Aug 31, 2013

Exercise and Parkinson's

"Parkinson's disease is a disease of motor and other brain function, and it is a component of Lewy Bodies Dementia.  Generalized slowness of movement occurs in nearly all people who have Parkinson -- or in the case of Lewy Bodies Dementia, parkinsonian features.  Some people also have tremors, rigidity and balance problems.  Any exercise that helps with balance, flexibility and strength is helpful for someone with Parkinson's.  It is particularly helpful to have exercise supervised or designed by a physical therapist.  Tai chi is especially helpful for balance in persons with Parkinson's. 

Aug 30, 2013


"Everything is about choice and priorities, isn't it?" Caroline Myss

I agree.  Everything is about choice and priorities.  First, we need to decide what is important to us.  Is it your professional life?   Relationships?  Your spiritual life?  Health?  Exercise?  When people tell me they do not have time for this or that, I know what they are really saying is that particular activity is just not important enough to them to make it a priority in their life.  We each have 24 hours in every day, and yet some of us get so much more accomplished than others of us.  If we were to look at how we spend our day, I think some of us would be surprised how much time is taken up with television or some form of technology, especially social networking.  If that is what is truly important to a person, that is fine -- but, more likely, it is just a way to pass time; and, before a person knows it, hours are past.  What are your priorities?  Is the way you spend your time reflective of your priorities? 

Aug 29, 2013

Sleep Aids

"Here's my integrative approach to getting you to dreamland." Dr. Tasneem Bhatia

Avoid sleep killers:  Women metabolize caffeine slowly, so your afternoon beverage can keep you awake that night.  Avoid any caffeine after 3:00 p.m. (Note:  I have found I have to avoid caffeine after noon.)  An alcoholic drink may help you fall asleep, but it can wake you at 2:00 a.m.

Eating these helps you sleep:  Peanut butter on toast or yogurt and fruit.  The protein helps produce tryptophan, and carbohydrates make the tryptophan more available to your brain and leads to production of serotonin -- the relaxation chemical in the brain. 

Sit for less than 8 hours in a day.  In studies, people who do vigorous exercise sleep better.  Even exercising 10 minutes a day can help a person sleep better.

Melatonin taken before bedtime helps some people.  0.5-1 mg is the starting dose.  5-HTP, which is a precursor of serotonin, can help you stay asleep.  Dr. Bhatia recommends 100 mg about 30 minutes before bed. 

Aug 28, 2013

Why We Are Here

"There is a place that you are to fill that no one else can fill, something you are to do, which no one else can do."  Florence Scovel Shinn

I love the writings of Florence Scovel Shinn.  Humans may be the only creatures who ponder why we are here.  There are teachers, like Scovel Shinn, who teach that each of us is here for a reason.  Have you figured out why you are here, what the thing is for you to do that no one else can do?  This is not about arrogance; it is actually about humility.  If we believe that we are here to live a purpose and to use the God-given gifts that only we have, that can give our lives meaning.  In the midst of the challenges that all of our lives contain, we can find meaning.  Why are you here? 

Aug 27, 2013


I wrote recently in this blog that I had found out all one needed for PT (physical therapy) services to be administered in one's setting was a doctor's order for "homebound".  I am wrong.  Prior to having these services in place, a nurse is sent to evaluate the patient -- presumably for Medicare compliance, and if the person can be taken by anyone to a PT facility, the order for "homebound" is denied.  So.  Back to driving 2 hours to take him to a 45 minute session, or stop the therapy.  Does anyone out there have better/more information?

Aug 26, 2013

Self Worth

"Certainly, true compassion begins with the consideration of others, but the displeasure of others is no reason to muffle your love.  Simply be who you are, and love what is before you." Mark Nepo

As Nepo also says, this is a difficult task as "our messages to the contrary are deep".  We are told we should consider the opinions of others, we are told we should work hard, perform, achieve, do better -- in order to be loved.  Very few of us are lucky enough to know we are loved simply for being who we are, so we spend lifetimes trying to shape ourselves into something we think is lovable.  We are enough.  Each of us is a beautiful human being, worthy of love simply for being alive.  Let us support one another to be fully who we are and know we are loved. 

Aug 25, 2013

Blood Sugar and Dementia

"Higher blood sugar levels, even those well short of diabetes, seem to raise the risk of developing dementia." Dr. Paul Crane of the University of Washington

We cannot prevent the dementia of those for whom we are caregivers, but this is important information for preventing dementia in ourselves.  Eating well, exercising and controlling weight help to control blood sugar.  This is just one more example of how to support our own health.

Aug 24, 2013

Preventing Caregiver Depression

"You can take active steps to prevent caregiver depression. For example:
  • Reach out for help. Don't wait until you feel overwhelmed to ask for help caring for a loved one. If possible, get your whole family involved in planning and providing care. Seek out respite services and a caregiver support group. A support network can keep you from feeling isolated, depleted and depressed.
  • Remember other relationships. Caregiving can take time away from replenishing personal relationships — but showing loved ones and friends you care about them can give you strength and hope.
  • Start a journal. Journaling can improve your mood by allowing you to express pain, anger, fear or other emotions.
  • Take time for yourself. Participate in activities that allow you to relax and have fun. Go to a movie, watch a ballgame, or attend a birthday party or religious gathering. Physical activity and meditation also can help reduce stress.
  • Stay positive. Caregiving allows you to give something back and make a difference in your loved one's life. Caregiving might also have spiritual meaning for you. Focus on these positive aspects of caregiving to help prevent depression.
Remember, if you think you're depressed, seek help. Proper treatment can help you feel your best."
Source:  Mayo Clinic

Aug 23, 2013

Caregiver Depression

Caregiver depression can take a toll on you and your ability to care for your loved one. Understand the signs of caregiver depression — and know how to prevent it. By Mayo Clinic staff

Depression is a very real reality for caregivers.  The latest Mayo Alzheimer's Newsletters has some information on how to prevent depression and recognize it if it occurs. 

to be diagnosed with depression — also called major depression — you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period. At least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure. Symptoms include:
  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, such as feeling sad, empty or tearful
  • Diminished interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities most of the day, nearly every day
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  • Insomnia or increased desire to sleep nearly every day
  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide attempt
Preventing depression will be the content of this blog tomorrow.

Aug 22, 2013

Tips for Living In Your Own Home

PBS has recently listed Seven "Life Hacks" which are tips for continuing to live safely in one's own home.  The seven tips are:

1.  Bed Rails:  Install bed rails to help one get into and out of bed.
2.  Tub Rails:  Install bars to help one get into and out of the shower and bath tubs safely.
3.  Zipper Pulls:  Attachments on the end of the zipper to help a person independently dress.
4.  Safety strips in the tub to prevent slipping.
5.  Taping the edges of rugs to prevent tripping and falling.
6.  Low-vision keyboard for the computer to help with diminished vision.
7.  Motion sensor lighting to help you see when you get up at night.

More tips can be found at

Aug 21, 2013

Loving What You Do

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it." ~~Steve Jobs
Loving what one does is so important for overall health.  I also think one can develop an attitude of loving whatever one is doing, but it is important that we do not allow that to lull us into complacency and into staying in a situation that is not good for us.  People who have found work that is the love of their lives are lucky and wise.  I have had work I enjoyed.  But, loved?   Perhaps it is too easy to settle for what is available; after all, it takes risk to stay true to finding what one loves, rather than settling for what is offered or available.  Have your found what you loved to do?

Aug 20, 2013


"Joy comes when we realize that everything we do, moment by moment, is placing us more capably in service to a self-chosen destiny."   Dr. Jesse G. Jennings

So joy comes down to choice.  The choice of how we spend our time moment by moment, and those choices need to be in service to our self-chosen destiny.   It seems as if Dr. Jennings is saying that it is important to know what our priorities are and to allocate our time accordingly.  We will not get to where we want to go unless we are spending our time moment by moment in ways that will get us there.  Some people determine their self-chosen destiny by figuring out their core purpose, and there are some great books that will help us do that.  It is easier for me to consider what is very, very important to me -- those then are my priorities, and all decisions are weighed against whether or not this activity or use of my time is in keeping with my priorities.  For instance, my own personal spiritual journey is one priority, as is making time for significant relationships.  All other decisions are weighed as to whether they take me forward in those two priorities.  What are your priorities?

Aug 19, 2013


"There is no state of physical decline or damage that you could not recover from—none—not any, if you knew it... If you wanted it and knew that you could. And that's those miracles that they talk about every day. They're not miracles at all, they are the natural order of things. But because they are rare, people think they are miraculous. They're not. That's the way it is supposed to be. You're supposed to thrive."  ---Abraham

It is hard to believe this is true when we see evidence of sickness and decrepitude in the world.  If wellness is our natural state, how did we go astray?  Some would say we humans went astray with our thoughts and with our incorrect beliefs.  I read a fascinating meaning of the bible term, "harden not your hearts" recently.  Dr. Jesse Jennings suggests that expression means a firmly crystallized belief in what is possible and what is not.  So, it would appear that our task is to correct any incorrect and limiting beliefs.  If wellness is our natural state, let us see evidence of that in the world and claim it for ourselves. 

Aug 18, 2013

The Continuum

"Hermetics, drawing deeply from sacred geometry, declares that a desired state exists on the same line as its undesired antithesis."  Dr. Jesse Jennings

The qualities of life do seem to exist on a continuum.   Emptiness on one end of the line; fulfillment on the other end.   Lack on one end of the line; plenty on the other.  I think this is true even of personality aspects.  Greed on one end of the continuum; generosity on the other.  Each of these aspects is energy, and the energy of the "undesired" qualities vibrates at a lower rate, with the energy of the "desired" qualities vibrating at a higher rate.  The vibration of the qualities merge in the middle, so any of us humans can choose to exist at any place on the continuum.   I am not sure it is even appropriate to label the lower vibrations as "undesired" because they are all a normal part of the human experience.  At every point of time, we can choose where we want to be on the continuum.  Do you choose peace or discontent?   Do you choose love or withholding love?  It is our choice.

Aug 17, 2013

Summer Ebbing

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.  ~James Dent
Summer is quickly slipping away.  My garden has been obliterated by hail.  Gardens seem to me to be faith in action.  We plant our seeds, watch the plants grown, enjoy the produce, and see them stricken before their time by weather events.  Rather like life.  Some of us are stricken too soon before we have a chance to enjoy a true harvest of our efforts -- like those people stricken with dementia or other types of terminal illnesses.  Others of us live long and fruitful lives.  It is a mystery who gets what type of life.  Our goal, it would seem, is to make the best of whatever life has given us.  I read a quote recently by Mark Nepo that said in essence that as we deal with the events life provides us, we are broken down into joy.  That is a lovely way to think of the purpose of life and the challenges that each of us has. 

Aug 16, 2013

Exercise Helps Memory

"Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer's disease."  Robert Petersen, M. D., Mayo Clinic

Exercising several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes may: 
  • Keep thinking, reasoning and learning skills sharp for healthy individuals
  • Improve memory, reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) for people with mild Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment
  • Delay the start of Alzheimer's for people at risk of developing the disease or slow the progress of the disease
Physical activity seems to help the brain not only by keeping your blood flowing. It also increases chemicals that protect the brain and tends to counter some of the natural reduction in brain connections that occurs with aging.   (Mayo Clinic Health Newsletter)

Aug 15, 2013

Avoiding Dementia

"According to a statement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a number of factors could play a role in whether you develop Alzheimer's disease."  Glenn Smith, Ph.D.

The latest Mayo Health Newsletter lists several proven ways to help a person avoid dementia:
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits and lean protein, particularly protein sources containing omega-3 fatty acids
  • Being physically and socially active
  • Taking care of your mental health
  • Using thinking (cognitive) skills, such as memory skills
All of these activities are also good for overall health and good habits to develop.

Aug 14, 2013

Time Spent With Family

"Be friendly with the isness of life.  Accept what is right now."  Eckart Tolle

I just got to spend some time with my beautiful granddaughter.  What a treat!!!  She is more present to life than anyone I know.  When/where do we disconnect from life?  How do we learn to be in our heads and thoughts and not present to the moment?!  Well, not her.  She is right here.  Right now.  So present.  So joyful.  I hope to learn from her how to be here now again.  How do you stay present in the moment?

Aug 13, 2013

Having Enough

"It would have been enough had God just met our needs, but see how much more was received." Pesach Dayenu prayer of Judaism

Knowing we have enough is important psychologically.  I have a dear friend, who is probably well off by world standards, but what is remarkable about her is that she knows she has enough money.  I have heard both Oprah and J. K. Rowling say that knowing they had enough money was a long, long journey for them -- and consider how much money they have!!   So, it is not so much about how much money one actually has (as long as we have enough money to meet our basic needs), but KNOWING that we have enough.  Knowing we have enough of anything:  money, health, fun, freedom, loving relationships helps us to relax and enjoy what we have.  It gives us the security that we humans seem to long for.  As we look around our world, don't we have enough? 

Aug 12, 2013

Our Own Uniqueness

"The pillars of the temple must stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadows." Kahlil Gibran

Our societies try to mold us to conform.  In schools we teach children to line up, take your turn, stay on the same pace of learning, taught in the same method to every child regardless of her/his learning style.  As older adults, we have laws, but more importantly, social mores which aim to conform us.  Social norms and laws are important to protect citizens from violence, but to conform too much is to stifle our souls.  We are each beautifully unique individuals.  Some believe that we are unique expressions of the Divine.  It is important for us to live in our own truth, as long as that is not impeding others' freedoms, and be who we were meant to be here.  What can you do today to be truly, uniquely yourself?!  What can you do today to allow the light of who you are to shine out upon the world?

Aug 11, 2013

Website Resource

"Families for Better Care, Inc. is a non-profit citizen advocacy group dedicated to creating public awareness of the conditions in our nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care settings and developing effective solutions for improving quality of life and care."

This looks like a good resource for any of us involved in caring for someone with dementia.  This non-profit group looks into the care that takes place in nursing homes and other assisted living situations and reports on the good and the bad.  It is also a website for information about your state and various facilities, and it helps educate families on how to advocate for good care.  This group helps create laws and regulations that protect our older citizens who are in need of assistance.  It looks like a good resource. 

Aug 10, 2013


"Feeding your soul through pleasurable pursuits like scrapbooking, playing musical instruments, or taking a walk in nature can help you recharge and renew your sense of adventure." Deborah Shouse

As caregivers, it is very important that we find ways to recharge and renew ourselves.  Caregiving is stressful, and our responsibilities are larger -- so we need to regularly schedule activities that replenish us.  Some things that can replenish are:  spending time outdoors, meditation, dancing, gardening, art, conversations with positive and supportive people, a good movie.  What replenishes you?  

Aug 9, 2013

Being Aware of Present Moment

"The present moment is the point of entry to consciousness." Eckhart Tolle

Powerful words.  Tolle also says that most humans either resist the present moment or use the present moment as a means of getting to what they think will be better.  The latter has certainly been true for me.  What is it about humans that we stay so much in our thoughts, which Tolle says are not really even us?  I have read elsewhere that thoughts are not individual, but that thoughts come from a collective energy.  That is sobering for any of us who have prided ourselves on our thoughts.  Tolle says that truly creative thought can only come from consciousness, and that is found only in the present moment and not in our own thoughts.  He says that for most humans the thoughts own them, that we are actually held captive by our thoughts.  For any of us who have been unable to get a thought, usually of an upsetting nature, out of our minds, we know what he is referring to.  Noticing things in nature, without labeling them, is one way to be present.  Truly being with a person is another way to be present.  We benefit ourselves and all other people when we are able to be present.  

Aug 8, 2013

Who Are We?

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on . . . ." Shakespeare

Humans seem to spend time wondering who they are, why they are here.  Many have undertaken a spiritual quest to answer such a question.  Eckhart Tolle says we are more than and deeper than our thoughts, our mind sets, our opinions.  I agree.  Tolle says that the way to become the more that we are is to be aware in the present moment.  Sounds simple, and yet, how many of us resist the present moment or think of it as just a way to get to the next (what we think of as better) moment?  The only real intimacy exists when one is present in the moment.  Even with someone with dementia, there are still moments of shared intimate space -- when that person is lucid and the other person is present to the moment.  The present moment is so rich; let us set an intention to be present to the present moment, to not resist it, but to accept it for what is.  After all, that really is all we ever have for sure:  the present moment.

Aug 7, 2013


"Spiritually speaking, accountability denotes an unbroken link between mind and heart in word and deed." Dr. Jesse G. Jennings

An interesting way to think of accountability.  Rather than putting shame or praise onto its connotation, we can think of it as a congruence between our thoughts and our actions.  So many people talk and talk and talk about something they want to do, but they do not get around to taking action.  Taking action is an important spiritual step.  First we discern if what we are thinking about is something that is in the highest and best interest of ourselves and others, then we take action.  Understanding our motives is an important aspect.  We can consider, "What about this appeals to me?" to learn more about whether or not we truly want to do something.  Then, do it.  Take the first step in faith, and the rest will unfold.  That is accountability:  to ourselves, most of all.

Aug 6, 2013

Opportunity to be Present

"Present moment is the only place where ego is not looking." Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle reminds us that the present moment is all there really is, and that we have no problems -- because problems are mind-creations in the future.  We only have challenges, and they arise moment by moment -- to be handled moment by moment.  In the geographic area in which I live we are getting that opportunity this week.  We are having a yearly event that brings into our small region of the state visitors equivalent to the population of the whole state.  Driving among these visitors creates a real opportunity to be present in the moment; as it takes vigilance to be aware of the visitors and to help create safety for them and us.  Because of the human propensity to dwell on the past or to worry about the future, these opportunities that help us be present are gifts.  Another gift helping me be present is my granddaughter.  She is always present.  It is just fascinating to watch, and I can't help but wonder, when do we humans begin to cut ourselves off from the present?  Perhaps it does not matter when we become out of the present; more importantly, the task is to bring ourselves back.  One way to do that is to see the beauty in the world around us.  Really see it.  What is beautiful in your world?  Right now the wild flowers are just exquisite in the world in which I live.

Aug 5, 2013

Improving Brain Power

"Researcher, Dr. Kaare Christensen, says that people who live into their 90's will continue to be better off than their predecessors (on cognitive ability)." Research from Danish Aging Research Center at University of Southern Denmark in Odense

The above quote refers to some recent research in which people in their 90's scored higher than a similar group of people did in a research project ten years ago.  The researchers suggest it may be more intellectual stimulation and better diets nowadays, but beyond that, they do not know why.  Overall, people are functioning better at given ages than they used to.  But, it was also noted, that about 40% of the 90 year olds had dementia.  One proven way to improve our overall health and cognitive functioning is exercise.  The exercise should be at least 3 times a week and should include strength building as well as cardiovascular work. 

Aug 4, 2013

Healthy Digestion

"The bacteria swarming our intestines are our bodies' biggest truth tellers." Mandy Oaklander

We are learning more and more that so-called "healthy" bacteria is necessary for the proper climate in our intestinal tract.  With modern-day antibiotics found even in the food we eat and the use of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, our intestines may not have the right balance of bacteria to properly digest our food and obtain the optimal nutrients from it.  The latest Prevention Magazine lists some things we can do to help our digestive system have all it needs to work properly: 

  • Eat an abundance of probiotic-rich foods, like onions, garlic and leeks
  • Open your windows, since soil blowing in helps to balance our sterilized indoors.  Better yet, spend time outdoors
  • Having a dog helps create more diverse microbes
  • The microorganisms in soil enhance our digestive systems, so hands-on gardening is a plus.
  • Cook vegetables only to al dente, so more nutrients from them end up in the colon.
  • Fiber is different in every vegetable, so eat a wide range of vegetables.

Aug 3, 2013

Loving Your Age

"Important lessons about what it takes to love your life." Prevention Magazine, August 2013

Enjoy who you are.  Protect your bones.  Trust your own wisdom.  Revel in your freedom.  Focus on what's important. 

Age 65 or older, be sure to get a bone density test.  Falls among older persons is one of the greatest risks we have.  Be careful not to be socially isolated.  Have fun!  Learn new things.  Eat wisely.  Practice good sleep hygiene.  Get daily exercise.  Practice a spiritual practice.  Forgiving ourselves and others is an important life practice for good overall health.

Aug 2, 2013

Being Fully Who We Are

"We do ourselves a great disservice by judging where we are in comparison to some final destination." Mark Nepo

We have heard the above quotation in many forms:  Enjoy the journey, not the destination.  Smell the roses along the way, etc., etc.  So many ways to say it, and so difficult to do.  It seems one of the traps our minds set for us is in thinking it (whatever it is) will be better over there than over here.  Watching a special on PBS on the Buddha the other night, that is the journey he was seeking too:   To be so fully in the moment that the moment is the journey and the end result both.  Our culture does not support enjoying the journey and being captain of our own soul.  We have messages to set goals, conform ourselves, stay within society's expectations.  But, we do a disservice to ourselves when we conform to other's standards.  It is critical that we are the one who is managing our life's journey, to our own rhythm, to our own values.  The greater life is counting on our integrity in living our life authentically.

Aug 1, 2013

Physical Therapy Information

"Physical therapy services are recommended to help with the parkinsonian aspect of Lewy Bodies Dementia." neurologist

After months of trying to obtain information about having physical therapy services delivered to Dwane, I have found out.  For the past several years, I drive Dwane to PT services.  That now involves a 2-hour drive for me and an hour wait while he is involved in the therapy.  I talked with a physical therapist I happened to see one day, and he told me that anyone who is "homebound" can get PT services in the setting in which they live.  The problem, apparently, is the physician's orders have  said 'outpatient', not 'homebound'.  So, I have contacted his neurologist and asked for a physician's order for "homebound" services, which can be delivered in the assisted living center.  I am sharing this information with you readers, so that you can access these services if you desire.  Physical therapy can be important for persons with Lewy Bodies Dementia, and I am delighted they can be delivered to him in his setting.