Your Opportunity to Speak

megaphone with important coming out of it Hello!

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has recently opened public comment on an 1115 waiver to add work requirements to Idaho’s Medicaid expansion. During the legislative session, the Idaho Caregiver Alliance spoke out in support of implementation of Medicaid expansion as supported by the voters last fall and in opposition to these work requirements as burdensome, unnecessary, and costly. Two public hearings are planned in Boise. If you are not in Boise, you can call in to testify.

Public Hearings

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019

Location: Lincoln Auditorium in the Idaho State Capital Building, 700 W.

Jefferson St., Boise; or call in to 1-877-820-7831, 301388#

Time: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. (Mountain Time)

Friday, Sept. 6, 2019

Location: East Conference Room in the Joe R. Williams Building, 700 W.

State St., Boise; or call in to 1-877-820-7831, 301388#

Time: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. (Mountain Time)

To help you develop your testimony:

Here is a link to information on this waiver application and a template to send your message via email:

Here is the link to the draft 1115 work requirement application

You can also share your story on the Close the Gap Facebook page:

This is your opportunity to speak out on this important issue.

On behalf of the Idaho Caregiver Alliance,


Marilyn Sword
Frontier Group, LLC
Box 225, Boise, ID  83701

Shared Caregiving Stories

Idaho caregiver, Jeannette D. Mayer, shares her story of letting go in the following blog post titled 

Lessons Learned: Sometimes We Just Have to Say ‘Goodbye’


All of us living in a military family have those friends and family members who just don’t seem to understand “a day in the life of a military family.”  Over time, we realize that our relationships with people we love are being strained because they don’t always understand the life we lead.

For some of us, our hero comes home wounded — lifelong wounds — that can cause even more pressure and strain on already fragile relationships.

For a long time I struggled with these family and friends. In fact, I have more than struggled. I have flat out gotten angry, cried, attempted to rationalize, and slowly tried to let go. There were attempts to help them understand… to show them what we are living with… but you cannot fully walk in another person’s shoes, it’s just impossible.  

I’ve been slapped in the face with comments like, “You’re abusing your husband,” “You’re the reason he is the shape he is in,” or my favorite: “It’s the medications, and you’re ruining him.”

Some we would no longer hear from them again, they just faded away like that lost sock in the dryer to never be seen again.

Comments like this really made me step back and look at myself, and question my caregiving skills. Was I really creating all the damage to my husband? Would he be better off without me? Self doubt started to take over, adding to the pain from the loss of people I use to rely on — people I considered true friends.  

I felt isolated, and alone in a world where there was no one else like me.

As I started to share our family story openly, I realized who was still here. It was refreshing when a few of them started to understand why we just snuck out the door during a family dinner, or why at the last minute we canceled attending a friends BBQ.  

I am so thankful to those family and friends who were able to comprehend the ever-changing new normal of our lives.

Over time, my rational skills became more focused. I began to accept those who left our lives, making it easier to open our hearts and home to those who were still here, along with the newcomers entering our lives. During this experience, I learned a lot.

First lesson learned: Some of those who left our lives did not have the ability to understand — or accept — our new everchanging new normal. They just didn’t know how to overcome the challenges emotionally. For that, I forgive them. This is not a lifestyle all people can live in. And that is okay.

Second lesson learned: Harsh words are spoken out of anger, out of lack of knowledge, or out of fear. Some family members have said the meanest words to me because they don’t want to accept what was happening to DeWayne. He has been their hero for so long. To see him in a different way, less strong, and needing help, was hard for them. For these people, I forgive them and pray that one day they will find a way to accept, while understanding he is still with us, along with his everchanging new normal.

Third lesson learned: There are some mean people in the world, who were never truly “real” family or “real” friends. Living with this new normal means a lifelong need of assistance, and attention drawn away from those who don’t like it. For these people, I forgive them and pray they find their place in the world that makes them happy.

Do I still ache for the friends and family we have lost? Yes, for we never truly get over the pain, we just learn how to live with it. For some of the loss, I am glad they are gone. If we can’t support each other, then they were never truly a friend to begin with.

As for the family members who chose to say harsh things. I have found a few family members who will stand up beside me and go to battle for me. Very thankful for this support and understanding.

No matter where we go in this world, we will always run into people who don’t like our ever changing new normal, a highly demanding lifestyle, or they don’t like Ava the service dog. They don’t like the war. Which is fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But it was our men and women in uniform who proudly stood up to defend their freedoms.

So proudly stand up for your freedoms. Caregivers, Veterans, Supporters of all Military Families know you are not alone. Join together in support of each other. Share your challenges, your hardships, your stories. Share your laughers, your hugs, and your smiles. Strength comes from the knowledge and support of others beside you.

Say Farewell to those who don’t understand, who verbally attack, or just don’t show the care and support your family needs. It is okay. It isn’t easy but it is okay.

We are a Military Family who is American Made!  

We Reach Higher, Dream Brighter, and Hold on Tighter

HIke 2 Heal

Hike 2 Heal releases a quarterly newsletter for cancer survivors and caregivers. In this issue, they talk about the great support they received during Idaho Gives and about their hikes/backpacking trips. 

If you’d like to stay connected to John & Junes Mission, Inc. Hike 2 Heal, follow the link here

9 Steps to Respite Care

ARCH (Access to Respite Care and Help) National Respite Network in partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation created a 9 Steps to Respite Care guide for Military Caregivers. This guide, although specified for military caregivers, is another great resource for the non-military caregiver. 

The 9 Steps to Respite Care for Military Caregivers provides 9 great tips on how to navigate respite and helps by providing some great related links. To access the full document click on the following link

Cover page of linked document

North Idaho Love

Dr Toevs standing near a welcome sign in front of North Idaho HospiceThis past July the Idaho Caregiver Alliance and the Idaho Commission on Aging visited North Idaho to host the Caregiving in Idaho: Lifespan Respite Summit. While we were in Coeur d’Alene, we were embraced by so many lovely individuals who support Idaho’s family caregivers. One of those wonderful organizations was Hospice of North Idaho. 

To read more about Hospice of North Idaho click on the following link which will take you to their website

Opportunities for States to support Family Caregivers

small clip of the fact sheet to help people know they've found the correct one.Idaho is one of six states working with the Center for Health Care Strategies, identifyig ways states can help recognize and support family caregivers. One piece of their work was pulling this fact sheet together, providing examples of how states are increasing the effectiveness of caregiver supports. To view this fact sheet click on the following link 

Shared Caregiving Stories

Guest blog by Jeannette D Mayer, a caregiver and R4 Board Member

Happiness was grabbing that handful of popcorn mixed with chocolate M&M’s® to find the Peanut M&M’s® hiding in there. For many years, these delightful milk chocolates wrapped around tasty peanuts were jokingly called “Happy Pills” in my house.


My favorite snack was mixing M&M’s® with the delightfulness of fluffy, salty, buttery, popcorn — you just can’t beat this combination!


Recently, I have discovered a new form of “Happy Pills” that brings great value into my life, but it was something I never imagined I need to ask for. At a doctor’s appointment a while back I flat out broke down crying uncontrollably.


My doctor knows I am my husband’s caregiver, he asked me how everything was going with my hubby… with me… with my daughter?


My doctor knew it was time to have “The Talk.” The very uncomfortable conversation about antidepressant medication. It was time, because my life felt like it was truly spiraling out of control. I felt my mind, my body, and my spirit were dwindling. I was starting to get sick at so many levels and often. Stress was affecting me heavily.


Concentration was a struggle.


Crying was a normal part of my day.


Frustration over the smallest, stupidest things started to happen.


I began to question myself and why I acted this way. It bothered me how I reacted to events that shouldn’t upset me, and I hated crying all the time.


My doctor was extremely professional in his approach to the this challenging conversation about antidepressants. He asked the question and left the ball in my court, while showing support in pursuing this conversation before leaving his office that morning.


He said something to the effect, “You have a lot to carry on your shoulders and I want you to be successful.”


WOW, “I want you to be successful.”


Those were the magic words that helped me start thinking about seriously. Yet that darn irrational brain crept in. What will others think? Does this mean I am not strong enough to take care of my family, my husband? What’s wrong with me? Am I a failure? Does this show weakness?


With my eyes filled with tears, I pushed this self-doubt aside and told my doctor, we haven’t had the conversation but it is time to. It was amazing how admitting this to my doctor lifted so much weight off my chest. I knew God had truly played a role in my life that day. He directed us both to connect.


My doctor handed me the box of tissues and the trashcan as he took time to answer all my questions no matter how silly they may have sounded. He asked me a long series of questions so he can could decide what medication and dosage to place me on.  


Most importantly he wanted to make sure I had a good combination of support: counseling, support group, and medical care not only for myself but for my husband.


Just like the Peanut M&M’S® and popcorn combo these new happy pills also require quality goodness combinations to work successfully. The doctor covered the warning signs repeatedly, made sure I had his office’s phone number along with the follow-up appointment before I left. With very strict instructions to call at anytime, night or day, if I needed anything.


At the follow-up appointment I could feel a major difference starting to take place. My brain fog was clearing. Crying was starting to become less of a daily event. Smiling was back on the menu vs. frustrations.


It became very clear that my mental well-being and healing journey had begun. My doctor informed me that these antidepressants might be temporary as we continue down my husband’s medical path but that this extra mental health support for me is a good thing so I can be there for him. So I can also be a wife, a mother, a caregiver and a friend.


There are times when all those irrational thinking questions still rattle around in my brain, even though my rational brain says, “don’t care what others think, they aren’t living your life. No one has right to pass judgment. I’m not weak for asking for help, there is a lot I am dealing with and need the extra help to breathe.”


This is on repeat in my brain and on a sticky note on my bathroom mirror to remind myself every morning until I convince myself it is true.


Depression and antidepressants are not meant to be taken lightly. I find humor helps me breathe, helps me face the day. Calling antidepressants “Happy Pills” is because they did help me discover some needed joy.


If you are wondering if you need extra support in your life, You are at that point of asking for help too. Please do reach out for support from your doctor. I promise, it will be ok. If you need permission, I give you permission to allow yourself this valuable self-care conversation with your medical professional.


You Are Not Alone!


50 percent of all post-9/11 military care recipients have depression, twice as many as their civilian and pre-9/11 military counterparts. (Hidden Heroes, America’s Military Caregivers, RAND Study).


As a united front of Military Caregivers, let’s join forces in support of each other and stop the stigma of reaching out. If you are facing depression, thoughts of hurting yourself or even suicide – know there is help out there for you too.


I care about you, along with many others. We can’t be caregivers alone.  


Talk about it with fellow caregivers you trust, have that support person attend the doctor appointment with you, breakdown in your doctor’s office, seek counseling & support groups.


Find your Peanut M&M’S® and Popcorn combo that brings the needed joy back into your life.


We are a Military Family who is American Made!  

We Reach Higher, Dream Brighter, and Hold on Tighter.