Mar 31, 2014

Making a Difference

"How could the world be getting worse with me in it?  Ever since I was born the world has shown a distinct improvement." Lucy in Peanuts comic strip

This quote above may seem egotistical to us, but, let's really consider it.  Each of us does make a difference.  I think none of us gives a neutral energy to our surroundings; we are either enhancing our surroundings by our energy or we are diminishing our surroundings.  We all know people whose energy enlivens a room or situation.  We have all worked with people who were a pleasure to be around.  Conversely, we have all been with people who brought negative energy to a situation.  The choice of how we want to affect our surroundings is up to us.  I have heard many say that the Dalai Lama exudes peace, serenity and joy -- that those qualities are actually tangible when around him.  We can be the source of peace, serenity and joy too.  It is our choice.  

Mar 30, 2014

The Good in the Bad

"Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Other noted thinkers have said similar things -- that there is neither good nor bad, just our judgment of something.  That is easy to say, but there are some things that seem bad, like illness -- like Lewy Bodies Dementia.  What could be the good within a diagnosis of LBD?  For me, as caregiver, there has been an opportunity to stand in my own truth in spite of non-supportive family, there has been an opportunity for me to develop compassion.  For the first time in my life, there has been the opportunity to make decisions solely on someone else's behalf -- and to be awed and humbled by that responsibility.  We are all going to die -- that is assured.  Lewy Bodies Dementia, and other slow forms of death, may give the person and those who love him or her time to complete some life work -- some soul work.  What is an aspect of good that caregiving provides you?

Mar 29, 2014

What is Old?

"85% of Americans aged 40-90 say they are not old yet." AARP

This study of over 1800 people also revealed that most people over age 50 think they are not like most people over 50.  The study also reveals that the older people get the less hampered they feel by their bodies, which is odd since aging does take a toll on the physical body.  So, how do you feel about getting old?  I just read about one way to determine fitness:  getting up from sitting flat on the floor without using hands or knees or any body part.  That is quite a fitness test as one grows older, but it is always worth striving for physical mobility and fitness.     

Mar 28, 2014

"To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it." Mother Teresa

I do not the know context of this quote, and probably Mother Teresa was speaking of our prayer life.  That in order to deal with the challenges and drudgery of this life, we need to fuel our connection with the Divine.  We also need to put the right fuel in our bodies:  the right food, the right thoughts, the right movement.  Nutritional food and thoughts feed our bodies and keep us going.  Opportunities for movement on a regular basis keeps our bodies, including bone structure, strong and healthy.  To keep going, we need to attend to all aspects of our life:  physical, mental, cognitive and spiritual -- and to use appropriate fuel to restore these aspects.  

Mar 27, 2014

Feeling Our Feelings

"The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings." Gita Bellin

Mental health professionals would agree.  The fastest way to freedom is to feel our feelings.  Too many times we swim around in our anger or angst about the circumstances of something, but we do not dive deep into the feelings that the situation evoked in us.  We need to do that.  Instead of retelling the details of an injustice, express your feelings.  The fastest way through a feeling is to feel it, express it, do not deny or ignore it.  In caregiving, sometimes the grief and stress are so much that we need to acknowledge the sadness and stress of it.  We need to honor our feelings and express them in safe ways to safe people.  It is important to choose people who can accept the way we feel, and it is important to express our feelings before they brew up a big storm in us.  Who in your life will listen with love and acceptance to how you feel?

Mar 26, 2014

5 Ways to Beat a Cold

"Most adults fight two to four colds every year.  Try these surprising tips and tricks to get over a cold."  Candy Sagon for AARP

1.  Taking a walk or doing a light workout can actually help you feel better and reduce cold symptoms.
2.  Take acetaminophen rather than ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) for better resolution of symptoms.
3.  People who practice mindfulness meditation had fewer colds and less severe colds.
4.  Keep your feet warm.  Cold feet constrict the blood vessels in the upper airways which reduces the body's defense against viruses.
5.  Avoid vigorous nose blowing which can force mucus up into the sinuses.   

Mar 25, 2014

Living by Choice

"The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react."  George Bernard Shaw

How true.  As humans, we can tend to react to situations, what other people say and do, to life events.  The secret to living free and joyous is to act and not react.  We need to have our sense of self so well grounded that we are not shaken from our core.  That enables us to act consciously and to not react.  To act is to freely choose and take action.  To react is to respond to what another person or an event evokes in us.  Today let us choose our own thoughts and actions.  Let us not allow others to influence how we feel, act, think, behave.  We are agents of free will.  Let us exercise that free will.  

Mar 24, 2014

Life is Meant to Enjoy

"We, like the birds, are meant to fly and sing -- that's all --- and all of our plans and schemes are twigs of nest that, once outgrown, we leave." Mark Nepo

As humans we tend to make plans, set goals, strive; and that is not all bad -- but, it can take us from the pure joy of living.  Watch the birds and animals in nature.  They live in the moment.  They eat when food is available.  They do not seem to worry if there will still be food left for the next meal.  They observe and adapt to what is.  We can learn a lot from them.  Many of our goals and plans will never come about. We can have intentions we are aiming at in life, but perhaps it is best to not lock ourselves in to the way we think things should be.  Today let us just enjoy the day and who we are with and what situation is before us.

Mar 23, 2014

Choosing Our Associations

"You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things:  the people with whom you associate and the books you read." Charles Jones

I would add that we are also changed by the experiences we have and the attitudes and thoughts we choose to habituate.  I once heard a story about a person who recommended that if you did not like the conversation that was going on, you should use your feet and walk away.  I have chosen to use my feet and walk away from conversations that were toxic or negative.  We also need to eliminate toxic and negative thoughts from our minds, and replace them with thoughts of good will toward ourselves and all other people.  Our own health depends upon it.

Mar 22, 2014

Life as Adventure

Do you view life as an adventure or a drudgery?  It is an important distinction.  Is your life a list of "to-do's" or is it a wondrous adventure?  The difference lies in our attitude.  We can set the intention that our life will be an adventure, that people will bless and enhance our life, and that life will be easy and fun -- or we can expect the worst.  Rarely does the worst ever happen that people worry will happen, which is why it is a good therapy technique to have people imagine the very worst possible outcome in any given scenario -- which enables them usually to see that the worst case scenario is not so bad and is something they can handle.  If Helen Keller can find life an adventure with all her challenges, surely we can too.

Mar 21, 2014

Elderly Brains

"Older people do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains." Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent

Comforting research for those of us who are caregivers, and I think it is important for us to know that when a person's cognitive functioning declines, it is not normal -- therefore, it may be dementia.  I think that sometimes dementia is not recognized because of our society's belief that mental decline with aging is normal.  It is not normal.  Yes, it may take a bit longer to retrieve the information; but as long as we still have good comprehension, good reasoning, good memory, we can relax and know that we probably also have overall good cognitive functioning.  Stress, such as that involved in caregiving, can strain our cognitive processing; so let us be sure to recharge through exercise, adequate sleep, good nutrition and relaxation.

Mar 20, 2014


"Our strength will continue if we allow ourselves the courage to feel scared, weak and vulnerable."
Melody Beattie

Everyone is scared at times.  It is not fear that keeps people from doing brave things; it is allowing ourselves to feel fear or weakness that allows us to be strong.  Someone reflected to me recently how kind I am to Dwane --- she described the way I treat Dwane as "beautiful".  That is my intention as caregiver; as reflected in the title of this blog:  Living with Dementia Graciously.  There are many ways we can show up as caregivers (just as there are many ways we show up in life in general).  Why not choose to show up graciously?  I have noticed that when I treat my loved one with kindness, he softens.  He goes from complaining to gratitude; from anger to acknowledging his fear.  It takes strength to acknowledge how frightening this caregiving is.  To witness the dying process of another human being and have some responsibility in how that process unfolds is daunting.  Let us acknowledge how daunting it is, and from that acknowledgement draw strength.  

Mar 19, 2014

Caregving as Addiction

"I have been learning that the life of a caretaker is as addictive as the life of an alcoholic.  Here the intoxication is the emotional relief that temporarily comes when answering a loved one's need.  Though it never lasts, in the moment of answering someone's need, we feel loved."  Mark Nepo

I think this is something for caregivers to consider.  Although Mark Nepo is speaking of caretaking in general terms, those of us who become caregivers may very well be of the personality type that we are doing it out of our own need to feel loved -- which comes from a basic belief that we are not worthy of love as we are.  True giving must come from a place of knowing that we are all worthy of love, just the way we are.  As caregivers, it is appropriate periodically to review why we are meeting the needs of someone.  Considering our motive will help us remain disentangled.   

Mar 18, 2014

Is It Luck?

"Shallow men believe in luck.  Strong men believe in cause and effect."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love the wisdom of Emerson.  Yes, for us humans, cause and effect is what brings the blessings into our lives.  Yes, we can have synchronicity that some might call luck, but it is in training our thoughts and taking action that real progress happens.

Mar 17, 2014

New Med

  1. "Seroquel is used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder."
Seroquel is a medication that is often added to the medications for someone with Lewy Bodies Dementia to address the increase in hallucinations as the disease increases.  It may very well be worth a try if your loved one is experiencing increased hallucinations.  

Mar 16, 2014


"It is impossible to wish something for someone else without at the same time willing it for ourselves.  If we all were to follow this rule we should become kinder."  Ernest Holmes

Reason enough to want the best for everyone!!!   There is evidence that this statement is true -- that what we wish for others, is what we experience ourselves.  Are we glad for someone who has good fortune, or are we jealous?  Do we begrudge someone else's good fortune?  It is in our own best interest to not do so.  We can never know what is going on in anyone else's life.  Therefore, let us assume she or he is doing the best they can.  Thinking the best of others blesses them and us.  

Mar 15, 2014

Seeing the Best in Things

  1. "We do not see things as they are.  We see them as we are." The Talmud

    We read various forms of the above opinion in numerous places.  Where some people see danger; others see possibility.  Where some see challenges; others see opportunities.  Can it be possible that we see the very same situations differently based on our own mindset?   Yes, I think we do.  I was recently with someone who managed to look for the remotest possible gloom or downfall in any given situation -- almost entirely unfounded.  We have all heard the adage:  do you see the glass half full or half empty?  It is our choice how we see things.  

Mar 14, 2014


  1. "Exercise can improve your mood, stamina and sex life. How many more reasons do you need to get moving?"   Mayo Clinic Newsletter

    Exercise also controls weight, maintains health, improves energy, improves one's emotional status, helps us sleep better and can be fun.  If you do not like to exercise, perhaps it is because you have not found an exercise form that is fun for you.  I often see groups of women walking together, or groups biking together.  For some people, exercise is more fun when done in groups.  If you need help with motivation, perhaps joining a class is the answer.  Whatever form of exercise you find fun, you are more likely to stick with -- and that is the important part.  What exercise could be fun for you today?

Exercise can improve your mood, stamina and sex life. How many more reasons do you need to get moving?

Mar 13, 2014

Accepting Gifts

  1. "Accept this gift, so I can see myself as giving." Mark Nepo
It is difficult for some of us, perhaps especially those of us who are caregivers, to accept help from others.  This quote from Nepo gives us a reason to ask for and accept help -- so that others can see themselves as giving.  When we refuse a gift, we on some level refuse the humanity of the other person.  As caregivers we have far too much to do.  Let's ask for and accept help from others.  

Mar 12, 2014

Honoring Our Body

"As long as you do not live totally in the body, you do not live totally in the Self." B. K. S. Ivengar

Most of us are taught from a very early age to hate or, at least, disregard our bodies.  Yesterday, in a long day in which I took my husband to medical appointments, I had a headache, kink in my neck and felt 'out of my body'.  I have come to recognize this 'out of body' feeling as stress, and I think we actually do, when experiencing too much trauma, check out of our bodies.  A wonderful yoga class last night enabled me to reenter and inhabit my body.  Our disconnect from our bodies does immeasurable harm in the forms of disease.  Today, I invite you to think of 5 things you really, really like about your body.  After all, your body is your vehicle in life.  Let us learn to love it.  

Mar 11, 2014

Deaths from Dementia

"Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases account for many more deaths than we've realized, a new study concludes, making it nearly as lethal as the nation's two biggest killers, heart disease and cancer."
USA Today, March 6, 2014

This is not surprising information, as undoubtedly many deaths which are really caused by dementia, are attributed to pneumonia, falls, and other dementia-related causes.  Dementia is always lethal, and because people think of it as a memory disease, they do not always connect the disease with the death.  So, instead of the estimated 85,000 annual deaths by dementia, it is more likely closer to 500,000.  This means also that the disease is much more costly than previously recognized.  Research from the Center for Brain Health in Cleveland found that dementia is probably costlier than either heart disease or cancer.  

Mar 10, 2014


  1. "
    "We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full." Marcel Proust

    Mental health professionals would likely agree that to go through a feeling to the other side, we must experience it.  That is true as much for joy as suffering, but suffering -- or other emotions we deem negative -- are more likely to be resisted.  For some reason I have been experiencing more grieving than usual.  I suppose it is in response to Dwane's decline in functioning, but it still is a surprise to me.  I think it is important that we who are caregivers do our grieving.  Since it is difficult for me to cry, I think I will rent a very sad movie, like Steel Magnolias, in order to facilitate the cry I feel I need.  How do you grieve the emotions of sadness that are a part of the caregiver's journey?

Mar 9, 2014

"You cannot restore someone to their Connection with Source by belittling them or by punishing them, or by being disgusted with them. It is only through love that you can return anyone to love. And if you do not have a way of returning them to love, they will always be a problem to your society." Abraham
In the above context, Abraham is talking about the way we treat criminals; but the same could be be said for people with any disability -- to include dementia.  People rarely ask me how my husband is doing -- I think because they are uncomfortable with the subject.  In restaurants people have sometimes been obviously uncomfortable with the difficulty he has eating.  I think ageism is still very much a factor in our society, especially if the older person also has some limitations.  As caregivers, we can model treating the person with dementia with respect.  It would only take a blow to the head, and any one of us could be in a similar position.

Mar 8, 2014

Our Oneness

"It is the practice of returning to whatever moment that we are living now that restores us, because only when fully in each moment can we draw strength from the Oneness of things." Mark Nepo

It is human to have our thoughts be in what is next, especially in times of challenge.  It is usually not so much the challenge itself that consumes our thoughts, but we let ourselves worry about what if this turns permanent or into a really bad situation.  Since much of my professional training has been in the observation of human behavior, I often am aware of the actions of others around me.  In a recent incident when some parcels were lost, it was instructive to me to see how differently the people responded to the incident.  To some it was as if the worst thing in the world had happened; to others the mishap was treated as a problem to be solved.  One negative incident does not mean we are doomed to endless negativity.  Let us look for ways to stay in the moment.  In that moment we are better able to see solutions.  

Mar 7, 2014

Needing Help

"Alzheimer's caregiving is an incredibly difficult job and not a one-person task. " Alzheimer's newsletter

How very true.  We cannot do this caregiving alone.  One person absolutely cannot do the caregiving 24/7 without it damaging one's own health.  We must find help and support in whatever ways work for us and ones which the loved one will accept.  We can be creative in how we get help -- such as asking someone to run errands or mow the grass.  What ways have you found to incorporate help in your careging?

Mar 6, 2014


"The still mind of the sage is the mirror of heaven and earth." Chuang-Tzu

The hummingbird in the above photo appears still.  That is similar to our experience as humans.  We may appear still, but usually our minds are a whirl of activity.  Most of the 60,000 thoughts we have every day are either negative in content or redundant, according to current research.  It is important for us to live the best lives we can that we still our minds.  The image of the hummingbird may help us. It is possible, through photography, to still this amazingly fast little bird.  We can, through conscious effort, still the whirling of our minds --- which will make way for new, creative thoughts.  Daily commitment to being in the silence will allow us access to moments of stillness of the mind.   

Mar 5, 2014


"Those who have offended us are merely the symbols of our own inner mistakes." Ernest Holmes

Part of our life journey is to keep our perspective.  It is said that we are mere specks of dust in the great vastness of the Eternal.  When I see a photo of earth from space, it helps me remember that I am a small part of the whole, and that each of us is a small part of the whole.  Remembering that, it is easier to expect the best behavior from others -- because we believe in their goodness, just like our own.  "Only those who are still on the pathway from matter to Mind need to forgive." Ernest Holmes  That seems to be true.  If we become fully integrated humans, we will know that we are part of a greater whole and there is nothing to fear or forgive.   

Mar 4, 2014

Achieving What We Want

Achievers achieve because they believed they would, and so the heavens and earth were moved. Tut

What if that is true that achievers achieve because they believe they can.  I can remember years ago when my sister said that parents got their small children to do what was important to the parent they do -- such as go to bed on time.  That may also be true -- that what we put our best efforts into gets done.  Then it makes sense that it would also be true that what we put our best efforts into is successful.  Not that everything we do can be a success, but successful people do not give up.  They learn from their mistakes and try again.  It is in this perseverance that they are successful.  What does this have to do with caregiving?  Caregiving takes perseverance too.  It also takes learning from what did not work and implementing a different plan.  Just because we are caregivers does not mean that we cannot achieve and do the task well.  

Mar 3, 2014


"True prayer is the correction of the belief in separation." Ernest Holmes

What if it is true that true prayer is the correction of the belief in separation?  What if our life goal is to remember that we are daughters and sons of God (or whatever word you use for the benevolent energy of the universe)?  What if in prayer we remember and claim our oneness -- oneness with one another and oneness with the Source of all goodness?  Perhaps our lives would be different, and easier.  There are many who believe that this is true.  What harm is there in considering it?

Mar 2, 2014


"Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today." The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

We can either push against the circumstances of our lives, or we can accept them.  Pushing against them causes us stress.  Acceptance is the path to peace, which also means it is the path to health.  That does not mean that we should ignore abusive situations.  We can and should do something about them.  But, what we usually push against are the general circumstances of our lives.  Take caregiving for instance.  Caregiving is probably something you did not wish upon yourself, but the reality is you are caregiving.  It is futile to resist the role.  If you cannot or do not want to do the task, then take action and find another way to provide the care.  But, while you are doing the task of caregiving, it is best not to resist it.  

Mar 1, 2014


"And now abides faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

It seems to me that our life journey is to become more and more open to receiving and giving love.  The Heart Math Institute has been doing research for 19 years and they have reinforced other findings of science.  This is a statement from their website:  "positive emotions create increased harmony and coherence in heart rhythms and improve balance in the nervous system. The health implications are easy to understand: Disharmony in the nervous system leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs while harmonious rhythms are more efficient and less stressful to the body’s systems."   Here again is reason for us to learn how to handle stress, monitor our thoughts so that they are healthy/happy/supportive, and be determined to be optimistic.  Giving and receiving love helps our heart's health and our overall health.