Feb 29, 2012

Thoughts return to us

"What you put out into the world comes back.  Step back and explore your thinking patterns and behaviors.  If they do not reflect the kind of life that you want to live, set intentions on how you want to perceive the world." Cynthia James

My sister who was raising four small children at the time, once said to me that she observed that parents were able to get their children to do the things that were really important to them.  If that is true, it would seem to be because the parent put a lot of energy and intention into making sure what they wanted to happen did.  It is the same with our thoughts.  The content of our thoughts is reflected in our lives.  That does not mean that what we think immediately shows up in our life; but it does mean that the overall content of our thoughts is reflected in the quality of our lives.  That is why it is important to be aware of our thoughts and to train our minds to think thoughts reflective of the life we want.  Catch yourself when you have not been aware of what you are thinking.  What were you thinking?  Is it the quality of thought you want present in your life?

Feb 28, 2012

Inner congruence

"We have no chance of discovering the fullness of our inner music, if we don't let the players in our hearts and minds and spirits tune. Experience is the way that the heart and mind and spirit practice what they need to play." Mark Nepo

I like the nonjudgmental way Mark Nepo presents life. He acknowledges that we will have opposing voices in our head, and he says - let them speak: 'they are only finding their part in a larger, yet-to-be-heard song'. He states that confusion is the tension of trying to make sense of things too soon; that it takes time for the heart and the mind and the spirit to come into congruency. I think this might be a good approach to life: to trust in the process of our hearts and our minds and our spirits coming into congruency - or what Nepo would call coming together. He contends that experiencing relationships brings us to Love; honoring our questions leads to Wisdom and traveling the trail of our changing our beliefs leads us to God.

How does this apply to caregiving? It seems to me that we need to experience the change in our relationship with the care receiver and others, acknowledge the questions we have about how and why this is what is up for us right now in life, and be willing to change what we believe about what this might mean for us. It is worth considering.

Feb 27, 2012


"It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere." Anges Repplier

How very true. I am sure we know people and probably have ourselves tried to fill the inner void of self acceptance by an addiction or by keeping so busy one is never without distractions. Providing caregiving for someone with dementia is an opportunity to slow down. Everything that one does with the person with dementia is very slowed down; we can either resist that or we can allow ourselves to enter a slower rhythm. I have done both, and more recently I find myself entering a much more relaxed rhythm. It is an adjustment for me because I have been very busy in the world for the last three decades, but I am finding it is perhaps a more natural pace for me. Without the striving, more of my real pace is coming. Even with all the responsibilities we have as caregivers, we can take time to notice: is this an opportunity for me to adjust my rhythm, my pace?

Feb 26, 2012


"The estimated cost of formal and informal care for dementia worldwide is currently in excess of 600 billion dollars accounting for 1% of the world's gross domestic product."  Creating Excellence in Dementia Care

Amazing.  And this 171 page research paper does not say how or if that counts all of us unpaid caregivers, and the cost to us from lost salary.  And, with the world's aging population, this need is only going to increase.  The above research paper from Ireland outlines what it thinks governments must do.  Certainly, it is an issue that countries and governments and families must face, and it has been my experience that the support services available are woefully inadequate at this time.  If you are interested in reading the paper, which was forwarded to me by a friend, it is:

Feb 25, 2012


"In brain scans, music lights up the medial prefrontal cortex and triggers a memory that starts playing in your mind." Jodi Picoult

Although the above quote is from a book of fiction, it is accurate.  Music does improve memory.  In a class I took from a neuropsychologist, he said that music "lines up the neurons in the brain."  Music is something we can add to our repertoire as caregivers for someone with dementia.  I recently order some music created in collaboration with Ekhart Tolle which is designed to help calm the mind.  Whatever your taste in music, it is one more good tool to use in our support of someone with dementia.

Feb 24, 2012

Redefining Dementia

"New guidelines expand the definition of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to include nearly all people who would have previously been diagnosed with very mild or mild Alzheimer's dementia. It can delay treatment for patients, since medications that can slow progression of the disease require a diagnosis of Alzheimer's dementia first." Time Magazine February 20 page 15.

Something to keep our eye on.  If obtaining a definitive diagnosis for dementia has not been difficult enough, this may very well muddy the waters even further.  99.8% of patients diagnosed with very mild Alzheimer's would be reclassified as having mild cognitive impairment under new guidelines adopted in 2011.  In our case, it took several trips to physicians, to include two neurologists, before we obtained the definitive diagnosis of Lewy Bodies Dementia at Mayo Clinic.  A very frustrating ordeal, and one in which Dwane's treatment and the answers to my questions were delayed.  This will bear watching.  We do not want treatment that can slow the progression of dementia to be delayed.

Feb 23, 2012

Quality of our lives

"You are responsible for your life." Oprah

No matter what our life circumstances, and most people reading this blog will be providing caregiving for someone with dementia, we are responsible for the quality of that life.  It has occurred to me recently that this time of caregiving can be considered a time for me to not only learn French, but also to focus on the next level of my personal/spiritual growth.  I want something to show for the years that I am caregiving; that is just the kind of person I am.  The years will pass anyway.  I know I am doing a good job providing caregiving to a spouse who has dementia.  And, what else?  This time "out of society" as a fellow caregiver called it, can be a time for reflection, for facing life straight on.  My usual list of what to accomplish is put aside.  Instead, I am further developing my interior world, what Gerard Manley Hopkins calls the "inscape '.  I intend to use this time of caregiving to become more fully the person I have the potential to be.  Looked at that way, this time is a gift, and I have had only had two such times in my life.  Both times were brought on by something one might consider devastating in my personal life.  I accept this time, "out of society", as a gift of growth and introspection, and one that contains great blessings for me.  Knowing that what blesses any one of us, blesses us all. It cannot work any other way.

Feb 22, 2012

Benefits of good feelings

"While it is obvious that a good-feeling body makes for a more pleasant physical experience, we want you to understand that finding pleasant things to focus upon also makes for a good-feeling body." Abraham

I think the above quote is true.  Finding pleasant things to focus upon is good for our minds and our bodies. Writing gratitudes or miracles daily is a good practice for focusing on the pleasant.  How is your gratitude and/or miracles writing going?  Some days I can find lots of miracles (or things for which to be grateful) for the day, and other days it is more of a struggle.  But, I persist in the discipline of finding 3 in the morning about my life in general and 3 at night about that specific day.  I know it helps me notice the pleasant experiences or miracles during the day, knowing I will be writing them down.  So. let's practice together.
For today:  I am grateful for my health, I am grateful for the miracle of the very mild winter here, I am grateful for the people who love and support me. 

What are you grateful for?  What are your miracles today?

Feb 21, 2012

Being a peacemaker

"I can choose peace, rather than this." Course of Miracles

Dr. Dyer suggests that whenever one is feeling agitated or annoyed, that we can consciously choose to be at peace rather than react to the annoyance.  He suggests several tools for remaining at peace:  schedule some alone time every day, meditate every day, stop yourself when you are making your peace dependent upon outer circumstances, practice thinking peace, become a peacemaker, make peace with yourself, enjoy time in nature.  I find that it is true that one always has a choice about whether or not to react to external circumstances, and I have noticed that I am much more likely not to react if I am at peace.  There will be mishaps when a person is a caregiver for someone with dementia: spilled liquids, remotes turned nonfunctioning, things lost and misplaced.  Those mishaps are a given.  What we have control over is how we treat such mishaps.  A technique I use is to consider:  how important will this event be in one week, one day, or one year?  That usually helps me put into perspective the smallness of the event.  Let's choose to be at peace.  For our own health, if for no other reason.

Feb 20, 2012


"Its (Rosemary's) scent can protect the brain from free radicals, which can cause dementia." Prevention Magazine March 2012 page 134

Scent can be powerful in its effects on the body and memory.  A scent can take a person back to a memory very quickly.  I remember the first time as an adult I smelled udder balm (which Dwane used on his chapped hands), I was taken instantly to the memories and setting of my father's dairy barn.  Similarly, scents can help us sleep (lavender), improve our mood (rose), and help protect us from dementia.  As caregivers for someone with dementia, we need to be vigilant to not let this disease take us along with it.  Growing rosemary indoors is one easy preventative.

Feb 19, 2012


"Misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything.  It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery." Mark Nepo

Yesterday I hurt my knee by banging it against the doorframe while stepping over something.  Hurt!  I was reminded how a small hurt like that can become the focus of our thoughts, our conversations, our lives.  How many people do you know who list their many ailments, like medals won?  It seems that is living in a place where one would invite more of what is the most present topic of conversation.  So, how do we avoid misery?  By looking wider than what was hurt.  This applies to being hurt by actions or words of someone else too.  It does not help us, in my opinion, to dwell on what was done -- except perhaps to glean the small kernel of truth in it for us.  Instead, let us aim at taking things less personally.  Yes, my knee hurt.  Was it reflective of my whole life?  By no means.

Feb 18, 2012


"I have just three things to teach:  simplicity, patience, compassion." Lao-Tzu

I like keeping things simple, and I think it is good for our human nature to do so.  Keeping things simple eliminates a lot of the drama that can be so distracting in life.  AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) even has a motto about simplicity:  KISS (Keep it simple, stupid).  I would rather not use the derogatory name calling, but the idea is the same.  So, what is keeping it simple?  Part of it is being direct.  If we are direct and people are direct with us, confusion in communication is eliminated.  How many times have you pondered what someone really meant by what they said?  That happens when people are not direct.  Some of us are taught to be indirect as children.  We are taught that our needs are not important (which, of course, means that we are not really important), and we learn not to ask directly to have our needs met.  So, we hint around, saying we sure are tired; when what we really want is someone else to do the dishes.  It takes less energy and causes less confusion to be direct.  Want help with the dishes?  Ask someone to help with the dishes. 

Practicing simplicity, along with patience and compassion, are sound ways to live our lives. 

Feb 17, 2012


"Try not letting anyone who does not come in peace into the territory of your true being." Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Such good advice.  Sometimes people may wonder why a person chooses to not be around them any more, and it is important to not willfully hurt someone, but  . . . . . . more important is being true to yourself.  I find there are just some people it is not good for me to be around.  They are not bad people; they just affect my peace adversely.  I have always loved the line in Desiderata: "Avoid loud and aggressive persons.  They are vexations to the spirit."  I agree.  And, part of self care in this role as caregiver for someone with dementia, is to allow within our space only those people who bring us peace.  Because, if they bring us peace, of course, they also bring themselves peace.  Those are the people to have among our support system, and this is the type of person to be ourselves.  Peace makers.  That does not mean we are weak or that we cannot stand up for something we believe in; what it does mean is that being at peace is the natural state for us. 

Feb 16, 2012

All is well

"If you know that all is well, you know all you need to know. And if you know life is supposed to be fun, you know more than almost anybody else knows." Abraham

What if the above statement is true?  In any given moment, usually, all is well.  What if life is supposed to be fun, rather than a chore or an event with lessons to be learned?  I have a tendency toward being anxious, and one of the practices I implemented long ago was to say as a mantra or affirmation, "All is well."  I say it while breathing until I really feel that all is well.  It might be something worth trying when you are feeling anxious. 

Feb 15, 2012

Research volunteers needed

"There are over 5 million Americans today living with Alzheimer's and 14.9 million Alzheimer's caregivers .  ." Angela Lunde, Mayo Clinic Newsletter

The latest Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's newsletter is about the opportunity to participate in research designed to help prevent and treat people with Alzheimer's Disease.  It might be very worthwhile to check into participating in a study being conducted, and if you would like more information, you can obtain it at:

It might be a good Valentine's gift for yourself and the person for whom you provide care:  to be part of making a difference in this debilitating disease.

Feb 14, 2012

Heart Signals

"Research has illuminated that the heart plays a particularly important role in our physical as well as emotional well-being." Janet Carol Ryan quoting research done by HeartMath Institute

The HeartMath Institute researches the effects of emotions on the heart, measures how positive emotions create coherent heart rhythm and how negative emotions create incoherent heart rhythms, and teaches people how to be aware of their emotions and resultant heart rhythms.  What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than to consider how our emotions affect our hearts and our overall health.  The research indicates that people practicing positive emotions with this HeartMath method can even affect the well being of other people and the whole planet.  The HeartMath Institute has developed the Attitude Breathing Technique which is comprised of taking five minutes several times a day to::
1. Focus on your heart as you breathe in.
2. Concentrate on a positive feeling or attitude as you breathe out.
3. Lock in this new feeling as you continue to breathe it in and out through your heart.

More can be learned at:  www.heartmath.org/

Feb 13, 2012


"The greedy one gathered all the cherries, while the simple one tasted all the cherries in one." Mark Nepo

I had a shift in perception in reading Mark Nepo's description of greed.  There have been many times in my life where I have wanted to be in two places at the same time; sort of torn between attending two different events.  Mark Nepo says that is greed.  He explains that to want to be in two places at once is to want to experience more than is humanly possible.  When we feel behind, left out, less than, he says that is a form of greed and lack.  Better instead is to accept and be fully present for this moment.  To stop "racing through life with one eye on what we have and one eye on what we don't (have)."  How can we be satisfied with this one life we have? - which at the present time consists of providing caregiving.  How can we feel that this is 'enough'? 

Feb 12, 2012

Dealing with Fear

"Your greatest gift lies beyond the door named fear." Sufis saying.

Several teachers say there is only fear and love.  Fear is the absence of love, and love is of God.  Dr. Dyer says that there is only God; nothing else is real.  So, does the above quote mean that we need to deal with illusions in order to have our greatest gift and to reach our own potential?  I think that might be true.  FDR said it as well, "The only thing to fear is fear itself."  The lesson keeps repeating.  We need to conquer our fear of fear, and that is the door through which the gifts of love and serenity abide.  As caregivers for someone with dementia, it sometimes seems there is much to fear:  how much longer do I have to do this?  how much longer will he be mobile?  how much longer before a facility is the answer?  what about my own health and well being during this caregiving?  will I survive this?

I suggest that such fears, while human, do not serve us.  Let us look fear in the face, and claim the love that is rightfully ours.  The love, that some say, is the only reality.

Feb 11, 2012


"Your field of energy is protected from contamination by kindness." Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Dr. Dyer speaks of how important it is to keep our own energy in the higher vibration of love, joy, forgiveness; and he says the best way to do that is by practicing kindness.  He is speaking of the people who are functioning at a lower vibration, perhaps like those we have all heard called 'energy vampires' - those people who seem to suck you dry in moments.  He seems to say that this is a reality; people who are functioning at the low levels of jealousy, greed, anger can, indeed, affect the energy of others.  In order to maintain the higher vibration of love and kindness, we either have to avoid those people or we can practice sending kindness their way.  This is even true of us in caregiver situations.  I live with someone who seems to be in almost perpetual complaint - a very low vibration.  What I am doing that seems to be working, is to not engage in his complaints, but to treat him with kindness.  What works for you with people who drain or negatively affect your energy?

Feb 10, 2012


"As you think, so shall you be." Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

It all begins with, and seems to end with, our thoughts.  We are what we think.  Numbers of people have done work on the energetic levels of various thoughts (Dr. Dyer, Dr. David Hawkins -- to name two).  Thoughts of anger, jealousy, competition are low frequency thoughts.  Thoughts of love, joy, connectedness are higher frequency.  There are some who believe that having lower frequency thoughts is what allows disease to enter our bodies.  Perhaps it is time to start noticing our thoughts and choosing the thoughts that will create the lives we want.

"I began to understand that the promises of the world are for the most part vain phantoms, and that to have faith in oneself and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course." Michelangelo.

Feb 9, 2012

Being at peace

"God cannot express God's self in you when you are not at peace." Patanjali

There are many benefits from being at peace; perhaps one of the most important ones is Patajali's quote.  Sounds good, but how does one remain at peace?  For me, it has always worked to clear my schedule and spend time in meditation.  My daughter lent me a cd by Edgar Cayce which leads one in self hypnosis, which - in my opinion, is like meditation.  It seems that if I am not at peace, what I need to do is return to my true self; and meditation helps me to do this.  Being at peace means thinking peaceful and positive thoughts, breathing deeply and evenly, moving serenely, feeling relaxed and unrushed.  How do you regather yourself and return to the natural state of peace?

Feb 8, 2012

Maintaining mobility

"Although the neurological damage due to Parkinson's Disease cannot be reversed, maintaining muscle tone and function is a very important aspect in the treatment of the disease in order for someone to maintain independence and quality of life," Rachel Arnold, Doctor of Physical Therapy

A notable symptom of Lewy Bodies Dementia (LBD) is parkinsonian aspects.  Dwane has fairly significant parkinsonian symptoms, which include tremors, slowness of movement, stiffness of the limbs and trunk, and impaired balance and coordination.  A new exercise program, NeuroFit's Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR), is supported by research showing it improves motor, cognitive and emotional aspects of Parkinson's Disease.  I think this would be worth checking into.  Apparently one needs to contact physical therapists in order to access this program.  I did an online search and found information about the program, but it seems to be available only through physical therapists trained in PWR.

Feb 7, 2012

Feeling the emotions

The truth is that while analyzing and strategizing and preparing ourselves can occupy our minds, and may even help prevent us from being hurt the same way twice, there is no substitute for giving the wound air, which in the case of the heart means saying deeply, without aversion or self-pity, "Ouch". "  Mark Nepo

I have noticed in my own life and in others that people seem to return to the same predicaments over and over.  In Mark Nepo's life he shares that his childhood upbringing caused him to experience rejection and to seek approval.  In my own life, an experience I have revisited is misplaced trust.  It is my nature to analyze why something happened to me, and, in some respects that is worthwhile.  But, I agree with the quote above, that the most important thing is to fully feel the pain.  That way we can move beyond the issue and not need to revisit the same scenarios again and again.  We will have learned what was there for our soul to learn.

Feb 6, 2012

The vibration of love

"Amazing as it may sound, each and every one of our cells behaves like a miniature human.  When we feel "in love," our cells have the vibration of love." Dr. Bruce Lipton

Much is being written nowadays about the body, its vibration, and how to have it vibrate at higher frequencies.  The premise is that when the body vibrates at higher frequencies, it is healthier.  The body vibrates at higher frequencies when it entertains thoughts of love, enthusiasm, peace, joy; and the body vibrates at low frequencies when it thinks of hopelessness, anger, despair.  Several thinkers are now advancing the idea that we can help our bodies vibrate at higher frequencies by our thoughts, our emotions and by applying tapping sequences - perhaps along with affirmations.  Jack Canfield is publishing a book on this type of tapping, and one can find information about a form of tapping at http://www.bodywisdom.com/    It seems that incorporating these practices into our lives is a good way to support our health while providing caregiving, or in any life situation.  I have been doing the body tapping from http://www.bodywisdom.com/  for several months, and I do believe that it supports my body in health and contentment.  A simpler form of body tapping is at   www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDWIVZKcmTI

Feb 5, 2012

Ways to develop self-compassion

"Self compassion stresses living in the present moment, aware of one's own thoughts and feelings." Siegel & Hartzell

So, if self-compassion is the route to healthier self regard and a defense against depression and anxiety, how do we develop it more fully?  Researchers have outlined several ways: 
Gratitude:  daily list 3 things that went well (an activity already recommended by this blog)
Gratitude:  write a letter to someone who did something for us for which we are grateful
Savor:  think about 2 experiences you found pleasurable today
Touch:  give yourself a hug when you feel bad
Develop compassionate guardian images:  imagine a physical representation of your ideal of compassion
Write compassionate letter:  Compose a letter written from the above imagined compassionate guardian to you.

If love begins at home, what better way than to practice self-compassion toward oneself.

Feb 4, 2012

Self compassion research

"Self-compassion is different from self-esteem and contributes to many indicators of well-being." James Persinger

According to research by Gilbert and Procter, the key parameters of self-compassion are:

"Kindness involves understanding one's difficulties and being kind and warm in the face of failure or setbacks rather than harshly judgmental and self critical.  Common humanity involves seeing one's experiences as part of the human condition rather than as personal, isolating and shaming.  Mindful acceptance involves mindful awareness and acceptance of painful thoughts and feelings, rather than over-identifying with them.

Today, let us commit to the practice of self-compassion.

Feb 3, 2012

The month for the heart

"February is the month when we consciously review what touches our hearts." Angeles Arrien

During this month of February let us say aloud what is in our hearts.  A person recently told me she regretted not enjoying her partner more while he was alive.  Too many people live with regrets.  Let us not let the job of caregiving take us away from what is important in life; and what is more important than to let people know you value them?  So, let us take this month of February and think about what touches our hearts.  For me, it is connections with those I love, enjoying nature, expressing myself creatively, continued learning, fun, continuing to evolve spiritually and humanly, time with someone with whom I can truly hear and be heard.  What touches your heart?

Feb 2, 2012

Finding peace

"We could never have guessed we were already blessed where we are . . ." James Taylor.

Do you ever wonder what this caregiving is all about for you?  If it serves a higher purpose?  Someone said to me that wanting to find purpose in life was all about ego, but I don't think that is true.  I seem to need to believe that what I am doing has some purpose.  Myths have themes where a person is interrupted in his or her journey and undergoes some delays and struggles.  Sometimes that seems to me what this caregiving is:  a delay in the journey of my life.  So much is put aside, while we provide care.  Is it, like in the myths, a time for forging our souls and developing our strengths?  I hope so.  Perhaps we are very blessed where we are.  Who would have guessed?

Feb 1, 2012

Self compassion

"May I be safe.  May I be peaceful. May I be kind to myself.  May I accept myself as I am." Kristen Neff, PhD, University of Texas.

This is a self affirmation created by Dr. Neff and found in her book, Self Compassion.  According to her research we can improve our health and happiness by embracing self compassion, instead of self criticism.  One way to do this is to have a self-compassion journal.  Each day write down anything you felt bad about for which you judged yourself harshly.  Then write down how you felt.  Next, remind yourself that being human means making mistakes. Finally, give yourself some loving-kindness by writing some kind, comforting words like:  "It's okay.  I understand how frustrating caregiving can be."  A second way to build self compassion is by repeating affirmations, like the one above.