Jun 30, 2014

Benefits of Chocolate

  1. "A new study credits the trendiest topics in food science - inflammation and gut microbes - with eating dark chocolate." John Finley, food scientist

    The microbes in our intestines are said to feast upon the fiber and antioxidants in dark chocolate, turning them into compounds that have an anti-inflammatory effect on the heart.  Who needs a better reason to enjoy dark chocolate?!  I love dark chocolate-covered almonds from Trader Joe's.  Family members are so aware of this that I am often gifted with a container of them.  Yum.  A few in the evening curbs that craving for sweets that often comes to people in the evening hours.  

Jun 29, 2014

Benefits of Meditation

  1. "Meditation, as a regular practice, can calm your system, help your heart, and hold off all manner of annoyances." Prevention Magazine

    Regular meditation can help your brain.  The stillness of meditation increases compassion and engages neural systems in the brain associated with empathy.  Blood pressure can be lowered by regular meditation.  Psoriasis can be improved by meditation, because stress often shows up in skin eruptions.  Cortisol is associated with belly fat, and meditation can lower this stress hormone.  Meditation has been shown to ease joint pain.  

    Meditation is one practice which helps us to handle the stress of caregiving.  Caregivers may think they do not have time for meditation or yoga or regular exercise; but, really, can we afford not to make time?

Jun 28, 2014

Coconut Oil

  1. "The practice of swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for 10 minutes has long been a practice within Ayurvedic medicine." Jessica Emery, DMD

    A couple of recent studies support the use of coconut oil for helping to prevent cavities and gingivitis and bad breath.  Some also say that it helps whiten the teeth and can support the neurological system.  If you want to try it, gently swish 1 tablespoon warmed coconut oil in mouth for 10 minutes before brushing your teeth and flossing, perhaps 2-3 times a week.  Coconut oil does have a natural antimicrobial lauric acid.   

Jun 27, 2014

Warning Signs of Stroke

  1. "Do you know what a stroke looks like?  Fewer than half of women do." Prevention Magazine

    Signs of a stroke are correlated with the word:  FAST:
    1.  Face drooping.  Does one side of face droop or is it numb?
    2.  Arm weakness:  Is one arm numb or weak?  Try lifting both arms.  Does one drift down?
    3.  Speech difficulty:  Is it hard to speak or pronounce words correctly?  A sentence to try on is: 'The sky is blue."
    4.  Time to call 911:  If you notice any one of these symptoms, call 911 -- even if the symptom (s) goes away.  You may have suffered a ministroke and be more vulnerable to more.

    As women and as caregivers, we can monitor our own and other's health by knowing these signs.

Jun 26, 2014


  1. "True patience is a silent energy, one that restores and strengthens."  Daily Word

    Patience is one thing I have felt I do not have in large supply, but patience is something we, as caregivers, need in spades.  It takes so long to do anything with the loved one, as his/her abilities diminish.    I once heard Eckhart Tolle say that one should be enjoying oneself as one waits.  He gives the example of waiting in line, and when asked, says he is not waiting but enjoying himself -- enjoying being with himself.  I do enjoy my own company.  Rarely do I feel lonely or bored, but waiting is still a challenge for me.  Therefore, waiting must be something from which I can learn; and I will.

Jun 25, 2014


  1. "If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile?  Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy." Thich Nhat Hanh

    I have read research that indicates that babies smile hundreds of times a day; and adults only a few times in comparison.  There is a lesson in here for us.  There is also research that tells us that even the simple act of smiling improves our mood, by somehow affecting the chemicals in our brains.  So many reasons to smile.  To greet people by looking in their eyes and smiling (unless your culture has different standards) is to honor the person and also to uphold your determination to live in joy.  I listened to Oprah interview Carolyn Myss last night, and I was struck by her opinion that each and every one of us has a purpose in life -- and our time here in this life is to live ever more faithfully to that purpose.  Where we go astray is by trying to live according to someone else's purpose or what someone else thinks is our purpose.  Perhaps the purpose of life is as simple as being determined to live in joy.  That can start with a smile.  

Jun 24, 2014

Helping Our Metabolism

  1. "People exposed to bright light early in the day tend to be thinner than those whose sleep schedules or darkened rooms don't expose them to light until afternoon." Kathryn Reid, research professor of neurology

    According to this study, done at Northwestern University, morning sunlight has bluer rays which synchronize circadian rhythms and support metabolism.  The study recommends 20 minutes of bright light daily between 8:00 a.m. and noon.  Morning sunlight boosts metabolism despite age, physical activity, calorie intake and sleep patterns.  An easy way to help support our metabolism and maintain optimal weight.  

Jun 23, 2014

Value of Walking

  1. "Life has a way of placing unexpected -- and sometimes deeply unwelcome -- challenges squarely in our path.  The key is learning how to breathe through the pain, accept the change and get stronger for what comes next." Samantha Rector

    The condition for which we are caregivers is undoubtedly one of those unexpected and, perhaps, unwelcome challenges that have come into our lives.  One of the most difficult aspects of caregiving for me is being responsible for the welfare of another person.  That responsibility weighs heavily for me, especially when the decisions that must be made are not ones he would prefer; but I have to remember -- they are not ones I prefer either.  When life presents us with only difficult options, we are doing our very best to still choose among those options.  

Jun 22, 2014

Abiding Our Own Counsel

"Those who know how to think need no teachers." Robert Frost

Perhaps we think that we already know how to think, and, of course, on many levels we do.  But, how much do you trust your own counsel?  I think that is an area we can each continue to develop.  When making a decision, I ask the opinion of a few people I trust; then I pray about it; then I make what I believe is the best decision.  Sometimes there are no really good options among which to choose.  When I was told that my loved one would have to move into a nursing home, I chose among the ones I researched and found to be the best.  All of them are 45-70 minutes drive away from me.  I chose one about 60 minutes away from me because it had the best reputation.  It adds more to my drive, but I believe he gets better care.  

Jun 21, 2014

Managing Our Stress

"He who mounts a wild elephant goes where the wild elephant goes." Randolph Bournes

What a descriptive way to describe when we let stress or moods or our own thoughts take us for a ride.  Buddhists call it the 'monkey mind', jumping around going wherever it wants.  It is one of life's challenges to manage our thoughts, our stress and our moods so that we are not taken for a ride we would prefer not to take.  Meditation and yoga and spending time in nature all help me to calm my thoughts and remain in a place of serenity.  Peace is attainable, even in the midst of caregiving, and it is so critical for our own health.  

Jun 20, 2014

Giving Oneself

"It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." Kahlil Gibran

Well, then, by that definition caregivers most certainly give.  Time, money, attention, love, positive regard.  Today while visiting, I read him the newspaper and trimmed his nails.  There is nail care available at the facility, but it was a way to spend time together, and I try to keep his fingernails very short so that he does not inadvertently scratch his legs -- causing another infection.  We shared a homemade ginger snap cookie that I took him and some conversation.  I wish it were not an hour drive for me, but that is the way it is.  Caregivers give of themselves.  Please acknowledge that about yourself.  

Jun 19, 2014

Stress Management

"If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have numerous health benefits. Explore stress management strategies, such as:"  Mayo Clinic
  • Physical activity
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
And be sure to get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet, and avoid tobacco use and excess caffeine and alcohol intake

Jun 18, 2014

Effects of Stress

"Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes."  Mayo Clinic
Common effects of stress ...
... On your body... On your mood... On your behavior
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal

Jun 17, 2014

Frontal Lobe Dementia

"Lewy Bodies Dementia is frontal lobe dementia and that always means a loss of control over behavior." local neuropsychologist

In a chance conversation with a well-respected local neuropsychologist, I learned that not being able to keep my loved one at home is not my fault.  Some people are able to keep their loved ones with dementia at home, but according to this neuropsychologist that is far less possible with someone with Lewy Bodies Dementia because the frontal lobe dementia removes their ability to modulate their own behavior.  It makes so much sense to me now.  The intense resistance, bursts of anger, refusing respite care, locking caregivers out of the house, finding keys and driving when that was no longer advisable.  It makes sense now.  Please do not feel guilty if the behavior of your loved one prevents home care.   

Jun 16, 2014


  1. "In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher." Dalai Lama

    Unfortunately perhaps, one's enemy is the best teacher for several of the personal growth qualities we, as humans, are called to develop.  Humility, forgiveness, empathy -- to name a few others, as well as tolerance, are best learned from our enemies -- those people who hurt us deeply, and we all have them.  As caregivers we will undoubtedly have people who disagree with the decisions we make.  The enemy, at times, may even be the care receiver, as he or she struggles with the decisions we make on their behalf.  We are at a point where some decisions have been removed from us.  My loved one needed more medical care, so the only decision was - where?  Tolerance is a worthy human quality to develop, and it behooves us to use life circumstances to develop it further.  Betrayals and misunderstandings will happen; we may as well use them for personal growth.

Jun 15, 2014

Living in Joy

  1. "If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile?  Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy." Thich Nhat Hanh

    This has been a week of discouragement for me.  Last week I chose to be upbeat and positive to support my loved one during the process of moving into a nursing home,  This week the reality seems to have hit home for me.  It is difficult to imagine that we are at this place in life.  He has difficulty holding his head up, so I hung his pictures down low so he could see them.  I took another table over on which to set his tv, because he could not hold his head high enough to see the tv where they had placed it on a chest of drawers.  The hallucinations are occurring most of the time now, although I still have glimpses of the person he is.  It is hard to live in joy in the role of caregiver.

Jun 14, 2014

Helpful Book

"AARP's Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies may be a helpful resource for caregivers." aarp.org/longtermcarefd

This book contains the resources and costs of the various levels of care for someone needing care.  It even suggests the legal documents you should prepare and update and covers the pros and cons of long-term care insurance.  It gives tips for talking to family members.  In whatever reliable ways we can prepare ourselves with good information, we benefit.  I am continually surprised at how many people think that Medicare will pay for longterm care.  It will not!  So, one needs to consider how it will be paid for, and this book may help in that direction.  

Jun 13, 2014

Reversing Aging

"This was the first study showing that any intervention can actually make your telomeres longer ---in a sense, reversing aging at a cellular level." Dean Garnish, MD

So, what interventions is he talking about?  His suggestions are:  a plant-based diet low in sugar, at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, eat with awareness, meditation helps us get in touch with inner peace, strong family and friends network, volunteering.  Garnish says, "if we stop doing what's causing the (health) problem, we begin healing."  Very hopeful and fairly easy to implement.  Why not consider it?  You are worth it.

Jun 12, 2014

Relationship Change

"The hardest part for any caregiver, whether it is a child, parent or spouse, is the relationship change." Lonnie Ali (wife of Mohammad Ali)

Lonnie goes on to say that the biggest challenge for the  caregiver is to guard against becoming bitter because of having your life ripped away from you.  I agree that the relationship change is difficult, and it is hard sometimes to not feel sorry for oneself for having the responsibilities for someone with a terminal illness.  Gone are the times of making decisions collaboratively -- which was something I treasured in our marriage, and that, too, is a burden.  Making all the decisions, not just for oneself, but for the loved one is a huge responsibility.  And, I believe, it can only be done well with good support systems.  Legal, medical, emotional, financial, spiritual -- I think we caregivers need the support of people who have integrity and wisdom to help us make the best decisions.  

Jun 11, 2014

Power of Gentleness

"I have no power of miracle other than the attainment of quiet happiness, I have no tact except the exercise of gentleness." Oracle of Sumiyoshi

Gentleness toward ourselves and others is a good life practice.  That is one reason I never argue with or correct Dwane when he tells me about something which is obviously a hallucination he had or when he gets a fact or date wrong.  When one is having hallucinations, that is his or her reality.  What point is there in correcting, or trying to correct, their perception?  In fact, isn't there arrogance for us to think that our perception of reality is the only one -- the right one?  Instead, I listen and acknowledge what he seems to be feeling within the hallucination.  Seems good practice to me.

Jun 10, 2014

Seeing the Positive

"When you get to a place where you're seeing the positive in others more than the negative, it means you're doing the same for yourself." Tut

My conscious orientation and choice is to see the positive in life.  When I let that orientation slip, I find I am horrified to be at this point in my life with my husband in a nursing home.  No matter how I "dress" the situation, it is very, very sobering.  He deserves better, and so do I.  It is so hard for me to see him go through the physical incapacity -- even more so than the cognitive at this point.  Hard, hard stuff we caregivers deal with on a daily basis, and so hard for the loved one.

Jun 9, 2014

Choosing Our Own Path

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by.  And that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

I have always loved this quote and tried to live my life by it.  In the midst of criticism about decisions made as caregivers, we, too, can trust in taking our own path.  As long as that path is one of integrity and one in which the best interest of the loved one, as well as ourselves, is of the highest priority.  Whenever I make a decision, I always consider:  Is this best for every person directly involved?  When I discern what is best -- after consulting people whose opinions I value, that is the direction I go.  When we live by this value, we can be rest assured we will also be criticized; but it is imperative that we are true to ourselves and to those to whom we have the greatest responsibility.

Jun 8, 2014

Adjusting Well

"To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest." Pema Chodron

Literally and figuratively, all of our lives we are being thrown out of the nest.  Dwane is adjusting so well to the new care facility; I am just tickled.  And relieved.  Such  a huge responsibility to make decisions on the well-being of another human.  With his move, I also am thrown out of the nest again.  New decisions, new people with whom to deal, further for me to drive to see him, more expenses.  I choose to look at this as a means to become more fully alive and awake.  

Jun 7, 2014

Our Perspective

  1. "Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." Maori Proverb

    The quality of our lives depends on how we look at things.  We all know people who seem to have everything -- wealth, health, relationships, and yet are not happy.  Equally, we all know people who lead what might seem to be impoverished lives, and they are quite happy.  Truly, the quality of our lives depends on whether we choose to see all the good within our lives, or if we dwell upon the challenges.  We all have challenges, and we all have rainbows.  Which do you focus on?  It is a choice.

Jun 6, 2014

Reverence for Life

  1. "To make a prairie it takes a clover, and one bee  . . . One clover, and a bee.  And revery.  The revery alone will do.  If bees are few." Emily Dickinson

    One thing we caregivers can focus on is the reverence for life.  The loved one for whom we provide care has been given a terminal diagnosis -- if he or she is diagnosed with dementia; but, really, haven't we all been given a terminal diagnosis?  None of us is going to get out of here alive.  I was struck by this as the medical director at the new facility went over the question with Dwane and me of how much to intervene if a medical emergency occurs.  The person with dementia or other terminal illness just has more parameters on what time they have left in this life.  That was the discussion Dwane and I had as we drove home from Mayo Clinic upon received the diagnosis of Lewy Bodies Dementia.  Since we now knew his time was finite, we chose to travel and enjoy the experiences he wanted to have while he still could.  I took him to Sagamore Hill -- the summer home of Theodore Roosevelt, because that was on his 'bucket list'.  I also took him abroad to meet his new granddaughter and to see his daughter and her family.  The days of traveling are past for him; I am so glad I took him while he could still travel.

Jun 5, 2014

A Long Road

  1. "The time for the healing of the wounds has come.  The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come." Nelson Mandela

    As I have talked with other caregivers, it is almost universal that there is family contentiousness about the care and placement of the loved one receiving care.  I have certainly experienced the second-guessing, the criticism of necessary decisions along the way --- and the criticism has always come from people who are unwilling to help in any meaningful way.  I would like for all family members to know that the time for healing has come.  Let us assume that caregivers are doing the best they can under very difficult conditions.  Whether they take care of the person at home or choose to use a care facility, let us assume about one another that the decision made was the best possible under the conditions that exist.  

Jun 4, 2014

New Phase of Care

  1. "To every life there is a season."  Ecclesiastics 3:1

    Yesterday I moved Dwane into a longterm care facility -- what we used to refer to as a nursing home.  A very long day for me to get him there, fill out all the forms, settle him in with things he enjoys, and then go back and finish emptying out his room at the assisted living facility in another town.  But, he handled it so well.  He was appreciative and sweet, and he is looking forward to the increased services -- such as PT (physical therapy).  He has gotten so hunched over, and physical therapy has helped with that in the past.  The facility is well staffed and everyone seems kind.  It turns out I know the medical director from a previous professional experience, and I feel really good about her.  Into a new phase we have now entered.

Jun 3, 2014

Replenishing Ourselves

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

    As caregivers we need to focus time and energy on our own self care.  I have noticed with the stress of needing to move Dwane into a nursing home, because his current care facility is no longer able to meet his needs, I am not sleeping.  I awake at 1:11 or 2:12 and am awake for hours.  I think of all the details that need to be done to accomplish this move, and I am concerned about how he will react -- even though I spoke to him about it and he seemed accepting.  I think I am also aware that this is the last train stop, so to speak.  There will be no more moves, unless hospice is involved.  A very sad time as a caregiver -- and such a huge responsibility to make decisions for the well-being of another human.  Decisions that are not easy.

Jun 2, 2014

Speaking Effectively

  1. "Most people speak for two minutes before pausing, but the brain can only hold about 10 words in 'working memory' consciousness for about 10 seconds."  Andrew Newberg, M.D.

    Research tells us that most people talk too much and listen too little.  We humans hunger to be listened to.  I heard a snippet of a news program where two women decided to set up tables in a public area with signs that said 'free listening'.  They were astounded at the number of complete strangers who stopped to talk -- just to be listened to.  I am not astounded, because we all hunger to be fully listened to, really heard.  Do you have a friend who will really listen?  If not, you deserve having at least one.  If you do have at least one friend who will truly listen, you are blessed.

Jun 1, 2014

Tormenting Hallucinations

  1. "Two characteristics of Lewy Bodies Dementia are variations in lucidity and hallucinations." Mayo Clinic

    Even with the prescription of Seroquel to address the hallucinations, we are in a period of many hallucinations.  The hallucinations happening does not surprise me.  As a psychologist I have encountered many people who describe their hallucinations.  What does surprise me is the vividness and torturing aspect of the hallucinations.  His hallucinations are almost always about being taken captive, held against his will and mistreated.  It is so sad.  Not only are his external circumstances not what he would hope for, but his internal circumstances also torment him.