Monday, February 12, 2018

When A Caregiver Needs A Caregiver








It was 6:30AM on a Saturday morning when, “Your motherʼs light is on - she must be up!” Loriʼs husband was already on his way to her room. Lori was half asleep when she realized her mother who had dementia and was a fall risk, may have taken a fall. So, acting like “Wonder woman,” Lori flew down the dimly lit stairs missing the last three steps. As Loriʼs left foot hit the landing with all of her body weight on one leg she heard 2 loud “snaps,” and was immediately in agonizing pain unable to move. After an ambulance ride and 3 hours in the E.R. it was confirmed that Lori fractured her fibula and according to her orthopedist, because of the severity of injury - Lori would not be able to walk for 9-12 weeks.

Loriʼs first thought on the way home from the hospital was, “Who is going to take care of mom?” (Luckily for Lori, a caregiver had already been hired by Loriʼs husband from an agency and someone was already at the house taking care of Loriʼs mom. )

Does every family caregiver have a plan in place for fractures? Falls? Accidents? Unexpected Illness? Anything is game, right? And many of us are operating on limited budgets. Many family caregivers, have given up full-time incomes to care for their loved ones. 

So what happens when we canʼt serve as loving care-partners
to our full capacity? Who do we call? What do we do? Who will know our routines in caring for our loved ones in our homes? And most importantly, how will these changes affect the peace, harmony, and health of our loved one? (They are the ones who will be most directly affected by such a change, right?)

It was the late-former First Lady, Abigail Adams who once said, “Great necessities call out great virtues.” And this was very true for Lori and her family. Most people would consider rehabilitation centers and nursing homes for a temporary fix until Lori, the caregiver was fully healed. However, the thought of uprooting her mother from her familiar routine and nurturing environment had Lori fearing the worst. ( Countless research papers and studies today have proven that people with dementia who experience hospital or institutional stays can regress in mentation and be susceptible to infections which can have serious health implications.) Lori did not want her mother to suffer because of her own injury, so she and her family decided to reach out to the community and the results were incredible. The bottom line is that most people are good (very, very good indeed), and at the core of humanity is a heartfelt desire to be of service in a giving way to someone in need. 

 Lori and her husband used social platforms to announce their unique situation needing a caregiver for a dementia caregiver to their community. They also reached out to churches that both Lori and her family were active in. Soon, before they knew it, a stream of people were ready to help with dog walking, delivered meals, bedside visitors, caregivers, drivers, etc. An entire network was used from an agency with paid, scheduled caregivers who would help Loriʼs mother with her personal needs, house cleaning, meal prep, shopping, etc. And there were also many volunteers from the community. The importance of reaching out to the community was two-fold. 1) It helped to minimize expenses, 2) The volunteers were happy and enthusiastic bringing uplifting energy into the home environment. This influx of positive energy was VERY healing to both Lori and her mother, and a priceless contribution to their health.

Keeping Loriʼs mother in the house while Lori healed was the best solution that Lori and her husband could have made. It was not only a positive choice for Lori's mother, but also for Lori. There was much more social interaction. Loriʼs mother thrived with this activity, which under normal circumstances with her lack of mobility-she would have only had minimal access to.

Using individual, independent caregivers rather than the caregivers from the agencies worked out well for Lori and her family. Why? Motivation. The caregivers from one particular agency would complain about the agency taking most of their money and tended to do less work and more complaining about personal problems. They appeared to lack energy, (one caregiver would have arguments with bill collectors and ex-boyfriends in front of Lori and her mother on her cellphone.) Caregivers from the agency that Lori used (not all of them, but some of them) would have a tendency to show up late (30 mins. or more.) That can be a real problem if you have to go somewhere and are counting on them to show up on time. Another agency caregiver overslept one morning and showed up an hour late arriving at the front door clutching a giant bag of junkfood from McDonalds wearing slippers and cotton striped pajamas! In other words, not every caregiver sent from an agency is guaranteed to project a professional demeanor. And that's putting it lightly! 

Whereas, the independent caregivers (who did not work for this particular agency) showed up on time, always calling to alert us if they were going to be late. And they were fully clothed, I promise you.  No pajamas. (And they didn't smell like french fries, either!) They went the extra mile with cleaning, vacuuming and meal prep without being given any instructions, and never talked on the phone. They interacted fully with Lori's mother and seemed happy. Why? They were paid more than there counterparts and didn't have to answer to both the client and the agency. 

Also, regarding agencies- it is very important when using agencies to read the fineprint. Charges can double very easily because of ala cart pricing measures. (There's nothing worse than having to pay 1,000 more per month on an invoice when you thought the bill would be much less!) The going rate is about $15-$20/hr. However, depending on how you schedule your agency workers, the hourly rate can go up to $28/hr and this can happen without them telling you of the change. When Lori confronted the agency she used about the rate change they said, "Didn't you read the fineprint?" There can also be overcharges in the invoice which happened twice to Lori for hours that never happened. So, be sure to NEVER agree to drafts from your bank accounts. Pay them AFTER you see the invoice charges and that they match the hours worked. Lori kept a "sign in," and "sign out" sheet for workers that they would initial at the beginning and end of a shift.  

When working with independent contractors there is an agreed upon fee that doesn't change. It is important though to make sure that anyone coming into your home to work is bonded and insured whether working for an agency as a caregiver, or working independently.The best way to find independent caregivers is through word of mouth. A good reputation travels fast and there are some amazing people out there!!
 
Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA www.teepasnow.com, Naomi Feil, MSW, www.vfvalidation.org, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.







Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dementia Care-giving Personality Types




 Today, more than ever family members are becoming care-givers. And many of these family members do not have any prior training, knowledge or understanding of what care-giving entails. The service of care-giving is all consuming and can either lead to elation, or depression and poverty. And for individuals unable to put a family member in place to care for their loved ones, there can often be years of scrambling to get the right fit of “one on one” care, or a memory care facility for dad or for mom when they are unable to care for themselves and need assistance.

So, the question is: How do people go about finding the right person to fill the very important need of care-giving?  Is there a magic employment agency that can guarantee the proper person for a care-giver in the perfect setting to fill each and every need in every situation?? How do families in dementia crisis move forward to provide care, support and end of life planning when the average person living with Alzheimer’s can live 7-9 years with this debilitating and disrupting disease?



 There is an understanding in healthcare management circles that states, " When looking to fill the receptionist position always hire the personality!" This sounds logical, but isn’t always followed. Many times, the number cruncher, detail oriented paper pusher gets the” meet and greet,” job over the people person with the huge personality. This can cause the front office of an organization, (any organization large or small) to have a negative, angry and abrasive person meeting people face to face for the first impression of consumer interaction.How many times has customer service translated into a mass exodus of possible clients due to a management hiring error??


 Conflict can ensue when the wrong personality type is selected for the wrong position in the general workforce. And this type of thing happens every day in dementia care-giving.  It isn’t uncommon for a controlling family member lacking interpersonal communication skills to volunteer to be the caregiver when that particular personality type may not be a good fit for the position. Even if the position is an unpaid, volunteer position it must be filled with the most thoughtful vigilance because it translates into quality of life issues.

Here are some personality types that work well with people with dementia:
 1) A flexible, easy going personality. 2) A sense of humor, 3) A deep love and respect for elderly people, 3) Patience, 4) A team-player,5) Physical and emotional stamina. 6) A people person.

Here are personality types to avoid with dementia care-giving:
1)     A domineering, bossy and demanding personality, 2) Inflexible, controlling personality types, 3) Impatient personality, 4) Short tempered, easily angered personality type, 5) Dishonest personality 6) Micro-manager, unwilling to learn new ways to communicate lacking spontaneity. 7) A loud and aggressive tone of voice. 8) Sarcastic complainer.

Some of the above are obvious. Care-givers working with the elderly can either be a great fit with people lending to a contented and peaceful environment or in the case of a wrong personality choice - a disastrous quality of life. And the working relationship between the caregiver and the person being cared for all depends on the blending of personalities and positive communication choices.   These considerations ought to be discussed before any arrangements are made to care for your beloved aging parents. 

Observing the impact that personalities from staff members have with communications on a day to day basis need to be noted when looking for a facility such as a nursing home or assisted living situation. Directly observing interactions between staff members and residents long before any arrangements are made to have a family member move in can avoid future conflict and disruption.The tone of voice, the use of sarcasm, physical space, listening skills are a few examples of what to observe before taking action.

Like anything else, there are good and not so good interactions between people and working institutions. Finding a good fit for your loved one whether they are cared for at home, or in a "for profit," end of life living situation takes time and research. Some families have special circumstances where they are not able to do what is needed in a specific time-frame, but they do their best anyway. That's all any of us can do!!



Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA www.teepasnow.com, Naomi Feil, MSW, www.vfvalidation.org, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.







Monday, February 20, 2017

MCI and Confusing Communication



Caregivers of aging family members have many challenges. There are medical, social, psychological, financial and daily living challenges to name a few which all involve an expanded awareness of the elements of time. Physical limitations and  neuro-degenerative changes can directly impact communication. And this communication can be simple such as expressing immediate needs: “I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’m agitated, I’m lonely, I’m frightened, I’m bored, I’m confused, I want my mother, I want to go home!” These simple needs can many times be challenging to translate because they are not always direct and can be non-verbal. Other challenges include undiagnosed cognitive conditions which can cause massive breaches in communications and in personal and working relationships.

 There is a desire by most care-givers to fill whatever need is being expressed by their loved one. This is a universal drive for most caregivers along with empathy and compassion that a caregiver carries in their heart and hands when they are blessed by God to help another human being. However, there is also a feeling of helplessness at times that goes with the territory along with utter panic in not knowing exactly what is needed because those simple sentences listed above which directly communicate what is needed and when the help is needed are not always conveyed at the right time and place to fill the need.  This can lead to frustration, depression and feelings of hopelessness because the caregiver wants to help, but does not know how to respond. This is a huge problem that elder caregivers face every day! Many times, where short term memory is diminished or is lost, and/ or mild cognitive impairment, (which according to the Alzheimer’s Association 15-20 percent of people 65 years old and older may have), is just beginning to show itself . 

Three things can possibly happen in situations where communication gets garbled due to lack of memory or delusional thinking and these three things are important considerations for caregivers and family members to wear in their hats.  1) Nothing is expressed with regards to immediate needs. 2)  The request for the need will be uttered at exactly the wrong time or forgotten altogether by the person requesting it in the first place, and the care-giver ends up relying on intuition and common sense to give rise to assistive action. 3)The elder loved one refuses help, acts out with anger demonizing the caregiver criminalizing them with ill intent and labeling anyone who attempts to help him/her as an enemy. 

Here are some examples:
  Lori’s mother came to breakfast with a huge toothless smile on her face. She walked slower than usual, but Lori had a cold (no sense of smell), and wasn’t feeling well. “How did you sleep, Mom? Do you need to be changed? “Lori’s mother told Lori she was fine, didn’t need to change her Depends and was just hungry so Lori made her some breakfast and the two women sat together for an hour.  When Lori’s husband entered the room, he was in shock. He didn’t have a cold and could smell a very powerful odor. Lori then from her husband’s cue noticed that her mother had been wearing a soiled diaper for over an hour and immediately changed and bathed her. Even though Lori followed through like she did every morning to fill her mother’s needs, Lori’s mother communicated to Lori that she had a dry diaper when she didn’t have a dry diaper. Her mother had forgotten that she soiled her diaper and in her mind, she didn’t want or need any assistance.  This example shows number 1 and 2 above.

Here is another example:
  John at 80 was unknowingly experiencing mild cognitive impairment, (MCI.)  He had some physical symptoms which he considered minor. He prided himself on being self-sufficient, independent and mentally competent.  But his close family members noticed delusional behavior and repeated episodes of anger which he never had before.  John had a cleaning lady who came to his house every Thursday.  One day after she cleaned the house, John couldn’t find his checkbook and was convinced his cleaning lady was a thief.  He told all his family members terrible stories about this woman and they unknowingly believed him and told John to fire her.  Then, on Saturday John’s eldest son found his father’s checkbook behind the kitchen table. It appeared to have fallen off the table and landed behind the radiator where it almost melted the cover before being found.  After John’s son resolved the issue, John continued telling false stories about his cleaning lady convinced she could not be trusted and was out to get his money. They finally had to replace this lady with a new cleaning lady. 

  Both examples above can lead to confusion for the caregiver. One caregiver had to depend on her senses to fill the need, but when her senses were diminished, she had to rely on a 3rd party to give her cues about the facts that were happening so that she could be of assistance to her loved one who was no longer able to verbalize her needs herself.  The second example of delusional behavior is not as easy to spot because many times the individual has not been evaluated for MCI. This can lead to many problems for a caregiver. Many caregiver’s or family members helping loved ones with undiagnosed M.C.I. will be accused to all sorts of things that are not happening.  However, since the person with M.C.I. will act normal in most situations, the family members will believe the delusions which are not based on reality and will put the blame on the caregiver, or the cleaning lady, the doctor, the dentist, the spouse, or even the person delivering the mail!
For more information on M.C.I. go to: http://www.alz.org/dementia/mild-cognitive-impairment-mci.asp

Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA www.teepasnow.com, Naomi Feil, MSW, www.vfvalidation.org, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.




Sunday, December 4, 2016

What Remains Is Only Love!!



Lori and her mother rented a van to travel to her mother's hometown. Her best friend Betty had called months ago to remind Lori of their high school class reunion and was focused on making a reunion happen for Lori's precious mother who endlessly talked about going home. Home, to Lori's mother was a green and white trimmed cottage on a lazy street in a small town where Lori's mother was birthed by a country doctor in a back bedroom underneath the shadows of the summer trees in 1930.  It had been 3 years since Lori and her mother had ventured North and there were a million details to review. Details common to people living with dementia such as: door alarms for wandering, provisions for bed wetting, personal hygiene items, healthy snacks, word searching puzzle picture books, ambulatory implements to avoid falls, and 3 or 4 soothing items for personal peace and security which included a stuffed dog, a favorite pillow, three stuffed pigs for cuddling and a framed picture of Lori's grandmother.  All in all after packing suitcases, boxes, medications, nutritional supplements and a few bags of shoes, Lori and her mother were ready for the drive.

After settling in with a seat belt and pillow, Lori's mother was ready for a snooze. Lori drove 3 hours up a mountain to pick up her sister and the three women continued driving North! After a night in a hotel room and 7 more hours of driving, the three women were only 45 mins away from their destination. And then it happened, a stab to the heart. Lori's mother woke up energized and with full awareness started commenting on cornfields and passing cars saying, "I can't wait to see the look on her face when she sees me. She will be so surprised and I am going to raid the icebox, first thing as soon as I walk in. It's been way too long, and I am going to be so happy to be home again in my own house! I miss my mother so much, I can't wait to see her again!  It was nice of you both to bring me home, I can't thank you enough!!"

Heartbreak. The visual impact of such a precious, sweet memory of love, acceptance, and longing left everyone in the van silent because 2 of the three women knew that there would be deep disappointment if Lori's mother knew the reality of the situation. Lori's grandmother had been gone of over 30 years. Her mother would not only miss seeing Lori's grandmother on this trip,  but her childhood home had been sold and remodeled. What would happen if they drove by and Lori's mother would insist on going in to see her deceased mother??? The women in the van both knew enough to keep silent and to allow their mother to reminisce. The moment of recognition and sudden awareness needed to be honored and led by the person with dementia, not the other way around.  The knee jerk reaction with such discomfort felt by caregivers would be to correct the person with dementia and to orient them back into the present time reality. This is so incredibly cruel and plays out every day by people who do not intent to be cruel, but who fail to look at each situation that comes up from the eyes of the carer (ie: the person with dementia.)  Both women in this situation knew enough to follow their mother's lead and thus remained silent.

Lori's mother was in her own reality of splendor smelling her mother's freshly baked cookies, seeing her mother's loving face, raiding an antiquated 1940's icebox filled with her mother's own cherry pie and ice cold baked chicken legs. These emotions  were able to bring about comfort and great happiness to Lori's mother who beamed radiantly with a smile from ear to ear as she rode in the back of the van. So, sometimes rather than anticipating a possible scenario and how it relates to what is being said, having no reaction or level of judgement is the best policy.

Validating the memory experience of our loved ones with questions via Naomi Feil's Validation Breakthrough book is a great reference for building qualified dementia communication skills.  Questions that Lori asked her mother were: "What cookies did grandma like to bake and store in the icebox? What do you think grandma will say to you when she sees you again?"  Is Lori wrong or right engaging in these questions??? It is important to validate BEFORE we redirect in order to honor the emotion. (And who's to say that Lori's mother will not one day see her beloved mother again in heaven having the ultimate reunion of unconditional love and eternal oneness?? Right??)

  Many times in life our memories are not so much about WHAT happened, but how we FELT in the moment about what happened which is what comes up when we remember things. So,  this type of questioning a person with dementia offers a way to give comfort, and to nurture the memory of the moment thus bringing the moment back to the person in present time consciousness. So, an important consideration for caregivers who are working with loved ones who are challenged with dementia is this:   Caregivers need to follow the lead of the person with dementia and go with them into their own reality. FOLLOW THEM, that is the most important skill a dementia caregiver can attain.  And do this with love and reverence for the process without the need to control, to prematurely redirect or to judge - THAT is the key and it takes practice to master this!  Give them a space of silence and then give them an opportunity to lead into their own healing experience. It is about THEM not YOU. (I mean this in full respect for everyone who is a caregiver. This is a very difficult road we are all on, and all of us can easily feel victimized by our care-giving opportunities. Many family caregivers never expected to be caregivers in the first place. )  However, if dementia caregivers begin to allow themselves to be led by the person with dementia into their own reality,  they will find a level of deep and profound connection and peace in all care-giving activities.

 Remember, this journey of dementia is to walk them home. And what is home??? The elderly will constantly reference home and the caregiver whether he or she is working in an institutional setting, or in a home setting will have huge pangs of emotions where they know they can never ever provide a visit home for the person under their care. This can bring up guilt, sadness, anticipatory grief, etc.  But what is home to the person with dementia??? This is a very interesting question. According to Naomi Feil, MSW, an expert on dementia communication - home has to do with feeling secure.  It is not merely a physical place, but a feeling of being heard, and being safe. And this is what we create for the person when we connect with them on their own terms. Home is what we create for a person with dementia when we follow their lead, etc.

After visiting with friends at the class reunion,  Lori's mother mentioned that she wanted to see her house. So, Lori and her sister drove her mother by her childhood home. As the van pulled up to the house it was painted in another color, the hedge by the sidewalk was gone, the swing by the garden was gone and a deck had been constructed in place of the old porch on the back of the house. Lori and her sister sat in silence with their mother and waited for her reaction, following her lead. "This is it. This is where my mother lived for so many years. So many memories, and look at that deck. That was never there before. So many changes." That was it. There was an immediate connection to reality and a desire to visit her mother's grave. No other mention of seeing her mother or eating snacks from the icebox.

As the women drove out of town their mother thanked them for bringing her home. After they returned, Lori's mother completely forgot about her visit to her hometown but has enjoyed the pictures of her friends at the reunion and her family that she was able to see. Ironically, since her visit to her hometown, Lori's mother rarely mentions wanting to go home, which in the past always referenced wanting to go home to see her mother.

Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA www.teepasnow.com, Naomi Feil, MSW, www.vfvalidation.org, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.



Monday, April 25, 2016

Have You Seen Wanda?





 It was a peaceful evening. Lori's mother wanted liver, so Lori made her mother liver and onions for dinner. After dinner, the women had an evening of TV. They started out with a dose of "Wheel of Fortune," and ended up watching, "My 600 Pound Life."  "That's just terrible, just awful," said Lori's mother. "Yeah, it must be hard to walk around with all of that extra weight, "said Lori.  "I'm not talking about the fat guy," said Lori's mother with a disgusted tone in her voice. "I'm talking about his mother. Why does she keep feeding him french fries? It's all her fault he's fat!"  "I guess you're right ,Mom.  After-all, she's the one who's enabling him. Do you want me to turn the station? We could watch the Fido, network," said Lori. "No, I like this, keep it on."  One TV show led to another, soon it was 11PM, and Lori was exhausted. She hinted to her mother that maybe they both ought to retire, but Lori's mother wasn't taking the bait. "Mother, would you like me to turn out the lights for you?" "No, I'm going to stay up for awhile, I'm not tired."  As the theme song of ,"The Golden Girls was playing, (Thank you for Being a Friend), Lori left her mother, activated the alarm and turned off all of the lights in the house. As Lori walked further away from her mother's room, she was hardly able to hear the TV.  It was clear that Lori's mother had become more of a night owl than Lori could ever be.

  At 3:30AM Lori's bedroom door swung open with enough speed to hit the wall. With all of the lights in the house on, and an urgency to find a long lost friend, Lori's mother's toothless face said, "Have you seen Wanda?  Is she in there? " Lori's mother briskly walked into Lori's bedroom where her husband was sleeping, and started raising her voice as if she was in a bar greeting a long lost friend,  " Wanda is that you?  Come out here, Wanda, right now!!" Lori immediately shifted into her Validation therapy mode by matching her mother's urgency. "When was the last time you saw Wanda, mother?" "She was standing beside me in my room and then she just disappeared!  Just like that, she was gone, and she is scared to death, she is running from them and doesn't want to get caught.  Is she here?"  Lori's mother than started walking down the hall in the direction of Lori's daughter's room. "Mother, if Wanda was last seen downstairs, maybe she is still there waiting for you. Should we try to look for her in the kitchen?" Lori's mother was then energized. "Good idea, Lori. Let's look in the kitchen!"  Then the two women ended up in the kitchen followed by the dining room, the laundry room and the living room. But no Wanda was seen anywhere. Lori then said, "So tell me about Wanda, mother.  Is she lost?"  "She is hiding and she doesn't want to be found, Lori. She is scared to death, because they want to take her and put her away because she can't remember things. "  Lori's mother was very animated and looked exhausted. "Are you hungry, mother?"  "Yes, Lori. I think I'd like some cereal." So Lori poured her mother some organic cereal and helped her mother by getting her some almond milk and a bowl and spoon.

  "Mother, how did you find out about Wanda's fear of being found?"  Lori's mother was chewing her cereal and almost acted as if she didn't hear Lori, because it took her a long time to respond to Lori's questions. "I was sleeping, and I looked up and there was Wanda. She was standing over my bed." Lori said, "What was she wearing?" "She was wearing a long white gown, and she was so scared, because they had been chasing her, and she wanted me to help her." Lori's mother poured more milk in her bowl and acted more interested in her gluten free cinnamon cereal than the conversation. "I don't know where she went, but she was here just a minute ago, she was just here, Lori."  "I believe you mother," said Lori. Lori then, knowing that Wanda was her mother's own repressed fears being expressed, decided to give her mother a vote of confidence. "Hey mother, do you think you can do me a favor?"  Lori's mother was all ears, and suddenly wanted to hear what Lori was saying more than chewing her cereal. Lori's mother put down her spoon and wiped her mouth with a paper napkin. "Mother, when Wanda reappears, can you tell her that I will not let anyone take her away. Please tell her that we love her and we don't care if she is forgetful, if she has to wear depends, if she sleeps a lot or if she can't remember things. No one is going to put her away in a home no matter what happens, because this is her home, and we have plenty of room for her here. We really like Wanda and we like having her here with us.So, if Wanda wants to stay with us, she can. And no one can force her to leave to go anywhere, unless she wants to go. Okay???"

  "Oh Lori, I think Wanda is going to be so happy to hear that."  Lori's mother then picked up the entire cereal bowl and started drinking the milk out of it, as if the bowl was a glass. (Something Lori's mother never did before she was diagnosed with dementia.) "Lori, what time is it?" (It was 4:15 AM)  "I am really tired, I need to go back to bed, goodnight."  "Goodnight mother, I love you," said Lori."I love you, too," said Lori's mother.

Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA www.teepasnow.com, Naomi Feil, MSW, www.vfvalidation.org, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Caregiver Burnout Busters For Junk Food Junkies






The W.H.O., (World Health Organization), defines health as, " complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." What this means is that to be truly healthy, one needs to have balance in three major areas, mentally, physically and socially. With regards to care-givers and care-partners, mental, physical and social well-being can be greatly diminished. Many care-givers are mentally stressed overwhelmed by circumstance, overworked and underpaid.

According to the CDC, 83% of family caregivers who have left their jobs to stay home with loved ones face financial hardships, 53% of caregivers report their health has dramatically declined due to care-giving responsibilities, and 67% of caregiver's put the needs of their care-partner's first,  before their own needs with regards to getting medical attention when it is needed.

Social isolation is common, and is not only something experienced by the person needing the care-giver, but can also be experienced by the care-giver, especially when the care-giver is living with their family member. And this isolation isn't an intentional choice, but can by caused by many things such as care-giving activities themselves. "Sometimes caring for a person with dementia can be like taking care of a two year old who never cleans up after himself, and always leaves his toys out. Just when one activity is complete, the focus changes and another mess is made. Then, when I clean up one room, it's time for a snack, or time to change his Depends, or time to give him a bath, brush his teeth, shave him, get him dressed and ready for another doctor's appointment. A typical day, is never a typical day because it is very hard to plan things because I am working with a person who has no sense of time, or a schedule.," said Amy Smith (not her real name), who care's for her father who has dementia. Social isolation can also be caused by the stigma of mental impairment which causes friends and family members to, " run for the hills," rather than to face the fact that their loved one's brain is dying and the person they once knew and loved is changing into a stranger that they don't choose to recognize.

A caregiver  today can be a combination of many things such as a maid, a cook, a nurse, a teacher, a waitress, a singer, a clown, a listener, an actor, a dancer, a card shark, a scrabble champion, a loving daughter, and a compassionate friend. The focus can be all-encompassing, and there are actually some care-givers who are very content, enjoying every minute of the journey. But those particular care-givers are in the minority. Many care-givers today are stressed out and losing their health.  There are many, many more bleak statistics about care-giver's which are even more alarming because the world-wide senior population is due to double by 2030, and the world is going to need competent and healthy care-givers to lead the way, caring for our aging population.

One important question the entire world needs to ask is: What can be done now to prevent stress driven, care-giver burnout? The question is complex, but the answer is simple. This may not be a complete solution, but serves as an excellent starting point.Three things can be focused on. And staying on track with three different areas can be an easy option. Firstly, we need to look at wellness basics which are the key to prevention, and they are:  Nutrition, fitness, bodywork and rest.

 It has been proven time and time again that diets never work for permanent weight loss solutions and overall general health, as well as making healthy life-style choices can. Finding a way to make nutrient dense food choices, to clean the gut on a regular basis through nutritionally supported intermittent fasting and  to energize your system with alkalizing foods rich in phyto-nutrients found in whole, organic fruits and vegetables can offer positive and permanent solutions.

The gut,  also called the microbiota, or microbial flora and the second brain,needs to be healthy and in balance with itself  Having healthy levels of bacteria, (or happily balanced critters in the gut)  can support immunity, and contribute to full body health. A sluggish, imbalanced toxic gut can slow down optimum function, affecting many important systems in the body, and can contribute to imbalances in blood sugar regulation, etc. This can lead to lead to obesity, depression, diabetes, mood swings, brain fog, and even arthritis. There is research written in many scientific journals today that point directly at the simple sugars found in processed, (junk) foods, as being the culprit behind deadly and debilitating diseases like:  Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, Vascular Dementia and Heart Disease. The body needs healthy and balanced amounts of sugars, proteins, fats, macro and  micronutrients in order to survive and thrive. However, the body needs these nutrients in the perfect proportion, from whole food sources made from Mother Earth, rather than factory, man-made, processed sources made from synthetic chemicals.

 People experiencing imbalances in blood-sugar regulation find their energy dropping throughout the day. These caregivers can become lethargic, tired, agitated and cranky. Some may be pre-diabetic, or even have type II diabetes and not know it. Would you want a cranky, agitated, lethargic caregiver taking care of YOU if you had dementia and needed them??? Would you want an entire staff working at a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Center who had brain fog, lacked energy, motivation and had frequent mood swings taking care of your loved ones, even if they had the best intentions???  I wouldn't!!

What kind of environment would a staff of agitated, overworked, professionals hooked on sugar and junkfood create for your loved ones?? What kind of environment would a staff of energized enthusiastic healthy minded caregiver's create??? Administrators need to look at this issue of stress related junk food sugar loading,  and then they need to offer healthy solutions for their staff.  There are some fabulous caregivers out there who are just so overwhelmed by the stress of their jobs, that the only way they are coping is to inappropriately drown their stress by eating sugar, french fries and artificially flavored "Big Gulps," for comfort.  And the opposite extreme are the care-givers who are aware of their weight gain and count  their calories so much that they eat too little, putting their body in the starvation mode which leads to more fat being stored and these people cannot lose a pound no matter how hard they try!!!  Both extremes set people up for weight gain and obesity which is not good to have when a person is working in a stress related profession.

Lastly, the third way some caregivers choose to deal with stress is to become apathetic and self-absorbed where the needs of others are not as important as the caregivers personal needs. Sometimes this is something that grows out of depression and can also have its cause found in junk food addiction and nutritional imbalances. These people are in extreme stress overload, are easily agitated and do not need to be working with vulnerable populations. They feel trapped, bark commands at others and are very controlling.  Administrators please hear this:, "An apathetic caregiver, or apathetic supervisors of care-givers who can't wait to leave at the end of the day, or who count the hours of every working day with lousy attitudes and negative energy waiting for a payday and a weekend off, may not be the best employee (or employees),  to be giving care to our elderly population!!"   However, with that being said, if sugar and junk food is the culprit behind the exhausted, apathetic and negative attitudes, this may be an easy fix.  Most people choose care-giving because they love people and want to help them, not because they want to be cranky, clock watching junk food junkies!!! So, what can be done??   

Care-givers who truly love their work, may need  some TLC, loving support and encouragement to kick the stress related sugar and caffeine binging habits. Many times when people feel hungry, it is possible that they can be thirsty, because the hypothalamus in the brain signals both sensations. Making sure that caregivers are hydrated with purified water can be a big help with energy levels, and it can also curb the appetite helping with cravings.  (Some personal trainers recommend that people drink half of their body weight in ounces per day.  That means if someone weighs 140 pounds, they ought to drink around 70 ounces of purified water per day.) Another method of support for caregivers are wellness programs.  And onsite wellness programs with daily exercise and a nutrition, may hold the key.

 Isagenix super food nutrition and wellness systems have been proven to be the best nutritional system out there today to cleanse the gut, and replenish the system with whole superfood nutrition. These super food nutritional systems by Isagenix beat out the, " Heart Healthy Diet," in clinical studies for visceral weight loss at Skidmore College. The Isagenix products are highly researched with a track record of success to help people to lose weight, or gain weight, to assist with energy and performance for athletes, and include products for healthy aging.  Supplements, skin products and healthy snacks can be ordered and delivered on a monthly basis, world-wide, "door to door." Go to: www.caregiversgetfit.isagenix.com and watch the videos!!  Is this the only solution??  No. However, this is a great solution for busy caregivers who want to gain the energy needed to exercise,  and make positive, noticeable changes in reaching their weight loss goals, revving up their sluggish metabolism. (See the pictures on the link above of, " before,"  and, " after," changes of people on the system.)

  Secondly, fitness offers many options not only for weight loss, but for improved cardio-vascular function, improved digestion, improved blood sugar regulation, better energy and sleep. How do we get caregivers to exercise when they are so busy??  Many do not have the time to go to the gym, or to leave their loved ones for even 5 mins!!!!! The answer is this, two words: "Walking," and "Rebounding." Walk up and down the stairs thoughout the day. Do floor exercises. Find a second hand exercise DVD at a garage sale, and work it, work it, work it!!!

What is a rebounder? It is a mini-trampoline. Caregivers wanting to amp up their game by giving fabulous care need to care for themselves first. How do they do this???  Lori has a gym in her garage. Nothing fancy, just two rebounders that she bought used for less than $20, a garage sale treadmill, a brand new $1 garage sale ab lounger and a $15 pair of dumb bells.  Lori waits until her mother naps and gets in 45 to 90 mins of exercise/day. She eats super-foods from Isagenix, does a minimum of 30 mins of cardio every day alternating upper and lower body resistance along with 500 jumping jacks/day and other exercises on her rebounder. Lori has lost over 60 pounds on the Isagenix system and has boundless energy as a 58 year old to take care of her mother.  Her increased energy output though regular exercise has driven down her once high blood sugar and high blood pressure to a level of normal and her resting pulse is a steady 55.  "The Isagenix system gave me the energy back that I needed to feel motivated to exercise, and the combination of healthy lifestyle habits of great nutrition, regular exercise and a positive mental attitude gave me back my life. I was dragging for years, always craving sugar, and every day at 3PM, I had to take a nap.  Now, I have the energy that I had as a 10 year old!!!"

 Finally, #3 and #4 bodywork and rest. Yes, bodywork. Chiropractic care not only helps people that have back pain, but offers a huge opportunity for the body to re-wire itself to combat the effects of stress. Massage, Reiki and Yoga are also excellent ways to work the body, and to reduce stress.

When the body is given proper nutrition, exercise and bodywork,  it will naturally find it's own rhythm of rest, and crave healthy foods, rather than junk food. Getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night can be impossible for some caregivers, especially when their loved ones experience Sun-downing behaviors. (Lori has a security system in place which alerts her if her mother tries to wander outside in the middle of the night.)  However, when the caregiver takes care of herself by following the above guidelines, she will feel motivated to motivate her loved one, and to keep her loved one active throughout the day, too.  If the person with dementia is given activities which physically and mentally engage their focus, they will be more apt to sleep throughout the night. And this restful sleeping time is good for everyone, enabling the care-giver to sleep, too!!

As caregivers, we tend to focus more on our loved ones than ourselves. These guidelines will enable more care-givers to truly feel present, giving more of themselves to their loved ones than they thought possible, without feeling exhausted, stressed out and over-tired.

Positive Communication methods for people living with dementia:  We recommend seminars by Teepa Snow,M.S., OTR/L.FAOTA www.teepasnow.com, Naomi Feil, MSW, www.vfvalidation.org, and her books, all of them. And the life changing, ground breaking books, "Contented Dementia," by Dr. Oliver James, "The Mindful Caregiver," by Nancy L. Kriseman, and "Deeper Into The Soul," by Nader Robert Shabahangi, Ph.D, and Bogna Szymkiewicz, Ph.D

Copyright 2015 Caregivers Get Fit! Mama  Nicey

 DISCLAIMER:  The information in this blog is information only for educational purposes. It is not meant to be a replacement for getting medical advice from your own health professional regarding your own individual health challenge or condition. It is advised that before starting an exercise program, or making dietary changes of any kind, to seek out the advise of your own individual health care provider first.  Dr. Denise will not diagnose, treat, or give direct personal consultations/advice to you on this blog for any medical condition, but will give general examples, and scientific research on many different health topics.  How you decide to use the information is between you and your own medical/ health professional.
   
   

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