Book Review: “Share the Care”

SHARE THE CARE: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who Is Seriously Ill (Revised and Updated), by Cappy Capossela & Sheila Warnock
(Touchstone, 2004)
Share the Care

By Alyssa McFarland

Have you ever needed to provide help to a friend or family member with a serious illness or injury? Did you feel overwhelmed and resentful, and then felt guilty about those feelings, but felt if you didn’t help, no one else would? Have you ever been unable to do things for yourself because of serious illness or injury, and felt worried because relying on random people, busy friends and family was kind of like having holes in your security blanket?

Caregiving groups to the rescue!

The book, Share the Care, is a remarkable achievement. It was written by two women who were part of a caregiving team for a mutual friend who had cancer. They have group caregiving down to a system, and share their system with readers in this book and on their website,

Through the power of using the group so that no one burns out, the Share the Care system helps you do everything from navigate the medical maze to fixing up your sick friend’s room. Whether you or your friend has a terminal illness or just need help for a couple of months after hip surgery, the authors have thought through virtually all the various tasks that might need done for an ill person. They provide forms that members can fill out detailing their skills and availability, and explain how to run the initial meeting that gets everyone on board with the concept of sharing the care, and much more.

I’d recommend it to anyone, even if aren’t convinced you’ll ever need it, because it is thought provoking and full of good ideas.


Find this book!

Seattle Public Library: (Not currently available)

Indie Bound:


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For an Aging Brain, Looking for Ways to Keep Memory Sharp

Paul Rogers - NYT

Paul Rogers – NYT

By Jane E. Brody
May 11, 2015 —The New York Times Well Blog

With people worldwide living longer, marketers are seizing on every opportunity to sell remedies and devices that they claim can enhance memory and other cognitive functions and perhaps stave off dementia as people age.

Among them are “all-natural” herbal supplements like Luminene, with ingredients that include the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid, the purported brain stimulant ginkgo biloba, and huperzine A, said to increase levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine; brain-training games on computers and smartphones; and all manner of puzzles, including crosswords, sudoku and jigsaw, that give the brain a workout, albeit a sedentary one.

Unfortunately, few such potions and gizmos have been proven to have a meaningful, sustainable benefit beyond lining the pockets of their sellers. Before you invest in them, you’d be wise to look for well-designed, placebo-controlled studies that attest to their ability to promote a youthful memory and other cognitive functions.

Even the widely acclaimed value of doing crossword puzzles has been called into question, beyond its unmistakable benefit to one’s font of miscellaneous knowledge. Although there is some evidence that doing crosswords may help to delay memory decline, Molly Wagster, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging, said they are best done for personal pleasure, not brain health. “People who have done puzzles all their lives have no particular cognitive advantage over anyone else,” she said.

Read the full article in The New York Times

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The Punch List

fern fronds in spring

By Marilyn Zuckerman

For Robert and Ron

When the shades don’t work
and the security doors are late
They come back.
When the kitchen needs a new register
and a cabinet needs fixing
They come back.
When the sliding doors don’t meet
and the closet light doesn’t light
They come back.
When the bathroom cabinet
bangs against the mirror
They come back and fix it
while I follow them around
like a kid filled with awe and admiration
and will miss them when they’re gone.


The Punch List is the final push the crew makes to complete the remodel of the house, when they take care of every last-minute detail. It was fun to watch and I was sorry when they were finished and left.

“Now if you want us to come back, ” Robert said, ” you’ll have to break something.”

·    ·    ·

This poem forms the fourth installment in a sequence about the construction of my home—read the first hereRead the second here, and the third here.

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The Right Paperwork for Your End-of-Life Wishes

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

By Jessica Nutik Zitter
April 29, 2015—The New York Times

The patient’s heart was barely contracting under my ultrasound probe, like a limp handshake. He was in shock, his ineffective heartbeat unable to maintain the pressure necessary to keep his organs alive.

And now he was on full life support on my service in the intensive care unit.

What had just felt like a satisfying process may in fact have been assault and battery with a dose of hostage taking. 

Our ultrasound completed, the resident resumed her presentation of the case. The troops had already been called in, she assured me. The cardiologists were considering taking him for a heart catheterization to determine if there was a blockage that could be reversed. The respiratory therapists were fiddling with the knobs on the breathing machine. It hissed as it rhythmically inflated and deflated his lungs. The I.C.U. nurse was connecting a dobutamine drip to the large plastic catheter that had been inserted deep into a neck vein by the emergency room physician. This medication is like a shot of adrenaline to a dying heart, conjuring any remaining fumes of life to keep it beating until an intervention might solve or improve the problem. Unfortunately, and far too commonly, dobutamine simply serves to prolong the inevitable, and the patient’s heart, which would have tired and stopped long before, sputters along on this high-octane fuel. Our patient was tucked in as we awaited next steps.

“But,” my resident went on, looking at the floor, “the daughters are on their way in. Apparently the patient had told them no machines. They’re very upset.”

Suddenly, this case was turned on its head. What had just felt like a satisfying process may in fact have been assault and battery with a dose of hostage taking. None of it intentional. But the effect was the same.

Read the full article in the NYT
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A Better Nursing Home Exists

After plenty of isolated successes, the question isn’t what good nursing homes look like, but how to transform existing facilities into places that look like them.

Seniors around the communal table at a Green House (Credit: THE GREEN HOUSE PROJECT)

Seniors around the communal table at a Green House (Credit: THE GREEN HOUSE PROJECT)

By Alana Semuels—The Atlantic

CHELSEA, Ma.—The woman Barry Berman saw sitting in the dining room of the nursing home was not his mother.

Or, at least, she was his mother, but didn’t look anything like her. His mother was vivacious, or she had been until she was felled by a massive stroke and then pneumonia, so he’d moved her into a nursing home so she could recuperate. He knew he could trust the nursing home, since he ran it, and knew it was lauded for the efficiency with which it served residents. But when he went to look for his mother a day or two after he moved her in, he barely recognized her.

“I’ll never forget the feeling as long as I live,” he told me. “I said, ‘Oh my God, there’s my mother, this old woman, in a wheelchair, lifeless. Look what my own nursing home did to my own mother in a matter of days.”

Berman had run assisted living and nursing complexes for 23 years before this moment, but it completely changed the way he thought about how to care for the elderly. He moved his mother home immediately, arranged for home-care aides to come to her, and then set about to completely upending the way his organization, Chelsea Jewish Foundation, cared for its aging patients.

“It was the kick I needed, to say there has to be something else for the elderly that we can do,” Berman told me.

Read the complete article here.

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Silver Foxes

Silver Foxes aerialist VimeoBy A.B. McFarland

Have you heard of The Silver Foxes? This group of over-40 aerialists held their 3rd annual show at our own Greenwood neighborhood studio, Versatile Arts. Below you’ll find some video links from their performance:

Silver Foxes aerialists Vimeo

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Poem by A. B. McFarland

There is a thread

that reaches back

through the needle-eye of history


and forward

toward tomorrow’s beyond.

It connects all those present

in the now

with the ancient people

who wanted so very much to help us


our best selves

that they left pages and sayings;


for us children.

Now grown, we feel how close the thread’s end

is to our fingertips.

We wake up —


now we know

why our elders spent nights telling yarns by candlelight,

and sunlit days showing us how to tie knots.

Consider how you might take the hand of someone

newer to this world than yourself

and be a guide

for the benefit of


before the end —

worn and frayed

slips through the hole where you once were.

·    ·    ·

A. B. McFarland is a PNA Village member and volunteer. She has recently written a novel, Pieces of Home, in which a poet loses her home to a house fire, ends up living with a family she barely knows, and lives are changed in the process. It is available at Couth Buzzard and

Poem originally published on A. B. McFarland’s blog here.

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Free Online Courses Keep Retirees in the Know

By Walecia Konrad
MARCH 19, 2015—The New York Times

Mary Lou Russell has a passion for learning. Since retiring 10 years ago, the 79-year-old former grant maker has taken more than a dozen classes on subjects including classical music and appreciating Andy Warhol. She has attended most of her classes from her Manhattan living room.

“I used to go up to Columbia, down to N.Y.U. and over to New School. I was all over the place with my MetroCard,” Ms. Russell said. “Then I learned about online courses and that has been so freeing for me. I call it the anti-aging vitamin for those of us over 60 who want to stay relevant.”

Taking courses online is well suited for retirees, according to John Blair, 85, a retired engineer in Wayland, Mass. He especially likes the accessibility to top professors at elite universities. He adds that online courses have given him a way to dive into subjects unrelated to engineering, like economics. “By jumping from Yale to Harvard to Stanford to M.I.T., I was able to sample economics courses in a broad way,” Mr. Blair said.

Colleges have been catering to online adult learners for years, often offering video lectures and courses on their websites and posting popular lecture series on YouTube and iTunes. Starting around 2011, the latest iteration of virtual education, massive open online courses or MOOCs, hit the scene. Often free, many of these classes take online learning a step further and provide interactive video features like mini quizzes and student discussion forums.

Read the full article here

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Wonders of Green Lake

Ann Rodgers and Friend at Greenlake Spring 2015

By Ann Rodgers

Dear Village friends:

I wanted to make sure you knew that this is possible on the Green Lake walk.  I have been feeding the red-winged blackbirds for about three years now.  It is a delightful feeling when one lands on your hand!

Ann Rodgers and Friend at Greenlake 2015 close up

woman feeding birds by hand

Related posts:

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Finding Success, Well Past the Age of Wunderkind

Lucille Shulklapper started writing in retirement and has published poetry and a children’s book called “Stuck in Bed Fred.” (Ryan Stone for The New York Times)

Lucille Shulklapper started writing in retirement and has published poetry and a children’s book called “Stuck in Bed Fred.” (Ryan Stone for The New York Times)

By Abby Ellin
March 20, 2015—The New York Times

As a girl growing up in Jamaica, Queens, Lucille Gang Shulklapper dreamed of being a writer and “having a househusband like Edna St. Vincent Millay.”

Life didn’t unfold quite that way. Instead of having a literary career, she married, took a teaching job and raised three children. She wrote off and on, mostly for herself. But when she retired in her late 50s, “words came tumbling out of closets and drawers, leaking from rusty faucets and reappearing as character actors,” said Ms. Shulklapper, now 80. She began sending out poems and short stories, and published her first book of poetry in 1996, when she was 60.

Since then, she has published four chapbooks, which are typically small editions of 40 pages or so, and a fifth is in progress. And in January, Guardian Angel Publishing released Ms. Shulklapper’s first children’s book, “Stuck in Bed Fred.”

“We absolutely have to revamp this idea of a linear pattern of accomplishment that ends when you’re 50 or 60”

“I am living beyond my dreams,” said Ms. Shulklapper, a widowed grandmother of six who lives in Boca Raton, Fla. “I feel as though it’s my baby. A long pregnancy and now its delivery, all 10 toes and fingers.”

Conventional wisdom holds that if you do not write your “Farewell to Arms,” paint your “Starry Night,” start the next Twitter or climb Mount Everest by young adulthood, or at least middle age, then chances are you will never do it.

But that idea is becoming increasingly outdated as people are not only having successes later in life, but blooming in areas they never expected. Maybe they are not making millions, or wielding a brush like Rembrandt. Still, many people are discovering that the latter part of their lives can be just as (or even more) rewarding creatively, emotionally and spiritually.

Read the rest of this article here.

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