...and check out her sleek new site!

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Gina LaGuardia is one-of-a-kind in so many ways. Even though I'm a writer, it's hard to adequately summarize or describe all her incredible skills and gifts, and I am constantly pinching myself about working with someone so talented.

Throughout these six years of working together (we have still yet to meet in person but I feel as though we've been friends and co-workers for much longer than our six years!), I have added new skills, taken on new responsibilities, secured new clients through word-of-mouth as a direct result of working for hers, had articles published on sites I only dreamed of being published on (ReadersDigest.com, AARP.org, The Huffington Post, USNews.com), have seen my name and work in print in a fashion magazine available on newsstands in NYC, have seen the Twitter chat I've co-moderated hit trending status several times, have interviewed amazing people, and have enjoyed full-time work -- before becoming a mom, I often worked 8-10+ hours a day doing writing, editing and social media management -- for SIX years and counting.

As I've learned by working in this industry, that is a very. long. time.

And in my six years, I've had other clients come and go, and other clients who were not nearly as easy or enjoyable to work with -- especially not with the same level of professionalism, camaraderie, or rapport -- as Gina.

Besides that, I've met some of the industry's best and am proud to work alongside them -- supporting each other, sharing each other's content, providing story leads, quotes, interviewees and more -- as part of the Gina LaGuardia Editorial Services (GLES) team. 

I am grateful beyond words for all the personal growth and professional opportunities that working with and for Gina has afforded. She's made my dream of being a writer come true in ways I didn't think possible, and I am happy to give back in even just a small way by promoting her new site and social media pages/profiles. 

 

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AuthorMichelle Seitzer
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This guest post was submitted & written by Elena Watson, a blogger for JustHomeMedical.com and a student at Bard College. She spends her time researching and writing about health care, particularly child and senior wellness.

It’s not uncommon to experience a decrease in mobility as you get older. Sore joints, fragile bones, and a more frequent feeling of fatigue can all make it harder to get up and go. But being active doesn’t have to mean pushing yourself beyond your limits, and even if you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, there are still many ways for you to get out there and exercise without putting yourself at risk.

  1. Go for a walk: Walking is a great way to stay active because even though it doesn’t feel like exercise, it still burns calories and strengthens muscles. During the hot summer months, consider taking your walk in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. And always bring along a bottle of water.

  2. Stroll indoors: When it’s hot outside or the weather’s bad, you can still get some walking in. Places like museums, art galleries, and even malls are all great ways to stay on your feet while enjoying culture, shopping, and, of course, air conditioning!

  3. Garden: Tending a garden is rarely seen as “exercise,” but it’s another activity that keeps you outside and moving, and it burns more calories than you might think. Plus, it’s a great way to add beauty or fresh produce to your home.

  4. Take a dip: Swimming is the quintessential summer activity (or year-round, if you have access to an indoor pool. It’s fun, it cools you down, and it’s a great way to maintain mobility and strengthen muscles. Some community pools even offer water aerobics classes, which are less strenuous than traditional aerobics.

  5. Get your groove on: Dancing might seem like just a fun activity, but it’s actually a great workout as well. If your community offers dance classes, sign up (and bring a friend!). If not, start a dance group yourself, or just boogie out to some music in your house.

  6. Join a club: Many communities and senior centers offer a number of fun and invigorating classes that can help you stay active, and perhaps learn a new skill at the same time. You could sign up for a class or club dedicated to bowling, indoor aerobics classes, golf, baseball, and much more.

For seniors, keeping up mobility is important not only because it allows you to stay independent, but also because it can benefit your health and sometimes even postpone the effects of aging (nothing makes you feel young like a good blast of endorphins!). Thankfully, staying active doesn’t have to mean sweating away in the gym. By engaging in fun community activities like these you can improve your health and enjoy yourself at the same time!

 

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AuthorMichelle Seitzer
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101 Mobility is a local provider of trusted brands of mobility and accessibility equipment. Their staff install and service hundreds of auto lifts, stair lifts, turning seats, modular ramps and platform lifts each year. Learn more by calling 1.888.258.0652.

BenefitsCheckUp helps you find state, federal, and private benefits programs available where you live, programs that help pay for prescriptions, health care, food, utilities, and more. You can also get help with tax relief, transportation, legal issues, or finding work.

Resources for Older Adults & Caregivers via the National Council on Aging

Aging Services

    •    Aging and Disability Resource Centers

    •    Area Agencies on Aging

    •    Eldercare Locator

    •    Meals on Wheels

    

Articles/Books of Interest: 

Via the site: "Whether you’re an older adult, family helper or elder-care professional, Staying Power: Age-Proof Your Home for Comfort, Safety and Style can help you understand the process of aging and make scores of simple changes that support independence – in nearly any type of house, apartment or condo. Packed with checklists, shopping lists and more than a hundred key resources in the United States and Canada!"

Caregiving: Making Every Minute Count
 
by Cameron Von St. James, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

You can learn more about this month's guest blogger here: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/bio.htm 

Life is full of surprises -- some good, and some that we are not prepared for. My wife, Heather, and I had just celebrated the birth of our first and only child, Lily, in the summer of 2005.  We couldn't wait to celebrate the upcoming holidays with our precious new addition. However, on November 21, 2005, our joy quickly turned to despair as we were blindsided by unexpected news. Heather had been diagnosed with cancer -- malignant pleural mesothelioma. In an instant, my role changed from a husband and father to the caregiver of a cancer patient. 

The doctor implied that this was not going to be easy, and Heather would need care. He explained the course that mesothelioma would most likely take, and recommended seeing a specialist. There were three treatment options that he gave us: the local university hospital, a regional hospital with an excellent reputation, but without an established mesothelioma program, or commute to Boston to see a renowned specialist, Dr. David Sugarbaker. We were waiting for an answer from my wife as to which treatment she preferred, but still in shock, she could not answer. 

She stared into space with disbelief on her face. Immediately, I told the doctor to set us up for Boston. All I could do then was pray that this doctor could save my wife.

Over the next two months, our previous daily routines were nonexistent. We both had full time jobs prior to her diagnosis, but due to traveling to appointments in Boston, I had to take care of Lily and only work part-time. Heather could not work at all, instead focusing on her health. The list of things to do was endless and overwhelming. I found myself secretly crying out in frustration. I feared what fighting this disease would cost; that my wife would die from this cancer and leave me a broke, homeless widower with a young daughter to raise. However, I realized that this was not about me, and I had to focus on seeing that Heather got the best I had to offer. I had to stay strong for her and not let her see my weakness.

We were offered help by our families, friends, and people we didn't even know, from phone calls, cards, and letters to financial assistance. As a caregiver, I learned not to be too proud to accept help when offered. I was worried about imposing on someone's time -- but if they didn't really mean it, they wouldn't have asked. We could never give enough thanks for the help we received. Even small things make a big difference, and most of all, it is reassurance that you are not alone.

Being a caregiver is not easy, no matter how you look at it. Besides the added responsibilities, the stress is unreal. You never know what will happen next, and you have to be prepared for it. You cannot walk away from it no matter how you feel. Anger and fear can take over and you will have bad days -- there’s no avoiding it. However, remember why and for whom you are doing this, and never give up hope. Caregiving is one of those life challenges in which the caregiver needs every outlet possible to remain sane.

Our lives finally leveled off after a few years of upheaval, and we had a somewhat normal schedule again. We managed to get Heather safely through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and despite the typically poor prognosis for mesothelioma, she was able to beat this terrible disease. Thankfully, she has been cancer free for seven years.

Being a caregiver taught me many things about life. First, pride is replaced with humility in caregiving. This is about them, not you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength, because your loved one needs the best care possible, whether it's from you or someone else. 

Never give up hope. Challenges may arise that you never would have imagined, but you can overcome them with hope.

Being a caregiver also taught me time management skills and how to deal with stress. Two years after Heather's diagnosis, I went back to school and earned a college degree. 

During this difficult journey, I learned to never stop fighting for a loved one with a serious illness. My relationship with Heather and Lily has grown deeper, and I learned a lot about myself and my strengths and capabilities through the experience. Today, I look at my wife and daughter and I can’t believe how lucky I am. If you are a caregiver to a loved one, never give up hope, and always keep fighting, and you might find that you’re capable of more than you ever thought possible. 

Thank you, Cameron, for sharing your story and for reminding caregivers that they're not alone. I know your words will encourage and inspire others who are in the midst of a caregiving experience. 

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AuthorMichelle Seitzer

At the end of May, I traveled to Bulgaria (for the second time this year) and came back as the mother of a nearly three-year-old girl. The last two months have been a whirlwind of activity and full of the exhaustion, excitement, wonder and worry that is parenthood. At the beginning of this month, I eased back into work, writing and managing less than in the months before I brought my daughter home, but enough that I have to figure out that difficult dance between work, play, rest and caregiving. 

I look forward to getting back into a monthly blog post routine for this site, but I am also open to receiving guest posts -- provided they fit my content niche -- both to give myself some wiggle room and offer exposure to those who would like to share content here. If you're interested, use the Contact form on this site to reach out.

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AuthorMichelle Seitzer
CategoriesAbout Me
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If you haven't subscribed to my newsletter yet, you can do so on the home page. I will also post each issue here on the blog.

Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter! I look forward to sharing information with you this way, information that I hope will inspire you as family caregivers, elder care providers and professionals, advocates, and friends of those who are caring for elders.

I welcome your feedback, suggestions for future edition topics and content, and any questions you encounter along the way.

Though these issues will be brief, know that you can always find more content on my website.

Tip: Offering Support, Respectfully
Understand that independence is a major issue: most people will go to great lengths to avoid getting any kind of help -- even if they know they need it -- because they don't want to be a burden. Suggest resources to them and let them decide to move forward or not. Give them tools so they are empowered to help themselves. Read more elder care tips here.

Tool: The Music & Memory Project
If you don't have an iPod for the person you're caring for, one visit to the Music & Memory Project website will likely persuade you to purchase one quickly. As music is a powerful medium for reviving memory, thousands of individuals with Alzheimer's have responded in extraordinary ways to this new initiative. Check it out here.

Resource: 2013 Facts & Figures Report 
Knowing more about Alzheimer's and dementia is an important piece of advocacy, no matter how you are impacted by the disease. Explore the latest statistics compiled and presented by the Alzheimer's Association; you'll also find help for those who are battling this disease and hope for a future where Alzheimer's is but a distant memory. Access the report here.

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I've been nominated in the Social Media Rockstars -- Individuals category for SeniorHomes.com. If you want to vote for me, click here. 

Here's the excerpt: "Michelle Seitzer is a nominee in the Best Senior Living Awards 2013 in the Social Media Rockstars - Individuals. Michelle Seitzer, who manages the @Seniors4Living Twitter account and hosts #eldercarechat, has accumulated nearly 1,400 followers on her personal Twitter account to date. Michelle keeps her followers informed on the latest happenings in senior care and senior living."

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AuthorMichelle Seitzer
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It's New Year's Eve, a day that is symbolic, reflective, painful, epic, festive, ordinary or extraordinary, a day that means something different to everyone, depending on the kind of year they had or the one that's ahead.

Maybe we take the last day of each year too seriously though. Maybe these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson are a more fitting way of viewing December the 31st:

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."

Wherever and however you're commemorating the day, I hope you're excited for all the best days that are still to come.

I'll be making a lot of life and career changes in 2013, and the blog will reflect them all. Stay tuned!

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AuthorMichelle Seitzer

Isn't it crazy how the much-anticipated, super-hyped presidential election happened this month, but it already feels like a lifetime ago? So, since it's still November 2012 for one more day, I thought it was worth sharing something I posted on my Facebook page the day after the election:

We have the ability to advocate for the changes we want to see in government anytime, not just when voting every 4 years for the president.

If you're patient, passionate and persistent, you might actually see change occur...and imagine how much more fulfilling, exciting and meaningful that change would be if you had a part in it, instead of looking to someone else for it?

You know those other people on the ballot? Your local, state and federal officials? Get to know them. Talk to them. Hound them about the things that make you tick. Do something about the things you don't like. Change what you can. Channel your disappointment or delight about last night's outcome into something good. 

Advocate. Participate. ACT.

Your turn: What issues would you be willing to/do you already advocate about? 
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AuthorMichelle Seitzer
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As I've been anticipating the arrival of our first child (via adoption) in the coming months, my own family's heritage, history, and roots have been on my mind just about all the time. Also, as other dear ones have recently encountered loss at the hands of Alzheimer's, I've been thinking about my grandfather, who passed away in January 2009 after his struggle with the terrible disease. Here's a peek into his -- our -- story, via an excerpt from an autobiography in the works:

Whenever I entered the room, I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I would be sad when I left. During those months, I watched her watch him, watched her wither away into a fragile, tiny shell of a person, as he did the same (although he never lost his strength). I watched all of us struggle desperately to know what was the right thing to say or do when we visited, and I’m not sure any of us, except maybe my husband, figured it out.

*****

In all of our growing up years, we never spent that much time in his – their – bedroom. Yes, we used to play with her perfume in the bathroom, and try on her powder and foundation, but we only went into the bedroom to get to the bathroom.

*****

While we ate frokost (breakfast) that morning, I was antsy with anticipation, eager, surging with nerves of the good kind, as I waited for him to pick us up and take us to the land he loved, the land he called home as a child and as a young man, the land he always loved and remembered fondly. I couldn’t wait to see the land, to see his brothers, knowing it would be the closest thing to seeing him this side of heaven. I fully expected to cry when I saw him, when he hugged me, when he held me tightly against his tall frame, in the way he used to before he could no longer walk.

*****

My baby nephew was magic in those final months. When he was in the room, everyone else disappeared.

It was just the two of them, as far as he was concerned, and the little one always obliged, nuzzling his soft baby face against his coarse, unshaven one, and resting together, saying no words at all, but speaking more loudly to him than any of us could. We watched in amazement as these two souls connected on the deepest level possible, and maybe some of us even envied what they had, as we sat awkwardly, fumbling with words and our hands, trying to know what to say to make everything normal again.

Your turn: Has your family dealt with the devastation of Alzheimer's or dementia? Share what got you through, gave you hope.