How to Be a True Friend to a Family Caregiver

By Carol Bradley Bursack, Minding Our Elders. Originally published on

Family caregivers often find that their social circles shrink over time. Casual friends are typically the first to drift away because a caregiver is too busy to get together, but close friends may disappear eventually as well. These friends are not bad people, though. More than likely, they don’t know how to help a caregiver and they find it easier to share their time with people whose lives are less complicated.

If you are just a casual friend to someone who is caring for an ill or aging loved one, then perhaps it’s best to remain that way. However, some of you want to do more for friends who have found themselves in this difficult role. You want to be there for them, but the trouble is that you don’t know where to start.

How to Support a Friend Who Is a Caregiver

The following tips may give you some insight into what you can do to help your friend as they devote a good portion of their time, energy and funds to their loved one. (Remember to take this as general advice since every caregiver and every care situation is unique.)

  1. Listen attentively. Really listen to what they have to say. Caregivers rarely expect others to solve their problems, but they need to vent their frustration and sorrow from time to time. Respond during conversations with sounds or short comments to assure them that you are engaged and really do care. Pretending to listen rarely fools anyone. If you want to be a true friend, listen attentively.
  2. Don’t tell horror stories. For example, someone who has just made the difficult decision to place a loved one in a care facility doesn’t need to hear about a substandard nursing home in another community where something terrible reportedly occurred. You may think that you are merely adding to the conversation on this topic, but sharing stories like these will only feed the caregiver’s feelings of guilt and worry. Unless what you have to say is actionable advice that may prevent something bad from happening, avoid negative chatter.
  3. Don’t be judgmental. Don’t second guess the caregiver’s decisions. Save your nursing home horror stories for someone who won’t be so emotionally affected by them. Refrain from sharing how you really feel about them quitting their job to provide unpaid care. You probably aren’t aware of all the details of their situation, and criticism isn’t helpful.
  4. Ask what they need. A caregiver for a seriously ill loved one is often as vulnerable and emotionally drained as someone who is mourning a death. In many cases, especially for dementia caregivers, they experience anticipatory grief as they watch their care recipient decline. You can’t be expected to know exactly what kind of assistance they need, but asking directly sounds much more sincere than the generic “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Many family caregivers do not ask for help, so take it upon yourself to broach the subject—and be sure to follow through.
  5. Offer the gift of your time. Family caregivers often find themselves wishing there were more hours in the day to tackle everything they need and want to do. Finding concrete ways to free up some of their time is invaluable. Help research their care recipient’s condition(s) and care options. Offer to visit with them for a couple hours so your friend can enjoy some alone time. Devote an afternoon to running errands for them. Choose one day every other week to bring dinner over. Just don’t offer things you can’t deliver.
  6. Give your friend space. Sometimes a caregiver wants nothing more than to be left alone. Don’t imply that just because they aren’t actively rushing around, they have nothing to do. However, be alert for signs of caregiver burnout like withdrawal, isolation, and depression. Just remember to take your friend’s “normal” personality into account. A typically gregarious person may need some prodding to go out, but many people need time alone to regroup and recharge before they can enjoy anything social.
  7. Bring food. This can be a full meal, a main dish or a dessert. Something that can be frozen is often best. Let your friend know that this gift is intended for whenever it would best suit their schedule. That way, you are not overriding plans they may already have made. If you’ve been listening attentively to what is happening in their life and with their care recipient, then you will likely be aware of any dietary restrictions that are in place.
  8. Offer to take your friend out—and help arrange respite care. For most people, seeing a movie, grabbing lunch and going for a walk are simple outings that require minimal planning. For a primary caregiver who lives with their care recipient, even stepping out for 30 minutes to get groceries can feel impossible. In cases like these, a huge limiting factor is not having some sort of back-up care for their loved one. To increase the likelihood that they can and will join you, assure your friend that you have someone trustworthy—perhaps another friend from your group, a family member or a professional caregiver—who can take over in their absence. Caregivers can’t relax when they are worried about their loved one’s welfare.
  9. Don’t make more work for them. Avoid doing anything that adds more to a caregiver’s already full plate. Be considerate and realistic when brainstorming ways of lifting their spirits. For example, saying that you are gathering the gang to come over for a visit on a whim is a no-go. No matter how often you repeat that the caregiver should not go to any trouble, they will probably still feel pressured to prepare for company. Showing up unannounced is strongly discouraged as well, since caregivers are often running on a tight schedule. This advice is not meant to discourage visits and social calls. Just be sure to ask when would be convenient and give plenty of notice beforehand.
  10. Keep them feeling included. Don’t overwhelm the caregiver with invitations that you know can’t be accepted, but do make sure they are still kept in the loop. Extend invitations—ideally with practical help, when needed—that can conceivably be accepted. At the same time, don’t lay guilt on your friend for declining. Sometimes caregivers are simply too fatigued to want to do anything at all, but that does not mean they don’t want to be remembered.

It’s the Thought That Counts

As with nearly everything that has to do with caregiving, there is no guarantee that you, as a friend, will always do the right thing. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve neglected your friend or done something “wrong.” Just keep trying to nurture your friendship in every practical way that you can.

The question “what do caregivers need most?” can seem intimidating—especially for those who have never walked this path before. More often than not, the answer is actually quite simple. What they need most is to know and feel that someone truly cares about them.

Establishing antibiotic potential for cannabis

Synthetic cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been shown for the first time to kill the bacteria responsible for gonorrhoea, meningitis and legionnaires disease.

The research collaboration between IMB’s Centre for Superbug Solutions and Botanix Pharmaceuticals Limited could lead to the first new class of antibiotics for resistant bacteria in 60 years.

The ABC’s of Caring for Yourself

This article originally appears here:

Providing care for a family member in need is a centuries-old act of kindness, love and loyalty. Caregivers, friends and family members can make an incredible difference in the lives of their loved ones who are diagnosed with chronic conditions.

sol-Carer1As a caregiver you provide help with many things, including grocery shopping, house cleaning, cooking, shopping, paying bills, giving medicine, toileting, bathing, dressing and eating. There are many rewards and challenges to providing care. There are times of intimacy, fun and laughter. In fact, research has found that caregivers feel approximately three times more positive than negative emotions related to caregiving. The literature reports some of the following statistics and comments:
• 96 per cent of caregivers report feeling “loving”.
• 90 per cent report feeling appreciated.
• 84 per cent report feeling proud.

Doing it with love
Caregivers often experience increased closeness with their loved one; they can find it meaningful to care for someone and often report having a sense of purpose. Caregiving can help clarify an individual’s beliefs and deepen their sense of their own values, compassion and patience, and improve their self-confidence and self-esteem. It can also create a positive psychological change as a result of successfully struggling with a highly challenging situation.

There are also times of sadness, frustration and exhaustion, sol-Carer3however, which are often caused by a lack of practical skills and support: Caregivers often have to travel through a healthcare system that, unfortunately, is not designed to manage chronic long-term illnesses. That means struggling to coordinate doctors, managing multiple prescriptions, monitoring for changes in conditions and more. Studies have shown that caregivers are nearly twice as likely as the general population to develop multiple chronic illnesses due to stress and neglect of their own health and well-being.

Caring for another person takes a lot of time, effort and work. In addition, most caregivers juggle caregiving with full-time jobs and parenting and, in the process, put their own needs aside. Caregivers often report that it is difficult to look after their own health in terms of exercise, nutrition and doctor’s visits, and can often end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated and sad.

Manage together
Deciding how to manage any kind of medical condition with your loved one is an important task. Things to consider include understanding your loved one’s goals, making sure you talk with your loved one, tag-teaming appointments with others, developing a health journal, helping to maintain a safe home environment and improving your own comfort.

Understand your loved one’s goals
Talk with your friend or loved one with chronic illness to help understand their goals. Get the conversation started by discussing events or activities they used to participate in and miss, whether that is fishing, walking the dog or playing cards, or something they would like to be a part of in the future. You can help your loved one meet their goals by discussing them with their healthcare providers, doctors or community service agencies.

Talk with, not at, someone
Your family member or friend may be put off by your advice if they think that you are speaking at them and not with them. Most people suffering from a chronic illness do not want advice; they want to talk things out so that they can come to their own decisions. At times, giving advice inhibits conversation. Put yourself in their shoes and talk in a way that encourages a positive reaction. For example: “I read that some people suffering from heart failure have trouble checking their weight every day. We could make a pact to make sure we weigh ourselves daily.”

Tag team
Attending doctor’s appointments with the “patient” can not only be comforting to them, but also provides a second pair of ears.

Hint: Take all medications (in their containers) along to doctor’s appointments. It is also helpful to write down questions ahead of time and take notes. You could also help create a personal health journal with doctors’ numbers and a record of your loved one’s weight, oxygen use and symptoms, such as increased shortness of breath or fatigue.

sol-Carer4By educating yourself about your loved one’s condition, you will feel more comfortable speaking about it and reinforcing doctors’ suggestions.

Make sure the home is safe
Look for things in the environment that might cause harm to your loved one, such as loose area rugs, wonky steps or missing/faulty handrails—all of which can be dangerous for someone who has trouble walking. Stairs can cause shortness of breath, so think about moving your loved one’s bedroom to the ground floor if you live in a multi-storey home. Place chairs around the house so that your loved one can sit if they need to.

How to take care of yourself
It is very important that you don’t neglect your own needs. While it may feel selfish, looking after yourself really is the best thing you can do not only for yourself but also for the person you are caring for.

Find friends and family that you can lean on for emotional support, or join a local disease-specific support group composed of other people in the same situation as you. You can also:
• Make sure you have regular check-ups and that those “little concerns” about your health are seen to.
• Keep exercising: Exercise is more important than ever as it gives you a break, combats depression and helps you maintain your health.
• Eat properly and get enough sleep.

Don’t go it alone
Find community resources and ask friends or family members to step in and give you time off. Or, if you are financially able, hire someone to assist you.

When you have a break, get your hair done or see a movie. Listen to music and exercise. In addition, meditation can be very helpful.

Excerpted with permission from Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada, with contributions from Maureen Tymkow, PH caregiver, and Carolyn Doyle-Cox, RN.

Visit for more information.

Home Care & Safe Patient Handling

aideThere are risks involved in moving patients in the home when an assistive device is not used.  An overexerted caregiver could accidentally injure themselves or harm the patient.  The patient may be injury by being dropped, jarred or not properly handled during transfers that are unassisted by a device.

Traditional floor-based lifts typically require multiple caregivers for transfers in the home.  They have a higher risk of tipping and can be difficult to move and adjust due to floor coverings or furniture within the room.  Heavier and larger patients can make these types of lift even more difficult for caregivers to move and adjust.

Anyone who lifts and moves patients are at a high risk for back injury and other musculoskeletal disorders.  Injuries are due in a large part to the overexertion associated with lifting, transferring and repositioning patients manually.  Safe Patient Handling has been associated with fewer injuries and decreasing severity of injuries.

patientStudies have shown that patients feel more comfortable and secure when ua mechanical transfer device is used.  It has been found that using mechanical devices to transfer patients takes fewer personnel and less time than manual transfers.

Patients and family caregivers may be unwilling or unable to accept changes in the home.  They may fear that an assistive device will be unsafe or uncomfortable.   In reality, assistive devices actually increase patient safety and comfort while enhancing the patient’s sense of dignity.  Assistive devices also protect caregivers from injury while increasing their efficiency.

The Titan 500 is a freestanding overhead patient lift designed for the home and the family caregiver.  It allows a single caregiver, often a family member, to safely transfer a loved one in the home without injury.


Proudly Made in the USA, the Titan 500 is a complete lift system that includes a free sling and free shipping.  It does not attach to the structure of the home and can follow the patient as they move through the continuum of care.  It is simple and safe to use and features a rechargeable electric lift motor.

For more information, visit our website, find us on Facebook and watch our YouTube channel.



6 Things Can You Do to Protect Disability Rights Today

By Alice Wong

This article originally appeared in Teen Vogue.  (


Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

In this op-ed, the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, Alice Wong, explains the danger of H.R. 620 and how you can help protect disability rights.

What does it mean to be an activist? I became an accidental activist because this world was never built for me. For me, as a disabled woman of color with a progressive neuromuscular disability, every breath is an act of resistance and activism.

I graduated from high school two years after the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990. It took me a long time understand the influence of this law on my sense of identity and pride as a disabled person. I no longer had to ask “nicely” for access or put up with discrimination. I had a law that represented my lived experience and my community. I could refer to the ADA and say that disability rights are civil and human rights.

Tomorrow, a bill will go for a vote in the House that will weaken the ADA and make it harder for disabled people to fully enjoy the world with their friends and family. The bill is called H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.

For more than 27 years, businesses and public entities have been required to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. The ADA changed the opportunities disabled people have in every aspect of life.

Read the rest of the article here:

Lifting The Standard of Care: Safe In Home Transfers for Family Caregivers

The Titan 500 is a freestanding overhead patient lift designed for home care. The Titan 500 is a complete lift system and comes with the freestanding frame, 8 foot overhead beam, rechargeable electric lift motor, four-point lift bar, remote control, battery charger and a universal sling, with 4 sizes to choose from.


Titan 500 Freestanding Overhead Electric Patient Lift for Home Care & Family Caregivers



The Titan 500 ships freight and arrives in a large carton. It is partially assembled and two adults can fully assemble the lift in about 30 minutes. The Titan 500 does not attach to the structure of the home and allows a single caregiver to safely transfer a loved one without the stress and strain of a floor-based lift. The only real maintenance required is keeping the batteries charged and maintaining a straight lift belt to avoid twists and folds.

ceiling lift system

Titan 500 Overhead Patient Lift – Shipping Carton

Each piece of the system is designed to lift up to 500 pounds. We have several safety
systems built in to the lift. These include a belt travel limiter to prevent the belt from
completely unspooling, a safety stop switch to keep the belt from winding all the way up
into the motor unit and an electric emergency down system.

Freestanding Overhead Patient Lift

Titan 500 Freestanding Overhead Patient Lift

The Titan 500 is proudly U.S. made and was designed by a service-disabled veteran. We
are located in Michigan and shipping is free within the continental United States. Options for the unit include a 10 or 12 foot overhead beam and a set of locking casters for the frame. Those incur extra charges.  Contact us with questions and price inquiries.

Visit our website, find us on Facebook and watch our YouTube channel for more information.


Safe Patient Transfers In The Home

The Titan 500 is a freestanding overhead electric patient lift designed for home health care and a single family caregiver.  It protects caregivers and their patients from the injuries associated with the manual lifting and transferring of patients in the home.


The freestanding system does not attach to the structure and can follow the patient throughout their continuum of care.  A rechargeable electric motor gently lifts and lowers the patient while the caregiver glides them across the overhead beam and positions them  for a safe and secure transfer.


Designed by a Service-Disabled Veteran, the Titan 500 is proudly “Made in the USA”.

For more information, visit our website, find us on Facebook and watch our YouTube channel.


The Feminist Case For Single Payer

This article originally appeared on Jacobin.

It’s time to take health care away from the power of bosses and spouses.


A Los Angeles Medicare for All rally in February 2017. Molly Adams / Flickr

In the spring of 1969, a dozen feminists gathered at a women’s conference in Boston and came to a sober conclusion: their encounters with the United States health-care system had been overwhelmingly negative. They felt unsettled by doctors, alienated from their bodies, grifted by fees, and altogether powerless to navigate an industry they believed objectified them just as popular culture did.

The conference launched a years-long project, with each participant delving into some aspect of anatomy, sexuality, or society related to women’s health. The result was a self-published volume of essays called Women and their Bodies, which the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective used to provide women with a resource produced from their own perspectives and experiences.

Within a few years, the landmark feminist booklet was re-dubbed Our Bodies, Ourselves, released by Simon and Schuester, and sold millions of copies. In 2012, the Library of Congress named it one of the most significant works in American history. In recent years, it has inspired Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, which similarly seeks to be a health-care guide “by and for” the transgender community.

While Our Bodies, Ourselves is remembered for its role in the history of women’s health and culture, less attention is paid to its political context. In the 1970s, the small collective became one of the first feminist organizations to demand a single-payer health-care system: “Suffice it to say that capitalism is incapable of providing good health care, both curative and preventive, for all people,” one entry read. “Cost-benefit analysis trades off the benefit to the people of collective public health in favor of the cost to the people of private, patch-up medical care. The capitalist medical care system can be no more dedicated to improving the people’s health than can General Motors become dedicated to improving the people’s public transportation.” In a subsequent edition, they expounded: “We believe that health care is a human right and that a society should provide free health care for itself . . . Health care cannot be adequate as long as it is conceived of as insurance.”

If the book’s then-radical content has so permeated mainstream culture that it would strike readers as obvious today, the same is not the case for its authors’ critique of American health care. In fact, nearly fifty years after the collective articulated its vision for a universal system, “feminist” arguments against single-payer pepper politics and the media.

In June, Planned Parenthood of California refused to endorse a bill for a statewide single-payer system, contending that it was critical to focus on defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against GOP attacks instead. Vice cast it as a job-crusher for the mostly women of color who work in healthcare administration. In 2016, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — whose campaign foregrounded her feminist credentials — famously declared single-payer would “never, ever come to pass.” More recently, Senator Bernie Sanders’s release of an expansive Medicare for All bill has been met with skepticism by media personalities who backed Clinton for her feminist credentials. At the very least, it seems clear that single-payer health care is rarely framed as a feminist issue.

Some mainstream feminists knock single payer as a distraction from the fight to defend the ACA. But while the Affordable Care Act undeniably improved some women’s lives, it could not dismantle gendered barriers to care.

Of all systems, single-payer is capable of going furthest to eliminate them. That’s the vision that Our Bodies, Ourselves adopted nearly half a century ago, and it must be taken up again today.