February 15, 2011
What is Normal in Loss and Bereavement?
By Karla Helbert, MS, LPC
Once someone we love has died, our new normal is something completely different from anything we have known before. We are different than we were before. Our lives are different than they were before. “Normal” seems like something far, far away. Unfortunately, this is the new normal. Losing someone you love dearly, who was an integral part of your life, is an intense and incredibly difficult experience. Often, bereaved people find that their grief can be misunderstood by others who have not experienced the same kind of loss or who have not yet faced the death of someone they who was an integral part of their lives.
Grief affects us physically. It can feel like a weight on our bodies. Grieving people frequently experience changes in appetite, either eating more or less than usual. You may feel as though you are having difficulty breathing. Your energy level may change. Usually grieving people experience a decrease in energy; getting out of bed can seem like a huge task, but occasionally, energy levels can be extremely high. You may experience headaches or other pain in various parts of your body, including pain in the chest. You may notice changes in your sleeping patterns, including inability to sleep, frequent waking, or sleeping more than is usual for you. Some grieving people report having increased sensitivity to loud noises or light.
Grief affects us cognitively, changing the way we think, or how our brains work. We may feel confused, in disbelief, have feelings of unreality, we may forget things, or have trouble getting our thoughts together. Many people have experiences of seeing or hearing their loved ones. Grieving people also have frequent thoughts of their loved one and often spend a lot of time trying to “make sense” of the loss.
Spiritual and Philosophical Changes
Grief affects us spiritually on very deep levels. No matter what a person’s religion or spiritual belief system, the death of someone we love deeply changes us. Why did this happen? Why did God let him or her die? Why me? Why is God punishing me? What did I do wrong to deserve this? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? Where is my loved one now? Can they see me or feel me? Some grieving people may find that everything we thought we knew or believed is called into question after the death of a loved one. It is common to face a spiritual crisis following the death of a loved one. Some grieving people find their spiritual lives become greatly enriched and find great strength in spiritual or religious practices including increased prayer, meditation, or other spiritual activities.
While we expect to feel sadness, sometimes the intensity of that sadness can take us by surprise. Feelings of shock and numbness, the sense of unreality, as if this cannot be really happening, feeling anxious or guilty are all common emotions grieving people feel. Other emotions such as irritability, frustration, anger, loneliness, are also normal. Feeling depressed, hopeless, or having no interest in activities that previously interested you can also be very normal. It can be very common to experience relief after a person you loved has died, particularly if your loved one suffered greatly or if the illness was extremely prolonged.
There is Hope
Sometimes it seems that many people in our society believe that the time for grieving should be over soon after the funeral, or at most, a few weeks or months later. This is not true. Your process for healing may last several months, or even years. There is no specific time-table for healing to occur. The strongest and most intense feelings generally occur over the first year following the person’s death. Even after the immediate, intense feelings subside, it is important to know there will always be times throughout your life when you will miss your loved one and feel sad.
Support and help when you are grieving is very important. Talking to people who are non-judgmental and supportive is helpful; people who will not tell you what you should do or shouldn’t do or what you need to do, or what you need to stop doing. Find a friend or family member who can be there for you, or attend a support group.
Support groups can be very helpful for grieving people and can provide the kind of non-judgmental listening support grieving people need. Groups will include sharing the stories of our loved ones, our individual experiences, discussing various coping skills and creating personal rituals and memorials to honor our loved ones.
Crater Community Hospice offers support groups throughout the year in two locations. On Thursday, February 24, a group will begin from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. through March 31st. Group sessions are free but pre-registration is requested. To register contact Karla Helbert at 804-892-2782 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Crater Community Hospice at 804-526-4300.
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February 11, 2011
Council on Aging presents its Legislative Agenda on Aging 2011 “Engaging with Aging” Monday, February 21, 2011 (Presidents’ Day) 8:30 -10:30 a.m. at the Tyvola Senior Center, 2225 Tyvola Road, Charlotte, NC 28210.
Featured panelists include:
U.S. Congressman Mel Watt
N.C. Representative Becky Carney
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Karen Bentley
Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon
– Come to a FREE* event that’s open to the public.
– Meet your state, county, and city elected officials.
– Find out what your elected officials are doing to make Charlotte-Mecklenburg a senior-friendly community.
– Participate in an informative question & answer session with local leaders to discuss aging issues that could impact YOUR quality of life.
– Enjoy a complimentary light breakfast, networking opportunities, and valuable handouts.
– If youre getting older, know someone getting older, work with aging adults, and/or are interested in a senior-friendly community, this Legislative Agenda on Aging is for YOU!
*Donations are welcome but not required.
Seating is very limited! Make your reservation NOW! To register, call 704-391-5216 or send e-mail to RSVP@charmeckcoa.org.
CHS Senior Services
Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region
Older Adult Advocates:
Carriage Club Charlotte
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Senior Centers
Liberty Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
Senior Living Guide
It’s YOUR future…..Make sure it’s senior-friendly!
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February 10, 2011
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CHARLOTTE, ed Jan. 25, remedy 2011 – Chosen from more than 110 eligible regional chefs within 108 Brookdale Senior Living communities locally, search Chef Joe Carey of Carriage Club Charlotte, a Brookdale Senior Living continuing care retirement community in North Carolina, has earned the regional culinary honor of 2010 for participating in Ultimate Chef America.
Throughout 2010, the culinary professionals of Brookdale Senior Living, leading owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the United States, put on a year-long series of first-class cooking competitions nationwide from Phoenix to Jacksonville, Fla. with stops along the way in Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Atlanta. At each event, two teams of senior living chefs had two hours to produce four courses with the theme of healthy cooking, using only a grill.
Dishes prepared by the chefs were judged on-site by a panel of five celebrity judges headed by Leeza Gibbons and a Brookdale resident with a culinary background. The teams won awards for taste, creativity and presentation. In addition, each individual chef was awarded points on his or her dish.
Chef Carey of Carriage Club Charlotte has been named the regional Ultimate Chef of America.
Each event showcased the talents of Brookdale’s professional chefs, who created dishes that were not only flavorful and unique, but were made especially for less sensitive senior palates. Carey’s team, The Southern Sizzlers, won “Best Creativity” when they prepared grilled summer shrimp mélange, salmon fillet over spinach and bean ragu with a mango salsa, grilled vegetables with garlic vinaigrette. Carey prepared the dessert, grilled fresh harvest fruits with gorgonzola cream.
Chef Carey was born in Annandale, Va. and raised in Bradenton, Fla. He was given his start when he had to fill in for a cook who burned his hand. Since then, has worked at a few resorts and clubs during the years in several positions as well as being a regional trainer for a major restaurant chain. Carey joined Brookdale in 1996 as the Dining Service Director of Carriage Club Charlotte.
“Cooking for seniors requires special training and expertise because the sensitivity of taste buds and palates change with age, so the flavors have to be bolder and richer and the textures of foods need to be more ‘senior friendly’ as well,” said Joska Hajdu, Brookdale’s senior vice president of Dining Services and an executive chef by trade. “That’s one reason why the participating chefs and their creations are special; they are created with passion and an intensity that surpasses food served in other venues.”
Ultimate Chef America, however, was much more than a professional cooking competition. Each event was a celebration of great food and life fulfillment. In each of the six locations, residents and guests were in the audience for live talk shows with celebrity judges and senior health and culinary experts that were streamed over the Internet and broadcast to other Brookdale communities. The competition also featured seminars on food, wine and seasonings, presented by experts on each topic. There were also guided tours of the host community; a silent auction benefiting the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and its signature program Leeza’s Place, “A Place for Caregivers,” a community gathering place and resource center for family caregivers impacted by chronic or progressive illness; and a business expo highlighting the event’s sponsors, including Nestle Vitality, Nestle Professional, Advanced Foods, Walgreens, Tyson Foods, Royal Cup, Fidelity Print, Ecolab, SCA and Entegra.
The six events have welcomed, entertained and served almost 5,000 guests. The silent auctions conducted at the events have raised more than $100,000 to support the work of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and $16,000 to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
“Ultimate Chef America also gave our residents and those considering a move to a Brookdale community a first-hand experience with our concept for living, Optimum Life,” said Sara Terry, vice president of Optimum Life for Brookdale Senior Living.
A way of life offered exclusively by Brookdale Senior Living at its communities, Optimum Life®, focuses on six key dimensions – emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual and purposeful.
More information about Ultimate Chef America can be found at http://www.ultimatechefamerica.com and http://www.facebook.com/ultimatechefbrookdale
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February 8, 2011
On February 1 the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) launched a toll-free Caregiver Telephone Support Line for family caregivers of veterans who are living with the effects of war, disability, chronic illness, or aging. The Support Line is staffed by social workers, who will provide information on VA/community caregiver support resources and referrals to the Caregiver Support Coordinators located in each VA Medical Center. Emotional support for the family caregiver will be a component of this support line service.
You can reach the VA Caregiver Support Line Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The toll-free number is 855/260-3274. The phone number is also posted on the VA’s website www.aging.com
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Do you need to earn CEU’S?
Come hear Nationally Recognized Dementia Expert Teepa Snow!
When: Saturday, shop April 16, search 2011
9:30am to 3:00pm
Where: Holiday Inn, Rock Hill SC
Cost: $20.00 and includes continental breakfast and lunch
To Register: send check to
York County Adult Day Care Services
359 Park Avenue,
Rock Hill , Sc 29732
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For the past three decades, the YWCA has hosted the Outstanding Women Awards, an event that recognizes women in Greater Richmond who have made significant contributions to our community through their exceptional leadership qualities, as well as for excellence, achievements, and dedication in their careers and society. There were nine winners for 2011 with categories including Arts, Business, Communications, Education, Health and Science, Human Relations and Faith in Action, Law and Government, Nonprofit Management, and Volunteerism. First celebrated in 1980, this signature event is recognized as THE women’s event in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Powhatan, Charles City, New Kent, Petersburg, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie, and Goochland. This event is has over 900 in attendance each year. Ms. Johnston was the winner in the field of Health and Science.
Under the leadership of Ms. Johnston, Care Advantage has donated over $500,000 to an extensive list of local charities. Debbie’s belief that “one of the best things about growing a financially successful company is having the ability to give to others.” This is evident to thousands of people who are touched daily by her generosity. As owner of Care Advantage, Inc., a leading company for personal and companion home healthcare with 17 offices and sister offices throughout Virginia, Ms. Johnston’s compassion reaches thousands of employees, clients and others through her charity work. Her accolades include Entrepreneur of Richmond, Small Business Person of the Year, Leukemia society’s Woman of the Year, Big Brother Big Sisters Philanthropist of the Year, Bernard Savage Community Service Award, Commonwealth Catholic Charities Community Service Award , and Working Women’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.
Ms. Johnston and all of this year’s winners will be recognized at a luncheon at the Richmond Marriott on May 6, 2011. For more information and tickets please go to the YWCA website
Senior Living Guide is proud of Debbie and all her accomplishments to the community!
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February 1, 2011
Can you tell me the difference between aging in place and an Assisted Living Facility?
I have also heard the term CCRC. What does that mean? Is this a good option for my
parents to age in place?
Over the past decade aging terminology has evolved a great deal, cialis often leaving the
general public more questions than answers. Understanding the options available and
choosing the best fit for your parents starts with an understanding of these terms.
The 2005 White House Conference on Aging developed a glossary of “aging terms”
for this very reason; you can download this helpful tool online at:
Many people refer to “aging in place,” but what do they really mean? According to
Senior Resource, “aging in place” refers to living where you have lived for many years,
using products, services and conveniences to enable you to not have to move as
Others feel that aging in a non-medical facility falls into this category, as it has the
potential to offer a home-like setting. Some organizations are pushing for the development
of “livable communities” designed to meet the changing needs of older adults
In your case, it would be the ability to keep your parents at home or in a home-like
environment as they need additional support.
The second half of your questions speaks directly to level of care. These are criteria often
set to meet program requirements, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Special Assistance.
Independent living would be a setting with no personal care or other support services such
as an apartment. Assisted Living (AL) provides a group setting with support services for those
who do not require 24-hour nursing care. For example, they might offer meals, housekeeping,
transportation, activities and some personal care assistance. Skilled Nursing (SN) is the final
level of care at which people require “skilled” services, including 24-hour nursing care. Many
of them offer rehabilitation services in addition to round the clock nursing. A Continuing Care
Retirement Community (CCRC) is a community that offers all three levels of care. They typically
have a campus that includes independent apartments, an option to transition to Assisted Living
and a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF).
To determine the best option for your parents, I recommend several steps. First, have a conversation with them about what is important as they age. What are their preferences, desires, and fears?
Second, determine what options are available in your area and how to access them. Third, have a comprehensive assessment of needs completed by an aging professional. And finally, determine what resources they have to pay for these options. Being at home is typically the older adult’s initial preference, but when 24-hour care is required, it can be very expensive. The quality of available facilities and amenities offered has also greatly improved over time, and it is worth looking at a few to get an idea of what is available. Many people truly enjoy being in a designated community as they age and benefit greatly from the social opportunities, age appropriate design and increased support.
Keep an open mind and become educated on your options.
Amy Natt, MS, Certified Geriatric Care Manager and CEO of AOS Care Management, with offices in Cary and Southern Pines, can be reached at (919) 535-8713, (910) 692-0683, or
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