Reflections Feed

Tales From a Veteran Caregiver of Multiple Elders

LakeIt’s been nearly a decade since I began sharing my personal caregiving stories with the public, first via the book “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories” and later through a newspaper column, on my own blog and then contributing to major websites such as Healthcentral.com.When I first started sharing my stories and looking for others who had similar tales to tell, people tended to be reticent about speaking up. Now, sharing caregiver “in the trenches” stories has become a major part of caregiver self-care and even survival.

Continue reading on HealthCentral about how a veteran caregiver survived:

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“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


Dementia Caregivers Grief Soul Deep, Defies Labeling

ChurchWhen a beloved elder dies, we may have varying reactions, frequently changing moment by moment. Naturally, there’s grief and the realization that we’ve seen the last of our loved one’s physical presence. Often, however, if the death follows a long illness or significant pain, we can also feel a sense of relief that their suffering is over and we can get on with healing. It’s often the in between time – the caregiving years – that are the most difficult to label. 

Read more on HealthCentral about dementia caregivers and their unique grief:

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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


9 Tips for Visiting Elders At Home or In a Facility

VisitingwomanLoneliness can be a plague for the elderly and ill. Yet visiting with someone who doesn’t feel well, and may have limited cognition, can be tricky. Some nervousness or reluctance is natural, but a few considerations can help to make the visit go smoothly.

View slide show on HealthCentral about visiting:

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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


Overly Emotional Responses Upsetting To Stroke Victim's Family

StormywaterDear Carol: My father was always quietly supportive. He loved his family but showed little emotion. Six months ago he had a stroke and is now in a nursing home. His speech has been affected and he has trouble finding the words he wants to use. He’s receiving therapy but will likely be wheelchair bound the rest of his life.  We have a large family and we all visit often. Mom practically lives at the nursing home with him.  He can seem fairly content but then out of nowhere he starts to cry. I know that these changes in his life have to be terribly depressing, but there doesn’t seem to be any logic to his crying spells. What can we do to help him? - Sandra

Read more on Inforum about stroke related crying:

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Male Caregivers Need Unique Support

ViewaloneTraditionally, most men have a harder time sharing feelings and emotions than women do. They seek medical advice less often than women and they tend to resist attending specialized support groups more than women. While the trend for younger men may be leading them toward a more open way of communicating, it’s the older generation whose wives have developed Alzheimer’s that is faced with caregiving. These men are often uncomfortable sharing confidences with people who they view as outsiders.

Read more on HealthCentral about male caregivers and their need for support:

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Choosing a Care Facility? Listen To Your Gut

Picnic2 People often ask what to look for when choosing an assisted living facility or a nursing home for a loved one. There are grading sites such as the Medicare Nursing Home Guide, found on Medicare.gov, and I suggest you use them. However, there are many things that go into good care that can’t be measured on a chart. In order to see the heart of a facility, you need to spend some time there. Observe routines and pay attention to the atmosphere. What is your gut feeling about the place?

Read more on HealthCentral about choosing a good care facility:

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Tai Chi Reduces Falls and Improves Brain Function

TaiChiTai Chi, an ancient Chinese practice, is a self-paced system of movement where you perform a series of postures in a slow, graceful manner. This form of gentle exercise helps lower stress levels and encourages focus. Recently, the National Institutes of Health has said that tai chi has the ability to help reduce falls in older people, as well.

Read more on the benefits of tai chi as it relates to falls:

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Caregiving: Unearned Guilt Intrinsic To the Job

DepressedIf ever there’s a group of people who suffer deeply from unearned guilt it’s caregivers. Whether you’re the parent of a vulnerable adult, an adult child of aging parents or the spouse of a vulnerable adult, you are bound to have your “if only” times where you are sucked into the quicksand of guilt.

Read more on HealthCentral about how caregivers suffer from unearned guilt:

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“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


Outside Activities Essential to Caregiver Mental Health

YogaCan 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. 

Read more on HealthCentral about a caregiver's need for outside activities:

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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


Nighttime Snacks Stop Some Alzheimer's Wandering

StarryNightElderly people often eat more food when they are on a program of frequent, smaller meals than the standard three larger meals a day. Available snacks can also help people with Alzheimer’s who tend to wander. An informal experiment at the Parker Jewish Institute in New Hyde Park, N.Y. found that if they provided people with dementia who became anxious and agitated at night with a snack, they would often calm down and return to bed. 

Read more on HealthCentral about nighttime snacks and wandering:

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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