Oct 31, 2012

All Hallow's Eve

"All Hallow's Eve is a cross-quarter day, halfway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. The earth's currents continue to sweep us inward, down through the gates of death, into the womb where wisdom gestates." Dr. Joan Borysenko

What if the seasons have spiritual significance and what if heading into winter is spiritually significant in the way Dr. Borysenko suggests?  "The earth's currents sweep us inward, down into the gates of death, into the womb where wisdom gestates."  hmmmm   Doesn't that imply that the only way to wisdom is to go within?  And, that in going within, we must die to some things and to accept that impermanence is a fact of our human existence?  On the interior journey I found that there were aspects of my personality that I must let go, must let die, in order for me to be a more developed individual.  The things that typically need to die are self absorption, the idea of separateness, fear in all its forms, the human capacity for evil, any smallness or limitation.  The story of the Wizard of Oz shows us some of the things which must be faced and released on this interior journey:  the cowardice shown in the lion, the lack of clear thinking shown in the scarecrow, limiting the extent we love as shown in the tin man.  Today, let us be willing to let go of whatever human characteristics are holding us back in this journey toward being fully human. 

Oct 30, 2012

Choosing to be Happy

"The basic psychological motivation that all people have in common is to be happy and to avoid suffering.  Once we realize that so much suffering is created through our minds, we are motivated to change them."  Dr. Joan Borysenko

Continuing with yesterday's theme that negative thoughts cause our unhappiness, and that we can change our thoughts, Dr. Borysenko suggests we can find motivation in changing our thoughts by knowing any negative thought creates unhappiness for ourselves.  This motivation is increased when we also have a strong desire to benefit others.  If quantum physics is correct in suggesting that any thought we have impacts the well being of everyone else, that can be a strong motivation to change our thoughts.  Another motivation for us to choose positive thoughts is in knowing that all anyone who loves us really wants is for us to be happy.  Isn't that what you want for those you love?  That they are happy, healthy and living a life of purpose?  So, too, is that what those who love us wish for us.  We can become happier, healthier and living on purpose when we choose to entertain happy/positive thoughts and to avoid the suffering that our negative thoughts create for us.  Today, notice your thought content and repeat as often as necessary, "All is well."  Repeat it until you believe it.

Oct 29, 2012

Changing our Thinking

"The ancient practices of mind-training are quite similar to modern cognitive-behavioral therapies.  We begin to observe our thinking patterns and gradually make changes based on those observations." Dr. Joan Borysenko

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the only therapy which is evidence-based, which means it is the only form of therapy that has been proven to produce results.  Most humans are trapped by their minds.  The habitual thoughts of worry, anxiety, irritation swirl around and consume us and our waking (and perhaps even our sleeping) moments.  The way to be free of being enslaved by negative thought patterns is to change them.  I once heard someone say that if you want to know what God you really worship, notice your thoughts at random.  Whatever you think about the most, is -- in respect to where you put your time and energy -- your God.  If you, like me, do not want worry or any form of negativity to be your God, then you, like me, can change your thoughts.  How?  First, notice at random - checking in periodically throughout the day - to see what your thought content is.  Then, deliberately replace any negative thought with a positive one.  A mantra that works for me is very simple:  "All is well."  I say that over and over to myself to displace thoughts of concern.  What works for you?

Oct 28, 2012

Being Right

"Would you rather be happy or would you rather be right?" Jerry Jampolsky

The above quote is so familiar to us that we may not take it seriously.  Recently, I spent some time with someone who has an orientation to needing to be right.  It was a reminder that this seems to be a part of being human.  Perhaps it is groomed in school where - if we could provide the right answers - we got adult accolades (but not always peer accolades).  Perhaps it is based in our inherent curiosity to know things and to know them rightly.  Whatever the cause, needing to be right is a way to keep ourselves at a distance from ourselves and others.  It seems a good practice to focus on being happy.  Another practice is to let other people be right -- that is an excellent discipline to help soften the need to be right in ourselves.  Today, let us set the intention to be happy, and let us let go of the need to be right.

Oct 27, 2012


"To truly listen is to risk being changed forever." Sa'k'ej Henderson

I wonder if that is why so few people really listen.  To risk being changed forever is quite a risk.  Most of us like our comfortable -- if not always highly functional -- ways of interacting with the world.  We like our opinions, our beliefs.  To risk changing them is to risk changing who we are.  And then where would we be?!  Perhaps we would be just where the Divine wants us to be.  Unfettered by the clutter of long-held opinions, beliefs, judgments.  Fully centered in who we are so that we can listen and be changed by information from outside us.  A friend who worked in geriatrics once said that people do not change as they get older, they just get more of who they are.  It is prudent, then, to take a look at who we are; and - if we don't like all of what we see, change.  One of the ways to change is to listen.  Really listen.  Without judgment, opinion, criticism.  Today, let us listen to one other person for three minutes.  What did you learn about yourself by that listening?

Oct 26, 2012

Being Open to New Information

"I am often overgrown with memories and reasons and twigs of mind that block me from the light." Mark Nepo

How often have you been driving and have no awareness of the terrain that has passed?  Or, how often have you been doing something and only to discover that your mind is completely occupied on a different subject.  It is easy to be overgrown with memories and reasons and twigs of mind, and these obstacles keep us from being open to new information.  As Eckart Tolle is so famous for saying, we have only the present moment.  There is no other time.  Too many of us spend a lot of mental time reviewing the past or planning the future.  A little bit of time reflecting on either of these may be good, but not to the extent that most of us dwell on them.  As we go about our caregiving tasks, let us strive to be really present to what we are doing and the person for whom we are doing it.  Both the care receiver and we will benefit from this approach.

Oct 25, 2012

Not Enough Horses

1900's warning to American people:  "In a few years there will not be enough horses in this country to take care of the commercial needs of the country.  Americans, do something about it." Joseph S. Goldsmith quoting the warning

Not enough horses to take care of the commercial needs?!  Within a few years, human's ingenuity had made the need for horses obsolete by devising the internal combustion engine.  Does it ever occur to you that the same fears put out by politicians and others today might be as unwarranted as this one?  The foolishness lies, perhaps, in believing that we can prepare for the future.  Some recent events have made me realize how little I can count on my own future plans, and isn't that a common saying? - - - that, while humans plan, God laughs.  Not uncharitably, I'm sure, would God laugh --- but only at the folly of us humans thinking our wisdom is sufficient for planning the future.  Certainly, we do need to make appointments and make some general plans.  But, to think that this afternoon will unfold as we plan, is folly.  Sometimes it will, and sometimes it won't.  The real lesson here is:  Do not fear.  Trust.  All is well.   

Oct 24, 2012

Our Influence

"Sometimes we are likely to forget what an influence the life of one man or one woman can be.  Insofar as one individual can show forth a measure of health, harmony, inner peace, joy, satisfaction . . . . . . . . ., in that degree, is that person the light of the world." Joel S. Goldsmith

It is easy to forget how we influence others.  Just as in the 100th Monkey Theory the one monkey who washed her food influenced all other monkeys, so too do we influence others by the way we live our lives.  The more we integrate health, harmony, inner peace, joy and satisfaction into our lives, the more we make it possible for all others to integrate those qualities.  I witnessed this demonstration recently in a dear friend who was facing a very challenging life situation, but in spite of her own challenging situation, she was an inspiration and source of hope for all those around her.  Amazing and wonderful to see.  I saw how people's lives were changed because of her graciousness of spirit.  If she can model graciousness in such extreme situations, surely we can model graciousness in caregiving.  It is our choice.  We can be a source of hope, or we can be a source of despair.  Let us choose hope.

Oct 23, 2012


"There's no question that regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes and strengthens bones and muscles, and studies show that if you find a workout fun, you're far more likely to stick with it." Kalee Thompson

Readers of this blog know that I am an advocate for exercise, and I agree with the above statement that if you find the exercise fun, you are far more likely to maintain it.  Many years ago I bought a piece of exercise equipment that looked good in ads.  I found using it tedious, boring, and frustrating.  It soon gathered dust, but from that I learned that buying exercise equipment was probably not a good idea for myself.  I like variety, I like being outdoors, I like group exercise in which one can have fun and lose track of the time.  What do you like?  It is important to consider this because you are far more likely to do it and to stick with it.  I like walking, but not hiking marathons with a group.  I like water aerobics which are fun and done with a group of kind and inclusive people.  I like time alone with nature, either biking or hiking.  I like to do my exercise first thing in the morning, or it tends to fall out of my day.  Think about what you like in the form of exercise, and now:  let's do it.

Oct 22, 2012

Benefits of Chocolate

"A 2012 study found that people who ate chocolate more often actually weighed less -- even though they didn't exercise any more." Beatrice Golomb, M.D.

Ahhh.  A good reason to continue eating the small handful of dark chocolate-covered raisins or almonds.  The above doctor suggests that nutrients in chocolate may plan a role in metabolism, thus helping to offset weight gain.  The study does not say what kind of chocolate, but other sources suggest dark chocolate as having the most health benefits.   Combined with other good health practices like:  overall good nutrition, stress reduction, adequate sleep, relaxation or meditation practices, fun, exercise, relationships which support us:  creating a balance among these factors is a great way to support our own health, especially as we provide caregiving for someone with dementia. 

Oct 21, 2012

Finances and Health

"At first glance, the cost of staying healthy might seem way too high.  Yet, in the long run, maintaining poor health will cost far more."  Rick Kahler, CFP

In saying that staying healthy might seem too costly, Rick Kahler is referring to what a monthly gym membership might be, at $40.  He mentions three ways to stay healthy:  1. exercise  2.  eat a healthy diet  3.  get preventative health check ups.   I agree.  Eating healthy does not have to cost more.  I am sometimes behind people in the checkout stand who have their carts filled with processed and prepared meals.  I would be willing to bet they are spending more on their meals than I do.  I shop the periphery of the grocery store, deviating only for canned goods, frozen vegetables, and laundry supplies.  That means, of course, that I shop mostly in the produce department and some in the dairy and meat.  I do not buy processed foods and choose mostly vegetables, fruits and lean proteins.  Exercise does not have to cost a lot.  There are often specials on during the holiday season, and a local recreation center has a fee of $1.00 for seniors for a daily pass.  Walking is even less expensive; costing only the price of good shoes.  Welcome to Medicare offers preventative screenings free of charge, even colonoscopies.  Please take advantage of them.  

Perhaps those of us who are caregivers for someone with dementia do not need reminders that good health saves money.  We are spending so much money for the care and medicines for the person with dementia that we can see the benefit of being healthy.  I thought recent laws eliminated the "donut hole" cost of prescription drugs, but  I can tell you from experience that it has not.  It is beneficial sometimes to add up what the cost is of living with a terminal and progressive disease.  We can then see clearly that it is justifiable to spend some time and money on maintaining and improving our own health.

Oct 20, 2012

Brain Health

"Harvard researchers studied 16,000 women and found that subjects who regularly ate blueberries and strawberries had brains that functioned as if they were two and a half years younger than non-berry eaters."  Parade Magazine October 14, 2012

As we are caregivers for someone with dementia, it is important for us to protect our own brains.  This research from Harvard is one simple way.  Eat blueberries and strawberries regularly.  Also, if you bike or ski, wear a helmet.  Avoid toxins - to include drugs - that can damage the brain.  Meditate.  Eat a diet of good nutrition, in addition to the berries.  Laugh.  Love.  Enjoy life.  Be happy.  Exercise regularly, especially in a way that is fun for you.  Handle stress by being positive, asking for and accepting support, and relaxation or meditation.  Seek professional counseling if you are unable to handle the stress of caregiving and/or life in general.  These are just some of the ways to take care of yourself. 

Oct 19, 2012

100th Monkey Theory

"Years ago scientists observed on an isolated island a monkey washing her food." Kenn Gordon

As the rest of the story of this theory goes, the next day the scientists reported three monkeys washing their food.  Several days later, 50 monkeys were washing their food, and within a month, 100 monkeys were washing their food.  Then the scientists saw on nearby islands other monkeys begin to wash their food.  These monkeys had no contact with the first monkeys.  Before long, this phenomenon was seen all over the world, and this has come to be called "the 100th Monkey Theory".  This theory is used when a previously rare phenomenon rapidly becomes more common.  It would appear that behavior can spread not just through contact, but also through collective consciousness.  One can see it in many places.  I have read that it takes just one teenager to wear something in Manhattan for it to quickly become the current trend among many.  We can apply this to our living.  When enough of us live lives of kindness, compassion, non-judgment and honor, this can affect the behavior of everyone.  You can be part of the tipping point of the prevalent way of behaving in society. 

Oct 18, 2012


"So, when we slow and open and center ourselves, we breathe in unison with all of life, and breathing this way we draw strength from all of life."  Mark Nepo

Nepo says that if we slow to the pace of creation, truth will sweep in.  Slowing our breathing slows our thinking, and allows us to see the miracles in the ordinary.  Many ancient practices advocate deep and slow breathing, so, too, do modern medical practices.  Our rate of breath is tied to our level of anxiety.  When we breathe deep and slow, we are relaxed.  When we breathe quickly and shallowly, we are anxious.  So, right in our midst we have a tool for relaxation.  Breath.  Relaxation techniques suggest 20 minutes a day of slow breathing can induce deep relaxation.  Yoga practice supports deep and slow breathing.  There may be much about which to be anxious in life, and in caregiving for someone with dementia; but it does not serve us or our health to be anxious.  Notice several times a day if you are breathing deep and slow, or quick and shallow.  Focus on breathing deeply and slowly.  Your body and your mind will benefit.

Oct 17, 2012

Yielding Instead of Breaking

"The hard and stiff will be broken.  The soft and supple will prevail."  Lao-tzu

We have only to look at nature.  Today with significant winds the towering pine trees bend and sway, almost as if dancing.  If they were to stand stiff and rigid, they would eventually fall before the force of the wind.  We can learn from this modeling of nature.  Some people as they get older get more and more rigid in their personality, more rigid in their opinions and habits.  Perhaps those same people are more likely to have arthritis; that is what some who believe in body/mind interaction might say.  Rigid within; rigid without.  Life does have disappointments as the years go by.  So, how do we keep from becoming rigid, which we may think is a protective shell?  Perhaps by recognizing that opinions are only that:  opinions.  Habits of behavior need to serve our well being, or we might consider changing them.  Psychologists say that it only takes 30 days to create a new habit; so if we have habits that are not serving us, we can change them.  For today why not consider creating a new habit to replace a habit that no longer serves us? 

Oct 16, 2012

Self Understanding

"I want to unfold. I don't want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie." Rilke

So many sources tell us that an examined life is the preferred one.  Nepo says we should be like flags where the rips of living let through the blasts of wind too painful to hold.  Of one thing we can be certain, life does contain challenges:  things we might prefer not to experience.  Perhaps being a caregiver for someone with dementia is one of those things.  Having dementia is certainly another.  Even little things -- like the unexpected difficulty adjusting visually to cataract surgery -- can be the events that cause the rips of living in us.  Perhaps part of the secret in living well is to realize what are big events and what are small.  Cataract surgery, while disconcerting in its adjustment, is a small thing.  Dementia, or any other progressive and terminal disease, is a big thing.  Perhaps it is true that in facing the small events, we are better able to prevent the big events from taking us asunder. 

Oct 15, 2012

Family Stress with Dementia

"When a loved one has Alzheimer's disease, family stress is inevitable. To minimize conflicts, address the issues together." Mayo Clinic Newsletter

How true.  When someone develops dementia, family stress is inevitable.  The latest Mayo Clinic Newsletter suggests some ways to help alleviate the stress:  Share responsibility, Be Honest, Do Not Criticize, Meet or Discuss the situation regularly.  Great guidelines, but it is not always possible for all family members to honor these suggestions.  If everyone is helping to share the responsibility of care for the person with dementia, much stress is prevented.  Be Honest:  if you are feeling overwhelmed, be honest but kind in expressing your feelings and your desire for more help.  Do not criticize how the caregiver is doing the job; offer to help instead.  Keep communication open, respectful and direct.  If family members will do these things, much of the stress can be avoided. 

Oct 14, 2012

The Conversation Project

"Talking about dying isn't easy, but it's vitally important. Explore the Conversation Starter Kit and learn how to think about and talk about your wishes for end-of-life experience."

The website cited above is a great resource for having the conversation about how you or someone you love wishes to have their end-of-life experience.  The research states that we, who are caregivers, will have considerably less stress if we know how someone else wants to experience the end of their lives.  It is referred to as the estate of the heart; letting family members know you love them and want to know how they prefer their life ends.  It is also a good website to go to to make your own wishes known.  It is a tremendous responsibility to make decisions for someone else, and this can be made easier if we know what they want and if we have their permission to carry out their wishes.  The website has good information and activities to do that help people get clear about how they want their end-of-life to look.  The information and activities are free of charge.

Oct 13, 2012

2013 Medicare Open Enrollment

"The 2013 Medicare open enrollment period  is October  15 to December 7, 2012.  Review and compare your coverage options." https://www.medicare.gov

That time has rolled around again, and for those of us who are caregivers for someone with dementia, it is in our best interest to make sure we have the medicare plans that are best for us.  I have found it financially beneficial to check every year to make sure we are on the best prescription plan for the medications he is taking.  Medication costs are a big part of what we deal with as caregivers for someone with dementia.  It is not at all unlikely for the person with dementia to be taking 10-15 medications -- some of which are not available in their cheaper, generic form.  So, every year I go to the above website and check.  I have entered and saved under a password his medications, so all I have to do is add any additional medications, and the website then figures which insurance company has the most affordable plan for us.  Perhaps we are exceptions, but I have found it in our best interest to change his prescription drug insurance carrier every year.  It can be a savings of hundreds of dollars.  I recommend you check it out, or ask someone to check it out for you. 

Oct 12, 2012

Television Remote Controls

To live in the hearts of others is not to die." Kahlil Gibran

Recently, I asked readers if anyone knew of some way to handle the significant problem people with dementia have with television remote controls.  In the meantime, I have been investigating.  There are universal remotes (warning:  not truly universal -- be sure the remote will work with the brand of tv you have), but they have to be programmed to the television brand -- and Dwane could somehow get his unprogrammed repeatedly.  So, I researched different brands of televisions and found they have vastly different remotes.  Some have tiny buttons with many options from which to choose --- a  ready-made disaster for someone with dementia.  I found a brand which has a rather simple remote with large buttons.  I am not advocating this brand specifically, but merely the fact that when buying a television for someone with dementia, it is prudent to check out the remote for ease of use.  The Sansui has a more user-friendly remote than several other brands I checked.  Now, hopefully, he can enjoy his television and neither of us will be frustrated by his difficulties with the remote. 

Oct 11, 2012

Eating that Supports Optimal Health

"Inflammation is how the body heals itself -- the way it gets more immune activity to areas that need it.  But inflammation can also do damage and can cause heart attacks, strokes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease (presumably Lewy Bodies Dementia as well.- author's addition)" Andrew Weil, M.D.

Preventing and containing inflammation is the best long-term strategy for optimal health, according to Dr. Weil.  Dietary choices are the easiest way to accomplish that.  Processed foods increase inflammation, especially refined soybean oil, sugar and flour.  An anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes whole foods, and includes olive oil, tea, chocolate, ginger, turmeric, and oily fish.  I have a natural orientation for healthy foods, and much gratitude to my mother for exposing me to sound nutrition.  Eating dark leafy greens every day is a habit for me, supplemented by protein in the form of bison, fish, beans or humanely-treated poultry.  The organic farm I have supported this summer has in its boxes every week the most delicious fresh zesty greens.  A salad with those greens tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some protein is often my dinner.   Diseases cannot perhaps be avoided altogether, but most certainly can be reduced by attention to our diet. 

Oct 10, 2012

Choosing our Clothes

"Wearing clothes we associate with positivity can help when we're feeling down.  The women in our study said they felt good in figure-enhancing clothes and bright colors.  We instinctively know what makes us feel good, so we should cultivate a 'happy' wardrobe." Karen Pine, PhD

As caregivers it is easy to let ourselves and our looks fall behind the many other obligations we have.  We are spending so much time taking care of the person with dementia and all the other responsibilities of life, that it seems there is little time and energy for ourselves and how we might want to look.  Even now with Dwane living in assisted living, I am still the one he calls when he has trouble with the television remote -- which is often!! (Does anyone have any ideas on television remotes and their use for someone with dementia?!?)   I personally am not much for bright clothes, but I do like clothes that look good, fit well and are very comfortable.  When was the last time you thought about what clothes made you happy?  Can you take 5 minutes today to look in your closet and choose 3 outfits that make you feel good?  Now, how about wearing one of them today? 

Oct 9, 2012

Happiness Shows

"You look your most attractive when you're happy and rejuvenated, like you just had a run or a great giggle." Cindy Joseph, makeup artist

Another reason to laugh!  Laughter is good exercise - toning the abdominal muscles; it is a great stress reliever, and it makes us look good.  Who needs any more reason to laugh?  There may be a genetic or biological component to happiness, but this I know:  there is also a choice factor.  We can choose where to place our focus:  whether we are talking about thoughts, conversations, or what we notice in the world.  When St. Paul said in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind," he may be telling us to not succumb to the herd-mentality of negativity, but to focus on transforming our mind.  It is a worthy endeavor to transform our minds from any negativity or incorrect, self-defeating beliefs, to thoughts and beliefs that support the good for us and for all others.  I have noticed that people who look upon others with gentle eyes, rather than harsh and critical eyes, are more attractive and are happier.  What could you choose to be happy about today?  I am happy to see the sun, the exquisite blue sky, and the trees ablaze with color. 

Oct 8, 2012


"85-95% of the population typically needs to be vaccinated to prevent a disease from spreading.  Getting vaccinated isn't only a matter of safeguarding yourself or your kids; it's a matter of safeguarding the community." Anne Schuchat, M. D., director of the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Disease at the CDC.

The October 7, 2012, Parade Magazine has an interesting article of immunizations and the risk parents are taking in not having their children immunized.  This fear of immunizations has dated from 1998 when a British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published --- after interviewing only 12 parents -- that he thought there might be a link between immunizations and autism.  Disputed by nearly all experts, this fear still exists, and it is a factor in parents not getting their children immunized.  Why should we, caregivers for someone with dementia, care what parents are doing about immunizing their children?  Because it can affect us and the person for whom we provide care.  Infants, pregnant women, elderly and persons with immune deficiencies are put at risk when immunizations are avoided.  Some of the myths about vaccines are:  1) serious diseases have been eradicated, so there is no need to immunize.  The facts are it depends which country one lives in, and with our widespread travel, what exists in one country is easily transferred to another.  2) vaccines cause harmful effects.  In fact, according to the CDC, adverse effects from vaccines are extremely few.  3) babies immune systems can't handle the vaccines.  Fact:  CDC now recommends children birth to age 6 be vaccinated against 13 diseases, and today's vaccines are so refined that they contain much smaller amounts of antigens than in years past.  4) delaying vaccines is safe. Fact:  "By delaying vaccines, you're giving potentially serious infections a window of opportunity to take hold," George Wohlreich, M.D., CEO of College of Physicians in Philadelphia.  5)  natural immunity is better than immunity by vaccines. Fact:  "Parents who take children to a chicken pox party to purposefully expose them to the virus have obviously never seen a child hospitalized with or killed by chicken pox encephalitis."  Plus, diseases like tetanus do not provide any natural immunity.

4,000 people have been infected with pertussis (whooping cough) so far this year in Washington State.  We can help our own health, the health of our care receiver, and the community at large by getting the immunizations recommended.  They might include:  flu shots every season (we have already gotten ours), DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus --- sometimes called Dtap) every 10 years, pneumonia and shingles.   

Oct 7, 2012

New Drug for Depression

"Ketamine was developed in the 1960s as an anesthetic and pain reliever. In the 1970s, recreational drug users figured out that if you take enough ketamine, you can have a mind-bending experience. 
But the drug's ability to relieve depression wasn't clear until just a few years ago."  NPR report

Driving to take Dwane for a haircut, dinner and a movie, I was listening to NPR, and they had a report on a new medication for depression which works immediately (unlike existing medications which can take weeks for the effects to be felt).  The doctors interviewed said that this is the first truly new medication for depression since Prosac, which became available for prescription in the 1980's.  While this new drug has some concerning side effects, it has opened up a whole new area of possibilities for drugs for depression because it works differently in the brain.  Medication for depression is relevant to those of us who are caregivers because depression is a possibility for either the care receiver or us.  In fact, anyone thought to have dementia should be screened for depression because severe depression can cause such serious functioning problems that it could be misdiagnosed as dementia.  Keeping informed of new advances in medicine is just one way to take care of ourselves and the service we provide the care receiver. 

Oct 6, 2012

Finding the Redemptive Aspect in Suffering

" Spiritual masters show us the best way to deal with suffering is to find its redemptive and intercessory purposes." The Word Among Us, Oct. 2012

When we are in the midst of one of life's challenging situations, it is often hard to find purpose in the suffering; and not everyone believes there is a purpose in suffering.  It seems to me that suffering does not come our way as punishment, but rather it is a part of the human condition.  Perhaps one of the reasons we are in this earth experience is to develop a different attitude about suffering.  Dr. Joseph Campbell has said that suffering is just a part of life and that as humans we need to be okay with that.  Every single one of us has suffered.  The cause of the suffering may have been professional betrayal or setback, health issues, relationship difficulties, economic hardship, death or disability of us or someone we love.  It seems to me that the form the suffering comes in is not particularly important --- whenever we are suffering, that suffering is what seems biggest to us right now.  What is important is to allow the suffering to transform us into better, more mature people.  What could be the redemptive aspect of caregiving --- which, if we are honest, is a form of suffering?  Perhaps to develop compassion in ourselves, or resolve in standing up for our own rights, or resolve in standing up for someone else's rights, or perhaps the caregiving took us out of using our time in ways that did not ultimately serve us.  What could be the benefit for you from this caregiving role?

Oct 5, 2012

Be Aware of Our Focus of Attention

"Attention to obstacles makes them bigger and more stubborn; attention to shortages makes them bigger and prolongs them—and attention to a problem prevents any immediate resolution or solution."  Abraham

If the above quote is true, then upon what is it in our best interest to focus?  It would seem the obvious is to focus on the solutions, the blessings, the miracles in our lives.  An example:  a person could focus on the drought that the area has been experiencing locally which has affected livestock, crops and wells -- to name a few; or, one could focus on the blessing of the snow yesterday which will benefit the water table.  One could focus on the expense and hassle of having cataract surgery done, or one could focus on the blessing that we can now surgically correct this problem.  Sometimes as caregivers, the responsibilities and stress may override our focus on the positive.  That is very human.  But a good habit to have is to always notice where our focus is, and to return it to the positives, the blessings, the resolution.  How can this apply to your life?

Oct 4, 2012

Lighten the Load

"How refreshing -- the whinny of a packhorse unloaded of everything." Zan Haiku

As caregivers, or in other situations in life, do you ever feel like a packhorse?  We are, as caregivers, burdened with decisions - which we are making on behalf of ourselves and others.  Did Dwane want to vote?  I'm not sure.  It was something I thought he would find important and gratifying, but as the disease of dementia causes a person to "collapse into themselves", there is so much less interest in anything in the outer world.  That is a little decision I made in line with what I thought he would prefer and what was right.  But, how many times a day do we make even bigger decisions on behalf of someone else?  Parents of young children do it all the time.  Override the desire of a child to stay up late or eat too much of a treat.  We are making these decisions from our wisdom and our desire to create what is highest and best for everyone --- even if the other person cannot see the benefit.  With all of the responsibilities and burdens, how do we get relief -- like the packhorse that is unloaded?  One way is to carve out time for things that refresh us:  laughter, meditation, important connections, socializing, prayer, fun, exercise, good food, time to just relax.  What does it take for you to let your load down?

Oct 3, 2012

Live Each Day Fully

James Dillet Freeman: "Live today as if you had all forever. Live forever as if all you had was today."

Different wording on a familiar theme.  Live today fully.  Each today.  I took Dwane on an outing -- to vote early in the presidential election.  He had not expressed interest in voting, but it seemed natural for me to offer the opportunity to someone who taught history and government for many years.  I was going to take him on for a haircut, but he was not feeling well.  Dizzy.  So, I took him back to assisted living and settled him in with a coke and ice -- his beverage of choice.  The dizziness is a recurring problem.  I wonder if it symbolizes further ravaging of the brain from the progressive disease of LBD.  It was our last warm day for some time, so my intention was for us to enjoy it, and it was enjoyable although shortened.  He again had a list of personal items he wanted from a store, so we accomplished that.  A productive day before a very cold spell descends upon us. 

Oct 2, 2012

Dancing in the Rain

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass  . . . . . . . . . It's about learning how to dance in the rain!" Anonymous (at least to me) tag on a forwarded email

We have been experiencing such drought, that -- if and when it does rain, I may surely dance.  But, isn't the above quote a good way in which to live life?  Too many of us are tempted to hold off really living life until . . . . . .  until this, or until that.  Life will have storms.  Of that we can be sure.  It isn't personal.  It just is part of this human experience.  So, knowing that, how do we want to live today?  Yes, it is true we are caregivers for someone with dementia, or we are experiencing some other challenging life situation.  But.  We still have the exquisite fall colors (if you are where fall is occurring-- and if not, you have spring emerging).  We still have family and friends who love us.  We still have our own life.  Let us live today dancing in the essence of who we are.  Let us not wait for tomorrow, or for when this caregiving task ends.  This morning upon leaving water aerobics I saw an old and very dear friend.  Life has taken him and me on our separate ways, but in an instant we were in a place of caring about what happens to the other.  I am grateful for such encounters and for all the ways Love shows up in my life. 

Oct 1, 2012

Combating Depression

"There are several ways for you to deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  We strongly recommend the triumvirate of:  exercising outside (a brisk walk at least 20 minutes a day), light therapy (go to RealAge.com for different light therapy options -- light boxes, dawn simulators, light visors), and supplemental vitamin D-3." Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen

In each of the hemispheres of earth during the winter period, we experience lack of sunlight.  Sunlight helps us balance serotonin and melatonin, and it helps us sleep better, feel better emotionally, and eat more healthfully.  Vitamin D-3 helps boost mood, supports the immune system and heart health.  Most people are "seriously "D" deprived" during the light-deprived winter months.  The two doctors above recommend taking 1200 IU a day.  Taking Vitamin D-3 is an easy way to support ourselves as we are caregivers for others.