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: 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, Naomi Feil, MSW,, 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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