Dec 31, 2012


"If all I have is now, where will I look for Joy?"  Mark Nepo

Where indeed?  We as humans seem wired to strive for something else, some place else, someone else.  As Nepo says, we "stray and dream of lives other than our own."  It is probably a functional quality to keep evolution going.  How would inventions happen, lives improve, things evolve -- if we did not strive for something else?  But.  It can also have a downside, and that downside is that we do not relax and live in our present lives.  As Eckhart Tolle would say, "our NOW." 

This is the last day of 2012.  I am happy to say goodbye to this year, learn from the experiences it brought me, and choose how I want to be in 2013.  I was with a woman this week whose husband died of dementia-related causes.  She and I have supported each other over this long sojourn, and I was happy to take her a hot dish and some compassionate listening.  It must be bittersweet for her, as it is for any of us who are caregivers for someone with dementia.  Our NOW is both sweet and filled with sadness, but I think Mark Nepo is right --- the only way we find joy is being attentive to now.  So, as 2012 ends, I wish you, dear readers, in 2013 boundless joy, optimal health and prosperity, peace, love and the ability to live in the now.

Dec 30, 2012

Exercise Option

"Live Web classes are different every time, and they don't require you to leave the house," Jessica Matthews, exercise psychologist

What a wonderful idea if you live in an area that is having inclement weather.  This is how it works:  you sign up with a live fitness site, choose the class you would like to take, log on at the designated time, and follow along with the instructor.  Two popular sites are EMG Live Fitness and Flirty Girl Fitness Live.  Wello is a site that goes a step further with two-way video that allows your instructor to give you feedback.  You will need high speed internet with video software.  Prices are $5 per class for most of the classes that do not have instructor feedback, and $15 per class for those that do. 

When it is icy outside, I am hesitant to do my usual walking; so this is another option.  Our health as caregivers is enhanced by regular exercise, and exercise helps us sleep better.  This is just another easy option to get the body movement that is supportive of our overall health. 

Dec 29, 2012

Sleeping Peacefully

"The link between sound slumber and good health is indisputable.  Study after study has shown that consistently racking up 7-9 hours of snooze time per night can rein in the risk of problems from depression to type 2 diabetes." William Kohler, M.D., medical director, Florida Sleep Institute

We know the importance of sleep, but how do we get it?  Especially as we get older, and with the additional stress of caregiving, sleep is sometimes elusive.  A couple nights ago my body felt agitated, like I had had too much caffeine - ( I had not had any), and I did not fall asleep until well after midnight; only to awaken at 4:00 a.m. unable to return to sleep.  Dr. Kohler says that insomnia is often caused by underlying issues -- stress, acid reflux, and chronic pain -- which cannot be fixed quickly with sleep medications or devices (such as headband sensors, etc.)  What does work is sticking to a bedtime routine, relaxation techniques and meditation, and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening.  When those techniques do not work, Dr. Kohler suggests we see our doctor.  And, it is important to remember, that the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep disorder is a characteristic of Lewy Bodies Dementia, and there are medications that can help with that. 

Dec 28, 2012

Hand Washing

" Done properly, hand washing is a simple way to avoid getting sick." Mayo Clinic

In this flu season, it is important to consider one of the things we have most available to protect the health of ourself and others.  The following is copied from the Mayo Clinic Newsletter.

"Always wash your hands before:
  • Preparing food or eating
  • Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses
Always wash your hands after:
  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes, or waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes
In addition, wash your hands whenever they look dirty.

How to wash your hands

It's generally best to wash your hands with soap and water. Follow these simple steps:
  • Wet your hands with running water.
  • Apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
  • Lather well.
  • Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
  • If possible, use your towel to turn off the faucet.

Dec 27, 2012

Caregiving Tips and Resources

"You have to take care of yourself so that you can be the best caretaker you can be." Health Monitor

The Health Monitor recommends being selfish by taking good care of ourselves, leaning on others who will help with the caregiving, and accessing online resources -- like this blog and the official websites for Lewy Bodies Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.  Taking care of oneself is difficult, especially if you are a 24/7 caregiver; but even if you are not full time, there are many, many demands on the caregiver.  Just the doctor appointments and medication monitoring take many hours, not to count the other tasks we do.  Especially in this season with colds and flu seemingly everywhere, it pays to take care of ourselves.  One simple way I take care of myself is by carrying hand sanitizer everywhere I go, using it often, trying not to touch surfaces that many people touch, and not touching my hands to my mouth, face or eyes -- the most common entries for germs to the body.  What is a simple way you take care of yourself? 

Dec 26, 2012

DLB Characteristics

"DLB (Dementia with Lewy Bodies) has three defining symptoms in addition to dementia:  fluctuating attention and alertness, visual hallucinations, and parkinsonism." Mayo Clinic

It still surprises me when people in the field of elder care do not know what the characteristics of DLB are; afterall, DLB is the second most-occurring type of dementia, after Alzheimer's Disease.  The nurse at the assisted living facility, who has been gone for a few weeks, said to me with apparent surprise, "Dwane recognized me right away."  To which I was tempted to reply, "Well, of course he did."  The memory difficulties we associate with Alzheimer's Disease are not present in DLB.  There are some memory difficulties in DLB, but not the type where the person does not recognize where he or she is at, or the identities of other people.  Dwane still recognizes people he taught many years ago, as well as those people he knows currently.  As caregivers, one of our responsibilities is to help others - including those in the elder care world - understand the specific and unique characteristics of Dementia with Lewy Bodies - because people who have DLB have unique needs and strengths -- quite different from those people who have Alzheimer's Disease. 

Dec 25, 2012

Happy Holidays

"This is a day to let your light shine in the true spirit of compassion and forgiveness that is the heart teaching of all religions." Dr. Joan Borysenko

Whether you practice a particular religion or not, emulating a spirit of compassion and forgiveness bodes well in life.  In this season, which demarcates special celebrations in some major religions, let us look at our lives and notice:  to what extent are we a light unto the world of compassion and forgiveness?  We can be agents of peace in our world, or we can be agents of agitation.  The choice is ours.  Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus this day.  His birth is said to have been a heralding of peace onto all.  How recently have you practiced a gift of compassion without wanting it to be acknowledged?  Today, let us practice peace, compassion and forgiveness toward ourselves and others. 

Dec 24, 2012


"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." Oprah

What if the above statement is true?  What if our happiness is in direct proportion to our attitudes of gratitude?  There is evidence that this is true.  Have you ever been around people who talk incessantly about their ill health?  Is it a coincidence that more ill health usually awaits them?  If Oprah practiced her own advice, then we have evidence that praising and celebrating what is happening in one's life causes more circumstances to praise and celebrate.  That does not mean that unfortunate events do not happen, but it does mean that these unfortunate events must not be the focus of our thoughts and conversations.   Today, let us celebrate our lives.  What is there in your life to celebrate?  In my life, I have relationships I cherish, enough health to do the things I want to do, weather conditions that are temperate, and ever-improving vision following cataract surgery.  On this Christmas Eve, whatever our religious orientation, let us celebrate our own lives. 

Dec 23, 2012

Life's Difficult Lessons

"God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open." Hazrat Inayat Khan

It has seemed to me in my life that God or Life does allow us to experience situations which break our hearts again and again.  Everyone has difficulties.  No one in this human condition is immune from difficulties, but we can manage how we respond to our difficulties.  Some people become more closed up and bitter.  Another option is to become more open and more resilient.  If it is true that our hearts are broken again and again until they remain open, (and I think it is true) then it behooves us to keep our hearts open.  And, what does that mean?  It means continuing to love, and to hope, and to offer ourselves in service of the greater good.  Many of the ways our hearts are open again and again occur in relationships.  Relationships end, or the other person changes and does not want the relationship as it has been, or the people at the organization do not want us working there any more.  It can also be a health challenge, as it was for Mark Nepo.  He says his first fall from love opened his heart, then his cancer opened it further, followed by a marriage ending to open it more.  Surely, being a caregiver for someone with dementia is a heart-opener.  In what ways can you stay engaged in life?  Hopeful?  Receiving and giving love?   

Dec 22, 2012

Winter Solstice

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face." Victor Hugo

In the northern hemisphere, yesterday was the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter.  With there being less sunlight, and perhaps less opportunity to get out, it is prudent to look for ways to have fun and laugh.  I took Dwane to get a haircut and ice cream cone yesterday, and we did laugh together over several things.  He still has a cute sense of humor, and he is good to laugh with.  Our region has missed the major storms that have been predicted, and it was a pleasant day out.  We stopped at the store and bought him pineapple and cinnamon rolls.  He sometimes complains about the food at assisted living, so I try to keep him stocked with some of his favorite things.  This is our first Christmas with him being in assisted living, and I think it is hard for him.  He seems to be feeling left out, even though there is not much to be left out of -- as I have spent recent days having cataract surgery.  As caregivers, I think it is hard to find a balance of living our lives without the person with dementia feeling left behind.  Or, we don't live our own lives,  in order that the person does not feel left behind.  How do you manage this balancing? 

Dec 21, 2012

Doing Nothing is Good for our Brains

"To boost brainpower, take time for reflection and daydreaming.  They may sharpen learning and memory skills." Perspectives on Psychological Science

Another good reason to meditate.  As a child, didn't you spend some time just immersed in play?  If you are like most adults, you probably do not do that much any more.  Our brains as adults are often filled with tasks to do, plans for the future, regrets over the past.  Perhaps today is the day to just sit, for 20 minutes, and let your mind be at play.  I read once that when the respected behaviorist Ivan Pavlov lay dying of a widespread infection before the discovery of antibiotics, he thought back to his childhood and what were his favorite memories.  He remembered playing in the mud in the river as his mother did laundry and told him stories, and he asked his assistant to bring him a bucket of mud.  And, sure enough, in re-creating those memories and that playfulness, his body returned to health.  How can we support our bodies in returning to health?  What memories of playfulness, safety and contentment are powerful for you?

Dec 20, 2012

Telling Truth Is Good for Health

"The average person tells one or two untruths daily.  But lying can be hazardous to your heath." University of Notre Dame research

In the above research, people who tell the truth had four fewer emotional problems and three fewer physical ailments in one week than did those people who lied as usual.  The researchers suggest that honesty leads to stronger relationships, which boosts well-being.  So, telling the truth, helps us with fewer emotional and physical problems AND it helps us to have stronger relationships.  It may seem excessive to think the average person tells 1-2 lies per day, but -- have you monitored yourself?  Do you ever avoid the truth if you know there will be backlash, or to not hurt someone's feelings, or to avoid trouble, or to avoid doing something you do not want to do?  I would suggest we all do some of these things some of the time.  But, here is new research that tells us that telling the truth is good for our health. 

Dec 19, 2012

Plan Ahead in Caregiving

"The average caregiver will provide care for 4.6 years."  Leacey E. Brown, Gerontology Field Specialist

In our situation, we have surpassed the 4.6 years, and, perhaps you have too.  In many respects, we were prepared for the unthinkable:  life when we could no longer care for one or both of us at home.  We had advance directives in place, long term care insurance, and we had watched our spending habits in hopes of  providing for ourselves as we got older.  But, I had not imagined having a spouse who would be unable to see or accept what professionals told us was the reality of his needs:  that he needed the services of an assisted living facility.  Oddly, that has been the hardest part for me.  His resistance to what seems obvious and to what numerous professionals have said is necessary.  So, my suggestion, is to plan ahead for that contingency too.  Plan for when you may be making decisions affecting someone who wants his/her reality to be different from what it is. 

Dec 18, 2012

Staying Healthy

"Cold and flu season are upon us.  Use these tips to stay healthy." Dr. Eric Kuyper

1. Wash your hands.  Most cold and flu viruses are spread by touching surfaces, as the viruses can stay alive for hours and even weeks.  Also, do not touch your face, as most viruses enter through your eyes, nose and mouth.
2.  Eat a healthy diet, to include fruits, vegetables, garlic, yogurt, cayenne, pepper and green tea.
3.  Drink plenty of pure water.  Dr. Kuyper suggests drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces.  If you weigh 150 lbs, you would drink 75 ounces.
4.  Avoid sugar and any processed foods.  Sugar decreases immune function almost immediately and it takes your body hours to recover.
5.  Take Vitamin D (400-800 IU per day), Vitamin C (1000-2000 mg per day) and a molecularly distilled omega-3 fish oil (2000-3000 mg per day)
6.  Exercise regularly, with 30 minutes per day being recommended.
7.  Enjoy a sauna, as flu viruses cannot survive the heat.
8.  Do not smoke and limit alcohol, which dehydrates the body and can interfere with the liver -- which is a primary detoxifier.
9.  Reduce stress.  Prolonged stress is responsible for 90% of all illness and diseases.  (Caregivers take note!!)  To counteract the stress of life and caregiving -- exercise, meditate and change your thoughts.
10.  Get enough sleep -- most people need 8 hours per night for optimal health. 

Dec 17, 2012

Supporting One Another

"At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me."  2 Tim 4: 16

I would venture to say that anyone who has lived to adulthood in this world has experienced not being defended, and even being deserted.  For most of us, it probably starts in childhood where we may have been blamed for something we did not do.  It seems human nature to be reluctant to stand up for someone who is being spotlighted for being at fault, and it seems to take a very mature person to do so.  We may be part of the onlookers who know the person being accused is not guilty, but as humans we seem reluctant to stick our necks out and speak up.  Perhaps it dates back to the time of the guillotine, where sticking one's neck out resulted in paying the price of one's life.  As mature individuals we do need to speak out when we see a wrongdoing, and we also need to speak out in support of a right doing.  We do not need to cringe in fear.  We can speak up -- for ourselves and others.  It is the right thing to do. 

Dec 16, 2012

Listening to the Stories of Others

"When was the last time you listened to the stories of others?" Question put to the sick by a Native American Medicine Man

At the recent holiday party at the assisted living center, I listened to a resident tell me how she had been homecoming queen in her high school.  As we get older, it seems we yearn for someone to listen to our stories.  And, listening to others' stories is the way of healing in the Twelve Step meetings.  It is in listening to how someone else is placing their feet to more fully stand in their lives, that we can be inspired to stand in our life too.  A dear friend recently emailed me that this blog was inspiration to her; that the subjects I covered seemed to be just the ones she needed to hear on any particular day.  I thank her for that feedback, and I think it is a gift we can give each other.  Having the courage to tell our story, so that others can be heartened to live their lives well; and, listening to the stories of others so that they feel validated.  We can be greatly instrumental in the healing of ourselves and each other by listening to each other's soul stories.  Thank you, dear readers, for listening to mine.  My hope for you is that you have someone to listen to yours.  You deserve it.

Dec 15, 2012


"Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy:  true fulfillment."" Anthony Robbins

It is perhaps helpful to think of our caregiving as volunteering.  It may not be as glamorous as some types of volunteering.  A friend of mine is volunteering at Santa's Clearing House in North Pole, Alaska, to help disadvantaged children have a toy for Christmas.  We may feel that we did not even volunteer for this role of caregiving, and - indeed - we may not have.  Whether we have been cast into the role or we have chosen it, it might be helpful to our attitude to think of it as volunteering.  Today I spent the day helping Dwane wrap presents, send holiday cards, and then we attending the assisted living holiday party together.  There were a number of residents who had no family to join them.  Dwane did not thank me for coming, even though it is about 2 hours round trip drive for me, but I hope he did enjoy my being there.  In any case, I went because I felt it was the right thing to do; independent of his reaction.  And, isn't that what volunteering is?  Doing what is the right thing to do to help brighten someone's life, without consideration of being thanked or even having our effort recognized.

Dec 14, 2012

Be at Peace With Your Life

"It may sound odd, but the fastest way to get to a new-and-improved situation is to make peace with your current situation. By making lists of the most positive aspects you can find about your current situation, you then release your resistance to the improvements that are waiting for you." Abraham

Sounds simple, doesn't it?  Except it is not always simple.  When we are beset with difficulties and our coping skills are down, it is difficult to "list the most positive aspects" of our current situations.  Dwane is once again wanting to come home.  While I cannot blame him, it is not possible; and -- if I allow myself -- I can be frustrated that he does not remember all of the doctors who said he needed to be in assisted living.  He remembers so many things.  He is still the person I turn to for a mechanical question, but he seems unwilling to remember the medical doctor, the neurologist, the neuropsychologist who have told him that assisted living is where he needs to be now and in the future.  While Dwane is not entirely content in assisted living, he is safe -- which is my main responsibility.

So, to practice what is right about my current situation:  I am free to choose my attitude and my response in every moment.  I delight in the interactions I have with those people I most love.  I have friends who enrich my life.  My own health is very good, as is the health of the other members of my family.  I live in an area where I enjoy much freedom, clean air, nature, kind people, interesting friends.  My life is bountiful.   What are the positive aspects of your life?

Dec 13, 2012

Surviving Caregiving

"Nearly one-third of us will provide long-term care for a sick, disabled or elderly family member or friend during our lifetime, helping those we love get to their doctor's appointments, remember to take medications and eat right." Lindsey Konkel

Lindsey writes of the difficulty of caregiving for a loved one.  She gives two keys to surviving the caregiving task:  1.  Keep yourself emotional and physically healthy and 2. Ask what you can do to help instead of simply jumping in.  I would say that the number 2 suggestion would work only if the person for whom you are providing caregiving is cognitively able to assess what he/she needs and to respond to you when you ask.  For those of us who provide caregiving for someone with dementia, it is futile to ask what they need.  What they need and want are so distant from what is realistic and attainable.  We also do much more than help the person get to doctor's appointments (although we certainly spend a lot of time doing that!) and helping with medications.   We also help them have social opportunities, protect their financial assets, make very difficult decisions with their best interest in mind, take over all responsibilities for food, maintenance, vehicle repair, yard work, household tasks, fiscal responsibilities, etc., etc., etc.  I agree that the number 1 thing we can do for ourselves is to invest in our own emotional and physical health.  How recently have you had a massage or a long bath or lunch with a friend?  How about scheduling your favorite refresher this week?

Dec 12, 2012


"Almost 1 out of 3 people in America will develop shingles during their lifetime.  A single dose of shingles vaccine is indicated for adults 60 years of age and older." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Although I have never had shingles, I know others who have; and it is very painful and can be permanently disabling.  Dwane had shingles before I met him -- so severe that he was hospitalized, and it caused permanent damage to his vision.  We were not sure if he should get the shingles vaccination since he had already had shingles, but his doctor researched it and said, yes.  Even if you have had shingles, getting the shingles vaccination can prevent other episodes.  As caregivers, we need to protect our own health, as well as the health of the care receiver.  One of the easy ways to do that is to get vaccinations.  Shingles vaccination if you are over 60.  Flu shot every year if you are 65 or older and residents in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.  Pneumococcal vaccine if you are 65 or older.  The flu season is upon us early this year.  If you have not had this vaccination, now is the time to get it. 

Dec 11, 2012

Remembering Who We Are

"Fear of loss, abandonment and the withdrawal of love form a shell around our heart and obscure the light of the Higher Self which is always present, always calling us to remember who we really are.  Each one of us has moments of remembering, when we find ourselves present to the beauty of a sunset, the smile of a baby or the light in the eys of a stranger." Dr. Joan Borysenko

Dr. Borysenko has written books to help people shift from the perspective of the fear-based ego into the timeless love and wisdom of the Higher Self -- which she describes as our essential nature.  Our own essential nature may be so covered with masks -- that we have learned to wear in the hope they will keep us safe -- that even we may have forgotten who we are at our essence.  That is one of the many gifts of being around a baby:  the baby shines through as her or his own essential self from the onset.  It is just beautiful to behold, and perhaps it can help us remember to shine through as our essential self as well.  Things in nature can help us remember our essence too.  As I was sitting at my computer writing, a bald eagle glided very low down our narrow valley.  Magnificent.  Dr. Borysenko says we wear masks to make ourselves lovable or at least powerful, but they really keep us from our own true essence.  Let us try to remember who we were before the donning of masks, and let us remember that at our essence, we are love.   

Dec 10, 2012

Boost Memory

"There's another possible benefit of strength training:  a stronger memory."  researchers from the University of British Columbia

The above research involved women in the initial stages of cognitive decline who attended strength-training classes two times a week for six months.  At the end of the six months they showed significant improvement on memory tests compared with women who took only a walking or stretching class.  As we get older, we lose muscle mass.  One way to slow that is strength training:  that means lifting weights or using resistance machines.  I go to water aerobics three times a week and we use weights for most of the exercises.  I find I like this form of exercise better than the repetitive lifting of weights; it is a way to mix fun with strength building.  Whatever form works for you, it is important to have strength training be part of our regular exercise.  Building our strength can also prevent falls which can be disabling or deadly. 

Dec 9, 2012

Be True to Who You Are

"Most of us, myself included, live behind walls that were started by others and finished by ourselves. What I've learned is that the more I risk being who I am -- like a sun daring to shine -- the thinner the walls need to be outside me."  Mark Nepo

Most of us do live behind walls and do not let the full force of our being shine out to others.  A dear friend told me that he read of Marlon Brando that he could decide to fully shine or not.  For instance, if he wanted to shine forth as fully himself, others would recognize him and approach him.  But, conversely, it was said that Brando could also dim himself down so that he was able to be in public and others did not notice him.  There is a lesson in there for us.  Too often our family of origin or the public school experience teach us to dim down the fullness of who we are, and there may be times or situations when we are safer to do so.  But, it is also regrettable.  Perhaps one of the reasons it is so healing to be with a baby is that the baby is fully shining herself or himself.  No one has shamed him or her out of that yet.  It is a risk to be fully who we are.  Some people will reject us.  But.  It is imperative in being true to ourselves that we decide when and where to shine, and that we do not hide out of habit -- or to please others. 

Dec 8, 2012

The Energy of the Seasons

"The earth energy draws us inward in December, while the cultural energy draws us outward to shop and prepare for the holidays."  Dr. Joan Borysenko

The seasons of the year can be instructive to us in our interior journey.  In the northern hemisphere, we are rapidly approaching winter:  the time of going inward.  In nature we see trees and plants have gone dormant, reserving their energy for the coming spring, which signals rejuvenation.  So, too, can we use winter to be self reflective, to take an inner inventory to see if we are showing up in our world in the ways we want to be.  The season helps us as the days are short and the environment covered in freeze and slipperiness (depending on where one lives).  It is a perfect time to stop and consider where we have traversed in life, where we are now, and where we want to go.  Using the time of winter in this way paves the way for new growth to occur -- just as spring follows winter.  This new growth can be nurtured as nature nurtures its growth in the summer, and then we can harvest what we have created in our lives -- as nature harvests in the fall.  Nature, and its seasons, can be very instructive to us on how to live our lives.  We humans and nature can benefit from our respectful honoring of nature and its seasons.

Consider:  What do I want to do differently during this season of winter?

What is Our Focus?

"So many times in life, we focus more on the difficulty than the solution." Jack Sacco

In my observations of my own and others' behavior, I would say this is true.  It is so easy, and we seem trained to do so, to slip into seeing what is wrong about a situation; rather than seeing what is right and/or what could make it right.  That is even true of living with dementia.  There are so many things that are going right.  Dwane is warm, safe, has friends to visit with whenever he wants, and people who love and visit (or call and write) him.  Things are good for me too.  I am adjusting to fixing meals whenever I want and of only what I want, seeing the people I want, and looking for what is good and right about my life.  What is good and right about your life?  Most of us who have computers also have shelter, food, and people who love us.  That is more than a lot of people in the world have, especially in the areas in which there is strife.  Today, let us intend to find 3 things right about our lives, and 1 solution for something that may not be quite right. 

Dec 7, 2012

We Need Hugs

We need four hugs a day for survival.
We need eight hugs a day for maintenance.
We need twelve hugs a day for growth.

--Virginia Satir

Virginia Satir was an internationally acclaimed therapist.  She helped people learn how to be happy and how to be their best in relationships.  I had the very good fortune to attend her trainings while she was alive and still working.  She was amazing in the work she did with families.  Absolutely transformational.  She also believed in loving oneself, receiving love from others, and showing love for others.   So, if we need 4-12 hugs per day, how many have you had thus far today?  Most of us would have to say, 'none'.  Where can we get our hugs.  Support groups, families, good friends.  Let us see where we can get good, healthy hugs.  And, of course, give them. 

Dec 6, 2012

A Day of Shopping

"If we practice self-hatred, then the sacrifice we make of ourselves and our lives is not sacred, for it is then a gift of something we hate rather than of something that we have nurtured and loved." Gwynneve, nun 500 AD

A full day of fun and shopping.  Dwane wanted to do his Christmas shopping, so off we went after PT.  First to lunch, then to a few stores of his choosing.  He is doing so much better with PT re-established.  Walking better, more upright.  We made a list during lunch, to facilitate our trip and make it more efficient, as he tires quickly.  I had already ordered the gifts for the grandchildren overseas, and we got all the rest done today.  Whew.  Dwane had good stamina and was able to walk in the stores more than the last time we had an outing.  Later this week, I will decorate his room for the holidays, we will address cards, and wrap presents.  A day well spent. 

This nun, Gwyneeve, of long ago has good advice for us today.  Self hatred is a poor gift for anyone.  It is so important to have healthy self regard.  Then we are a gift to ourselves and others.  Name one thing you like about yourself today. 

Dec 5, 2012

For Our Health: Stop Striving to be Important

"She was not telling me to stop writing, but to stop striving to be important. . . . . . now I know that health resides in restoring direct experience." Mark Nepo

In the above quote, Nepo is referring to something that Helen Luke said to him: "Yours is to live it; not to reveal it."  Nepo says that he had felt prior to this advice, that he was to reveal life through his poetry; but he came to understand that "living is the original art."  This seems something that most humans can learn.  It is so easy to be distracted by many projects (even very important ones), professional achievements, any ways in which we are 'making a name for ourselves', but - perhaps - living IS the original art.  That might mean that we reevaluate what takes up our time and mental energy.  Perhaps we will discover that our goal has been to make ourselves important; instead of living life directly.  Living life directly is -- in my opinion -- hard to do.  It is so tempting to be distracted by our inner thoughts or some exterior stimuli.  Have you tried recently to just be?  To just experience whatever is in front of you -- without judgment or mental chatter?  Let us notice today if we are present to what is the experience of our lives. 

Dec 4, 2012

Older Adults and Falls

"Each year more than one-third of Americans older than 65 experience a fall and nearly two million end up in the emergency room for injuries due to those falls." Dr. Richard Holm

Falls in older adults can cause fractured hips and arms and head injuries.  The cost to U.S. society is billions of dollars a year, with more than 300,000 hip fractures needing major surgery every year.  Slower reflexes, poorer vision, less muscle strength, balance problems, generalized illness and Parkinson's Disease all increase the risk of falling.  Excess use of alcohol is another cause of falls.  Falling was one of the reasons that required Dwane moving into assisted living.  He had three falls and one head injury in the weeks before moving him into assisted living.  This was in spite of my efforts to make our environment safe, with no loose rugs, plenty of night lights, no clutter on the floors, no exposed cords in traffic patterns.  We need to make our homes as safe as we can; and that may still not be enough to prevent someone with Lewy Bodies Dementia (which has a significant Parkinson's aspect) from falling. 

Dec 3, 2012


"Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding." Agnes Repplier

Irony.  Within the past two weeks, the director of the assisted living facility where Dwane lives has told me -- in what seems to me to have been a knee-jerk reaction to a bad weekend he was having -- that Dwane could not stay there any longer and would need to be moved to a nursing home.  Then, just days later, Dwane told me he thought it was time he moved home, since "no one does anything for me any way."  (We need to remember that he also expressed the opinion that I did nothing for him when he was home.)   A dear friend had warned me (having experienced Lewy Bodies Dementia with her father) that Dwane might continue to off and on insist on going home, but, still, it took me by surprise -- especially with the threat of the director saying he needed even more services than they could deliver.  I have changed the tide of the director wanting him to be moved by getting PT started again (which I had already been trying for several weeks) and getting his medication changed.  Amazingly, in an error between the assisted living facility and the pharmacy, there had been an omission of one of his meds.  Now I will be consulting with the nurse regularly to avoid further problems, but it still amazes me that the error occurred.  I know Dwane would rather be home.  Most people would prefer being home.  But, that is not to be, and it is very difficult for him to understand the need for assisted living -- especially when he seems to believe that "no one does anything for me any way".  As caregivers, this dissonance is something we can expect, but it is still very, very difficult to hear and deal with. 

Dec 2, 2012

Having Dreams

"Living up to a dream is rarely as important as entering it for all it has to teach." Mark Nepo

The above quote follows what Mark Nepo describes as two big dreams of his life:  being a professional basketball player and being a poet.  He says he did not fail at his basketball dream; it is just that being a poet carried him from that dream.  And, later, cancer opened him up to the "uncovered life of spirit" that has carried him beyond poet.   It is important to realize that dreams come and go.  We will not fulfill all of our dreams, and I would suggest that perhaps the Universe has something better in mind for us when our dreams fall by the wayside to make room for something unexpected.  There is wisdom in what Nepo recommends:  that we enter our dreams for all they have to teach us.  I have, off and on in my life, dreamed of being a writer.  My first college degree was in writing.   Other dreams have come and been lived:  My dream of being a stay-at-home mother in an intact family was lived and left.  Needing to provide for my children and me took me through other college degrees and work experiences.  My response to life has been to learn from the experiences life has brought me.  Perhaps now is the time to dream again. 

Dec 1, 2012

Seeing What is Right

One way to become enthusiastic is to look for the plus sign. To make progress in any difficult situation, you have to start with what's right about it and build on that.
-- Norman Vincent Peale

When things are really tough, it is hard to look at what is right.  This fall has been stressful for me:  a medical crisis involving people I love, the assisted living center saying Dwane needed to go into a nursing home, two flat tires, plumbing problems, optical migraines that changed my vision, and a neighbor running into and destroying our mailbox.  Any one of these things could be stressful, but, together they created one of the most stressful periods of my life.  Even in these difficult situations, it is important to see what is right:  The skilled staff in the intensive care unit, the wonderful will to live, the love and prayers and support from caring people, the ability to honor what is important and let other things go, the skill of asking for help, allowing others to love and support us.  And, most of all, the good outcome.  Much that is right, and much to be grateful for -- to build on even better times.  What is going right in your life right now?