The Kathi Koll Foundation

Serving our community.

How to Talk to Kids When a Disability Strikes a Loved One

by: Kathi Koll on

When a parent or grandparent has a stroke or other sudden health incident and has become fully or partially disabled, talking to children about it can be a delicate endeavor. The task can be especially challenging if the beloved adult no longer communicates or moves as s/he once did. How should this conversation be approached and what words should a caring adult use? I sat down with Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Bonnie Berman to get insights into the best approach. Q: What should a parent consider before speaking to a child about a loved one who has had a stroke or  ...read more

A KKF Recipient Shares What its Like to be a Caregiver

by: Kathi Koll on

A KKF Recipient Shares What its Like to be a Caregiver The following is a Q&A with Suzanne A., a Southern California-based caregiver and recent Kathi Koll Foundation recipient. Suzanne is a caregiver to her husband Gil, who suffered multiple strokes and is now a paraplegic. With Gil unable to work, Suzanne works part-time to support them. Last November, Suzanne’s car broke down leaving her short on funds and unable to pay her storage bill, which housed many of their personal belongings. The Foundation stepped in to cover her storage bill, which prevented her from l  ...read more

Acceptance is the Answer

by: Kathi Koll on

In our work with caregivers, one of the issues we see all the time is the challenge that people have in accepting their new lives. Their spouse may now be partially disabled or have a long recovery road ahead of them and their life is 180 degrees different than it was. When they talk about some of the difficulties they’re experiencing, there’s a frequent undertone of longing that their life will return to ‘normal’ at some point. Unfortunately, for many caregivers, their lives will never go back to being the way they were, and accepting their ‘new normal’ is so important to moving  ...read more

Holiday Tips for the Caregiver

by: Kathi Koll on

The holidays can be stressful under ideal circumstances, The holidays can be a tough time of year, particularly for caregivers. There are more activities and expectations, and you are supposed to be happy because, hey, it’s the holidays! But that’s just not the reality for many people. But, as I have learned, when you’re caring for a loved one, it’s even more important to take time to enjoy the season. After my husband Don suffered a catastrophic stroke in 2005 that then left him paralyzed from the neck down and forced to live on a respirator, my first few Christmases wer  ...read more

Signs of a stroke

by: Kathi Koll on

With National Stroke Awareness Month coming to a close, I wanted to send a friendly reminder to everyone about the signs and symptoms of stroke. The National Stroke Association uses the acronym “FAST” to signify the warning signs, which include: Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven? Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard  ...read more

Being Prepared

by: Kathi Koll on

Last week, I met a woman whose husband suffered a serious health incident. She was in the process of setting up long-term care options for him and shared how difficult it was to locate all of his legal and medical documents, some of which were now lost. Unfortunately, this woman’s experience is not unusual. Many people do not plan for emergency situations only to find themselves scrambling after an incident occurs. Being prepared is beneficial for practical purposes, but it can also help you avoid unnecessary stress in an already emotional situation. Here are three steps  ...read more

Coping with Guilt

by: Kathi Koll on

We all experience feelings of guilt from time or time. As caregivers, we can feel guilty about leaving the patient alone for too long or for taking time to ourselves. Patients can feel guilty about asking for help or for even needing help in the first place. Coping with guilt can be tough but I have discovered some effective tools for dealing with it from author and psychology researcher Dr. John Grohol, Psy.D., that have helped me move on more quickly. They are: 1) Recognize the kind of guilt you have and its purpose: “Healthy” or “appropriate” guilt is when we feel guilty ab  ...read more

The Best Way to Support Those at the End of Life

by: Kathi Koll on

After a recent event, I spoke with a woman whose husband was dying. She told me that she was having a hard time seeing him in pain and in managing her own grief. She also didn’t know how best to support him. Being by a loved one’s side when they are at the end-of-life is always heart-wrenching, and there is no doubt that it is incredibly hard for the ones left behind. However, what we often don’t hear about is how tough it is for those who are passing. Patients at the end-of-life often experience the five stages of dying, as described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: 1. Denial &mdash  ...read more

How to Support Your Caregiver Friend

by: Kathi Koll on

When a friend’s spouse experiences a stroke or other significant health incident, the inclination is to support the patient. Particularly as time passes, it’s easy (and natural) to focus on how the patient is recovering and forget that your friend has an on-going, and oftentimes full-time role in their spouse’s recovery. The fact is that caregivers frequently get forgotten; and at times, their role is more challenging than the patient’s. In addition to being the ones ultimately responsible for their spouse’s well-being 24 hours per day, seven days per week, the caregiver may feel guilt  ...read more

Gratitude as a Tool

by: Kathi Koll on

Gratitude as a Tool It’s November and the beginning of the holiday season, which has me thinking about the many blessings I have to be grateful for today. However, it wasn’t always this way. When I first became a caregiver, my world turned upside down, I was not feeling especially grateful for anything. I was having difficulty adjusting to my new life and frustrated by the multitude of medical and personal limitations. At times it felt as if I was just surviving. At some point, I realized that something had to change if I wanted to start enjoying my life again. For me, lear  ...read more