Nov 30, 2013

Avoiding the Flu

"Tis the season for handshakes, and with recent news about the threat of antibiotic resistant infections, you might be looking for a powerful weapon to protect yourself from the superbugs lurking among us.  Good news:  Simple soap offers your best defense." Jean Patel, PhD, deputy director of the CDC

What good news!  It does not even have to be antibacterial soap, which in its wide use may be contributing to the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Just plain old soap and water.  It is important to wash our hands often and long enough -- at least 20 seconds is recommended.  It is important to wash our hands before we eat, after using the bathroom, after blowing our noses, and when preparing food.  If we each wash our hands thoroughly, we will help protect ourselves against the flu. 

Nov 29, 2013

Moments to Remember

"You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love." Henry Drummond

The above quote is a good reminder for anyone, and maybe especially for caregivers.  Whether you volunteered for caregiving or are doing it out of obligation, it is important for our own well being and that of the care receiver to do the caregiving out of love.  That does not mean that we neglect our own needs and wants, but it does require us to be respectful and gracious and patient, always.  Yes, always.  If you find that it is hard to do that, perhaps you are not getting enough breaks to replenish yourself.  Replenishing yourself is imperative.  It must be our top priority.  We have nothing to give if we do not fill ourselves up first.  So, the spirit of love starts with ourselves and then extends out to all those with whom we interact, to include the care receiver. 

Nov 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. " ~H.U. Westermayer

That puts things in perspective!  Even with all those deaths, the pilgrims set aside time to be thankful.  That is good modeling for us.  Yes, of course, we all have difficulties in our lives; but we also have much about which to be grateful.  Today I am grateful for you readers, for my family and friends, for good health, for adequate resources, for clean air and water, for peace.  What are you most grateful for today?

Nov 27, 2013

3 Eating Rules to Consider

"Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does fat or carbs." Dr. Louis Arrone

According to Dr. Arrone:

1.  Eat more protein, such as lean red meat, chicken, fish, tofu and beans.
2.  Have a morning meal.  Eating in the morning jump starts your metabolism for the day.
3.  Snack often.  Do not go more than 3-4 hours between eating.  Snack on whole food carbs and protein -- such as peanut butter, or an apple and cheese.

Another suggestion for weight control is to get adequate sleep.  Skimping on sleep raises levels of appetite stimulating hormones, such as cortisol.  Especially in this busy holiday season -- and the always-busy days for caregivers --- eat nutritiously and often and get adequate sleep to preserve our own health. 

Nov 26, 2013

Our Talk Reveals Us

"So, the question isn't 'What do I say?', but 'What does what I say, say about me?'" Jack Sacco

We have all heard the old adage that brilliant people talk about ideas, average-minded people talk about things, and dull-minded people talk about other people.  What we do talk about tells a lot about us.  One reason I enjoy a water aerobics group I attend is that they never talk about others, and they are always welcoming and inclusive.  We have all been in groups in which when one person leaves, the other people discuss that person.  I realize that this is the reason I enjoy a group I meet with.  We talk about any and all sorts of ideas, but we do not talk about people.  Our words carry tremendous energy.  Wayne Dwyer says the words "I am" carry so much energy that we should only put something very positive behind them -- such as, I am grateful or I am healthy.  Let us use our words to support ourselves and all life.

Nov 25, 2013

Noticing the Good

"Always be grateful for the good things that have already happened to you, and the goodness will grow within you and around you." Yogi Amrit Desai

Another person advising us to look for the good in our lives and to be grateful.  This advice comes from so many sources, it might be good for us to pay attention to it.  I was listening last night to a snippet of Dr. William Glasser's book, Positive Addictions, and he says something similar.  We can train ourselves either to develop positive behaviors or negative ones.  It really is our choice.  Looking for the good, and being grateful for it, will support our physical, mental, and emotional health.  Looking for what's wrong will support our anxiety.  Today, let us look for and be grateful for what is right in our lives. 

Nov 24, 2013

Eating to Feel Good

"Food is a huge part of staying well."  Travis Stork, MD

We have all heard the old adage, you are what you eat.  According to Dr. Stork, there is new research which supports the age-old idea, that what we eat helps us be healthy or not.  To help ward off colds, eat tuna, halibut or turkey to get enough protein and selenium.  Fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids which help boost moods.  Yogurt, cheese and other fermented foods all contain beneficial bacteria and probiotics which can help keep one's immune system strong.  A recent Swedish study found that having a daily probiotic drink cut workplace illness by 55%.  Kale, spinach, yams, pumpkin and carrots all provide us with vitamin A to help keep mucous membranes moist and healthy. 

Nov 23, 2013


"26% of the time our minds are wandering.  That's not a bad thing -- daydreams that you find interesting and engaging can up your happiness level." research from Frontiers in Psychology

It is said that Einstein's greatest ideas came from dreams or daydreams.  It may very well be that our minds and moods are improved when we daydream -- as long as we are thinking happy thoughts.  Many teachers tell us to be present to the current moment, but it may also be true that to dream of how we want live to be is good for us too.

Nov 22, 2013


"The fullest work that God ever worked in any creature is compassion."  Meister Eckhart

Some people believe that compassion is the basis of true religion.  Certainly, if we do not have compassion toward ourselves and others, we have missed the point of religion -- most of which have at their heart a version of the Golden Rule:  Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.  Compassion is an emotion that bathes us in vibrations of good.  Compassion toward oneself, and compassion toward all other life. 

Nov 21, 2013

Fullness of Life

"In the midst of your wounds, I have seen your glory, and it dazzles me." Jean Houston

I have had the good fortune to hear Jean Houston speak in person.  A brilliant and compassionate woman.  Do you see your character flaws as detractions, or do you see them as part of what makes you uniquely who you are?  This does not mean that we do not work at correcting and transforming those character flaws we each have, but what would be the harm in seeing the richness they bring to our personality?  Perhaps you tend to be anxious.  Can you see that as adding to the compassionate person you are?  If you were not anxious, you might be less likely to notice what needs to be changed in the world.  As we evolve as humans, we do integrate those unwieldy parts of ourselves by befriending them; but even then, we will not be perfect human beings.  So, let us revel in our glory -- in the wonderful mix of attributes that make each one of us unique and wonderful human beings. 

Nov 20, 2013

Self Love

"Take special moments many times every day, and see yourself in brilliant vision." Christian D. Larsen

How do you see yourself?  When you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror or window, do you smile and think how wonderful you are?  Or, do you notice the wrinkles, the poor posture, the body shape you judge to be negative?  Self regard is extremely important in life.  Not self adulation, but positive self regard.  If you are not your own best friend, who do you have on your side in times of trouble?  Of course, if you are spiritual you can say that you have God or a Higher Power on your side; but this is an important consideration --- if you do not have your own back, who will?!  Most of us are well trained by the people and institutions in life to have some self disgust.  Let's eradicate that.  It is a disservice to ourselves.  Who have you been able to count on in your life?  If you do not name yourself first, then it is time to do the work to make you the person you can most count on.  This does not negate spirituality.  Many of us belief that a benevolent being also supports us, but we need also to support ourselves.  You deserve it. 

Nov 19, 2013


"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." Michelangelo

Is that the way true creativity is?  Too many times I have struggled to make something look just right.  Perhaps that is the wrong approach -- perhaps the best approach is to see the beauty and just uncover it.  That can be said for our lives as caregivers too.  Do we struggle to make things just right?  Or, do we see things as right and let them unfold?   Really.  I think this is a way we can approach caregiving.  Things are right just the way they are.  How can I be among this rightness? 

Nov 18, 2013

Day of a Caregiver

"On a recent morning, I helped Mom and Dad get out of bed, teeth brushed and dressed.  I cleaned Mom's glasses and got Dad settled with music.  I administered medications, fixed breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, scheduled doctor appointments.  This was all interspersed with work for my own job." Amy Goyer

This will probably sound familiar.  The list of things we need to do.  Even if the care receiver is in a care facility, there are still the visits, the washing the eyeglasses, scheduling and taking to appointments, managing prescriptions, managing clothing issues, managing mobility issues, managing well-being issues.  The list goes on and on.  All of this while we are also managing the events and needs of our own life:  auto maintenance, financial matters, our own appointments and health needs, home and yard maintenance, laundry, etc., etc. etc.  It is because of these lists of things for which we are responsible that we must make sure our own well being is at the top of the list.  What one thing can you do for yourself today that will make you feel better?

Nov 17, 2013

Self Care

"I see a lot of patients (in the ER) who got sick because they're taking care of everybody else -- aging parents, spouses, children -- and putting their own health last."  Dr. Travis Stork

Easy to do for those of us who are caregiving -- putting the needs of others before our own.  The consequence of that can be our own health decline.  Whether you are caring for young children or an aging family member, it is critical to manage your own health.  I have seen far too many cases of caregivers who die before the care receiver or suffer irreversible health damage because of caregiving.  So, what can we do to protect our own health?  The same tried and true measures:  adequate sleep, exercise, nutrition, fun, relationships which support us, and relaxation.  In what way can you meet your own health needs today?

Nov 16, 2013

Damage of Stress

"Handling stress badly can result in ripple effects on your health." Dr. Sanjay Gupta

We all have stress in our lives, but we each handle stress differently.  Also, there are periods in our lives where we are encountering much more stress.  High stress events include marriage, divorce, death, job promotion, job termination, and caregiving --- to name just a few.  Stress can trigger brain changes that cause us to think less clearly and have memory lapses.  If I forget where I put my car keys, I know I am experiencing too much stress.  Some ways to handle the stress we do have in our lives is by exercise, prayer or meditation, talking to a trust person who can help give us insight, and watching a movie which is lighthearted. 

Nov 15, 2013

Creating Routines

"Creating routines can set you free."  Maria Mihalik

A person may think that habits or routines are confining, but in many ways they can set us free.  When we do something enough times (some psychologists say daily for 30 days), it becomes habit:  something we can do without thinking.  Take brushing our teeth or driving.  We do not have to think how to brush each tooth and in what direction or how to navigate that left-hand turn; we have done these things so many times they are automatic to us.  That is good news, so is the fact that we can make any new behavior a habit.  If we want to worry less, we can train our minds to dwell on the positive aspects of our lives.  If we want to eat better, we can practice buying and eating food that is good for us.  Research says that doing something regularly for about 30 days makes it an automatic behavior for us.  What new behavior can you bring into your life as routine, as a habit?

Nov 14, 2013

Avoiding Radiation

"Ionizing radiation, the type used in CT scans and x-rays, can damage DNA and cause cancer.  The case with weaker, nonionizing radiation is less clear and more controversial; I do think we should be careful."  Dr. Andrew Weil

The nonionizing radiation that he speaks about comes to us from the scanners at airports and cell phones.  Probably most of us who are caregivers do not fly often enough to worry about the scanners at airports, but we may very well use cell phones.  Dr. Weil suggests using landlines when we can or an earpiece or holding the phone away from the body.  Texting, instead of calling, also emits less radiation.  These are just some simple ways we can protect our health. 

Nov 13, 2013

Coping With Stress

"Caregivers report unusually high levels of stress in balancing caregiving with work and other life responsibilities."

It is indisputable that caregiving is stressful, so how do we handle the stress?  Massage is one documented way, as it releases cortisol and other stress hormones from the body.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy is another evidence-based way to deal with stress, and you can find a licensed therapist who is trained in CBT by checking around and interviewing potential therapists.  Exercise can slash stress in half according to some studies.  Yoga has been proven to improve people's level of well being, as has been meditation.  Any of these suggestions are safe and could improve one's overall health and well being. 

Nov 12, 2013


falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly
~John Bailey, "Autumn,"  a haiku

Leaves are falling, and snow is falling here.  What is happening where you live?  I live in an area which has a variation of warmth and then cold; not like the areas where winter sets in and stays relentlessly.  Where I live we have Chinooks, warm winds, which can bring in degrees of 60 or more Fahrenheit.  That gives us lovely respite from the cold, but it also provides a lot of icy surfaces underneath one's foot.  Still, fall is one of my favorite seasons.  It seems a time for introspection, a going within, a time to 'harvest' the work already done in the interior world.  I love the fall colors, the crisp blue sky, the nip in the air.  What do you like about fall? 

Nov 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

I want to personally thank each and every one of you who in any way has supported individual freedom in this world.  Freedom is such an important human right.  The right to peacefully assemble, the right to freedom of speech and privacy of personal matters, the right to worship - or not - as we desire, the right to vote and determine our leaders.   For all of these personal freedoms, I am grateful; and I am so grateful to those persons who in any way served or supported people who served to preserve these freedoms.  Thank you.

Nov 10, 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

We have all heard variations of the above advice.  Whenever I hear it, I am wistful -- as I am not sure I have ever loved the work I was paid to do, although my work has brought me considerable satisfaction.  And, now we are caregivers.  Can we love the work that caregiving is?  How does one "love the work we do?"  I confess that I am not sure, but I do know how to make the best of a situation.  I do know how to treat others with respect and aim at seeing the best in every situation.  I do consider it an honor to walk along side someone who is exiting this life via dementia.  What can you find about caregiving that gives you satisfaction?

Nov 9, 2013

Adequate Sleep

"They call it beauty sleep for a reason:  Those who slept 5 hours a night for a month had twice as many wrinkles as those who slept for 7 hours a night."

As caregivers, it may be hard to get enough sleep.  Parents of young children often are sleep deprived; so, too, are caregivers and many older persons.  For some reason, sleep is more elusive as one gets older.  That is compounded when the stress of caregiving also interferes with sleep.  Sleep is important.  Some recommendations are to not use something lighted, such as a tablet or the computer, for an hour or so before going to bed.  It is also good to have a routine, not use alcohol to help you sleep, and to have the bedroom cool and comfortable.  I sometimes take a magnesium supplement, Calm, dissolved in water to help me sleep.  What helps you sleep?

Nov 8, 2013


"Practicing yoga for 20 minutes a day is better than aerobic exercise for increasing your focus and your ability to learn new things." U. of Illinois study

The older we get, it seems the more the need for flexibility and strength exercises.  The mat in my shower slipped under my feet recently (I bought the mat to prevent slipping!!!), which reminded me how important it is to prevent falls.  Yoga and other types of exercises help with the diminishing balance we have as we get older.  In addition to keeping our balancing skills sharp, we also need the core strength to move our bodies and the flexibility to do the things we want to do.  It is often necessary for me to assist the care receiver out of chairs, and that takes strength and balance.  What do you do to improve your balance, strength and flexibility?  Water aerobics is a favorite way of mine, and I find that I get lots of opportunity for snow shoveling --- which can help with strength.  When I am shoveling, I choose to enjoy the beautiful blue sky, clean air, sunshine, birds singing, and the creek babbling along --- that way, it is exercise; not work. 

Nov 7, 2013

Open Enrollment

"The deadline to choose your 2014 Medicare insurance coverage is December 7, 2013."

It is time once again to go online to check on the price of prescription drug plans.  Every fall I go to the government website (listed above) and check for both the care receiver and myself to see if changing prescription drug insurance plans would save us time and money.  For the first time, I am opting to stay with the plans we have.  There would be a slight savings in money to switch, but that would be offset by changing to pharmacies that are less convenient.  It did not take long to check.  You just go to the official Medicare website ( and follow the links for Open Enrollment.  I have created a list of current prescriptions in previous years, so those are saved and that saves time each subsequent year.  The website then brings up comparison costs for different insurance plans in your area for the prescriptions you have listed.  Very neat.  It is nice to have one more thing taken care of. 

Nov 6, 2013


Psalm 69:30  I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a Holiday celebrated in the U. S. and Canada.  Other countries have harvest celebrations with November being a time to bring in the crops in many geographic areas, and - in doing so - it is a time to be thankful.  Thankful for the blessings in our lives.  Some people in some parts of the world are working such long days that they may not have the leisure to reflect on thankfulness.  I heard recently that some people in China work from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  If Maslow was right, we need to have our basic needs met before we can be self-reflective.  What are you thankful for today?  I am thankful for the blue sky and clear air.  I am thankful that I finally have my snow plow dug out from the earlier heavy snow after paying someone and spending time shoveling myself.  I am thankful for family and friends and good health. 

Nov 5, 2013

Avoiding the Flu

"The flu season is about to being, and you know what that means -- get a flu shot and do what you can to stay healthy.  And don't forget to boost your body's immune system with these natural flu-fighting foods".  AARP Bulletin

Black-Eyes Peas are rich in zinc, and so are pinto beans, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds and wheat germ.  Carrots are rich in beta-carotene.  Other sources are dark green vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash.

Green, black and oolong tea all contain compounds that reduce the risk of flu.  Yogurt, with probiotics, strengthen the immune system.  If you do not like yogurt, try cottage cheese, kimchi or sauerkraut.  Tomatoes and other vitamin-C rich foods help our body's natural defense system.  Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses which heighten the body's resistance to viral infections.  Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, which can help your body fight off infection.

In addition to getting the flu shot, be sure to get enough sleep, eat right, have fun every day, and exercise. 

Nov 4, 2013


"An unexamined life is not worth living."  Socrates

Most mental health people support the idea of self reflection -- time spent in examining one's motives and actions.  Some people spend very little time considering their lives, and perhaps others spend too much time -- turning examination into self absorption.  It is important to consider one's beliefs, one's motives and one's actions in order to live a fully conscious life.  One way to do that is to consider what triggers us; what actions cause us to react.  By considering our actions we can become more congruent in life, more true to ourselves.

Nov 3, 2013

How to be Happy

"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for." Joseph Addison

We who are caregivers certainly have something to do.  Do we also have something to love?  Perhaps for you it is the caregiving.  Perhaps it is a hobby, a talent, an interest.  What do you love doing?  I love treks in nature, time with people I love, serenity and peace, time to connect with my Higher Power, writing, and oil painting.  And, what do we hope for?  I hope for world peace, good health and prosperity for all, friendship and something of interest to do.  What do you hope for?

Nov 2, 2013

What do you love?

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray." Rumi

I once heard Deepak Chopra say that he told his children to follow what they loved in choosing their professions, not what they thought they should do.  How few of us have that kind of counsel, and perhaps few of us have that kind of financial support.  What would you be doing if you were really doing what you love?  For many people, especially women, we are cultured out of knowing what we love.  Our societies often shape us into service to others, rather than following our own heart.  I have often wondered what work I would have done if I had had the encouragement to do what I loved.  But, it is never too late.  Today, what would you be doing if you were doing what you love?  What a celebration if you can say you already are doing what you love.  For the rest of us, it is something we can start.  Right now.

Nov 1, 2013

Our Life Perspective

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." Anais Nin

An interesting concept.  Does life expand or contract depending on our courage?  Probably it does.  Do we keep ourselves in a narrow, limited life because of fear of breaking out?  Many do.  Or, do we live life with an open heart - knowing that all is well, and that life is good?  Do we seek new experiences, new friendships?  I recently heard someone say that the safest way to live life is with an open heart:  trusting, really trusting, that life is good and that all is well.  It seems a good place from which to live.  What new thing can you try in your life today?  I think I will try an entirely new food.