Category Archives: Caregiver Corner

10 Daily Affirmations For Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers

Posted by on December 10, 2016 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

dementia caregiver affirmations

Last year, 15.9 million family and friends provided unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The challenges of this caregiving role are palpable, as close to 60% of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high.

Source: 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association

Considering this is one of the most stressful kinds of caregiving, daily affirmations can be a powerful source of encouragement and provide reassurance.

10 Daily Affirmations For Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers

  1. I am doing the best I can do. I should not fear what tomorrow holds, but take each day as a chance to learn something new and grow my confidence as a caregiver.
  2. When I am frustrated, I will take a few deep breaths and remind myself that patience is a virtue I can and will embrace.
  3. I need to take care of me to be here tomorrow. Is there something I am neglecting to do for my own health and well-being?
  4. Worry is my worst enemy. I am in control of my thoughts and should focus on what I can control, and accept things I can’t change.
  5. If it were me being cared for, I would want my caregiver to (fill in the blank).
  6. The energy I bring to each day has power. It is up to me to make it positive and joyful.
  7. I am thankful for this day and the chance to live, love and provide care to someone who needs me.
  8. Do I need a helping hand today from a friend or family member? Don’t hesitate to call someone.
  9. When it’s time to rest, rest! Sleep is an essential necessity I should never ignore.
  10. I need to give myself credit for what I do every day. It takes a very strong person to do what I do and I should be proud of myself.

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Links for the Caregiving Community

Posted by on March 31, 2016 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

Caregiver Links

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP “More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.” That’s a lot of people! The caregiving community needs all the support it can get, and with that we’d like to offer up some helpful links:

A Place for Mom – Senior Living Blog

A Place for Mom “Connects Families to Senior Care” but their blog is full of articles that anyone living wtih, caring for or even just interacting with a senior will find helpful.

Caregiver Action Network

From their About Us: “CAN (formerly the National Family Caregivers Association) is a non-profit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.”

Family Caregiver Alliance

“Family Caregiver Alliance is first and foremost a public voice for caregivers. Founded in the late 1970s, we were the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. We illuminate the caregivers’ daily challenges to better the lives of caregivers nationally, provide them the assistance they need and deserve, and champion their cause through education, services, research and advocacy.”

National Alliance for Caregiving

“Established in 1996, the National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of national organizations focusing on advancing family caregiving through research, innovation, and advocacy. The Alliance conducts research, does policy analysis, develops national best-practice programs, and works to increase public awareness of family caregiving issues.”

Our Parents – Care Topics

Our Parents is “a free and unbiased service focused on helping families with aging parents find the best senior care solution that meets their loved one’s unique needs, be it an in-home caregiver, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home.” Their Care Topics page contains many great articles about senior care, along with links to the #ElderCareChat on Twitter.

Today’s Caregiver Magazine

This magazine operates as both a print magazine and an informative website. Today’s Caregiver is “a leading provider of information, support and guidance for family and professional caregivers.”

National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day 2016; Can You Identify Signs Of The Neurological Disorder?

Posted by on March 25, 2016 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

Cerebral Palsy

Original article written by  for MedicalDaily.com

Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood motor disability, affecting 1.5 to four of every 1,000 live births or children worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“When I tell people my story, they are often shocked,” DonnaMarie Comstock wrote in a letter to United Cerebral Palsy. Born three months premature, “the doctor told my mom not to look at me or bond with me,” she wrote. “He was just trying to be kind to her, to spare her the sorrow of losing me.”

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term referring to a group of neurological disorders that permanently affect body movement, muscle coordination, and balance. It’s not always detected immediately, but most children are born with it, and early signs generally appear before a child reaches 3 years old. Such was the case with Comstock; because she wasn’t developing as her older brother had, her mother suspected something might be wrong. However, confiding her fears, the pediatrician’s first response was a disheartening, “no, she’s just lazy.” Soon enough, though, Comstock received a formal diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

The most common physical symptoms of the disease include a lack of coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia); stiff or tight muscles, and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity); walking with one foot dragging, on the toes, with a crouched or scissored gait; and muscle tone that’s either too stiff or too floppy. Common neurological symptoms include seizures, hearing loss, impaired vision, bladder and bowel control issues, pain, and abnormal sensations.

Cerebral palsy is not hereditary or progressive, meaning it doesn’t get worse over time. It generally occurs when there’s damage to the developing brain, specifically in the part that controls muscle movement, during pregnancy, birth, or shortly after birth. For the small number of children who develop the disease within their first years, the cause is usually neurological damage from brain infections, such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis. Head injuries, falls, and child abuse may also contribute.

You can read the full article on Medical Daily.

Caregiving Blogs – February 2016 Highlight

Posted by on February 23, 2016 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

Caregiver Blog

We have some great caregiving blogs to share with you this month. They’re diverse and each of them is relatable in its own way. And all of them is trying to help out those who may be affected by their diagnosis or provide information in general.

Swallow, My Sunshine

Swallow My Sunshine should be read from the beginning. This blog is written from the perspective of a mom with a daughter whose diagnosis took years to fully determine. The daughter is well now, but there are some scary moments when reading through the past posts. And the author, Debi Lewis, has a wonderful writing style – and she hasn’t even written up to the present day. She takes you on the journey from her medically complex infant who had heart surgery at 13 months, to her now 10-year-old daughter who is living for the first time without medical intervention.

Sharing My Life with Lewy Body Dementia

This blog has a very interesting perspective. It’s written by a man, “Silverfox,” who has Lewy Body Dementia, or LBD. He writes about his difficulties with the nighttime, with having the television on, with keeping his sense of self alive. It can be a depressing read, but at the same time it’s refreshing to learn more about someone who has faced the facts and is simply moving forward.

Huffington Post – Post 50

The Huffington Post is a very popular website – but did you know there’s a section for readers over 50? This “Post 50” section discusses issues relevant to adults in middle age and beyond. The majority of family caregivers are women over 50, and so these articles may just be the right mix. Today, for instance, the top three stories are about dating in middle age, how to find self-identity after the loss of a spouse, and an author’s decision to stop drinking. Keep in mind that it’s still part of the Huffington Post, and so there is a lot of “click-bait” happening, or sensational article titles that attempt to lure readers in. But overall, the articles are thoughtful and interesting.

National Hugging Day 2016

Posted by on January 21, 2016 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

National Hugging Day 2016

Today, January 21st, is National Hugging Day. Why have a day devoted to this greeting and display of affection? Isn’t this something all of us do all the time?

Well, no. Some people don’t get hugged on a regular basis, and that’s altogether too bad. There are many reasons why hugs are good for our mental and physical well-being (and you can find at least ten of those reasons on the National Hugging Day website). But allow me to tell you a story that I think will demonstrate the power of hugs and touch.

In college, I took a month-long, school-sponsored trip to Japan with about ten other students. We’d all met each other beforehand, but we had yet to become friends. Each of us was staying with a host family, and most of us were enjoying the polite hospitality they were providing us. One day, all the students were all waiting together at a train station, on our way to visit another school (the purpose of the trip was to learn about education in Japan). We began talking about how much we enjoyed being there and how exciting it was. One of us, though, brought up how they felt like something was missing, and they just couldn’t put their finger on it. We talked a bit more, and eventually, someone else identified the feeling as being too closed-off from everyone. There was no casual touch in our everyday lives, no random hugs when we saw friends. The solution was obvious at that point: group hug. So a bunch of crazy Americans all hugged each other in the middle of this crowded train station, and then proceeded to all get on a train together. In retrospect, I’m sure it looked odd, but it made us all feel so much better. We did that about once a week after that for the rest of the trip, and even ended the trip with a big swing dancing party.

So don’t underestimate the power of welcome touch! Even a brief hand on a shoulder of someone who doesn’t get a lot of human contact can make a big difference. Take today to go ahead and reach out –  you’ll both benefit.

Caregiving Blogs – January Highlight

Posted by on January 14, 2016 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

Caregiver Blog - January Highlight

It’s a new year! Is one of your resolutions to read more? Blogs are a great way to connect to your community and get inspiration. Check out these blogs and sites that provide wonderful stories from various contributing authors:

BLOOM
BLOOM is a Canadian site that is more than just a blog. It’s a magazine, blog, e-letter and speaker series that speaks to parents and caregivers of children with special needs. The new stream of content is fairly steady because those parents and caregivers are often the ones creating the blog posts.

The MIGHTY
There has been some controversy about The Mighty (see The Cute Syndrome’s blog post for more information about the special needs community’s complaints), but clearly its 80 million readers must find it intriguing. This site gives a voice to those living with disabilities, disease or mental illness, and their caregivers.

alz.org|blog
Another platform for caregivers, but this site also publishes contributions from those who have Alzheimer’s Disease themselves. It also provides news about the latest Alzheimer’s research, along with keeping the community up-to-date on fundraisers and studies. While the site is sometimes updated as little as once per month, there is a huge amount of information and a backlog of great blog posts.

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

Posted by on December 10, 2015 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Blog Post

This second week in December marks Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. That’s a great reason to broach the subject with your senior about what their future plans are for when their driving becomes less than reliable.

Bringing it up early – well before you think there’s a problem – can help plant the seed in their mind and yours. Be sure that when you discuss the issue, it’s a dialogue, not a lecture. Ask them about their thoughts: How would they get around? How would it make them feel? Would they need to be living elsewhere? What kind of family and friend support would they need?

Getting started early means that it’s not a threat, so it’s easier to talk about it. And then the ideas and the contingency plans are there for later. And you can settle on times to discuss the idea again: in six months or a year, after a traffic ticket, after a minor accident.

But what if you’re already concerned about their driving, and they’re simply not willing to discuss the issue? There are still things you can do. If you have power of attorney for your parent, or your parent has said its okay for you to talk to the doctor, you can bring up the issue with their physician. State your concerns and then listen to what they think are the next best steps. The doctor may be willing to speak to them about the issue, or give them some tests that may answer questions about how they’re doing with their sight, hearing and more. You can also request that your senior take a driving refresher course from AAA or AARP. This way, the senior can be given an opportunity to show you that they’re fine. Try taking the “blame” for the idea: say you’re worried and they could make you feel better if they’re willing to take the course for you.

Open communication is best, so even if it may be awkward, give it a shot. And keep in mind that self-driving cars are probably just around the corner!

Caregiving Blogs – December Highlight

Posted by on December 3, 2015 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

Caregiving Blogs - December Highlight

As the holidays make everyone busier, it’s hard to find time to just settle in and read a few great blogs. But blogs can be the perfect length to read during a quiet breakfast, or during your public transit commute. Let’s take a look at a few of the blogs we’ve been reading lately:

Fifty Shades of Dementia
This blog is written by two British sisters about their parents, both of whom have had dementia for the past several years. Their mother just passed away in September, which they wrote about in a beautiful post. They manage to add humor into their posts, along with giving good advice while chronicling their journey.

The Cute Syndrome
Hillary is the mom and caregiver to Esmé, a four-year-old medically complex child. The title of this blog comes from Hillary discussing Ezzy’s condition with a friend, and how the doctors were telling her that her daughter had a syndrome. “Yeah, a cute syndrome,” came the response from her friend. Thus was born not only the name of the blog, but also the foundation to help children like Esmé.

Working Daughter
This site is not only a blog, it’s a community. The site is run by Liz O’Donnell, who has balanced being a caregiver with her other roles in her life. There’s lots of different resources on the site, and it is updated regularly.

Four Easy Ways to Stay Healthy while Traveling

Posted by on November 12, 2015 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

Four Easy Ways to Stay Healthy while Traveling

Original post written by Leslie Gaillard for LiveConfidently.com

Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, or train this season, you are bound to encounter some obstacles in your path to staying healthy. However, a little preparation and forethought can go a long way to make your travel experience more enjoyable and healthy.

1. Stay Properly Hydrated

Staying properly hydrated especially during the hot summer months is important. Carry a reusable bottle (BPA-free) with you at all times that you can fill from a water fountain regularly. If you find water boring, spruce it up by adding a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon, lime, or orange. Avoid calorie-laden beverages like regular soda, sweet tea, and fruit drinks. It’s also best to limit your consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and cola, as these stimulate greater urine output and increase the potential for dehydration as well as incontinence for those who are susceptible.

2. Pack Healthy Snacks

Regardless of your method of travel, bring some healthy, non-perishable snacks like nuts, instant oatmeal packs (cook using heated water from coffee pot), high fiber granola bars, vacuum sealed pouches of tuna or wild salmon, lower sodium turkey jerky, and even some dried fruit. If you are traveling by car, you may want to also consider packing a cooler with some refreshing low or no calorie beverages along with some fresh fruit and vegetables. With these supplies, you are much less likely to be tempted by high calorie, high sodium foods at fast food or chain restaurants that you encounter along the highway.

3. Watch Out for Calories

When you do eat out in restaurants, steer clear of fried foods and those with high fat or creamy sauces. If a sandwich comes with mayonnaise or a dressing, ask for it on the side or order a low fat alternative like mustard. Look for restaurants that also post their calorie information online so you can make informed decisions prior to dining out. Most fast food and chain restaurants post their nutrition facts online or via smartphone applications, and some even make it available in the restaurant.

4. Get Moving

Stay physically fit during your travel and pack a pair of comfortable shoes. Traveling to new places is a great opportunity to get some extra exercise. Invest in a pedometer and watch your steps accumulate throughout the day. Book a hotel that has lots of interesting sights within walking distance; if your destination is one mile or less away, consider walking instead of taking another mode of transportation. Look into walking tours, parks, and even bikes that you can rent to make your vacation even more interesting and environmentally friendly as you embark on your next memorable summer outing.

How do you stay healthy while traveling? Head to our forum to share your thoughts with people just like you!

You can find the original article here.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Month 2015

Posted by on November 5, 2015 under Caregiver Corner | Be the First to Comment

National Hospice and Palliative Care Month 2015

The word “hospice” has received a bad rap, and, by association, palliative care. Many people think these words mean “the end of the line.” But that’s simply not true.

Hospice isn’t where people go just to die. Many true stories of those being serviced by a hospice show that hospice care is really about managing symptoms and creating a stable environment for the individual.

To gain perspective about how hospice can work for individuals, check out Moment of Life Made Possible by Hospice web site (though perhaps first grab a box of tissues – the life-affirming moments come fast and furious). Two of the stories featured on that site are not about the old idea of being put in a room until the time comes. Once of them, featuring a veteran and his journey on the Honor Flight, shows how hospice can make it possible for people to have that one last adventure. Another features a great-grandmother who is able to be stabilized by hospice before moving back home with her caregiver, who is also her granddaughter.

As for palliative care, while it also has been associated with end-of-life care, the idea here is to support not only an individual with a serious illness, but also the family. A special needs mom who writes the blog The Cute Syndrome put it like this: “[Palliative care] is fundamentally focused on living–living happily and comfortably despite on-going serious health challenges.”

Check out this great video with a perfect analogy. And happy National Hospsice and Palliative Care Month!