Archive for the ‘Caregiver Health’ Category

Shriver Report Shows Alzheimer’s Impact on Women: Aging Pro’s Challenges and Solutions

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Shriver Report Shows Alzheimer’s Impact on Women:

Aging Pro’s Challenges and Solutions

Dr Cheryl Mathieu

The Shriver Report: A Women’s Nation Take on Alzheimer’s was just released. The Report is a collaboration between Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer’s Association, exposing the epidemic’s effect on women as caregivers, advocates and people with the disease. Maria is getting people talking about Alzhiemer’s disease!

Alzheimer’s is a women’s issue. According to the report, women make up two-thirds of the people with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and account for 60 percent of the unpaid caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s. This means that 10 million women either have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. 40 percent of the caregivers interviewed said they felt like they had no choice in assuming the caregiving role. These numbers continue to grow, daily.

Alzheimer’s disease is costly. Governments, businesses and families spend $300 billion a year on Alzheimer’s disease. Yearly, it costs about $56,000 to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, which is typically paid for by families. Daughters, sons, spouses will give up their jobs, savings, time, health, and sanity to help care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

A woman with Alzheimer’s has unique challenges. Since women tend to live longer, they are more often widows who may not have a spouse to care for them as the disease progresses. She may be caring for other family or friends, so as she declines the others will need to find different caregivers. Women tend to be the “glue” in the family, and as her disease progresses her family may no longer remain as cohesive.

A woman as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s experiences challenges as well. She is more likely to be depressed, and according the Report, 68 percent of women who were caregivers experienced emotional stress, and 51 percent of them said they suffered from physical stress. Most caregivers don’t self-identify as caregivers. They just think a loved one needs help and they are going to help. They don’t know they need to ask for help, and don’t realize what a toll caregiving is taking on their lives and health. Caregivers often put aside their own needs and dreams to take care of their loved ones. Daughters experience a role reversal, now needing to take an in-charge position with their parents.

How can we relieve the emotional stress on families? Caregivers need support, education and resources. The needed resources are often available, but it’s very difficult to find them when you need them. That is why I launched www.AgingPro.com. It brings all the resources, professions, education and support for eldercare to one place. Lack of information promotes fear. Care coordination is also crucial, and part of the Healthcare reform legislation. Certified Geriatric Care Managers provide an invaluable communication link between doctors, community care providers, persons with Alzheimer’s and their family. Care Managers are invaluable, yet for some are not affordable. Pilot community care coordination programs do exist, and we need more. We need more support groups, both in-person and online. Adult day respite programs need to focus on early and moderate stage memory loss, not just later stages.

How can we prepare for Alzheimer’s possibly hitting our own family? Few want to talk about it. Some don’t even want to say the word. Yet it’s a natural part of life and will affect all of us in one way or another. I’m referring to Aging. Aging has become a taboo subject in our American culture, something we pretend isn’t there. If you read the paper, watch TV, or go on the Web, you mostly see images of youth, thinness, wealth and beauty. However, we are beginning to realize our population is aging – and so are we.
I’m here to tell you that getting older can be a positive experience and have its own unique rewards. Contrary to the whispered implications, it doesn’t have to be a time of withering away and going to a nursing home. Fun, happiness, success and fulfillment aren’t just the things of youth; they can be enjoyed abundantly throughout life. Older adults can stay independent, active and vital as they age. Getting older CAN mean getting better, if you have the right attitude, information and resources.
So first, we need to be willing to have discussions about aging, starting in our families and communities. Ask each other – when you get older, where do you want to live? What is your ideal vision? It is very helpful to create a “Plan B.” Just as we would prepare for an earthquake, we prepare for the potential of Alzheimer’s in the family. Plan A is what you’d like to happen, Plan B is what you will do if Alzheimer’s strikes you or your family. Plan B is created by: educating yourselves about the signs and symptoms of the disease; pre-planning your legal matters (creating a will, trust and durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances); saving money for your long-term-care, or purchasing long-term-care insurance; educating yourselves about the choices of housing and care; and locating the professionals and resources available to help out along the journey.

How can government, business, nonprofits and the press effectively call attention to the threat of Alzheimer’s and implement solutions? More education and awareness campaigns can be created – public service announcements, television series on different eldercare topics (similar to the new “Hoarders” series), celebrity involvement – to help shift the old negative stereotypes of aging and eldercare, and to help the millions of caregivers that don’t know how to access the services or find the support they need. Maria Shriver, the aging field needs your voice!

An example of a creative television show might be Extreme Makeover, Grandma Edition. Make over the home of an older person  –  repairing and/or modifying their homes so they can continue to live independently. There are many inspiring stories of need and courage among caregivers and elders!

Businesses can provide eldercare services and counseling and care coordination as part of their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Non-profits can provide more grant money to elder care topics. Solutions to Alzheimer’s now include: information, support and best practice guidelines.

The topic of Women and Alzheimer’s is so important. It is where the pain points of love, guilt, money and time intersect – a perfect fit for press, government, the press and business to join in the cause.

The issues in women and Alzheimer’s eldercare are many-faceted and deeply layered. More money for Alzheimer’s research is needed. More support and education is also needed, on all eldercare topics. Most family caregivers for the elderly feel trying to do what’s best for their loved ones. They don’t know where to turn to get help. The stress of caregiving affect their work, finances, and physical and mental health. Caregivers, women, need a place to connect, to learn, be inspired and empowered. AgingPro.com is that place, the “Waiting for superwoman, caregiver edition.”

New Alzheimer’s Stats: More caregivers, higher costs, higher death rate, growing prevalence

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The United States is entering a time of significant growth in Alzheimer’s Disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

15 million people provide care for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease – a 37% increase from last year.

5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s Disease.

Every 69 seconds someone new develops Alzheimer’s, which will increase to every 33 seconds by 2050.

The amount spent on Alzheimer’s (and other related dementias) is $183 billion, and $11 billion increase over 2010.

Most caregivers are family members, who give financially, emotionally, physically. 80% of care provided in the home is by unpaid caregivers. The personal toll of this disease is

Alzheimer’s is the only top 10 cause of death that has no effective prevention or cure.

Making early financial and long term care decisions can help families deal with the details of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Geriatric Care Managers can assist with assessment, planning, education, referrals and support. They are your trusted ally, and can help decrease the stresses associated with caring for someone with dementia.


Mental decline starts years before Alzheimer’s is diagnosed

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Mental decline may start years before Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is diagnosed. Rapid cognitive decline 5-6 years before AD becomes evident is not seen in people who do not develop the disease.

http://tinyurl.com/49lyhtr

Does Dad Have Alzheimer’s? How to know the signs – and what to do next.

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Click here to view my new post on Maria Shriver’s  Women’s Conference blog website.

Lots of other great information and inspiration on this site!

Shriver Report – Alzheimer’s Impact on Women: Aging Pro’s Answers

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

The Shriver Report: A Women’s Nation Take on Alzheimer’s was just released. The Report is a collaboration between Maria Shriver and the Alzheimer’s Association, exposing the epidemic’s effect on women as caregivers, advocates and people with the disease. Maria is getting people talking about Alzhiemer’s disease!

Alzheimer’s is a women’s issue. According to the report, women make up two-thirds of the people with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and account for 60 percent of the unpaid caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s. This means that 10 million women either have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. 40 percent of the caregivers interviewed said they felt like they had no choice in assuming the caregiving role. These numbers continue to grow, daily.

Alzheimer’s disease is costly. Governments, businesses and families spend $300 billion a year on Alzheimer’s disease. Yearly, it costs about $56,000 to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, which is typically paid for by families. Daughters, sons, spouses will give up their jobs, savings, time, health, and sanity to help care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

A woman with Alzheimer’s has unique challenges. Since women tend to live longer, they are more often widows who may not have a spouse to care for them as the disease progresses. She may be caring for other family or friends, so as she declines the others will need to find different caregivers. Women tend to be the “glue” in the family, and as her disease progresses her family may no longer remain as cohesive.

A woman as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s experiences challenges as well. She is more likely to be depressed, and according the Report, 68 percent of women who were caregivers experienced emotional stress, and 51 percent of them said they suffered from physical stress. Most caregivers don’t self-identify as caregivers. They just think a loved one needs help and they are going to help. They don’t know they need to ask for help, and don’t realize what a toll caregiving is taking on their lives and health. Caregivers often put aside their own needs and dreams to take care of their loved ones. Daughters experience a role reversal, now needing to take an in-charge position with their parents.

The Shriver reports asks some questions, and I have the following answers:

How can we relieve the emotional stress on families? Caregivers need support, education and resources. The needed resources are often available, but it’s very difficult to find them when you need them. Lack of information promotes fear. That is why I launched www.AgingPro.com. It brings all the resources, professionals, education and support for eldercare to one place. Care coordination is also crucial, and part of the Healthcare reform legislation. Certified Geriatric Care Managers provide an invaluable communication link between doctors, community care providers, persons with Alzheimer’s and their family. Care Managers are invaluable, yet for some are not affordable. Pilot community care coordination programs do exist, and we need more. We need more support groups, both in-person and online. Adult day respite programs need to focus on early and moderate stage memory loss, not just later stages.

How can we prepare for Alzheimer’s possibly hitting our own family? Few want to talk about it. Some don’t even want to say the word. Yet it’s a natural part of life and will affect all of us in one way or another. I’m referring to Aging. Aging has become a taboo subject in our American culture, something we pretend isn’t there. If you read the paper, watch TV, or go on the Web, you mostly see images of youth, thinness, wealth and beauty. However, we are beginning to realize our population is aging – and so are we.
I’m here to tell you that getting older can be a positive experience and have its own unique rewards. Contrary to the whispered implications, it doesn’t have to be a time of withering away and going to a nursing home. Fun, happiness, success and fulfillment aren’t just the things of youth; they can be enjoyed abundantly throughout life. Older adults can stay independent, active and vital as they age. Getting older CAN mean getting better, if you have the right attitude, information and resources.
So first, we need to be willing to have discussions about aging, starting in our families and communities. Ask each other – when you get older, where do you want to live? What is your ideal vision? It is very helpful to create a “Plan B.” Just as we would prepare for an earthquake, we prepare for the potential of Alzheimer’s in the family. Plan A is what you’d like to happen, Plan B is what you will do if Alzheimer’s strikes you or your family. Plan B is created by: educating yourselves about the signs and symptoms of the disease; pre-planning your legal matters (creating a will, trust and durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances); saving money for your long-term-care, or purchasing long-term-care insurance; educating yourselves about the choices of housing and care; and locating the professionals and resources available to help out along the journey.

How can government, business, nonprofits and the press effectively call attention to the threat of Alzheimer’s and implement solutions? More education and awareness campaigns can be created – public service announcements, television series on different eldercare topics (similar to the new “Hoarders” series), celebrity involvement – to help shift the old negative stereotypes of aging and eldercare, and to help the millions of caregivers that don’t know how to access the services or find the support they need. Maria Shriver, the aging field needs your voice!

An example of a creative television show might be Extreme Makeover, Grandma Edition. Make over the home of an older person  –  repairing and/or modifying their homes so they can continue to live independently. There are many inspiring stories of need and courage among caregivers and elders!

Businesses can provide eldercare services, counseling and care coordination as part of their Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Non-profits can provide more grant money to elder care topics. Solutions to Alzheimer’s now include: information, support and best practice guidelines.

The topic of Women and Alzheimer’s is so important. It is where the pain points of love, guilt, money and time intersect – a perfect fit for government, the press and business to join in the cause.

The issues of women, Alzheimer’s and eldercare are many-faceted and deeply layered. More money for Alzheimer’s research is needed. More support and education are also needed on all eldercare topics. Most family caregivers for the elderly are trying to do what’s best for their loved ones. They don’t know where to turn to get help. The stress of caregiving affects their work, finances, and physical and mental health. Caregivers  need a place to connect, to learn, be inspired and empowered. AgingPro.com is that place, the “Waiting for Superwoman, Caregiver Edition.”

How Do You Know if You Are a Caregiver?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

What is Caregiving?

Nobody applies for this job. Most try to deny the possibility they might be called upon to help, or that their loved one might be anything less than independent. Sooner or later, though, something occurs, and it will be looming in front of you.

The term “caregiver” refers to anyone who provides assistance to someone else who needs help. Specifically, we are generally referring to “informal” caregivers – those unpaid individuals providing assistance to someone who is chronically ill or disabled and who can no longer care effectively for himself or herself. This form of care delays or even helps avoid institutional placement or the need for more “formal” or paid caregiving services. Caregivers can be spouses, partners, adult children, relatives or friends. Together, they provide services valued at more than $257 billion a year. Family, or informal caregiving, is the backbone of the long-term care system in the United States.

Many caregivers do not identify themselves as such. When someone does the work of a caregiver but doesn’t think they are, their stress levels are often higher than if they claim their responsibilities.

Caregiving is not easy. Make no mistake about it: caregiving can become a full time job that requires specialized knowledge and critical skills. Fortunately, many of these skills can be either learned by non-professionals or gained by engaging experienced skilled professionals in the field.

Caregivers may be called on to help with areas such as:

• Grocery shopping

• Paying bills

• House cleaning

• Providing or arranging for transportation

• Attending doctors visits

• Giving medication

• Cooking

• Feeding

• Bathing

• Dressing

Exercise can protect those at high risk of Alzheimer’s

Thursday, September 9th, 2010
In a study of individuals who carried a high-risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found that those who exercised showed greater brain activity in memory-related regions than those who were sedentary. Exercising may help to protect them against cognitive decline.
For those at high risk for Alzheimer’s, this study adds to the evidence that lifestyle choices may slow down the damaging effects of the disease. Exercise may build up the cognitive reserve in the brain, allowing people with the risk of Alzhiemer’s to remain at a higher level of functioning for a longer time.

Swine Flu Prevention Tips

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

6 Steps to Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Stop Germs

1.  Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2.  Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4.  Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6.Practice other good health habits.
Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

One-stop access to U.S. Government information on swine, avian and pandemic flu:
http://www.pandemicflu.gov.

How to Survive a Hospital Stay

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

HOW TO SURVIVE A HOSPITAL STAY

THINGS TO BRING WITH YOU, or not TO THE HOSPITAL

1.  POWER OF ATTORNEY  – Make sure the hospital has copies of the patient’s healthcare durable power of attorney that states who will make decisions if the patient can no longer do so for themselves.
2. CONTACT INFORMATION – of family or involved loved ones
3. MEDICATION LIST – Make sure the hospital has the patient’s current list of all the medications your loved one takes.
4. MEDICAL HISTORY
If possible, bring a list of surgeries, doctors, previous tests run (and results) and diagnoses.
5. REMOVE ALL VALUABLES – Do not leave valuables with your loved one at the hospital
6. PERSONAL ITEMS – Things that are good to have are glasses, hearing aids and dentures, but be careful with them!  If you leave items such as glasses, a cane, a walker, or dentures, make sure they are labeled and also listed in the patient’s chart on the “personal belongings” sheet.

BEING AN ADVOCATE

1- PEOPLE TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH — Make friends with the discharge planner
– Get to know the nurses
2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – Make sure the caregivers / advocates are taking good care of themselves during the hospital stay.
3. HIRE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE – An advocate such as a geriatric care manager knows how to navigate the medical system. They are invaluable. You can search for the closest Professional Geriatric Care Manager on www.AgingPro.com’s Eldercare Directory.
——-
9 THINGS YOU NEED WHEN YOU LEAVE THE HOSPITAL:

Before your loved one leaves the hospital, make sure you have:

1. An understanding of your loved one’s condition and diagnosis, results of any tests, and any changes that have happened as a result of treatment during the hospital stay
2. A written medication list  (including dosage and potential side effects)
3. A written list of any needed follow-up physicians visits
4. An understanding of any problems or symptoms that may occur when the patient gets home – what to look for and when to call for help.
5. A written care plan with next steps
6. Any special equipment to prepare the home for your loved one’s return (hospital bed, home modification, rental equipment)
7. Arrangements for home health care or home care aid services- find out what services insurance will and will not cover
8. Education on any special needs your loved one may have when she arrives home
9. Transportation home, or wherever your loved one will be going.  Find out if insurance will pay for an ambulance, if necessary.

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

1)  Learn About the Resources Available to You. Consult books, websites, workshops and eldercare professionals. (Hint: You can find leads to many of these, including the latest caregiving information, at our website, www.agingpro.com.)
2)  Educate Yourself About Any Disease Involved. Education can relax your fears and give you clarity and strength.
3)  Take Care of Yourself First. Maintain your own physical and emotional health.  Avoid caregiver burnout – your family needs the caregivers to be healthy!
4) Learn Caregiving Techniques. Learn about topics such as: communication and organizational skills, managing the physical needs of your loved one, safety and emergency preparedness.
5)  Exercise Your Sense of Humor. Smile. You can go through difficult situations laughing or crying. If it’s going to be funny later, it can be funny now.
6)  Communicate with Doctors. Get to know your loved one’s physicians.  Ask questions, express concerns and discuss treatment options.
7)  Keep a Positive Focus. We can’t think positive all the time, but holding a positive focus about the strengths of your loved one and the blessings in the situation will help your attitude and emotions to stay “up.”
8)  Discuss the Situation With your Loved Ones.  Support and honesty are essential in navigating long term care.
9)  Look for the Blessings.  You might be surprised at the hidden gifts that caregiving brings – keep your eyes open. You find what you focus upon.
10) Ask for Help. You don’t have to be alone. www.AgingPro.com offers many free resources for caregiver support nationwide, to assist you.

Family Caregivers are Answering Obama’s Call to Service

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Are you making you making your community or world a better place by being of service? President Obama has made national service an important cause – and wants to make it possible for all Americans to serve their country.

34 million family caregivers have already been answering Obama’s call to service. A study by AARP (“Valuing the Invaluable”) shows that family caregiving the U.S. reached $375 billion in 2007.  That exceeds the $311 spent by Medicaid last year!

Family caregivers also give an average of $5,531 of their own money to care for their parents. They tend to struggle with physical and financial issues of their own, and be more stressed.

Many times, family caregivers could use to be of greater service to themselves, while taking care of others.  Access to needed resources, self-care and health promotion and having a support system to talk to about the challenges of caregiving is critical.  www.AgingPro.com offers the national resources, education and community to help caregivers reduce stress and increase peace of mind.

Family caregivers – thank you for your service!

Vitamin B3 a memory enhancer?

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Vit B 3 or Niacin has been know as a cognitive enhancer for a long time.  It also has a profound effect on cardiovascular problems, in particular high cholesterol.  It is not recommended for people who have high blood pressure, a frequent problem in the older population.  To find Niacin in an amount that would be sufficient you could try the Niacitol from Pure Encapsulation.  It comes in 1500 mg which is very close to the amount they suggested in the British study. 

Information from Bertrand Babinet PhD., LAc.

Obama asks for a National Day of Service January 19, 2009

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Being of service always makes me feel better!  Getting out of my own “stuff” and giving of my overflow relieves tension and brings joy.  I’ve heard “service is its own reward” and that has been my experience.  So, here’s an opportunity!

President-elect Obama has called for January 19, 2009, the day before the inauguration, to be a National Day of Service.  Get involved with helping your community by finding a service project near you – go to this website and enter your zip code.   http://www.usaservice.org/content/home/

Gratitude is the attitude!

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

What a difference an attitude makes!

I’ve been aware of feeling kind of “funky” over the last couple days, but didn’t know exactly why. It hit me tonight that I’ve been focusing on all the “bad” news in the media – the economy, the war, the bailouts, the political corruption and more. I’ve been allowing it to affect me and bring me down.

What I know is that in the past, when I have focused on what I am grateful for, what I appreciate and what is good, I feel much better! A simple thing like an attitude of gratitude can be so powerful.

So, I tried a little on tonight.  I began celebrating the things I was calling negative or irritating. I took a different perspective and embraced (loved) what I resisted. I loved that my daughter was up way past her bedtime. I loved that I’ve gained a couple pounds lately. I loved the pain in my neck. I loved that this economic condition is giving me a chance to relook at my priorities – to fine tune my effectiveness and focus. I am grateful for what I have (and am willing to let go of the expectations about what I think I should have).

Just saying those things makes me feel lighter and less “down.” My attitude is the one thing I have control over – all the time. I am choosing to feel hopeful and optimistic and grateful.  There is so much to be thankful for. There is beauty all around me, and I can make the choice to look.

P.S. It’s almost a full moon tonight. Have you looked up lately?  Enjoy!

Cailfornia Women’s Conference showcases caregiving

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

The California Women’s Conference in Long Beach was another amazing success this year.  If you haven’t been, it is worth your time. When this year’s tickets went on sale, they sold out (14,000 tickets) in 3 hours, so you have to be watching when tickets go on sale. Speakers ranged from Condoleezza Rice to Bono, Billie Jean King to Warren Buffet.

AgingPro.com’s booth was packed with people interested in learning more about the national online resource. So many told stories of past or present caregiving adventures.

One of the breakout sessions covered the topic of Caregiving, and Leeza Gibbons (Leeza’s Place) was one of the speakers. I was impressed with her positive perspective on aging and caregiving and her authenticity – seeing the challenges as blessings and how caregivers can take care of themselves.

Videos of the conference are available at the conferenece website  http://www.californiawomen.org/assets/conferenceday/livevideo.html

New Awareness of Everyday Activities – for Caregiver Health

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Today is about nurturing yourself while you’re doing regular activities.

For example, how about enjoying a shower meditation? While you’re showering, take the time to feel the water on your skin, and imagine it washing away the stress of the day.

While you are eating, bring your awareness to the taste of the food in your mouth.  Allow yourself to appreciate you nurturing yourself with healthy food to keep your body vital and healthy.

While you’re walking today, feel your feet touching the ground.  Imagine that every step you take is on sacred ground and that the earth is supporting you.  Bring your awareness to the flowers along your path, and appreciate who made them.

Bring your awareness to your breath.  Take deep, cleansing breaths and feel your lungs expanding and oxygenating your cells. When you breathe out, exhale stress and judgment, and inhale loving and calm.

Take everyday activities and bring your awareness to them in a fresh, new way today.  It doesn’t take any extra time, just a shift in perspective.

Take good care of yourself today.

Resting – for Caregiver Health

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Today, I’d like you all to stretch out of your comfort zones for 5 minutes for Me!   Today, I want you to just rest.  Yes, rest.  This could mean sleeping, or just sitting down and doing nothing.  Rest has a lot of value, including being restorative.

So, after you’re done reading this blog, please, go be somewhere just with you, turn off the lights and the phone and the pagers – put up a sign that says “unavailable for 5 minutes” and just rest.

Notice how you feel before and after your 5 minutes of rest. After resting for 5 minutes, celebrate and congratulate yourself for taking care of yourself and taking time for you! Leave the guilt behind.

If you’re like me, or other caregivers, taking time for yourself just to rest is an underutilized skill.  I remind myself regularly that rest is good and that it is productive – it just looks different than other types of productivity and the results are not always seen on the exterior.

Rest is important – it calms the nerves, decreases stress, and brings peace.

I want to hear from you – what do you do that brings you peace and calm?

Enjoy!

Breathing – for Caregiver Health

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Hello everyone!  This 5 Minutes for Me! focuses on your breath.

Focusing on your breath is a powerful tool, bringing relaxation, balance and clearing.

Set a timer for 5 minutes.  In the most quiet, peaceful room you can find, sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor and your hands in your lap. Set your intention to focus only on your breath and let go of any other concerns or worries. (It may help to have a pen and piece of paper handy, where you can write down any recurring thoughts that won’t leave you alone).

Bless yourself in whatever way works for you – it may be a prayer, or an invocation of peace.  Now, just focus on the rising and falling of your chest as you breath in and out.  When you breathe in, your chest expands and rises.  When you exhale, you chest falls.  Feel the tide of your breath.  Take nice size breaths, and fill your entire chest with air.  Try holding your breath for five seconds before you exhale.

Become aware of your breath. Where does it come from and where does it go.  Let all your thoughts drift away.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose.

Bless yourself for this time with yourself.  Forgive yourself for any judgments you hold against yourself.

Now, you are ready to take on the day!  Do as many breathing awareness moments as you need or want!

Welcome to 5 Minutes for Me!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

I am aware that caregiver health is a major public health issue. Caregivers are more twice as likely to be depressed,  have higher hospitalization rates, higher risk of heart disease, and slower healing rates  than non-caregivers.  The list goes on.  Physical, mental and emotional health can all be affected. The bottom-line is, it is time for caregivers to start taking better care of themselves. I love the simple yet profound quote by John-Roger: “Take Care of Yourself so You Can Help Take Care of Others.” This is especially true for caregivers.

I am going starting a segment called “5 Minutes for Me!” Since lack of time is often a reason we come up with for not taking better care of ourselves, let’s start with 5 minutes a day! Everyone can find 5 minutes somewhere, even if you have to give up 5 minutes of staring at your computer screen with no direction but generally surfing the net.

Also, as caregivers we are generally much better at taking 5 minutes to help someone else than 5 minutes for ourselves – hence the name minutes for “Me.” I know it will be a stretch for many of us to give ourselves even 5 minutes. Check it out and see what your experience is!  See the results of what taking 5 minutes will do for your health, balance, well-being, and peace level. Remember, this is fun!

I’d love to hear from you. What have you done for 5 minutes a day that has benefitted your health and balance?

Caregiver health a priority

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

If you’re a caregiver, studies show that there are many health problems that you are vulnerable to.  It is very important that you “take care of yourself so you can help take care of others.”  This is our www.AgingPro.com motto.

4 Tips for today:

1)  Exercise. Move! It relieves stress and usually makes you feel better!

2)  Pray / Meditate. Prayer has been shown to decrease agitation in people with Alzheimer’s – so it would be good for caregivers and the person being cared for.  Relax, focus on your breathing, smile, connect.

3)  Eat right. I mean eat and drink what works for your body. You are the only one who knows what that is.  Be good to yourself, and cooperate with what works for you so you can enjoy increased energy and vitality!

4)  Find the information and resources you need. Part of the stress of caregiving is the stress involved  to navigate the fragmented senior services.  www.AgingPro.com includes articles, support and a national eldercare directory for all your eldercare needs – it brings everything eldercare to one place – so you can relax.

Remember, take good care of yourself today.  Enjoy.

What have you found works best to keep you in balance and in good health while managing caregiving?

All the best,

Cheryl