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Dealing with her mother's mental decline has been very stressful on one of the caregivers of our client and she called me last week and shared that she was at the end of her rope. I told her that I understood exactly what she was going through as I had cared for my dad and had experienced the same. I told her about the Guiding Lights Dementia Program and how much it had helped me to understand the progression of dementia and how to cope when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's/Dementia. I sent her the contact info and, long story short, she contacted Guiding Lights and received the book. She and her husband immediately jumped right into it and both were blown away with the wealth of information it offered. She said that her husband stated "Oh my gosh, this stuff is amazing!", the entire time that he was reading. She said that she has already started using some of the things that they have learned and has seen a big difference in her mother's reaction to certain situations as a result. I just wanted to let you know how excited she is about the Dementia Training. Thanks for all you do. This powerful program is continuing to help so many family members and caregivers to understand, and cope with, this devastating disease. Have an awesome day.

- Diane
3/2014

"Indeed the resources have been quite helpful. I contacted one of the services you provided and was able to get the ball rolling. Thank you so very much for your help. Should I have any more questions or direction, I'll be sure to contact you."

- Anonymous
01/14

"The Awakening Program has been a priceless blessing to our family. Kathleen is much more than a mentor to my father, she has become his best friend. She goes above and beyond to care for his overall well being. She has helped keep him active and brought a level of comfort during a difficult stage in life that I could never have provided on my own. "

- Anonymous
01/14

"Long exhausting and emotional day at dementia/Alzheimers training sponsored by Guiding Lights here in Raleigh. Thank you Nicole Bruno and Julie Falconer for a sad but true smack in the face reality of a day in the life of someone with this horrid disease and the care associated. I can only hope to apply it to my clients, their families, and my awesome caregivers. You both are true mentors in your field."

- Amy Carter
8/13/13

Thanks for sending me the newsletter! I discovered Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center at the recent Caregivers Conference and I'm thrilled to know of your existence...I just spent an hour at your very informative website! Wow, the videos are so helpful! My family story is similar to those posted on your website - Mom has Alzheimer's.

I see that Guiding Lights seeks volunteers and I would like to offer my help. I'll drop-off my Volunteer Application at your office so that you can determine if my background could be of assistance to your organization.

- Best regards,
Angela Sutton
7/2/13

I just had to take a few minutes to stop and thank you for hosting a wonderful event for caregivers and professional caregivers. I was so impressed by how well organized the conference was, how lovely the volunteers were, and how knowledgeable the presenters were. And to include a luncheon with entertainment was icing on the cake. Well done!

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for all the time and thought which went into making this informative event available to those of us who so greatly need it in our role as caregiver.

- Kindest regards,
Sharon M.
6/28/13

I contacted Guiding Lights in hopes of guidance on resources for a patient in need of safe, low-income housing which was also wheelchair accessible. The situation was urgent, and time was short to find a solution. It was one of many calls I was making on behalf of this patient, and I was delighted with the immediate response and offer of assistance at Guiding Lights. Corliss Dunlop and Ginny Vanderburg answered promptly each time I phoned, and I never had to leave a message and wait for a call back. They collected the relevant information on my patient, and Corliss called me the very next morning. She not only found the perfect housing opportunity, but was proactive in contacting the resource directly and arranging for the apartment to be held for my patient. In my experience as a social worker, I have never worked with a more helpful and caring resource than the staff at Guiding Lights. In a profession where the population's needs are high and the resources scarce, it is too common to find cynicism and a general inability to provide prompt and practical assistance. Without punting my patient to a different agency or department, without complicated applications, without long waiting lists and without requiring anything in return, Guiding Lights provided exactly what was needed at exactly the right time. I am impressed at the dedication of the staff and have already recommended Guiding Lights to my entire case management department.

With sincere appreciation,

- Erin B.T. Tucker, MSW
Clinical Case Manager
WakeMed Health & Hospitals

Guiding Lights is an amazing resource for our community. Caregivers are able to access a wealth of practical information with one call. Guiding Lights is the first call I encourage caregivers to make when seeking to gain knowledge about community resources. I have had nothing but wonderful results when referring others to their services.

- Meredith B., MSW, LCSW

As the nation ages, caring for our elderly is a growing challenge in today's society. Interestingly, there are several somewhat unexpected contributors to this challenge. In meeting with a financial planner at Edward Jones earlier this week to discuss retirement and financial literacy for young people, she stated that so many people - including her older clients, just don't really plan for aging. Not only from a financial perspective but also more specifically - from a Care perspective.

Often it is a critical event or growing awareness of a problem which propel grown-up children to suddenly deal with the question "How do we look after Mom or Dad?". This population is usually unprepared to answer this question. They face the prospect of being 'sandwiched' between caring for their children and their parents, while holding down a 9-5 job. It is an emotional task - where parent/child roles are switched and the caregiver must sometimes choose between their parent's independence and their parent's safety.

The landscape of elder care can also be very complex. There are so many facets of care involved to meet the needs of both the elderly as well as their caregivers - financial, health services, residential services and government regulations. The list is long. Unfortunately, in many cases, each of these areas operates within its own business 'silo' , which can create barriers to collaboration and integration between the various related areas of elder care.

So caregivers and their parents or elderly relatives are faced with the daunting challenge of deciding the best course of action for their specific situation. Information about eldercare services, resources and advocacy abound but in many cases there is such a plethora of information available that it is often difficult for caregivers to navigate their way through the labyrinth of web sites, magazines, and flyers to find a clear path to meet their needs.

That is why the vision of Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center is so innovative and relevant. Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center recognizes the need for a centralized support center for caregivers and is committed to providing a sanctuary for caregivers of the elderly.

So how is Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center a sanctuary? They provide a safe and encouraging environment, rich with compassion and practical solutions. They understand what challenges arise in elder care.

Caregivers of the elderly, both professional and family, have an important and crucial task. They are the key component that provides lifestyle quality and safety to many seniors. They are often the only link between an elderly person and the rest of the world. And caregivers are often in need of support, direction, training and a listening ear to help them in their quest. Through their support programs,centralized resources and one-on-one consultation services, Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center provides a guiding light to those who take care of our elderly.

In my own case, I grew up in a household that cared for my grandfather, who suffered from Alzheimer's. He lived in our house for 14 years and I saw both the love & the challenges that decision brought to my parents and family. More recently, my father also succumbed to Alzheimer's and again, my sister Sue - as primary caregiver as well as my brother and I participated in that bitter-sweet labor of love - searching for answers, struggling to keep 'all the balls in the air' and finally, trying to reconcile our decisions about his care.

Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center recognizes these challenges. It is a private non-profit organization dedicated to supporting family and professional caregivers in their roles. It is literally a 'one stop shop' that helps caregivers navigate through the confusing & emotional maze of elder care. They provide free support, training and customized resources to help people find their path.

Our seniors are the generation that laid the path before our younger generations. They are, in part, society's culmination of our wisdom. They carry the memories, joys and scars of our past, as well as the lessons for our future. They deserve our respect and acknowledgement - as do their caregivers.

And that is why I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center. I am passionate about elder care and am passionate about working to support their Vision. I hope as my involvement grows, I can contribute in a way that has real impact in meeting the needs of the elderly and their caregivers in Wake County and beyond.

Never lose sight of the fact that old age needs so little but needs that little so much.

- Margaret Willour

After learning about Guiding Lights and spending time with the Executive Director, Nicole Bruno, I was quickly struck by the profound impact this organization will have on the caregiving community in the Triangle.

Like so many others, I am up close and personal with eldercare due to both my mother and father-in-law's dementia. As I learned the scope of Guiding Lights programs, I couldn't help but regret we didn't have such a comprehensive support center to guide us through the most difficult journey of our lives. But the regret was short lived and the inspiration to help immediate! Simply be telling my story, the numerous ways in which Guiding Lights could have (and still can) help my family becomes vividly apparent.

To say my mom was a strong-willed independent woman is an enormous understatement. My mother raised four children on her own, never remarrying after my father tragically died in an accident when we were young. She created a successful career to support us and also kept herself very active with tennis and golf. But at the young age of 64 (she's now 73) she began exhibiting signs of dementia and we all prayed her repetitive questions and statements were not the beginning of Alzheimer's.

Due to her great physical shape and well kept appearance, even her general practitioner insisted we were just over-worried children. We danced around the Alzheimer's diagnosis with her even after seeing a neurologist and beginning her on medication. It was just too difficult to say "Mom, you have Alzheimer's". She fought hard at maintaining her independence and mastered disguising her forgetfulness but eventually old friends took notice and became distant. New friends and neighbors were very helpful as my brothers live an hour from her and I'm about three. We desperately wanted answers to questions, to name just a few: "When do we take her driving privileges away?", "Is a CNA necessary or will a home health care provider suffice?" "What can we expect next with her disease?" We dealt alone with many complicated issues including legal, financial and full care assisted living options. We watched her become paranoid, angry, and disoriented and continuously addressed the many crisis that accompany Alzheimer patients. My brothers and I found random resources to help us manage mom's condition as it progressed, but it came with much frustration and confusion. Her latest transition into assisted living proved unbelievably difficult, initially requiring ankle monitors and additional private duty help because she was so determined to leave (that's our mom). But we're all amazed at how well she eventually adjusted and are happy to brag that she is a favorite resident. What a significant difference Guiding Lights would have made in our struggle with mom's Alzheimer's by answering our many questions, providing a managed care plan based on her individual needs, steering us through the complexities of long distance caregiving, and offering emotional support throughout the process.

My father-in-law also struggled with dementia for close to two decades now, and currently lives in a full care facility in Raleigh. However, getting him to this point was emotionally and physically draining especially for my mother-in-law who for many years felt his care was solely her responsibility. We watched her physical health deteriorate succumbing to falls and illnesses often requiring surgery or hospitalization. It was only then that she acted upon our urging to get help outside of family, and shortly thereafter he needed full time care in a nursing facility. As necessary as it was for my mother-in-law to get the physical help she needed, she would have also greatly benefited from the support groups and connecting with other spouses in similar circumstances. She could have received all this assistance at one place . . . Guiding Lights.

Although my family in both situations was able to locate some helpful resources, none of them took our unique situations and offered a comprehensive plan to guide us through all the facets of caring for a loved one with dementia. This is exactly what Guiding Lights is providing the Triangle community. I look forward to my involvement with Guiding Lights and advocate that anyone dealing with eldercare whether you're a family member or professional caregiver take advantage of their programs. Additionally, I can't think of a better non-profit for organizations to partner with. Guiding Lights combines professional integrity with personal passion and I'm excited to see the Triangle community benefit from their efforts!

I became interested in Guiding Lights after a conversation with Nicole Bruno. We talked about our experiences in elder care and care of the disabled. I think that many folks have stories from their own life that are relevant. It always surprises me how many people carry their burdens stoically and do not share their hurt, anxiety and loss of hope. I am amazed at how people overcome these issues and the different routes that they take to meet their challenge.

I was lucky with my Dad, since we planned ahead for different end-of-life scenarios. He was living independently at a wonderful retirement center. We had time to bond and become best friends. But as he aged we had to make more and more difficult decisions. My family has always dealt with medical issues privately not wanting to burden others with our problems. This strategy can be counter- productive. My wife and I have no nearby family members to depend on in a time of crisis, so we had to face this challenge alone. My dad was determined to keep his independence. He and I worked hard for this goal longer than we should, often against good advice. His memory began to fail but his spirit did not. It was extremely difficult for me, his son and best friend, to not support him. Then the "fall that changes everything" happened. Now we were in crisis mode.

Unfortunately, other close family members began experiencing life-changing health issues at precisely the same time. When it rains it pours, and it can be overwhelming. What do people do that do not have a support system? Friends and family can be free with advice, not knowing the real facts of the situation, or become distant when unpleasant realities arise. This is a difficult time in the life of the patient and the caregiver. Guiding Lights is a resource for help under such circumstances.

I saw how helpful Nicole's vision was and how much it could help people in some of their most difficult times. The bringing together of caregivers is a very important aspect of Guiding Lights. Professional caregivers are very helpful but often are overburdened by case load and the frustrations of medical care, placement, funding issues, lack of family unity and everything else. Even with their best intentions, they may not have the needed time to spend with each client/patient, leaving the family feeling lost and unsupported.

We look to Guiding Lights as a calming place that can assist people that find themselves in a healthcare crisis. Guiding Lights can help caregiver professionals by being a resource for them and their clients. The choices that one has to make even in the best of times can be overwhelming, but even worse in a medical emergency. No one wants to give up their independence and change their life. Guiding Lights can help with this transition.

Guiding Lights focuses on the caregiver: family, friend or professional. It can provide healthcare options, information and support. We all feel better when we know we are not the only one with these issues. Most of us will be tested and challenged by life changes. Guiding Lights can help us meet these challenges, in the best way for the patient and the caregiver.

The people I have met through Guiding Lights have their own stories. They are rewarded by giving support to others and sharing their knowledge through their experiences. Helping others is a volunteer's greatest reward. I hope that those of you that read this will want to help Guiding Lights. We all have something we can contribute. I look forward to helping Guiding Lights to meet these challenges and help people find the path that is best for their individual situation.

- Micou M. Browne, Guiding Lights Volunteer

Thanks so much. I have heard from all three homecare providers one is set to come talk with me. I really appreciate all your help. This is a scary situation for me and Mom.

I am so impressed by what you do. This is such a needed gift. Your service turned out to be a lifesaver for me. It seemed like almost a matter of moments and I had my ducks in a row, to where I could make some decisions, and get the care that was needed.

I would definitely call again if I needed something else. It's amazing that we have this kind of resource- we need to spread the word around.

Lynn Myers

I was referred to Guiding Lights by a nursing home. They thought that perhaps GL could help me. My experience with Guiding Lights was so positive. Julie did everything in her power to help me. She went above and beyond trying to find me a place to live. In the end, I decided to stay living with my family as was suggested by my doctor . . .

I have nothing but positive to things to say about Guiding Lights. They are wonderful people. In the future I will definitely ask for their help. I am so thankful to have found them and would refer them to anyone who was looking for a place to live . . .

Joylin S.

For patients without resources to access the services offered by our company, we are happy to recommend the services of Guiding Lights. We have found the staff at Guiding Lights to be compassionate, extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to serving those dealing with the issues of aging.

Norma Talley, RN, CCM, CSA, MSCC
Premier Senior Services

Guiding Lights has been a great resource service for my wife and I. The Caretaker Support Group that I attend monthly, which is facilitated by Guiding Lights personnel, has been extremely educational and the handout information has been very helpful. Being a caretaker for my wife, I sometimes feel alone with her illness and talking with others, who are also caretakers, helps me with my perspective of her illness. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself but after attending the Support Group I come away grateful for my problems and realize that there are other people who are much worse off than I. No one can relate to being a Caretaker unless you have gone through it yourself. Thank you Guiding Lights and I will see you tomorrow night in the Caretaker Support Group!

Joe L.

The "Do You Know Who I AM?" dementia training program presented by Guiding Lights is a full day of insightful, pertinent information related via enjoyable interactive approaches; skits, role-playing, and experiential situations. Our participation was as a "care giver,' regardless of background, or work status. The vision and focus of Nicole Bruno and Julie Falconer as exemplified in this program guarantees that the participants leave with an understanding of a spirit with Alzheimer's and the most important principle for providing effective care during this spirit's transition. It is the most rewarding program I have ever attended!

Ray Brinker, RN
August 2011

I am so happy that I was able to attend the Dementia training today. I learned a great deal. Your insights into the experience of dementia were so helpful - in some ways, they validated my own sense of what this terrible affliction feels like, and definitely expanded my understanding of care strategies. The demonstration of the Alzheimer brain and the sugar experiment were very powerful- and the role plays and experiential games really hit the mark. I have attended many workshops in my career, but never one with so much shared emotion. Spontaneous tears, hugs and affirmations were genuine expressions of group compassion. Very moving.Thank you so much for sharing your experience and expertise. It was an excellent workshop.

Sincerely, D.D., MSW
May 2011

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