, specifically for aging parents, spouses, or friends.

This month’s Companion Resources Newsletter focuses on caregiving for persons who become disabled later in life, especially through a serious illness or simply the process of aging.

It is not often that my wife and I have the opportunity to sit down and watch a complete two-hour special on television. Yet, when we saw information on a PBS special on caregiving, we made the time to do it.

We were not disappointed; it was an excellent program, even emotionally moving at points. It gave a realistic picture of both the joys and challenges of caregiving. It also painted a sobering picture of the policy decisions that need to be made by government leaders to enable family members to give quality care to their loved ones.

The program was called “& Thou Shalt Honor” and aired on many public television stations in October 2002. However, it is available for a reasonable cost through the PBS website at http://www.pbs.org/thoushalthonor/ and there is also a book that goes along with the tape.

The producers of this landmark documentary have also created a “Caregiving Resource Center” on the Internet which can be found at http://www.andthoushalthonor.org/ and contains many more supporting materials. The “Thou Shalt Honor Foundation” supports family caregivers’ efforts through advocacy, public education and multimedia communications, including a 25-city series of Town Hall meetings on chronic care issues.

This is an issue that will affect many persons and I encourage you to check it out!

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Keep in touch with family and friends! Whether you are looking for a cellular phone plan, a cheaper Internet connection, or simply the greatest long distant rates around, I’ve come up with a new place that has all this and more! Go to http://www.ld.net/?cresources and check it out for yourself. If you sign up through these links, your use of these services benefits Companion Resources!

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Turning now from public television to public radio, I heard a remarkable story of an Illinois English professor who moved back to his home area of New Hampshire after contracting ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Phil Simmons then wrote a book with the almost startling title of Learning to Fall: T he Blessings of an Imperfect Life . You can find information about this book, including a substantial excerpt at http://www.learningtofall.com/.

National Public Radio picked up the story of Phil Simmons in January 2002 for the remarkable way in which Phil’s family and friends formed a “caregiving circle” as his health continued to decline. This allowed Phil to do some amazing things in his last days before he finally died in July 2002. NPR’s website has both the audio and a written version of their report about Phil at http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2002/july/simmons/.

I was intrigued at the concept of caregiving circles as a particularly important expression of community for persons who develop serious illnesses. This idea was developed by two women named Cappy Capossela and Sheila Warnock in order to care for their seriously ill friend, Susan. In a subsequent book Share the Care: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who Is Seriously Ill , they shared their experiences and gave many helpful ideas for others to organize similar groups. It was their model that the friends of Phil Simmons picked up to care for him.

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You can find more information on any of these topics, including a link to order the “Share the Care” book by going to Companion Resources’ new web page on caregiving (https://companionresources.org/ [unfortunately, not yet republished on the new site, 14 January 2007 ). I plan to add more links to this page in the coming months as well as to new pages devoted to aging, dying, and grieving. Your suggestions of important resources in these areas are welcomed.

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As we are in the midst of the holiday season, let us give thanks for all of the many blessings we enjoy–maybe even “the blessings of an imperfect life.”

Peace,

Paul D. Leichty

The Goldenrod Community

Middlebury, Indiana

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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