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.
   
   

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...