The Kathi Koll Foundation

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How to Build a Caregiver Support System

by: Kathi Koll on

The second in our nine-part guide for new caregivers. How to Build a Caregiver Support System When suddenly thrust into life as a caregiver, one needs support—financial, social, emotional, and physical—but how and where do you find it? The answer to that will be unique for every person and each situation. Some people might have big families or an extensive group of supportive friends who jump in to help out, but most will not have this ideal situation. And even with strong support, caregiving can be such a demanding, lonely job that isolation is c  ...read more

Financial Tips for New Caregivers

by: Kathi Koll on

Financial Tips for New Caregivers: What to Expect and How to Find Your Way The first in a nine-part series for new caregivers. When one suddenly becomes a caregiver, the challenges can be immense and confusing.Aside from the varied emotional and medical stresses, caregivers must deal with sudden and unexpected financial changes. When Janet Dodson, a Kathi Koll Foundation award recipient, lost her mother, Dodson and her stepsister became the caretakers for Dodson's stepfather, who has Parkinson's disease. Aside from the family's grief, the financial and legal stre  ...read more

Keeping Intimacy Alive

by: Kathi Koll on

Keeping intimacy alive is a challenge in any relationship, but when one partner has had a stroke, the challenges can multiply. Strangely enough, after my husband had a massive stroke that left him paralyzed from the neck down, our love for each other grew stronger. This may seem odd since our relationship and our lives also were tested in ways I could never have imagined. His frustrations were many, and there were many things I couldn't fix. Yet, I could still find ways to bring joy to his life, and having that mission helped me feel better too. Here are a few tips for nurturi  ...read more

New Year’s Resolution For The Caregiver: Be Kinder To Yourself

by: Kathi Koll on

It’s the New Year and that time that we start thinking about how we’re going to do things differently, and better, in the next year. Perhaps you’d like to shed those holiday pounds by going to the gym every day, take a new class or read more. The New Year is a good time to make a change or at least think about making a change. However, as a former full-time family caregiver who knows how stressful the role can be, I’d like to offer an alternative to the sometimes challenging and often failed exercises in willpower. Instead of tormenting yourself with a difficult-to-achieve resolut  ...read more

Enjoying the Holidays After a Stroke

by: Kathi Koll on

After my husband suffered a catastrophic stroke in 2005, the holidays didn’t seem so merry. I found myself yearning for our life before Don became paralyzed from the neck down and had to use a respirator to breathe. Everything about the holiday season seemed to emphasize how our old life was gone and how our present reality was nothing either of us had wanted. Those first couple of holiday seasons were an often painful challenge. How could I manage the increased expectations and activities? Even going to a Christmas party required so much effort. How could I get through  ...read more

A Conversation with My Grandchildren

by: Kathi Koll on

A Conversation with My Grandchildren After a parent or grandparent becomes disabled, how will a child react? We recently did a piece that offered advice from LA-based psychologist Bonnie Berman on how to talk to children about disability. This was something I worried about after Don became sick—how will my grandchildren react when they see Don on a respirator and moving in a wheelchair for the first time? Thankfully, they didn’t treat him any differently. He was just ‘grandpa’ to them, only with a new name, ‘grandpa in the wheelchair.’ Years later, I was curio  ...read more

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