Oct 31, 2014

Spirituality as a Life Path

  1. "Religion is holding onto beliefs; whereas, spirituality is going beyond beliefs."
    Pema Chodron

    Other people have said similar things.  Brene Brown says that if someone holds rigidly to one's beliefs -- don't call that faith.  Being a spiritual seeker has always seemed the better route to me, although being part of a faith community is important for the support one can get and give.  So, what is "going beyond beliefs"?  I think it is accepting that all religions have a portion of the truth, but none - in my opinion - has the only truth.  I realize that saying that is equivalent to blasphemy to some.  I also know that it is an important part of the spiritual journey -- to recognize the oneness of us all and that there are some universal truths common to us all.  Those universal truths includes, love, compassion, freedom, respect -- and they are at the heart of all major religions.  What is universal truth to you?

Oct 30, 2014

Brushing One's Teeth

  1. "You brush your teeth every day, but are you doing it properly? Here's how to brush: Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle against your teeth and brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the back and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums. Or use an electric toothbrush. Either way, brush your teeth at least twice a day: in the morning and before you go to bed." Mayo Clinic

    It seems the older I get, the better care I need to take of my teeth.  Flossing, brushing carefully, and twice-a-year cleanings.  Here are some tips from Mayo on how to brush your teeth correctly.  

Oct 29, 2014

Honoring Our Life

  1. "Everyone's life has a story." Billy Bob Thornton

    Perhaps we do not take enough time to honor the life we are living.  Buddhists remind us that to be born human is extraordinary -- so extraordinary that we should not take it for granted.  What story is your life telling?  Is it the story you want it to tell?  When I am with my loved one, I try to talk with him about the story of his life:  the great impact he made as a teacher, the children he parented, the dogs he cared for, the friends he made.  Each of our lives does tell a story.  Let's make sure that the story we are telling is the one that is true for us.  

Oct 28, 2014

Open Enrollment is Here

  1. "The Medicare Annual Election Period that allows you to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Prescription plan lasts from October 15 - December 7, 2014."  www.medicare.gov

    From  now until December 7, 2014, we have the opportunity to change our prescription drug insurance plans.  It is quite easy to do by going to the www.medicare.gov website and going to the tab that lets you compare available insurance plans in your state.  I did this the other day and saved almost $3000 next year on just my loved one's plan.  It was well worth the few minutes it took me to do it.  Since he has a long list of medications, I entered them several years ago and saved them with a password.  Now, all I have to do, is find his prescription list with his password and the website does the rest.  It compares how much it will cost us to fill his prescriptions for the year in 2015.  I encourage you to take the time to do this.  

Oct 27, 2014

The Spiritual or Emotional Side of Self Care

  1. "Seek out a counselor or other mental health professional if you need assistance in dealing with the stress of caregiving." Hospice

    Caregiving is far too difficult to do without support.  Spiritual or emotional support is critical.  Some people can find the support they need in their own prayer or meditation practices, and other people need an actual person with whom to talk.  We will have many feelings in caring for our loved one as she or he dies.  We will also have many, many difficult decisions to make.  Getting the skilled and objective opinion of another person can be invaluable in helping us sort out what is right for us to do.  Let us find the support we need to do this caregiving role with graciousness.  

Oct 26, 2014

More on Self Care

  1. "Don't try to do everything yourself." Hospice pamphlet

    That is easier said than done.  Our family is widely dispersed and/or busy so decisions and tasks are left to me. That may very well be true for you too, but if we can find someone to help us make decisions, do errands help with money, do household tasks; then that is optimal.  I consult with financial advisers, attorneys, medical personnel to help make the decisions that are necessary.  I hire a handyman to do the tasks I cannot do.  Who have you found to be helpful to you?

Oct 25, 2014

Taking Care of Yourself

  1. "Take care of yourself.  You will be a more effective caregiver if you do." Hospice pamphlet

    There is tremendous stress for caregivers. We are handling the details of our own life, and the details of another person's life -- all while grieving the loss of the loved one as he or she is diminished day by day.  There is often financial stress, as the costs of care are very high.  One way to handle the stress is to talk about your feelings with someone you trust.  Exercise regularly and get enough sleep.  Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation.  Do only what you can do; allow yourself to let some things go.  

Oct 24, 2014

Conversations with Someone with Dementia

  1. "Help your loved one stay as comfortable as possible." Hospice pamphlet

    In dealing with someone with dementia or who is otherwise confused, it is good to use simple words and to give clear choices.  Before moving the person, explain what you are doing.  Do not argue.  Who is to say that our reality or our opinion is the only one to honor?  I listen patiently to my loved one who talks often about the tires he needs to change, or the number of cars that are on the lot, or the rusted bolts that he cannot get removed, or the dog that needs attention -- all of these things are things he sees and believes he is doing.  I listen.  I believe it is appropriate to interject only if his hallucination is causing him distress, and then I simply say, "We will take care of that.  You do not need to worry about it any more."

Oct 23, 2014

Dying is Natural Part of Life

  1. "Dying is a natural part of life.  Dignity and comfort are possible during this last phase of life." Hospice booklet, Caring for Someone with a Terminal Illness
    I asked hospice for a book dealing with the dying process and was given the pamphlet listed above.  It has some good information in it.  It suggests spending special moments with family and friends and helping the person reflect on his or her life experience.  My loved one and I do this often.  I encourage him to talk about his life and help him see how worthwhile it has been.  We talk of the fun we have had together, and about family and friends important to him.  The pamphlet offers suggestions mostly for someone who is lucid and does not have dementia, but there are still good suggestions that are universal.  

Oct 22, 2014

Cooperation with Life

  1. "Resistance brings contraction; cooperation brings expansion." Ernest Holmes

    I was in a group recently speaking of dieting, and I thought of this idea from Holmes and others.  To resist a group of food does not - in my opinion - promote health.  More and more people have intolerance to some types of food, and those are genuine.  But it is one's attitude that makes the difference.  Rather than thinking of the foods or amounts one cannot eat, it seems better to me to be oriented toward what foods and quantities promote our health.  This is an example for more than food and diet.  Being oriented to the good in life automatically reduces the negative.  Conversely, being oriented to lack or what is not or what we cannot have, automatically promotes the negative.  

Oct 21, 2014


  1. "I am, as all mortals are, unable to be patient." Pablo Neruda

    At last, someone who is quoted is saying the obvious, all mortals are unable to be patient.  Dr. Joan Borysenko said that what most people call patience is impatience stretched to its limits.  I confess that I have always had a tendency for impatience.  Impatience when someone talks too much --- I want them to get to the point.  Impatience when I have to wait.  I tend to be efficient, and I want things to move along.  But, of course, we can all be patient -- at least for a period of time.  I was yesterday when I sat and listened to my loved one talk about the car parking lot that did not exist in the lobby of the nursing home and all the work he had to do on the cars there.  Of course there are many things for us caregivers to do, but it is also important for us to settle in, to allow, to honor what is.  To be patient.  

Oct 20, 2014


  1. "Music is therapy for the soul." ancient Greeks

    I heard an interesting talk yesterday about the history of using music for healing.  Recent research has proven that music can lift depression, change brain waves, and assist those who are dying.  But, it has to be the right music.  Harps are especially good in hospice situations, and music therapists often come and play them to calm and support people.  I often choose silence, but I also know that music can move me emotionally.  What kind of music do you find supportive?  As caregivers, it is good for us to use all tools available to support ourselves and our loved one.  

Oct 19, 2014

Letting Ourselves Shine

  1. "Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds!  And Shine!" Buddha

    So many of us have dimmed down our light to fit in, to avoid criticism, to avoid scrutiny; but dimming our light is a disservice to ourselves and to the Universe.  We must have the courage to shine!  We must support each other in shining!  How do we do that?  By entering each situation with authenticity, by daring to be as great as God meant for us to be, by taking reasonable risks, and by stretching our limits.  We can shine.  Particularly when we support each other.  

Oct 18, 2014

Honoring Our Own Pace

  1. "Repetition is not failure.  Ask the waves, ask the leaves, ask the wind." Mark Nepo

    So often I have people say to me in therapy that they thought they had already dealt with this particular issue, and, of course, they have --- on an earlier level.  I believe that inner growth is like layers of an onion.  We deal with one layer, and then, when we are ready, we are given the opportunity to deal with the next layer of the same issue.  Much of life is dismantling the beliefs we absorbed which no longer serve us.  The beliefs may have served our parents, our school personnel, our church leaders, and even ourselves as younger selves; but they no longer serve us.  So it is time to thank the belief and let it go.  That enables us to move on into a higher level of functioning and sense of well-being.  

Oct 17, 2014

Seeing Beauty Everywhere

  1. "Instead of just seeing the yellow primrose, what he could have seen was God's thought of himself coming out into wonderful beauty, and color, and form; the Infinite One manifesting in an infinite variety of forms." Ernest Holmes

    What a lovely suggestion.   Instead of seeing just the yellow primrose, or the Ponderosa pine, or the ravaged body of our loved one -- what if we saw instead the beauty of God's thought of Him/Herself coming out into wonderful beauty and form?  It might give us another way of looking at things. All things.  Yesterday I called hospice.  I know we are in the end stages of this ravaging disease, and hospice is a wonderful service which can come into place in the last months.  I was told they can send a chaplain to pray with the person, send a social worker to visit, send a nurse to give one more bath a week and check for skin breakdown, and provide what is needed to be sure the person is without pain.  I recommend you call them when you believe the time is right.  

Oct 16, 2014

Time To Get Your Flu Shot

  1. "This year's annual flu shot will offer protection against H1N1 flu (swine flu) virus, in addition to two other influenza viruses that are expected to be in circulation this flu season. A vaccine that protects against four strains of the virus will also be available, as will a high-dose flu vaccine for adults age 65 and older." Mayo Clinic
Although getting a flu shot is not a guarantee against getting the flu, according to the CDC and other sources, it is the best option we have.  I just got my flu shot, not just to protect myself, but to protect my loved one who now is more vulnerable and to protect the others I am around.  I happened to choose to get mine at a grocery store, which gave me a 10% coupon off any one total grocery purchase done before January 2015.  My arm was sore this time for a couple days -- a small price to pay for protection.  

Oct 15, 2014

Being Flexible in Life

  1. "The hard and the stiff will be broken.  The soft and supple will prevail . . . . .Whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death.  Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life."

    As caregivers it is important for us to be structured, but flexible.  Nowadays when I see my loved one, I never know who I will meet.  Sometimes there are glimpses of lucidity, but, more and more, he lives almost entirely in a hallucinated world.  I try to have normal conversations with him, and he can sometimes respond -- but just as often he will be focused on and talk about the things he sees that I cannot see -- the water on his floor that I see as a rug, the empty grass outside his window where he sees a boy riding a bike and I see just grass.  I try to imagine what it must be like to experience such an intense alternative reality, but, of course, I cannot imagine what it is like.  So I listen and try to comfort and reassure him as I can.  

Oct 14, 2014

Resisting Complaining

Abraham-Hicks Header Image
When you focus upon lack in an attitude of complaining, you establish a vibrational point of attraction that then gives you access only to more thoughts of complaint. Your deliberate effort to tell a new story will establish a new pattern of thought, providing you with a new point of attraction from your present, about your past, and into your future. The simple effort of looking for positive aspects will set a new vibrational tone that will begin the immediate attraction of thoughts, people, circumstances, and things that are pleasing to you.

It is so very, very important to resist complaining.  That was one of the things I noticed in the progression of Lewy Bodies Dementia (and before I knew that was what we were dealing with): the increase in complaining.  His orientation to negativity was very wearing for me, but now I wonder if it was not just part of the disease process -- although I have not read that in any of the literature.  Even his hallucinations are of a negative, and sometimes tormenting, content.  Yesterday he was certain that the door had been taken off a car he had parked, and how would we now drive car to dinner?  Worry is often the content of his hallucinations.  Worry over the bolts he has lost, worry over the car that was taken, worry over the way he is being treated (currently) at a work situation.  I cannot stop his hallucinations, nor his worrying, but I can comfort him and listen.  I can assure him that we will take care of whatever it is that he believes has gone awry.  

Oct 13, 2014

Overcoming Hatred

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin.  People learn to hate. They can be taught to love; for love comes more naturally to the human heart." Nelson Mandela

I love the above quote which comes at the end of the movie about Nelson Mandela.  The movie is interesting -- it shows a fully human man, but one who grew more compassionate out of his severe difficulties.  Most of us will not face the severe difficulties Mandela faced, but each of us has the choice in every situation to allow that situation to make us more compassionate -- or more bitter.  Bitterness and hatred hurt - most of all - the vessel who carries them; so, if for no other reason, it behooves us to let our life experiences teach us compassion.  Compassion toward ourselves and others.  I am reminded of seeing my fair-skinned granddaughter, just one year old at the time, regaling people in line at the airport in her play with a very dark-skinned little boy from Africa.  It was a joy to watch, and an inspiration for us all.  We are born to love one another.  We can unlearn hatred and intolerance -- and replace those with love and compassion.  That is the path to freedom.

Oct 12, 2014

Living Life Fully

Abraham-Hicks Header Image
People say, "The joy is in the journey," but they rarely understand what they are saying. You are in this focused time/space reality with goals and objectives that call you because as you identify a desire it literally summons life through you. Life summoning through you is what it's all about, not the completion of anything.

If you, like me, can become bogged down with all the to-do's in life, it is important to remember that it is the journey that is important and not the completion.   It is the being present to the drive, not thinking of all the things you need to do when you get home.  It is being present with our loved one, not thinking of the unfinished tasks left for us to do.  It is overwhelming for caregivers -- we have our own life and the responsibilities that come with that, and we also have the the responsibilities for the life of another.  Walking recently with a group of women, one was talking about the book that is getting a lot of attention, Being Mortal, by Dr. Atul Gawende.  She was talking about the difficulty of making decisions for someone's end of life process, and I thought - I am already doing that.  I'm not sure I want to read the book.  In hearing interviews about it, it is important to have Living Wills, which we did many years ago.  He also stresses focusing on the quality of life at the end, but not extending it -- which resonates with the decisions we made in our Living Wills.  If you do not have a Living Will or Power of Attorney for medical purposes -- and if it is not too late to get it, I urge you to get it for your loved one and for yourself.  The decisions we have to make are difficult enough knowing we are complying with the expressed wishes of our loved one when he or she was in a lucid state.  

Oct 11, 2014

Being and Doing

"Happiness can simply be described as the satisfaction we feel when we are in ultimate accord, however briefly, in being and doing." Mark Nepo

We all know people who seem to be "in the flow", things seem to happen for them with ease -- but, in truth, we all have trouble staying in contact with the wavelengths that we all receive from whatever we call the Benevolent Energy of the universe.  All of us have talent.  The challenge is staying in connection -- the being of things.  The story of Mary and Martha in the Bible illustrates this.  If we consider both Mary and Martha as parts of ourselves, we have two parts that may or may not be in accord:  the doing part and the being part.  The point of that story is, in my opinion, that choosing being with the creative energy of the universe is our ultimate purpose, and, from that, we can do our doing.  What that means is being present:  present to typing these words, present to the landscape alongside the car as we drive, present to the act of paying the bills, present to our loved one for whom we provide care.  By being present, we then can "do" from an inspired place.   

Oct 10, 2014

Doing Good

"But you brothers do not be remiss in doing good." 2 Thes 3:13

Have you ever considered what might be the effect of the absence of your doing good?  I once heard a minister ask if we ever considered what might be the effect if we had not prayed.  To not be remiss in doing good could mean that we needed to consider if we had helped stop world hunger or if we helped advance world peace, but most of us will not have a direct hand in those large things.  What we do have is what is in front of us.  The way we treat our loved one who is receiving our care, the way we treat the clerk at the store, the way we treat the waiter/waitress.  I believe those little acts of kindness do perpetuate the good in the world.  Someone once told me she would miss my energy when I was moving from an area.  I was perplexed at what she might mean, but, now - many years later - I do realize that we each are an essence of energy.  What do you want people to perceive about your energy?

Oct 9, 2014

Living Fully

"Is it possible to live so defensively that you never get to live at all?"  Rachel Naomi Remen

We have all been hurt by others in life, and sometimes our reaction to that is to pull in, develop a protective shell around ourselves and our hearts, to prevent anyone from hurting us again.  But, this does not work.  If we pull in and protect ourselves too much, we put ourselves in a cage.  Part of life is that people will betray us, people will do mean things, people will disappoint us.  But God is never disappointed in us.  If we choose to remember that Divine Love -- by whatever name you wish to call it -- loves and approves of us unabashedly, then it is easier to let the slights of others roll off and never stick.  Life is meant to be lived.  As the popular saying goes, "This is not a dress rehearsal.  This is your life.  Live it."

Oct 8, 2014


"Dementia is a progressive and terminal disease." Mayo Clinic

While I certainly know in my mind that dementia is progressive and terminal, watching it in someone we love is altogether a different thing.  Yesterday my loved one was so deeply asleep that I stayed awhile with him, but he did not wake up.  The time before he complained about pain in his back and stomach.  I have arranged for him to have physical therapy services again, thinking that helping him with his posture might help him alleviate his pain.  He seems to have had a steep decline in functioning again, and it is so hard to witness.  

Oct 7, 2014

Keeping Our Thoughts Positive

  1. The Universe does not know or care whether the vibration that you're offering is in response to something you are living right now, and observing, or in response to something you are imagining. In either case, the Universe accepts it as your point of attraction and matches it.

    The work of Abraham essentially says that we attract into our lives what we are thinking about, and our emotions are even more important -- so it is important to maintain feelings of well-being and thoughts of well-being -- according to these teachings.  Even if these teaching are not true, we benefit from thinking positively and maintaining emotional well being.  Well-being supports our health emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  

Oct 6, 2014


  1. "Kindness must start with oneself first, and then we can be kind, patient and loving with others." Laura Harvey

    As caregivers, we may have no one to be kind to us in our daily lives -- but ourselves.  Our roles are often isolated.  The person for whom we provide care is likely unable any longer to be kind toward us.  I am continually struck by how in dementia the person folds in upon him/herself, so that he or she seems unable to perceive how it might be for someone else.  So, it is all the more important that we are kind to ourselves.  Not just for ourselves, but so that we can be kind to the person for whom we provide care.  

Oct 5, 2014

Considering Our Place in the Universe

  1. "Each (person) has the totality of the Universe at their base." Lama Govinda

    There are other voices which say we are all one.  We are one with the wind, one with the rocks, one with one another.  People that the world considers mystics have said we are all one with the Universal Benevolent Energy that some people call God.  What if that were true?  There would be no room for hatred or animosity.  People from one religion would not have reason to kill those of another religion.  I heard Brene Brown say recently that if a person cannot consider the beliefs of others to have merit, if a person is so sure that his/her path is the only right one, then that person should not call what they have "faith".  Faith takes into account uncertainty and respect for other ways of Truth.  

Oct 4, 2014

Things To Do When You Are Sick

  1. "If you cannot avoid catching a cold or flu from those around you, then try these tips for getting well quick." Susan Rehm, vice chair of infections disease department at Cleveland Clinic

    • Hum a song because the vibrations loosen mucus that accumulates in airways
    • Try a cold supplement like Airborne, Emergen-C or Cold-Ease
    • Try taking elderberry, which may help reduce congestion and shorten the cold or flu
    • If your symptoms are severe, ask the doctor for an antiviral

Oct 3, 2014

Ways to Detoxify

  1. "Vegetables help your body flush out toxins -- measurably." Neuroscience Letters

    In a recent experiment, men and women living in one of China's most polluted regions drank half a cup of fruit juice mixed with broccoli-sprout powder.  Compared with peers who sipped the beverage without broccoli, the people in the study excreted 61% more benzena, a human carcinogen.  Broccoli compounds produce sulforaphane, which makes enzymes that help remove toxins.  Having been in China, I took special interest in this study.  If broccoli can help in such severely polluted regions, it is worth checking into for all of us.  

Oct 2, 2014

Effects of Stress

  1. "Stress doesn't just trigger the munchies -- it can change how food tastes!" Neuroscience Letters

    A new study has found that some of the receptors for stress hormones are on the taste buds.  So when you are feeling stressed, a cookie will not taste as sweet and you will crave more of them.  Stress has the most amazing and damaging effects on the body.  I have observed over the years how many times a person will succumb to an autoimmune disease after a very stressful event in their lives.  It is so important for us to handle stress, and we can do that by eating nutritious foods, exercising daily at least 30 minutes, meditation or yoga or prayer regularly, and monitoring our thoughts so that we are thinking positive thoughts instead of negative ones.  

Oct 1, 2014

Staying Active

  1. "Each stride you take gets you a little closer to some awesome health benefits." Prevention, October, 2014

    There are 2000 steps in a mile for the average person.  If you walk less than 5000 steps in a day, you are considered sedentary.  Women who walk at least 7,500 steps a day have 50% lower incidence of depression.  6,000 steps help ease and prevent knee pain in osteoarthritis sufferers.  10,000 steps a day is associated with lower blood pressure and reduced chance of diabetes.  Lots of reason to keep on walking.