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Outside Activities Essential to Caregiver Mental Health

Friends3Can caregivers get so drawn into the world of the care receiver that their mental health is at risk? I received a private email from a reader that made me think more deeply about this possibility. The reader said she’d been caring for her mother in her mother’s home for three years. The mother has middle stage Alzheimer’s and can be quite "creative" about reality. The caregiver told me that she does what experts often suggest and tries to join her mother in her mother’s dementia world.  She loves her mother and doesn’t mind that she spends most of her time caring for her, but is afraid that she is becoming so drawn into her caregiving that she may be losing touch with the non-caregiving world.

Read more on HealthCentral about how caregivers can benefit from outside activities:

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol

I'm honored to be among over 50 presenters in this summit who want to help make your caregiving journey easier. Click the image to learn more:

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What Long-term Caregiving May Be Doing to Your Health

Comfort28Most of us don't regret our years of caregiving and likely wouldn't do much differently if we could change it, but there are consequences. A study by Ohio State University in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging has shown that adult children caring for their parents, as well as parents caring for chronically ill children, may have their lifespan shortened by four to eight years.

Read the full article on HealthCentral about how, without intervention, long-term caregiving can shorten your life:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

Over 50 experts can guide your caregiving journey when you won this virtual summit. click the image to learn more:

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Ageism: How Negative Portrayals of Aging Affects All Senior Health

AgingwomanHow are older people portrayed in movies and on TV? Are they consistently cranky and the target of jokes or are they realistic in their variations and strengths? Are stereotypical portrayals harmful to their health? Possibly so. New research from the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, in partnership with Humana, Inc. sheds light on both the expected conclusion that older people, if represented at all in film and on television, are often typecast negatively, but also on the unexpected fact that these portrayals seem to affect the overall health of our aging populations.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how images on TV and the screen have a negative effect on seniors' health:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer


Living While Dying: A Short Film Featuring Role Models for Dying Well

CathyZheutlinCreditEdisJurcys2Death. For some, it signals the beginning of a more perfect life. For others, it is the end. Ultimately, for everyone, death is part of the life cycle and no amount of medical intervention will change that. Filmmaker Cathy Zheutlin became fascinated by the way that different cultures and religions view the death experience, and in the process, she has made a remarkable film titled Living While Dying, which features people who are going through that process and their varying emotions.

Read full article and view powerful short video on HealthCentral about living while dying:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer 

I'm honored to be among over 50 presenters in this summit who want to help make your caregiving journey easier. Click the image to learn more:

caregiver smile summit


Group Singing Offers Multiple Benefits for People with Dementia

PianoRecently, I wrote about how playing in an orchestra has helped people living with dementia renew their confidence in themselves.  Another twist on music has now come in a recent report from the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in London. The researchers describe how both the people in their study who had dementia, as well as their caregivers, benefitted from group singing.This exercise seemed to have much the same effect on the people with dementia as the orchestra experiment. While music is valuable on its own, and reminiscing while singing old songs is helpful, it seemed that one of the important takeaways from the most recent experiment was that the couples were doing something together as equals. This, in turn, helped the person with dementia feel more confident.

Read full article on HealthCentral about how group singing can help people with dementia:

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol

I'm honored to be among over 50 presenters in this summit who want to help make your caregiving journey easier. Click the image to learn more: 

caregiver smile summit


Playing Along with the Realities of Dementia World

MindingOurEldersCoverFullIt was not unlike any other day, but this particular afternoon Dad was adamant. He was waiting for his medical degree to come from the University of Minnesota and wondered why it was taking so long to arrive. I did what I usually did, and waited a few days to see if this episode of delusional thinking would pass. It did not. So, I created a facsimile of a medical degree on my computer with my dad's name on it. I scribbled some "signatures" on the bottom, put it in a mailing envelope and brought it to him in the nursing home the following day. He was delighted. I added it to the other awards and degrees hanging on the wall; an entomology "degree," his legitimate college degree

Read full article on Agingcare about entering into a loved one's world of dementia:

Purchase Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories – paperback or ebook

“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.”  Craig William Dayton, Film Composer

caregiver smile summit


When One Parent Dies the Survivor's Need for Assistance Often Becomes More Apparent

ManGrandfatherLong-term marriages generally evolve into a support system so efficient that even adult children hardly notice changes in their parents. If Dad's hearing is poor, Mom becomes his ears. If Mom's arthritis is bad, Dad becomes her muscle. If one of them has memory loss, the other fills in the gaps so smoothly that it's barely noticeable to onlookers. Then, either Mom or Dad dies. The person remaining suddenly is more frail and needy than anyone would have expected. The surviving spouse is suffering the loss of their life partner, a shock from which they may never completely recover. Also, the person who filled in the gaps is gone, and those gaps can suddenly look like chasms.

Read full article on Agingcare about how to help the surviving parent continue on:

caregiver smile summit


How to Communicate When Your Elderly Parent Can No Longer Speak

Hands13A video I recently stumbled upon remains vivid in my mind. An elderly couple who had spent a lifetime devoted to one another was coping with the wife's Alzheimer's disease. At this point, the wife was in a nursing home. She was unhappy, aggressive and even combative with the staff. No one knew what to do with her. On instinct, the husband decided he would do what he'd always done. He climbed into her bed with her and held her. He cuddled with her. He stroked her face and told her he loved her. He spent hours just snuggling and holding her. Slowly, the wife responded. This once angry, difficult woman became easy for the staff to handle. She was, once again, friendly, cooperative and generally happy.

Read full article on Agingcare about how to communicate with your parent who can no longer speak:

A Virtual Conference to Help You Thrive As a Caregiver – Check this out!

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol


5 Tips for Maintaining Relationships with Friends when Dementia Takes a Seat

Hands10Memory loss can be one of the first symptoms a person experiences with Alzheimer’s, and those living with Lewy body dementia may also become easily confused. These varied symptoms can make maintaining relationships more difficult, but friendships are no less important for people with dementia than for the rest of us. Maintaining relationships, however, especially among friends who are not pressured to continue involvement because of a new sense of duty over a person with dementia, can take work. This guide discusses how caregivers can help by educating willing visitors who want to be helpful but simply don’t know how to make a visit tolerable, let alone, meaningful.

Read full article on HealthCentral about maintaining friendships when dementia is a big part of life:

A Virtual Conference to Help You Thrive As a Caregiver – Check this out!

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol


How to Cope with An Elder Who Loves to Complain

Anxiety1You've taken your mom to the doctor and she's upset with you because the doctor's office was cold. You've helped your dad with the yard and he's annoyed that you didn't mow the grass in the right pattern. Why do many elders complain about everything you do? Much depends on the parents' personalities throughout life. If your parents were the bickering type and were always negative, this complaining may be the only way they know how to communicate. They may not even be aware how their attitude affects others. Since you grew up in their household you can ask yourself, "Is this how they always acted?"

Read full article on Agingcare about coping with an elder who loves to complain:

A Virtual Conference to Help You Thrive As a Caregiver – Check this out!

Support a caregiver or jump start discussion in support groups with real stories - for bulk orders of Minding Our Elders e-mail Carol