Monthly Archives: November 2014

This Thanksgiving, Practice Gratitude

Well, I had planned to do a complete series on the importance of gratitude, but life came crashing in. Again. So that series will have to come later. But I can’t let this Thanksgiving holiday pass without at least a few words about what I’ve learned about gratitude.

Praise Him for His Marvelous Works! Misty Sunset

Praise Him for His Marvelous Works!
Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe

I didn’t used to be a grateful person. In fact, I was pretty cynical and thankless. I would complain about everything. I was crabby. I was pretty unpleasant to be around. Then I started a gratitude project, working with a ministry client. We would email one another ten things per day that we were grateful for. Yep, ten things. No repeats. Every day. We’ve been at it for a couple of years now.

It was hard. Very hard. And still is. Sometimes we struggle to find ten things. But we were consistent. And little by little, we became grateful. And as we did, our attitudes changed. Our countenances changed. We became more pleasant to be around. And our hearts changed. Our joy increased.

So this Thanksgiving, I invite you to find a strategy for increasing your gratitude. We serve a good and gracious God who has blessed us with freedom, abundance, beauty, and grace. No matter your circumstances, there is much for which we can be grateful. So this Thanksgiving, I wish you gratitude.

In All Things, Give Thanks

10 Positive Trends in Society |Being Thankful for the Big Things

Your Medicare Number is Your Social Security Number | Identity Theft

I’ve spent my entire adult life refusing to use my Social Security number as ID for medical care. In the beginning it was difficult; providers felt they were entitled to use it. In recent years, it seems that providers have grown used to such objections. They simply create a dummy number for me.

Your Medicare Number is Your Social Security Number

Your Medicare Number is Your Social Security Number
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

Then I turned 65, and guess what? My Medicare number is my Social Security number! I’m not happy about that at all, and especially after reading this article that claims “more than a quarter-million Medicare beneficiaries are potential victims of identity theft and hampered in getting health care benefits because the government won’t issue new IDs.” Since 2002, Medicare’s position, it seems, is “Oh well…It’s only 284,000 people.” It’s too expensive and too time-consuming to change the numbers, so the poor beneficiaries face obstacles in obtaining care. What an outrage!

Finally, there may be action in Congress to close this gaping security hole. According to, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health is floating draft legislation to replace the social security numbers on Medicare ID cards with a smart card in an attempt to reduce the risk of those numbers being stolen or inappropriately used. The problem is funding. They don’t know where to get the estimated $320 million the project is expected to cost. Seriously? Maybe they could get some ideas from these wastes of taxpayer funds. For example, they could take it from The National Institute of Health’s Center for Alternative and Complimentary Medicine’s $386,000 study on the effects of Swedish massages on rabbits or NIH’s $371,026 study to see if mothers love dogs as much as they love kids. Add to that the $804,254 for the development of a smartphone game called “Kiddio: Food Fight” intended to teach parents how to convince their children to try and eat new healthier food choices. Hey, we’re almost there. Get my point?

So have any of you or your parents had problems using your Medicare card? Have any of you experienced access problems? What have you done to protect your account or to get care? I’m a little worried!

National Family Caregivers’ Month

November is National Family Caregivers’ Month, so I want to salute you, my caregiving readers, for the vital service you provide to your loved ones.

Thank You, Family Caregivers Roses

Thank You, Family Caregivers

As I talk with caregivers, I see men and women who are building a legacy by laying down their lives for aging parents, disabled spouses, or others they love. In the process, the caregivers’ hopes and dreams are often put on the back burner. Not only do they watch the decline of someone they love, but they also sacrifice their work, their goals, their finances, and sometimes their marriages. It isn’t easy.

Just how valuable are you? According to several AARP studies, 65.7 million caregivers (29% of the U.S. adult population) are providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged. Caregiver services were valued at $450 billion per year in 2009–up from $375 billion in year 2007. At $450 billion in 2011, the value of informal caregiving exceeded the value of paid home care. It was more than Wal-Mart sales ($408 billion), and nearly met total expenditures for the Medicaid program in 2009 ($509 billion). That’s a lot of value, folks! And the value of unpaid family caregivers will likely continue to be the largest source of long-term care services in the U.S. since the aging population 65+ will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million in 2000.

Over 34 percent of caregivers provide more than 75 hours per week caregiving. That doesn’t leave time for much else. Seventy percent of working caregivers made some job change to accommodate their caregiving role. Twelve percent of caregivers reduced work hours or took a less demanding job while nine percent gave up work entirely, compared to three percent who took an early retirement.

So thank you, you priceless family caregivers. Yes, you’re squished, but you are so very important. So please, try to take some time for yourself. Take care of yourself. And pat yourself on the back. Well done!

Photo Credit: Robert Sikora