Feb 28, 2013

Finding Our Soul

"Without knowing it, we, like Jung, work hard at cutting a path to our deeper self that waits patiently for us to arrive, all tired, aching, and out of breath.  Once that path is cleared and once the being at our center is discovered, we can return to the world in relationship with our soul." Mark Nepo

In the above quote, Nepo is referring to a dream Carl Jung, Psychiatrist, had where he was cutting a path through deep woods, came upon a cabin in which a man was praying, and found that it was he, himself, who was the man praying.  We, as humans, do spend a lot of time working in the outside world -- trying to fix things, involving ourselves in schemes in an attempt to achieve a reward, projecting parts of ourselves onto others:  when, perhaps, real life is the work of finding and befriending our own souls.  There are many who believe that within each of us there is a potential, or a soul, or some would say a source of divinity; and that our real work in life is to cooperate in the birthing and development of that part of ourselves.  Within this context, the outer world where we spend so much time working and navigating, is not even real -- but a dream.  It is the inner work that is real.  Whether or not you believe this, we can all benefit from developing ourselves to our fullest potential, and for me, that is the spiritual journey. 

Feb 27, 2013

Long Term Care

"Eventually, most people who have Alzheimer's need outside care. Evaluate your loved one's future needs, preferably before a crisis arises."  Mayo Clinic Staff

The latest Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's newsletter outlines the levels of care for someone with dementia.  While we are able to keep the person with dementia in the home there can be respite care, adult day care and in-home health services.  For my care receiver, all three of these were tried and he refused all three.  That leaves assisted living, dementia care facilities and nursing homes.  The team at assisted living have said that the next necessary step for Dwane would be nursing home, but we are not there yet.  The assisted living is working very well, except when he sometimes has a behavioral meltdown -- but my position is that is what the staff have been trained to handle -- or at least that is what we who are paying for the services should be able to expect.   With Lewy Bodies Dementia it seems there is not only significant fluctuations in lucidity, but also in attitude and behavior.  What seems to work best for me is to be calm and to repeat what he and I have agreed upon; as he seems to forget it.  What works for you?

Feb 26, 2013


"Winners in life keep their commitments through the tough times as well as the good times.  I am a winner." Jack Boland

Those of us who are caregivers have probably made a commitment to support the care receiver during this period with dementia.  The form of our commitment may change, but most of us will stay committed; and - if Jack Boland is correct, that is the right thing to do.  Yesterday I took Dwane to a play he wanted to see and out for dinner after.  It was a pleasant outing, and he seemed to enjoy it.  My commitment to caregiving now involves going to see him and taking him to appointments and fun outings.  It is prudent for us as caregivers to ongoingly evaluate our commitments to make sure they are still right for us; and sometimes we need to make some space in our lives just to have the energy to see if the commitments are still right.  Is your level and form of commitment still right for you?

Feb 25, 2013

Driving Safely

"Statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections." smartmotorist.com

Statistics do show that as we age our driving skills decline.  Even before his diagnosis with dementia, my spouse had several accidents in the last decade; and, yet, remarkably, he still believes that he should be able to drive.  Having dementia is one preclusion for driving, but even getting older - without cognitive disabilities - puts us at risk.  I was listening to Click and Clack, the program on NPR about cars, mechanics and driving.  They told of the way one should set one's side rear view mirrors in order to prevent blind spots.  Instead of the usual way of sitting upright behind the wheel and setting the rear view mirrors to catch just the back end of the car, they said one should lean their head on to the left side window and from that position to set the left mirror so that just the end of the back of the car shows.  In this position, one can see into the blind spot on the left side.  For the right mirror, one does the same thing by leaning to the right.  I have tried this and it really works.  The minute a vehicle - which is passing you - disappears from the main rear view mirror, it pops up on the side rear view mirror.  It is quite remarkable.  I suggest you try it.   We who are older drivers benefit from implementing ways that can help us drive safely.

Feb 24, 2013

Enjoy Life!

"I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it." Rita Mae Brown

What wisdom!  Is it possible that it is not the degrees one accumulates behind one's name, or the level of professional attainment or money one makes in the world, or the contribution in art, or the amount of volunteering we do - is it possible that it is not these things that are most important?!  What if the basic reason for being alive is to enjoy life?!  Would that change the way you live?  Would you do less, obligate yourself less, free up some time for the things that enrich you?  I have found in recent times that I am vigilant about not obligating too much of my time.  While I still take on work and volunteering that I find appealing, I am very, very careful to save time for what are priorities for me.  Those priorities are:  fun, connecting times with those I love, practices of good health, body movement in some form of exercise, times to connect spiritually, and time to dream and be inspired.  Is your life in the good balance that you desire and deserve? 

Feb 23, 2013

How We Spend Our Time

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone." Lin Yutang

As someone overly oriented to achievement, the idea expressed in the above quote has always puzzled me.  Just as the story in the New Testament of Mary and Martha, where Martha is doing tasks of hospitality and Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, puzzles me.  Why did Jesus admonish Martha and praise Mary?  In life I am more likely to be Martha, busy with tasks.  There must be some safety for me in taking on tasks.  At least in the performing of tasks I can see progress occurring.  That is not to say that I cannot be idle, especially when immersed in meaningful conversation or in prayer or meditation.  Perhaps the answer is to not allow tasks to take over our lives, but to leave room for spaciousness.  Because it is in that spaciousness that we can hear the voice of God.  If focused too much on tasks, there remains no room for inspiration.  I have read that Einstein took very brief cat naps thoughout the day, and that it is from his dreams that he gleaned much of his ideas and inventions. 

In our daily lives, let us keep an eye on our ability to retain balance in this dance of doing and not doing.

Feb 22, 2013

Dark Before the Dawn

"It's true that it's darkest before the dawn, but we have countless candles to brighten our night."  Amy E. Dean in Night Light

There are many periods in caregiving for someone with dementia that are very dark periods.  For me one of the most difficult aspects is his dissatisfaction with what is now our reality.  He has dementia, experts have said he needs more assistance than can be provided at home (even typical assisted living centers evaluated and said his needs were too great for them to serve), and the reality is living in a facility that addresses more advanced needs.  Dark, too, is the prognosis of what we are dealing with.  It can literally only go downhill from where we are; the only thing to be determined is at what speed is the downhill slide.  But - within that darkness -- there are candles of light.  My daughter is one of the brightest and most supportive lights in my life, and I have other people who love and support me.  I am grateful for each and every one of those persons who brighten this path that now lies before me.  You, the readers of this blog, also are candles of light for me -- as we support each other unconditionally in the struggles of life.  Thank you.  To each of you I am so grateful. 

Feb 21, 2013

Educating the Whole Person

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” ~~ Aristotle

Both Dwane and I had a career in teaching, and it seems true that once a teacher, always a teacher.  Sometimes the teaching is to ourselves.  There is a current new health approach, called BodyTalk, in which I had a recent workshop.  BodyTalk teaches that our true wisdom resides in our heart, and that it is by connecting the brain with the heart that wisdom and healing are attained.  The techniques in BodyTalk are powerful, and - if you are open to an alternative health approach, I recommend you check out having a session with a certified BodyTalk practioner, who can be found on the BodyTalk website for your state.  Also, more information can be found at the International BodyTalk website   https://www.bodytalkfoundation.org   It is my opinion and my experience that support of our body's health can be found in many places, not exclusive to the traditional medical model. 

Feb 20, 2013

Being Alive

"We are often called further into experience than we'd like to go, but it is this extra leap that lands us in the vibrant center of what it means to be alive."  Mark Nepo

When people express empathy about my having a spouse with dementia, I find I sometimes say that I would have preferred not to go on this journey.  And, that is certainly true.  Except for the past few months where he has been in assisted living, I have been the sole caregiver for over seven years.  I know there are some of you out there who have done caregiving for even longer, and my heart extends to you.  Whatever the length of time, caregiving is an experience that many of us would prefer not to go into, much less be immersed in.  Even now with him being in assisted living, there are his tirades, his refusal to or difficulty in understanding his need for assistance, his demands to go home where he tells me, "You have nothing to do but to watch me anyway."  It is hurtful that he not only gives so little credit to what I have done and continue to do daily for him, but he is also unwilling to acknowledge that I deserve to continue on with my life.  As caregivers we have the right to a life of our own.  If that can be done while also keeping the care receiver at home, that is a good option.  That was not possible in our case bcause of his refusal to allow anyone else in.  Literally.  He would lock them out of the house after I had gone or be so rude to them they would refuse to come back.  It is still difficult dealing with his rants and demands, but perhaps this is taking me even deeper into the experience to the vibrant center.  At any rate, it is important for us to take the steps which enable us to be fully alive.  What does that mean for you?

Feb 19, 2013


"In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything.  If peace comes from seeing the whole, then misery comes from losing perspective.  Which defines our day, the pinch of the bruised toe or the miracle still happening?" Mark Nepo

We all know people who seem to be miserable, while their lives do not seem to represent that degree of misery.  And, we all know people who seem to have so many challenges and trials that one might think they would be miserable, but they are happy, kind and grateful.  What does this tell us?  Perhaps it tells us it is all in the attitude.  We have all heard the example:  If everyone threw their problems in a pile and could choose any problem to take home with them, everyone chooses their own problem back again.  It seems when we are miserable that we are focusing on the small thing in our lives (or, sometimes not so small a thing) that seems to be amiss, and missing the miracle of our lives.  Right now I have a toe with an injured toenail that bothers me all the time.  I can focus on my one toe that is hurting, or I can focus on the rest of my body which is working with marvelous efficiency and harmony.  It is the same thing with exterior problems.  We can focus on the difficult attitude of the person for whom we provide care, or we can focus on the beautiful blue sky, the comfortable shelter we have, the people who love us.  It is our choice.  What do you choose today?

Feb 18, 2013

Uplifting Daily Messages

"a friend turned me onto Mike Dooley, amazing guy, author, speaker, and love his messages of positivity...imagine getting something so outrageously affirming every day, as I did this morning.   The link is http://www.tut.com ...."  Georgi
Her daily message that she found uplifting was: 
Do you ever sometimes wonder, GEORGI, if you shouldn't just come down to earth and settle for a bit less?

Right! Earth's an illusion, and so are all your dreams of doing, being, and having! So settle for less of what, smoke and mirrors?!

You're really on lately,

The Universe

My daughter told me of this resource a couple years ago.  It is simple.  You go to the website, put in some basic personal information -- including your hopes and desires, and then - daily - you get these personalized and inspiring messages.

Thank you, Georgi, for providing another resource of positivity and support to readers of this blog.

Feb 17, 2013

Alzheimer's 'epidemic'

"New reports that the number of Alzheimer's cases in the USA will likely triple to 13.8 million by 2050 are raising concerns about the nation's ability to afford care.About 70% of costs for Alzheimer's care are billed to Medicare and Medicaid.​​  Patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia will spend three times more on health care than patients with other types of illnesses, the association says. Medicare patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias spent $43,847 on health care and long-term care services, compared to $13,879 spent by patients without those illnesses, the association said in a 2012 report." USA Today, February 14, 2013

Sobering news.  The article goes on to say that the number of people with Alzheimer's or other types of dementia will increase 500% by 2050.  While this article was about the cost for federally-funded programs, Medicare and Medicaid, we who are caregivers can take the facts to heart as well.  For those of us who do not qualify for government-funded Medicaid, we need to be prepared to spend this money out-of-pocket.   "Many costs associated with Alzheimer's care are not reimbursed. Out-of-pocket costs for a family with a loved one who has dementia were $8,216 compared to $2,500 for patients with other types of conditions, according to a report last week in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia."   Our cost annually is significantly more than that, partly because of the cost of his many prescription drugs, which insurance covers only partially.  We cannot, perhaps, have much impact on what the US government does about the cost of dementia-related illnesses, but we can be stewards of our own financial resources to manage the care needed, and part of that is for us to be realistic about what those costs will be. 

Feb 16, 2013

Unconditional Love

"I will love you no matter what. I will love you if you are stupid, if you slip and fall on your face, if you do the wrong thing, if you make mistakes, if you behave like a human being - I will love you no matter."  --Leo Buscaglia

I wonder how many of us have been loved in this way.  Far too few, I would guess.  It is not that our parents did not do the best they could -- given their skill level, their mental health status, and their options in life.  I know my parents did the best they could do -- given their knowledge at the time, but - even with that -- I also know I was not convinced that I was loved no matter what.  That is why I remain to this day susceptible to the habit of pleasing others, susceptible to bullying, and susceptible to thinking I can be loved by what I accomplish -- versus who I am.  Perhaps you can identify with this.  We have to be completely whole in ourselves --- meaning we need to love ourselves unconditionally -- before we can love others unconditionally.  And, most of us do not have the foundation of having been loved unconditionally; we have the task of learning how to do that for ourselves.  One of the practices we can put in place is to never -- and I mean never -- judge ourselves harshly.  We can also practice doing only those things we want to do (versus those we feel we "should").  We can practice taking good care of ourselves:  our health, our finances, our time.  Together let us learn how to love ourselves -- no matter what. 

Feb 15, 2013

Our Interconnectedness

"Everything in the universe exists for the good of every other part.  The universe is forever uniting what is harmonious and diminishing what is not." Ernest Holmes

This week I watched NOVA on PBS.  It was about how satellites are revealing to us some of the things about how our climate works, and how interconnected it is.  The dust storms of the Sahara on the African continent are what provide the fertilizer for the Amazon forest on the South American continent.  The ice cap at Antarctica creates many of the climate factors on the rest of the globe.  Who would have thought that dust blowing in Africa would end up helping the forests of South America flourish?!  The program ended with the impact humans are having on this climate interconnectedness -- with more nitrates in the air, more carbon dioxide.  I read recently that contained in the breaths we each take are particles which were also breathed by Jesus and the Buddha and Hitler.  Fascinating to consider.  If we were to have satellites that could tell us how the energy of humans affect the energy of other humans, that might be very revealing too.  Just as the dust storms in the Sahara affect another continent, might our thoughts, intentions, and emotions affect our fellow humans too?  It is worth considering.   Just in case, for our health and the health of others, let us keep our thoughts full of well-being for ourselves and others.

Feb 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

It is a piece of great good luck to deal with someone who values you at your true worth.
--Baltasar Gracian

It is a piece of great good luck to have people in our lives who value us at our true worth.  Dr. Joan Borysenko says that from the time of our birth most of us have been bombarded with messages from parents, teachers, peers, clergy, ads and the media (and I would add colleagues) about how we have to look, act and feel in order to measure up.  It is, unfortunately, fairly rare to be in the company of someone who values us at our true worth --- and that includes ourselves.  It takes a strong sense of self to offset the messages and criticisms we get from people around us.  It is worth the effort to develop such a strong sense of who we are that we are immune to the judgments of others, and it is good to keep company with people who love us simply for who we are.  Not because of the degrees we have behind our name, or the things we can do for them, or the size of clothing we wear, or the social class we represent, or the color of our skin, or our gender.  Let us love ourselves completely and fully, and let us enjoy the company of those who love us unconditionally. 
Happy Valentine's Day. 

Feb 13, 2013

Judgments and Comparisons

"Comparison is a cancer of the soul." Gerald Jampolski

It seems it is human to compare ourselves to others, either favorably or unfavorably.  It is important to remember that every thought we have about another human is actually a projection of our self, and that it is our own self that becomes discounted when we judge others.  Comparisons can prevent us from becoming all that we can be.  If I compare myself to Oprah or Warren Buffet, I can feel as if I can never be as successful.  If I compare myself to someone who is struggling with bare necessities, it can cause me to feel superior.  It truly can be a cancer for the soul.  The happiest people I know are the ones that abstain from judgments and comparisons, and they are wonderful people to be around.  There is no fear that we will be judged by them, so that enables us to be free to be all we can be.  It is important that we offer this same safe space for ourselves.  We can be free to be all we can be only when we feel safe -- safe from the judgments of ourselves foremost, so that we can ultimately be free from the judgments of others as well.  Today let us remain in acceptance of ourselves and all others.  Let us truly believe that every person is doing the very best he or she can do.

Feb 12, 2013

Magnesium: An Important Nutrient

"The heart needs energy, and magnesium is a critical mineral for energy-producing reactions.  Magnesium will increase cardiac output about 75%." Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Real Cause, Real Cure

Because so many of us eat processed foods, magnesium is one nutrient that we can have a hard time eating in sufficient amounts.  Magnesium-rich foods can help fill in the gap, and they include almonds, green leafy vegetables and lentils.  One can also take a supplement.  Dr. Teitelbaum suggests 200 mg of magnesium a day.  I take additional magnesium most days in a powder form called, Calm, made by Natural Vitality and found in health food stores.  It is even thought that the once-recommended 81 mg aspirin a day for heart health is more accurately attributed to magnesium.  The original study which recommended the aspirin, now found to cause stomach bleeding, was based on aspirin which was buffered with magnesium.  Now, the thinking is that it is the magnesium; not the aspirin, which benefits the heart.  I personally also find in taking Calm (about 1/2 teaspoon per day) that I have less restless leg problems which can trouble me by keeping me awake at night.  Magnesium also helps with softening bowel content, so that bowel movements are easier. 

Feb 11, 2013

Dare to Be True to Yourself

"If a person does not keep pace with companions, perhaps it is because he or she hears a different drummer.  Let each person step to the music they hear, however measured or far away." Henry David Thoreau

In an online presentation I heard Linda Cook say that one of the biggest ways we sabotage our own success is by not being true to ourselves, not wanting to stand out, not wanting to rock the boat.  When we are not true to our own inner guidance, we pay a price.  It seems it is really true that we can please ourselves or we can please others.  Pleasing others is a wearing and impossible task.  It is far more prudent to please ourselves.  When we do consider being true to ourselves, we will most certainly get push back from others.  Change is difficult to navigate, and people resist other people changing.  It upsets the equilibrium.  When a person changes, tension is created.  Of course, we will want to consider the perspective of others; but - in the end - let us march to our own music.  Everyone benefits when we have the courage to be true to ourselves.   

Feb 10, 2013

More Tips to Stay Healthy

"Believing that a remedy is effective may make it actually work.  In a study of echinacea as a cold remedy, people were told they were taking the herb, and those who believed strongly in its effectiveness had less colds -- regardless if they were taking echinacea or a placebo." Richard Nahas, MD

If your family has a remedy that it has used for years and believes in, it might make sense to continue it; as belief affects effectiveness.  Drinking plenty of water is important to our health.  Make sure that family toothbrushes do not touch.  Try taking a Vitamin C pills.  Avoid putting your hands in your mouth, or to use to wipe eyes or nose.  Socialization builds immune systems.  Flu viruses can live up to 8 hours on surfaces, so wash hands after touching objects in public.  Eating fruit can lower one's chance of getting a respiratory illness.  So, again, it is eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, exercise daily, create social connections that support you, meditate daily, and get enough sleep.

Feb 9, 2013

Exercise Benefits

"People who exercise 5 or more days a week spend 43% fewer days with upper-respiratory infections.  Aim for 30-60 minutes daily.  It boosts blood flow so that the immune cells circulate throughout the body." Appalachian State University Study

With influenza rates much higher this year than some years, it is important to incorporate habits that support our health.  5-10% of us will get the flu in an average year, and this is not an average year.  So, how can we stay healthy even with the demands of caregiving?  We can exercise at least 5 days a week.  We can meditate.  A study at the University of Wisconsin found we could cut our chance of catching a cold by 40-50% by meditating.  Meditation reduces physical effects of stress, and stress can weaken our immune systems.  We can try taking probiotics, which can help reduce the risk of both respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.  We can also practice qigong, a Chinese mind-body exercise that combines breath control and slow movements -- which also helps to reduce stress.  We can make sure we get the flu vaccine.  We can thoroughly wash and dry our hands often.  Getting enough sleep is an important way to support our health.  Cutting back on sweets can help our bodies.  Loma Linda University research indicates that just 6 tablespoons of sugar can reduce the body's ability to fight off viruses.  Oregano, thyme, and turmeric can help boost our immune systems.  Astragalus, the root vegetable, has been found to activate T-cells to help fight viruses.  Let's make sure we are not among the people who succumb to the flu.

Feb 8, 2013


"Familiarize yourself with the parts of the brain and their function.  You will see that the benefits of meditation aren't just in your head.  They're as physiological as the benefits of exercise on your muscles." Goldie Hawn

Yesterday we talked about the importance of relaxation, but perhaps it is hard for you to relax.  Goldie Hawn has some suggestions:  Decide you want to meditate; make it a habit.  Give yourself at least three brain breaks a day.  Sit in a certain position, find a private spot in your home, anchor your mind in the present.

Research indicates that meditation 3 minutes 5 times a day is as beneficial to the body as doing one meditation for 20 minutes. (source:  Prevention Magazine Winter 2012).  Meditation increases gray matter in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for memory and learning.  So, perhaps we cannot devote 20 minutes to meditation, but, surely, we can devote 3 minutes. 

Feb 7, 2013

Relaxation Helps Our Brains

"People whose brains disengage during relaxation have been shown to be more attentive when doing tasks." Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD, U of Southern California

It is said that Einstein could take short catnaps and be completely refreshed by them.  Twenty minutes of relaxation has been equated to eight hours of sleep -- in its capacity to rejuvenate us.  Taking time for reflection and daydreaming can increase our learning and memory skills.  Working too hard and too long can be a distraction to our overall success -- if it fatigues us and causes burnout.  As a caregiver, how do you find time to relax and daydream?  Tasks abound, the care receiver needs and wants attention, tax season is approaching in the U.S.  So many things to do, and so little time.  But, research and wisdom tells us that we are better for having time every day for relaxation:  a time for our minds to be unengaged, unencumbered with tasks, free from worry and stress.  Today, let us find 20 minutes to be still, to allow our minds to be at peace.  We will be the better for it. 

Feb 6, 2013

Knowing What You Want

"Whenever you know what you do not want, you always know more clearly what you do want, so in a poignant moment of awareness of another person's undesirable situation, give your undivided attention to the idea of improvement that has hatched from your interaction/observation. And as you learn to do that, not only will you be of increasing value to others, but you will see how your relationships with others adds immeasurably to your own becoming." --- Abraham

I have heard many times a person say, "I don't know what I want."  It seems that perhaps women especially are cultured out of knowing what they want.  We learn to believe that what we want is beyond our reach, so we settle for less -- until we no longer remember what it was that we did want.  The above quote suggests an easy way to find again what we want; by noticing what we don't want.  We can notice what we don't want in our own circumstances or in the lives of others, and we can redefine this experience.  We can begin to see that experiencing what we don't want can be a gift by helping us to remember and define what we do want.  A recent example I had was a frustrating time I had ordering something I wanted from a website.  That experience helps me to remember that what I want is ease, simplicity, flow.  Any experience we have or see that we do not want helps us to know and define what we do want. 

Feb 5, 2013

Taking Action

"You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know.  Knowing is not enough!  You must take action." Anthony Robbins

Therapists probably agree that few people take action.  Many people talk about their issues - will even talk about what they could do about their issues -- but it is a small percentage of people who actually take action.  First, people need to see there is a need or have a desire for change, they need to prepare for that change, and then they need to take action:  the hardest step for most.  The reason so many people do not take action is the natural fear and resistance to change, but change is inevitable -- so we can either be part of deciding what the changes will be, or we can be victims of change happening to us.  It does not mean that we have control over all the aspects of the change by choosing the change and taking action, but we certainly have more control by choosing what we want the change to look like than if we are not active in the decisions and actions concerning the change.  Consider a small change you would like to see in your life, a common one is to get more exercise, so let's take that as an example.  Do you want to change?  How can you prepare for the change?  Some examples are to talk to someone who is already doing what you want to do, check into places you could exercise, ask someone to exercise with you --- those are examples of how you can prepare.  Then take action.  Start today.  Decide you will exercise 15 minutes today by walking -- the walking can even be in your own home.  Now do it!  That is taking action. 

Feb 4, 2013

Let's Keep Moving

"Those people who stay seated for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks, even if they met standard benchmarks for moderate to vigorous exercise.  The recommendation is for standing and stretching at least every 15 minutes  Formal exercise is great for the heart, but sitting should be viewed as an independent risk factor." Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. 

As I get older, I realize I am sitting more.  One of the things I miss the most about my younger ages was abundant energy.  I exercise every day, but I find I sit most of the evening and read.  Fortunately, I cannot sit long without getting up to do something; and from reading this study, it is good that my body calls me to move.  So, it is not enough to exercise every day; now we have to keep moving at other times of the day too.  If I am watching television, which I seldom do, I use commercials to get up, walk around, get a glass of water.  If I am reading, which is more often the case, I get up often to walk around and perform some household task. 

Over the weekend I was sitting at my computer when I heard big booms.  I remembered the fireworks display in a nearby town to celebrate a winter festival.  I walked out onto my deck to enjoy the fireworks, and I was treated to the most exquisite sky.  Clear, bright -- a black dome filled with stars.  Just lovely.  In this way I was able to get movement and enjoyment.  Who knows what we might be missing by sitting?!

Feb 3, 2013

Social Isolation

"People who are socially isolated -- defined as having fewer than three close confidants, not participating in community groups or clubs, and having no religious affiliation -- were 2 1/2 times likelier to have elevated C-reactive protein levels than people who routinely sought the company of others.  Social isolation is a chronically stressful experience that may lead to increases in harmful inflammation throughout the body," Social Science & Medicine journal study

Social isolation is a hazard for those of us who are caregivers and for the care receiver.  Dwane sometimes complains of being lonely, but, actually, he has far more built-in social opportunities than I do.  That is an upside for him being in assisted living.  When I was trying to do all the caregiving at home and because he was extremely resistant to anyone coming into the home to relieve me, it was difficult for us to have enough social interaction.  The opportunity for social interaction is there for him now, if he chooses to engage.  For those of us who are caregivers we need to extend ourselves to have social interaction, and that is easier for some people than others.  If you are an extrovert, it is probably easier for you to initiate social interactions, than if you are an introvert.  Regardless of the ease, it is important for all of us to have significant social connections.  Do you have at least three close confidants?  Do you participate in community activities?  Do you have a religious affiliation?  Your health depends on having interaction that is meaningful and supportive.  You can join or create a walking group, book club, church group, or volunteer in an uplifting environment.  Let's be certain to create social connections that support us.

Feb 2, 2013

Adhere to Our Purpose

"Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did.  On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life." Abraham Lincoln

This was advise Lincoln was writing to a nephew at West Point, but it plays well for caregivers as well.  What is your purpose in this caregiving task?  It is important for us to consider this. A friend reminded me that I had said my purpose in caregiving was to not lose myself or my health in the process.  What a good reminder.  It seems that a common characteristic of persons with dementia is to be so self focused that they are not able to see what effect the caregiving might have on the caregiver.  Because of their inability to see its impact on us, it is imperative that we see it for ourselves.  See it and make sure that the toll is not too great.  How great the toll can be probably differs for each of us, and I hope we can be free of judgment toward other caregivers who have a different level of tolerance for stress than we do.  Another characteristic of people with dementia seems to be an unwillingness to recognize the extent of their need for assistance and to accept that the best setting might not be in the home.  Let us often reflect on the purpose of our caregiving to ensure that we are on track.  It is crucial that we not lose ourselves in this task, and it is important to know that about 1/3 of us do, according to the Roslyn Carter Institute.  A reminder of those statistics:  1/3 of caregivers die doing the caregiving; 1/3 of caregivers have their health badly damaged by caregiving; and 1/3 of caregivers are able to do the caregiving and come out the other end better from doing it.  And, in my opinion, the only way we can come out the other end better by doing the caregiving is to make looking out for our own well being the number one priority.  No one else is going to do that for us; least of all the care receiver. 

Feb 1, 2013

Self Comfort

"It's surprising how many persons go through life
without ever recognizing that Their feelings toward other people
are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves,
and if you're not comfortable within yourself, you can't be
comfortable with others."   ~ Sydney J. Harris
It has taken me several decades to realize the above statement is true.  Psychologists call it projection -- when we project onto someone else a quality we dislike or do not recognize in ourselves.  Perhaps our life journey is about recognizing and owning all the parts of ourselves so that we do not place them in judgment upon someone else.  In the book, Rise to Greatness, about Abraham Lincoln, the author says that was a remarkable thing about Lincoln:  his comfort with himself and his ability to not take personally someone's actions that were designed to thwart him.  It is unlikely that most of us will have the impact of Lincoln, but we can apply to ourselves what he seems to have developed:   self comfort.  Complete acceptance of and comfort with ourselves.  One way to gauge how we are doing with that is to notice how we talk  to and think about ourselves.  I have heard people call themselves "dummy" when they accidentally dropped something -- that is a habit worth breaking.  Let us be sure to speak gently and with kindness to and about ourselves.  It is very important - for ourselves and for others.