Aug 31, 2014

Tips to Eat Less

These simple tips can help you avoid eating more than you want:  (from Mayo Clinic)
  • Select smaller bowls, plates, and spoons for serving and eating — Research has shown that people unconsciously eat more food when it's served in or eaten from larger dishes.
  • Get rid of high-calorie foods or leftovers; store them in an inconvenient location or in opaque containers — Seeing a food item can trigger you to eat it. Plus, easy-to-reach food in a kitchen cabinet is more readily eaten than is food in a basement pantry. Exploit these phenomena by placing healthy, low-calorie foods within sight and easy reach.
  • Buy small packages and serve or order smaller quantities — Larger packages or larger portions often lead people to eat more than they would have if the serving or package were smaller

Aug 30, 2014

Hallucinations That Are Cruel

  1. "Visual hallucinations are one of three defining symptoms for diagnosing Lewy Bodies Dementia -in addition to signs of dementia."  Mayo Clinic literature

    It is hard to listen to the extremely difficult hallucinations that my loved one continues to have.  Yesterday he told me about an employer (it is often a principal because he seems to be back in the days of teaching high school) who held him prisoner inside a snow blower over night.  He described in detail how painful it was, how contorted his body had to be to fit into the snow blower.  Perhaps not everyone with LBD has such cruel hallucinations, but it is so hard to hear him tell of things he is certain really happened that are so cruel and painful.  Of course it would be fruitless to try to convince him this was not real, when it is as real to him as my sitting there -- perhaps even more real.  What I do do is listen, and then I try to draw him toward more positive topics, so that he is less agitated.  

Aug 29, 2014

High Blood Pressure and Memory

  1. "In a large study, adults with high blood pressure in midlife scored 10% lower on memory tests later."  Prevention Magazine, September 2014

    Another reason to manage one's blood pressure.  Ways to manage blood pressure include:  managing your rage.  People who get angry and tend to squabble have double the risk of death from all causes.  Forgive.  People who forgive are more at peace, which lowers blood pressure.  Meditate, do yoga, eat right, practice being at peace --- all of these will help manage your blood pressure.  Eating healthy foods in healthy portions, exercise, peace of mind:   all benefit one's blood pressure.  

Aug 28, 2014

Requesting Services

  1. "What you don't know, can't hurt you." common saying

    Actually, what you don't know, can and does hurt you.  This is true in services provided in nursing homes.  Who knew that in order to get more services one has to request them?!@!   How in the world do you request services that you do not know exist?!   I have found since my loved one required the care of a nursing home that he could get more than one shower a week -- if I requested it.  He could get placed in the first sitting for meals so that he had adequate time to eat -- if I requested it.  He could have people monitor his toileting and facilitate his being toileted every 2 hours -- if I requested it.  Thank God for the aides who have mentioned these things to me.  Yesterday one aide told me she thought Dwane would not be so hungry if he was in the first sitting at meals so that he actually had time to eat before they cleared the dining room to ready for the next meal.  God bless her!!!   I immediately requested that he be moved to the first sitting.  The lesson:  let us caregivers not assume things are as presented.  Let's ask what other services are available upon request.  

Aug 27, 2014

Eating Right

  1. "Let food be thy medicine." Hippocrates

    Do we nowadays think of food as medicine?  Some do, but I would think most do not.  I have always been naturally slender, as a result of my genetics and of having a mother who was very wise about nutrition and fostered healthy eating habits.  It has always been very obvious to me that it is: calories in/calories out.  We will turn into fat food that is eaten in excess, food that is empty calories without much nutrition, and food that is not balanced with the physical activity of burning the calories consumed.  In addition to proper portions and exercise, we who want to be healthy need to focus on what we eat.  Plenty of dark colored vegetables and fruits, plenty of water, small amounts of healthy protein (lean meat or beans), avoid sugar and processed foods.  Simple.  And, we can choose to make it our lifestyle.  

Aug 26, 2014

Getting Adequate Sleep

"Tart cherry juice could get you more shut-eye" Experimental Biology 2014

As caregivers there are lots of interruptions to adequate sleep.  Stress, over work, worry about finances, etc. can keep us awake for hours.  This study showed that people who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day slept an impressive 84 more minutes per night than they did if given a placebo.  Cherries have significant amounts of the hormone melatonin.  Look for juice made from Montmorency tart cherries, which have the highest content of melatonin.   This is a safe and nonaddictive way to support adequate sleep.  

Aug 25, 2014

Love is Powerful Than Hate

"Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Desmond Tutu said something similar, "Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us."  I know from experience this is true.  After all, is the other person damaged by our hatred and animosity?  Not usually  . . . . ., but we always are.  We are damaged by our unforgiveness.  It is as if we have a golden cord, energetically, which keeps us bound to the person we will not forgive.  We can set ourselves free by forgiving:  forgiving the other person for the harm, and by forgiving ourselves for holding onto the hurt.  Although not easy, it is simple.  We just need to decide to forgive.  Who can you benefit from by forgiving today?

Aug 24, 2014

Remaining Nonjudgmental

"When we keep choosing between right and wrong, we spend our time sorting life rather than living it. " Mark Nepo

As humans we seem wired to consider whether something or someone is right or wrong.  We spend countless hours trying to prove we are right, countries go to war to prove they are right, relationships are strained because someone does something we think is wrong.  The problem with that is we cut ourselves off from the goodness of life.  Life is about experiencing our experiences -- rather than labeling the experience.  Each person responds to and chooses to act differently in life -- Carl Jung called this an innate quality based on which combination of the 4 different personality types we are.  We might have much more to gain by trying to understand each other, rather than by deciding the other person is just wrong.  

Aug 23, 2014

Toll on Caregivers

"1/3 of caregivers will die providing care, 1/3 will have their health damaged significantly, and 1/3 will come through the caregiving being better for the experience."  Roslyn Carter Institute

A friend of mine and of this blog, a caregiver whose husband died about 1 1/2 years ago, is dealing with a significant health issue.  I am so sad about this, and it emphasizes the statistics quoted above.  Caregiving is extremely stressful.  That stress will take a toll, usually physically, unless we have sufficient support and unless we can prevent being consumed by the caregiving.  Please do not let guilt or meddling relatives prevent you from getting the respite you need from caregiving.  There is respite available.  You deserve to have it.  Please do not let these diseases take the caregiver along with the care receiver.  

Aug 22, 2014

The Long Road

"When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness  . . . all the good things."  Alan Cohen

Caregiving is a long road, and it is fraught with challenges and periods of despair.  During the years that I was providing 24/7 caregiving, I often felt so overwhelmed that I was unable to make use of something I am quite good at:  considering my options.  Therefore, that is a good barometer for me:  if I am unable to see and consider my options, my situation is too restrictive.  I agree that when we wish someone joy, we wish them all good things; and I would add:  that wish has to be directed toward ourselves first.  Selfish?  No, self preserving.  It is too easy to lose oneself in the caregiving task.  Research tells us that about 1/3 of caregivers will die providing the caregiving, and 1/3 will badly damage their own health by caregiving.  That serves no one.  Let us today wish ourselves and everyone else true joy -- knowing that all other good things are included in that wish.  

Aug 21, 2014

Feeling All the Feelings

  1. "So often, we war against sadness as if it were an unwanted germ, and pine after happiness as if it were some promised Eden."  Mark Nepo

    Nepo is making the point that professionals in mental health also make:  you cannot feel the joy unless you also feel the despair.  We must feel both ends of the continuum of the emotional range, both the ones we might call positive and the ones we might call negative.  As caregivers, we will most assuredly have feelings.  We will feel deep sadness, moments of sweetness as I described in another blog this week, and moments of contentment and well being.   Yesterday my time with my loved one was again sweet.  Although he was hallucinating a good deal of the time, we shared and talked and reminisced.  Perhaps, as caregivers, our task is to be present to whatever the moment brings, and experience the feelings that the moment brings up.  Actually, that is a worthwhile goal for any person, not just caregivers.  

Aug 20, 2014

Finding Peace

  1. "If you wish to know the Divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand." Buddha

    There is something about nature that does bring the Divine.  As I type this, I look out at an exquisitely blue sky, multiple shades of green in the evergreen and deciduous trees, and I hear the sound of the water in the creek as it makes its way to the ocean.  I love nature.  I spent yesterday mowing and doing maintenance on the outside of our house, and it was pleasant work -- being in the warm sun with a slight breeze on my face.  The Divine.  We do not have to look further than our own experience to find It.  

Aug 19, 2014

Sweet Moments

"Be serene in the oneness of things and erroneous views will disappear by themselves." Seng-Ts'an

Yesterday when I visited my loved one in the nursing home, he said, "You always come when I am in trouble."  Sweet.  He is so often not aware of things outside himself.  It turns out he needed to use the toilet, and he had been unable to get the help he needed to accomplish that.  He is so weak now that it took two aides to get him onto the toilet.  It is fun to be with him when he is lucid.  We talked about the phenomenal Little League female pitcher, Mone, and I found him a game to watch on television when I left.  One of the aides told me quietly, "He is one of my favorites."  It is so gratifying to know when he is being well cared for.  

Aug 18, 2014

Learning From Our Mistakes

"We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than doing it right." Richard Rohr

If that is true that we learn more from doing it wrong, then that is a good way to look at all the mistakes that we, as humans, make.  Abraham says that we cannot get it right, and we cannot get it done, so perhaps what we can do is learn as we go along and not make the same mistake twice.  Sometimes - in wondering what the purpose of life is - we can get absorbed in the challenges; but, perhaps, the challenges are the only way that Life can really get our attention.  And, it is in the challenges, that we learn and grow in our potential as humans.  What if the purpose of life is to continue to become more fully who each of us was meant to be?   Challenges can help us know and to develop who we are.  

Aug 17, 2014

Seeking Support

  1. "The great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone." David Whyte

    Caregiving of any type can be a great drama.  We can feel very alone.  We can feel unsupported and criticized.  The criticism of some other family members seems to be almost a guarantee within the caregiving drama -- and the criticism is almost always given by people unwilling or unable to help with the caregiving and who are not close enough to the situation to know what is needed.  What we as caregivers can do is make the best decisions we can with the best information we can find, seek support from trusted others, accept the help of kind people when it is offered.  

Aug 16, 2014

Seeing The World Rightly

  1. "We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." Anais Nin

    Again the reminder that we can see the glass half empty or half full.  I, along with many others, have been sobered by the suicide of Robin Williams.  What a comic genius!  It would appear -- from the outside looking in -- that he had everything.  Fame, family, opportunities to earn money.  But, what do we really know about the reality of another person?!  Depression and addiction are insidious and powerful in their control of a person.  What we can do:  if we suffer from depression or an addiction, we can and must seek very good help.  What we can do if we do not have these twin demons with which to contend is to see the good in our lives, the good in others, the good in the world.  

Aug 15, 2014

What is Possible?

  1. "To believe a thing impossible is to make it so." French proverb

    It is a good practice to consider:  "what is possible?" because our beliefs about what is possible shape the color and content of our lives.  I would not have thought it possible when I married that I would be providing caregiving for several, long years.  Nowadays he is almost entirely in an hallucinatory state.  Yesterday he was scampering in his wheelchair to go see where the car was that a gang had stolen.  Someone asked me recently how much I think I will grieve when he has died.  That is impossible to answer.  There is so much grief along the way, as the person with dementia folds in upon him/herself.  So, within caregiving, what is possible?  It is possible to be serene, to treat the person with dementia respectfully, to create space in one's own life for Life.  

Aug 14, 2014


  1. "Every survivor, regardless of what they survive, knows the hammering of the sea, and the rock we find refuge on is an exposed place where we finally accept each other." Mark Nepo

    I heard Mark Nepo in an interview last night say that while within any challenge and broken, we need to remember that everything else is not broken.  Seems good advice.  Life will break us down.  Whenever I am around a young, arrogant person, I know that life will have its way with him/her, with challenges which give each person the chance to shed our rough edges.  I remember distinctly when I shed a large number of my rough edges.  It was when I was in my 30's and faced a life challenge I thought I would never face -- broken commitments within a committed relationship -- it was just what I needed to take me to my knees, and in that position I lost arrogance, self-pride, and the feeling of immunity.  As Nepo says, what breaks us is not important (which does not negate the pain of the breaking) -- it is that the breaking opens us in ways where Life can do Her work.  The breaking allows us to be more fully who we were meant to be.   

Aug 13, 2014


  1. "There is only one holy book; the sacred manuscript of nature, the only Scripture that can enlighten the reader." Hazrat Inayat Khan

    Hazrat Inayat Khan founded the Sufi Order in the West in 1914.  Over the history of human kind, there has been strife between many religions:  Catholic versus Protestant, Muslim versus Hindu, Suni versus Shiite.  It is amazing the violence that has been perpetrated in the name of God.  The answer is tolerance.  There are many paths to enlightenment; let us honor all of them.  Being caregivers can be a path to enlightenment - when done with love.  Tolerance begins in our own heart, and it can affect the world when we extend it to our loved ones -- and then beyond.  

Aug 12, 2014

Healthy Self Love

  1. "How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself are directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word." Don Miguel Ruiz

    Do we keep our word to ourselves and to others?  We know people who do keep their word, and we know people who do not keep their word.  Therefore, we know who we can trust.  There are people I know that if they say they will be somewhere, I know they will be.  There are others we all know who may or may not do what they say they are going to do.  We cannot control others, but we can control our own behavior.  It is very important that we keep our word -- to ourselves and to others.  

Aug 11, 2014

Be Aware of Wonder

  1. "Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some."
    - Robert Fulghum, "All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

    I recently gave a talk which included an experience I had with my father when I was about 7 years old.  We were walking in a beautiful meadow with high grass when I noticed some circular areas where the grass was flattened.  I asked my father what had caused those areas, and - without hesitation - he said, "that's where the fairies danced last night."  I was enchanted by his answer -- even though I knew it was not the reality.  Instead it created wonder in me.  I could imagine the fairies dancing there in our meadow in the moonlight.  Do you choose to see the ordinary or the wonder?  

Aug 10, 2014

Weaving Our Fate

  1. "Consciously or unconsciously, we are not only governing our physical bodies, we are also weaving the destiny of our fate . . . . .  It is merely a question of where we are getting the pattern."
    Dr. Ernest Holmes

    Dr. Holmes taught that our thoughts and beliefs shape our physical bodies and our lives.  Louise Hay teaches the same thing, and, in fact, had a book out some time ago that speculated that if you had a disease in a certain part of your body, a certain attitude was causing it.  More and more researchers are finding that our thoughts and beliefs do affect our health, perhaps especially those unconscious beliefs that we all have.  It is worth considering.  We all know people who seem "to have everything", yet are unhappy.  Conversely, we know people who have had many challenges who are optimistic and happy.  It is a choice.  Really.  It is a choice.  

Aug 9, 2014

Honoring What We Love

  1. "Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love." Rumi

    Great advice!  So many of us get locked into things that others have convinced us to pursue.  Even caregiving.  I have seen people literally kill themselves trying to take care of someone because they felt they "had to".  That serves no one.  Yes, it is tremendously difficult to see our loved one imprisoned by a disease and declining.  But, it serves no one to let the disease take us too.  I have my beautiful daughter to thank for developing the strength to place my loved one in assisted living.  She saw, what I was not willing to, the extreme toll caregiving was taking on me.  Some people can do it and not have it affect their health, but with Lewy Bodies Dementia difficult behavior is such a component of the disease process, it is extremely difficult to manage the care in your home.  Please be sure to manage your own health.  

Aug 8, 2014

Power of Dedicated Minority

  1. "Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better."
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    We, who are caregivers, are a minority, when we consider those of us who are caring for and taking responsibility for someone who is unable to care for themselves because of illness or disability.  One could also count anyone parenting, but for today let's just think of caregivers as someone taking care of a person who is ill or disabled.  Can we too make the world better?  I believe we can and do.  In treating our loved one with love, respect and dignity we make the world better.  In advocating that everyone else treats our loved one with respect and dignity, we make the world better.  It is a comfort to me that while I am caregiving I am also contributing to make the world a better place to live.  And so are you.  

Aug 7, 2014

Our Thoughts Create Our Life

  1. "Consciously or unconsciously, we are not only governing our physical bodies, we are also weaving the destiny of our fate, at least temporarily, on the loom of consciousness.  It is merely a question of where we are getting the pattern." Dr. Ernest Holmes

    Where are we getting the pattern that is creating the quality of our lives?  Recent research indicates that what we think about affects our bodies, our overall lives, and what we achieve in life.  Research also tells us that over 90% of our thoughts are redundant and negative.  So, to change the quality of our lives, we change the content of our thoughts.  Meditation is one of the best ways to do that.  When we are in deep meditation, we know we are not our bodies -- and that degree of consciousness is where healing occurs.  Even diseases believed to be genetically-caused, have been demonstrated to be healed in an elevated state of consciousness that can be achieved in meditation.  I know we are all busy, but we would benefit if we devoted 20 minutes a day to meditation.  

Aug 6, 2014

Staying The Course

  1. "The pathway I walk is always forward.  If any man cannot walk forward with me, then I release him with a blessing, but I press onward to my good." Ernest Holmes

    Except for the gender-biased pronoun usage, I like this quote.  In my life I have found that it is necessary to let some people go, because they do not want to walk forward.  It is such a nonjudgmental way of putting the fact that we do release some relationships in our life, and how lovely to release them with a blessing.  It seems to be a reality that we cannot keep company with people who want to keep us back.  New research indicates that even to be happy, it helps to hang out with happy people.  I have found that true.  It is important for me to avoid the people who chronically complain, and that, unfortunately, is a large part of the population.  Those who focus on the "ain't it awful" aspects of life.  For my emotional and spiritual well-being, I choose to be in the company of people who see the possibilities, not the limitations. 

Aug 5, 2014

Tips for Being Happy

  1. "Only 10 percent or so of the variation in people's reports of happiness can be explained by differences in their circumstances. It appears that the bulk of what determines happiness is due to personality and — more importantly — thoughts and behaviors that can be changed." Mayo Clinic

     People who are happy seem to intuitively know that their happiness is the sum of their life choices, and their lives are built on the following pillars:
    • Devoting time to family and friends
    • Appreciating what they have
    • Maintaining an optimistic outlook
    • Feeling a sense of purpose
    • Living in the moment   Mayo Clinic

Aug 4, 2014

Feeling Good

  1. "If you're not selfish enough to want to feel good, then you can't connect with the energy that is your Source which does always feel good."  ---Abraham

    People seem to use a lot of excuses to not feel good.  Have you ever noticed in a normal conversation how much complaining is going on?  Michael Singer says we have two choices when we encounter one of life's challenges:  we can complain OR we can use the challenge to become more of who we were meant to be.  It is our choice.  It is a value of mine to not complain.  If there is an injustice, I take appropriate action with the appropriate people.  It is so tempting to complain, but that brings us more to complain about --- if we believe in the law of natural causes.  What if we were to decide for today not to complain?   No complaining at all.  Let's try it together.  

Aug 3, 2014


  1. "Respite is critical for the caregiver." Mayo Newsletter

    I agree.  Respite is critical.  After a very busy week, with taking my loved one to the dentist -- a challenging outing with him now in a wheelchair, some professional obligations of my own, and driving to see him in the care facility, I find I am very tired today.  I have a number of tasks I have to do this morning, but then I am going to rest.  How do you find time to rest?  Between the responsibilities for the care receiver and the business of life, how do you find time for you?  It is hard to do, but critically important.  It seems that we must either let some things go, hire them out, or squeeze in the time to do them ourselves.  I see painting that needs to be done outside.  So, do it myself or call a handyman?   I am sure you have decisions like that yourself.  

Aug 2, 2014

Continued Need for Advocacy

  1. Advocacy - definition 
    1. giving aid to cause: active verbal support for a cause or position - Bing dictionary
    Unfortunately, even with paying $8000 per month for compassionate care for my loved one, advocacy is still necessary.  On one day this past week it took me 20 minutes to get someone to come and help him toilet.  I thought perhaps this was an isolated incidence, but when our daughter visited him on another day, the same thing occurred.  So, time for advocacy.  I talked with the head nurse and with the social worker.  They will implement a schedule, every 2 hours, where someone comes to take him to the toilet.  I could not help but point out that with what we are paying I would hope that it is they who would think of the preventative, proactive measures that can be taken.  I told them I want him treated with compassion, I want them to explain to him what they are doing so that he is not afraid, and I want them to consider preventing problems rather then reacting to problems that arise.  To their credit they listened, and there will be a full staff meeting on Monday to discuss the care that all residents deserve.  I am glad that it will be extended to all residents because I have been concerned about those people who do not have someone to advocate for them.  So, the lesson here for us as caregivers:  when we advocate respectfully on behalf of compassionate and competent care for our loved one, others may very well benefit too.  

Aug 1, 2014


  1. "In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher." Dalai Lama
    The Dalai Lama knows of what he speaks, having endured the Chinese holocaust toward the Tibetan people.  When I see or hear the Dalai Lama speak, I am always amazed at the sense of peace he exudes and his robust laughter.  Here he is, a man in exile from his own country, and he can laugh and speak of peace and forgiveness.  As caregivers we can be at peace too.  Yes we have many responsibilities, and yes there is stress; but we can find peace in our hearts.  Jack Kornfield suggests that we all create moments of quietude every day to build peace in our hearts.  Even with our busy schedules, we can do that.  And, we will be richly rewarded for having done so.