The Oxygen Mask Project

The Oxygen Mask Project was founded by Shannon Knall and Alysia Butler.  A special thank you to both of them for allowing us to share this with our readers.

In the event that the cabin loses pressure, pull oxygen mask toward you to start oxygen flow. Put your oxygen mask on as quickly as possible. Help children and others with their masks only after yours is secure.

Once upon a time, a group of special needs moms started talking about their lives.

They talked about how devoted they are to their children and to making sure that their kids’ needs are met.

But somewhere along the way, they had forgotten to take care of themselves.

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It’s a matter of survival when we fly.  We need to be able to breathe on our own before we can help our children.

We listen when we’re on a plane.

Why don’t we listen in our daily lives?

To care for others, you have to take care of yourself as well. Too often, we feel guilty as parents when we take time to do something that is just for us.

It’s time to realize that when parents take care of themselves first, it’s not selfish.

It’s survival.

It’s how we can keep giving our best to our children.

We started this project to help parents remember that they need to breathe and take a moment to do something special for themselves each day. We wanted to give parents a place to feel supported when they take that moment to catch their breath.

We’re not talking spa vacation.  We’re talking sitting down for a meal.  Drinking our coffee when it’s hot. Or going for a walk.  Taking a nap.  Buying a new outfit.

Guilt free.

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The “Oxygen Mask Project” has two parts.  One piece is our blog.  We feature stories from parents about what they are doing for themselves.  These stories are the foundation for our project – the place where people can sit and reflect and gather ideas for making changes in their daily lives.

The second part is our Facebook page.  Join us there and post what you are doing that day for you.  We will cheer you on.  Others will too.  We want to know things like “went for a walk alone” or “went to the gym for the first time today” or “started back at college”.  We’re cheering people on via Twitter too, so join us there as well.

This project is about us.  Making little changes in our lives and supporting each other along the way.

Strength in numbers.

Let’s take that first deep breath together.

 

Shannon Knall is the mother of three boys; one with autism. She co-founded and serves as the Executive Director of Well Served Tennis Academy, a tennis camp for children with autism.  She has been the Connecticut Autism Speaks Advocacy Chair for Autism Speaks for four years, and responsible for leading grassroots campaigns to secure the passage and implementation of six autism-related bills (including insurance reform), along with securing co-sponsorship of federal legislation from Connecticut’s Washington delegation. She is the founder of the Greater Hartford chapter of Autism Speaks and the Inaugural Walk chair. With the help of a BCBA, Shannon developed the autism awareness Boot Camp used to train and educate businesses, communities and political leaders around Connecticut. For her activism, she is the recipient of the Congressional Certificate of Recognition from Congressman Chris Murphy, and in addition to her leadership in the autism community, serves on the Economic Development Commission in her home town of Simsbury, Connecticut.

Alysia Butler lives in Massachusetts and is the mother of three boys, two with autism spectrum disorder.  She is the managing editor of the SPD Blogger Network, and writes at Try Defying Gravity, her personal blog recounting the joys and challenges of raising three young boys. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe and Bay State Parenting Magazine, and online at Mamapedia, Autism Speaks and The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and is a monthly contributor to the Hopeful Parents website.  She also serves on her local special education parent advisory committee in her hometown.

Thanksgiving – A Time for Reflection and Thanks

There’s a chill in the air and the trees are almost bare.  Here in New England that’s a clear sign that fall is upon us and soon the Thanksgiving holiday will be here.  Where ever you are and whatever your situation is, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to give thanks!

Personally, I’m thankful for my wonderful family, my health, my spouse, my caring co-workers, my two dogs and many many other things. I urge you to think about what you are thankful for and to let those people (and pets!) know how much you appreciate them.

As a company, we here at SafetyNet sincerely appreciate our close nit community. Our customers, followers and supporters have played a massive role in our growth and we truly appreciate and want to thank all of you.

It’s a great feeling for us when we hear about success stories like this and this, which proves our efforts to bring loved ones back home with our SafetyNet service really do work and we are in fact saving lives.

As the Thanksgiving holiday comes closer, here are some links that may be helpful to you:

Thanksgiving Travel Tips:
http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2010/11/12/dont-turkey-follow-thanksgiving-travel-tips/

Thanksgiving Cooking and Safety Tips:
http://www.catalogs.com/info/kitchen/thanksgiving-cooking-tips.html

http://www.safetyathome.com/seasonal-safety/holiday-safety-articles/thanksgiving-cooking-tips-serving-up-a-side-of-safety/

 

Thanksgiving Events – Family and Black Friday:
http://www.fchornet.com/2.2211/a-beginners-guide-to-shopping-black-friday-1.2704947#.TsaEiGPfdWA

http://www.wafb.com/story/16074437/best-buys-worst-buys-on-black-friday-2011

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/guide/family-guide-to-thanksgiving-volunteering/

http://fatherhoodchannel.com/2010/10/29/thanksgiving-family-survival-guide-2010/

Thank you for reading and we look forward to a prosperous 2012 and beyond.

Stay safe!

Jason at SafetyNet

Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and nutrition

This Senior Savvy column addresses the important issue of dementia and nutrition:

Q: My mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, lives in a nursing home. She is not eating well. She does not feel hungry and cannot be coaxed into eating. I have gone in to feed her, but she takes one bite and spits it out at me. I worry if she doesn’t eat enough, she will lose weight and become malnourished. Is there anything more I can do?

A: As dementia progresses, decreased food intake is common in later stages. Speak with the staff about your concerns. Also, feel free to speak with her primary care physician about your worries. It is important to eat and take in a certain amount of calories. The nursing home can weigh your mother weekly for weight loss. They can offer your mother high-caloric drinks, high-caloric cereal and other foods. These high-caloric items have vitamins and other important nutrients.If your mother enjoys picking up food and putting it in her mouth, consider having available a sandwich cut into bite-size pieces when you visit. Hand your mother a piece and give her time to eat it at her leisure.

via Senior Savvy: Helping your elder with eating – Little Falls, NY – The Times.

Alzheimer’s Disease: iPhone apps for caregivers

Alzheimer’s caregivers with iPhones or iPads should check out the iTunes App Store, where there are several Alzheimer’s-related applications. Among them, an app that identifies everyday objects to spark memories in dementia patients and an app that uses animation to explain brain function and anatomy to caregivers.

There are several iPhone apps that help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers. Alzheimer’s Cards is an Alzheimer’s iPhone app that displays images of foods and objects. iAlz Pro is an Alzheimer’s disease assessment app.

via Useful Alzheimer’s iPhone Apps for Seniors and Carers.

Neurology: Alzheimer’s Disease: An Overview Medical Animation from Focus Medica for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

Alzheimer’s and dementia: Supporting caregivers

This post from Notes for Dementia Caregivers is written by a businessman in India, but he has a lot to share with the families of caregivers everywhere. It’s entitled “Supporting the primary caregiver: Mistakes made, lessons learnt, tips shared.” Here, he looks back on some of his early “mistakes.” Follow the link to read his lessons and tips to help the dementia caregivers in your life.

My mother-in-law suffers from dementia, and my wife is the primary caregiver. Nowadays, I introduce myself as a secondary caregiver, but I did not always see myself in this role. After my mother-in-law was diagnosed, and my wife took over the role of the primary caregiver, I failed to support her for many years because of ignorance and some incorrect attitudes.

Briefly, I did not try to learn about dementia or its caregiving after the diagnosis and had no idea of what to expect. I think I expected no impact I underestimated the caregiving load and did not appreciate that my wife could be overwhelmed physically and emotionally.

I perceived her as “negative” when she looked worried or asked me to reduce travel overseas because she would not be able to handle emergencies.

Most people in India treat dementia patients as they would treat any other elder. Close relatives egged my mother-in-law to show more “willpower” and criticized and mocked her for her “dependence” on my wife. They also blamed my wife of negligence and ill-treatment of the dementia patient based on the patient’s confused statements and their own faulty perceptions. I knew this was unfair. But I told my wife and mother-in-law to “adjust” or “ignore” critical comments instead of explaining facts to relatives. My wife was completely isolated by my relatives.

I think, subconsciously, I viewed caregiving as just doing a set of home-based tasks, and easier than “professional work”. This unexamined assumption of mine affected my attitude and decisions for many years.

As my wife’s time and energy were diverted into caregiving, she had to give up the professional work she loved, and also her social life, her friends, and her hobbies. It was a loss of identity for her. I did not realise that she needed emotional and functional support, and that she needed time off from caregiving I think, subconsciously, I viewed caregiving as just doing a set of home-based tasks, and easier than “professional work.” This unexamined assumption of mine affected my attitude and decisions for many years.

via Supporting the primary caregiver: Mistakes made, lessons learnt, tips shared « Notes for Dementia Caregivers.

Holiday season stressful for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers

The holiday season is officially upon us, and for most people, it means a time filled with joy, cheer, and family. But for many seniors, especially those living with Alzheimer’s disease, the holidays can be stressful — for the very same reasons it brings happiness to most others.

People with Alzheimer’s disease thrive on familiar routines; adding guests, loud conversation, and activity can be disorienting to Alzheimer’s sufferers. Wrapping gifts can be a soothing activity for Alzheimer’s patients.The stress isn’t limited to the person with the disease, however.

Caregivers and other family members often become concerned and worried whether their loved one will be uncomfortable with guests, overwhelmed by activity, or feel isolated. Even young children can become confused if a loved one no longer recognizes them or mistakes them for someone else.

Anxiety is often amplified if the person is traveling to stay with other relatives during the holidays; removing Alzheimer’s sufferers from their familiar environment can be stressful. This is true both for those living at home and individuals residing in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, who often stay overnight with loved ones over the holidays.

via Holiday Season Tough on Alzheimer’s Sufferers « SeniorHomes.com.

A Massachusetts family struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s

Bruce Vincent, just 48 years old, has Alzheimer’s disease. The Boston Globe plans to report on this Massachusetts family’s journey with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Bruce Vincent works his way up and down the aisles of the grocery store he has owned for two decades, methodically unpacking crates of food, stocking shelves, and breaking down the empty cartons.

Midway down aisle 2, Vincent hesitates, unsure where the fudge-coated peanut butter cookies go. The redesigned package throws him, so he tucks them amid crackers on the top shelf and continues down the row.

On closer inspection, Vincent has left behind a trail of similar mismatches, which his 26-year-old son, Brian, now the boss, wearily but discreetly fixes. Used to be, the elder Vincent would gently correct the mistakes of his son, who started sweeping floors and stocking shelves at Vincent’s Country Store when he was 10 years old.

That was before Alzheimer’s disease.

via A family struggles with Alzheimer’s – The Boston Globe.

Utah author and mother writes about autism journey

The average 2-year-old can speak more than 100 words. By 3, that number jumps to anywhere from 200 to 1,000. Michael Swaner never hit those milestones. In 32 years he has never spoken a word.

As an infant, Michael was diagnosed with severe low-functioning autism, a neurological disorder that impedes brain development. More than 1 million people in the United States are affected by autism, though only a small percentage of those cases are as severe as Michael’s.

“If there’s one thing you don’t get enough of with autism, it’s affection,” said Michael’s mother Ruth Swaner, USU graduate and author of the book “Words Born of Silence.”

The book, Swaner’s third, is about her personal journey in dealing with the anger, denial, acceptance and what she likes to call “over-dedication” of autism.

“One day my oldest son came up to me and said ‘We’re tired of helping you take care of Michael,’” she said. This was a turning point. She realized that she was so caught up in Michael’s needs that she wasn’t meeting the needs of her family or herself.

via Local author tells of journey with Autism – USU Statesman.

Swallow your pride and ask for help: The challenge for family caregivers

Carolyn Rosenblatt of AgingParents.com says she learned a lot while listening to a discussion of family caregivers at the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern California event. She blogged for Forbes.com on advice from experienced family caregivers. Here are some of the caregivers’ answers when asked, ““what advice would you give to other families who may be just starting out as caregivers?”

One woman said that she hesitated too long in asking for help. She thought she could do it all. It just got too difficult eventually, and she found a great resource in the Alzheimer’s Assn. support groups. She still attended them weekly. She got respite care for her husband, too.

The man who was caring for his mom said he wished that he had more help from his family, but none was forthcoming. He finally also swallowed his pride and asked for help outside his family. He got it, though he had to also learn to deal with his very difficult and unpredictable mother.

Another woman on the panel said she wished doctors and others would stop telling her “take care of yourself”. She said she was always doing the best she could. She took care of herself when she was able to do so, and her job as caregiver allowed only a little of that.

via Swallow Your Pride and Ask for Help: The Challenge For Family Caregivers – Carolyn Rosenblatt – Aging Parents – Forbes.

Alzheimer’s warning sign – money problems

The country is observing National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in November. Here’s an important story from The New York Times on an  early warning sign of Alzheimer’s – a problem handling finances.

Renee Packel used to have a typical suburban life. Her husband, Arthur, was a lawyer and also sold insurance. They lived in a town house just outside Philadelphia, and Mrs. Packel took care of their home and family.

One day, it all came crashing down. The homeowners’ association called asking for their fees. To Mrs. Packel’s surprise, her husband had simply stopped paying them. Then she learned he had stopped writing checks to his creditors, too.

It turned out that Mr. Packel was developing Alzheimer’s disease and had forgotten how to handle money. When she tried to pay their bills, Mrs. Packel, who enlisted the help of a forensic accountant, could not find most of the couple’s money.

“It just disappeared,” she said.

What happened to the Packels is all too common, Alzheimer’s experts say. New research shows that one of the first signs of impending dementia is an inability to understand money and credit, contracts and agreements.

via Alzheimer’s Warning Sign – Money Problems – Vanishing Mind – NYTimes.com.