Monthly Archives: April 2014

12 Easy Health Tips for Busy Caregivers, From Guest Blogger Liana Werner-Gray

“Remember, if you aren’t healthy and strong you aren’t able to properly care for anyone else.” Liana Werner-Gray

list“I know you like a list,” my friend Sarah Grace wrote. She sent me a fascinating list with more than 80 tips for detoxing and eating healthily. I was so intrigued by this information that I emailed Liana Werner-Gray, author of the forthcoming New Earth Diet, and asked if she had ideas for caregivers. Liana created a special list for caregivers! Here are some of her quick and simple tips for those who are too busy or stressed to eat properly. I’d also love to learn from you—have you any tips to share?

Nourish Yourself Now

Lemon Aid Take three minutes and boost your immune system. Squeeze half a lemon into a cup of water. This drink is high in vitamin C and will keep your immune system strong. Lemon water is excellent for alkalizing your body and flushing away stress.

fruitFast Fruit Nation Imagine going through a drive-through and ordering, “One orange, two bananas and a side of apple slices.” Fruit is nature’s fast food. It’s great for on-the-go and will nourish your body with a lot of vitamins.

Raw Raw for Chocolate Order some raw chocolate so you always have healthy chocolate on hand. This chocolate pacifies cravings and is also high in magnesium and antioxidants; it can relax the body while providing energy.

Snack Simple Eat organic almond butter or peanut butter as a quick snack. Drink herbal tea. Snack on herbs like parsley and cilantro as much as possible.

Serve Up a Smoothie Week On a Sunday, make seven smoothies for the week. Keep three in the fridge and four in the freezer. Drink one each day! Be as creative as you wish, combining fresh fruits and greens.

Nurture and Stretch Yourself Now

Stretch your body when you have a spare moment. Bend over, like you’re touching your toes, head and hands hanging to the ground. This brings fresh blood to your brain.toes

Make time for a hot relaxing bath once per week. Add in Epsom salts, clay, lavender, or sea salt.

Walk as often as you can in nature. Even a five-minute outdoor stroll makes a difference.

Meditate before sleeping. Release the day so you can have a deep, nourishing sleep.

Laugh a lot.

Every day write down ten things you love about yourself.

Keep your dreams alive.

~~~

Have fun and visit Liana’s blog for more delicious and inspiring ideas: www.theearthdiet.blogspot.com/  I’m looking forward to reading her book . The Earth Diet is available for pre-order here: www.theearthdiet.org

Liana Werner-Gray is a sought-after speaker and advocate for natural healing using a healthy diet and lifestyle. After healing herself of many negative health conditions through embracing a natural lifestyle, Werner-Gray began lecturing and teaching about The Earth Diet internationally. Werner-Gray is the founder and owner of The Earth Diet, where she directs a team that helps people all over the world find recipes that work for them. Through her company, she has helped thousands of people improve, and in some cases even entirely heal, conditions such as cancer, diabetes, addictions, depression, acne, heart disease, obesity, and more.

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey   Share

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Hiding in Plain View

hiding boyTo the casual observer, my three-year-old grandson Robert is in the kitchen beside the refrigerator. But I know better. Though he is standing in full view, he is hiding. His hands are covering his eyes and a little giggle is sneaking out of his mouth. As I walk into the room, I call, “Where is Robert? I can’t find him anywhere.” The giggle explodes into laughter and Robert triumphantly lifts his hands and announces, “I’m here. It’s me!” We have a joyous hug and then he wiggles away, walks to the other side of the refrigerator, places his hands over his eyes and is once again “hidden.” Once more I call out, “Where is Robert? I miss him. I hope I can find him soon.”

As I continue this marvelous game of hide and seek with Robert, I think of my mother and her last years. So many times I’d walk into her room in the memory care unit, see her slumped in her chair, eyes closed, and I’d wonder, “Where is my mother? I miss her.” I would sit down, take her hand, and call out, “Mom? Hi Mom, it’s me, your daughter.”

Aficionados of hide-and-go-seek know the game is more thrilling when you’re not immediately found. When my brother and I were young, my mother let the tension build as we squirmed in our cramped hiding places, squashed into the bottom of the coat closet or curled underneath the dining room table. Back in those days, my mother was in no hurry to find us and now she is in no hurry to be found.

“Mom?” I say, hoping she will rouse at the sound of my voice. Finally, her eyes open and she smiles at me. Her grin is implish and slight, but it is enough.

“Hi Mom,” I say and for a few minutes, we hold hands and look at each other. Then she closes her eyes and once again, she is hiding in full view, waiting to be found.

hiding butterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Shouse, author, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey

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Top Two Tips for the Caring Journey: Writing and Reaching Out

invisibleAs a caregiver, Martha Stettinius, often felt invisible. “Family members, co-workers, and society in general don’t know what we do all day long,” she says. She also felt overwhelmed when her mother, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, moved in with Martha and her family. “I quickly realized I needed outside support,” Martha says.

Writing the Worries Away

 Writing her thoughts on scraps of paper helped her clear her head and face her day. She began attending a group that focused on “writing through the rough spots.” The group provided a safe venue for detailing her changing relationship with her mom.

“When I read my stories aloud to the group, so many people related to my situation,” Martha says. “It was comforting to share my feelings and hear that people identified with me.” That group was a catalyst for Martha; she began writing about her journey with her mother, creating a moving story called “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir.”Martha S

Reaching Out and Strengthening Self

Martha also reached out to support groups and elder care counselors.

“We’re all vulnerable,” she says. “Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a sign of being human.” Martha and her mother were both fiercely independent. When they let go of past conflicts and understood that they needed each other, they experienced a deep love that was very healing. As part of her goal to stay connected with her mom, Martha practiced slowing down and being in the moment. She learned to appreciate the simple pleasures: looking at flowers together, listening to music, making eye contact and communicating without words. She’s also realized that aging is about connecting with others. “Hopefully, we can all create networks and friendships that will sustain us as we age,” she says. “Aging well means not only staying active but remaining accepted and valued members of the community.”

For more information on Martha, please visit: http://www.insidedementia.com/ Here’s a review I wrote of her wonderful book: Reading Inside the Dementia Epidemic is like taking a fascinating journey with an insightful friend. Martha Stettinius captures the intense emotions, the wild confusion and uncertainty, the flashes of anger and worry, the spills of humor inherent in the family caregiving experience. She also describes the unfolding personal growth and deepening connection she experiences with her mom. This is a love story to her mom and to all those who are on the caregiving journey. As I read Martha’s meaningful book, I felt enriched, connected and informed. I highly recommend her book for any reader.

Deborah Shouse, author, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey Share

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Finding the Spiritual in the Early-Stage Journey: Evianne Fogel’s Inspiring Message

forgeting

“Mrs. Fogel, you are forgetting stuff all the time,” one of Evianne Fogel’s Job Corps students told her.

Evianne was 62-years-old and she had sensed something was amiss. But she didn’t know that her fellow teachers had been covering for her. She didn’t realize that some of her behavior in the classroom was not appropriate.

“They were gentle with me when they told me I needed to quit teaching,” she says.

Her doctor’s visits confirmed she had serious memory issues. She sensed the bitter truth before the doctor told her: she had Alzheimer’s Disease.

Learning How to be Home Alone

woman aloneTeaching was a huge part of her life. Evianne was a pioneer in working with disadvantaged children and she’d won national notice for her innovative ideas and techniques. She’d traveled the country setting up Job Corps education programs.

Suddenly, instead of having a fascinating job with engaging co-workers and challenging students, she had the four walls of her Cincinnati living room.

“When you’re working all the time, you fantasize how wonderful it’s going to be when you retire,” Evianne says. “But at first, it felt like death for me. I’d sit on my couch and amuse myself by seeing the patterns in the stucco walls. I felt I was put in a chamber with no one else around me. I was used to working and I didn’t how to be in a house all day long.“

Finding Grace in Every Tree Branch

Evianne has a supportive husband who tried to help her adjust. At first, she felt angry and sad. Then, she tapped into her innate resilience.

“I have a sense of higher power,” she says. “I pray and I do feel like there is grace and forgiveness; I think it’s in every tree branch, if we are willing to receive it.”tree

Evianne had to learn to be alone. It was a difficult moment-by-moment, day-by-day lesson. She practiced talking walks and doing yoga at home.

She also poured more time into her music. She adores playing the piano and volunteers one day a week, giving music lessons. And she’s started on the book she’s always wanted to write, about the amazing inner city children she’s been honored to teach.

Evianne views this time as a gift. She knows she repeats things; she is easily lost and often forgetful. But she is embracing this journey as a chance to deepen her spiritual connection with her higher power and with herself.

Deborah is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Transforming Attitudes Through Art

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

    ~ Thomas Merton

artist at work

The art therapist shows up at our house, bumping along a rolling suitcase filled with supplies. Her hospice client, my life partner Ron’s 97 year-old mother Mollie, is slumped on our sofa, her head thrown back, her eyes closed. As forgetfulness nibbles away at her mind, her indifference increases.

“Hi Mollie, I’m Denise the art therapist.” Denise introduces herself again, even though they have met several times.

“Whatever,” Mollie says.

Denise unzips her suitcase and begins taking out art supplies: pink, red, yellow and green bolts of crunchy tissue paper, a plastic box of small colorful felt squares, hearts, circles, stars and triangles, two bottle of Modge Podge glue, and several paint brushes.  art tissues

Denise settles beside Mollie, with a black piece of paper and some red and pink tissue.

“What color do you like best?” she asks.

Mollie shrugs but points to the pink. Denise paints a strip of glue onto her paper and sticks a crumpled bud of rose paper.

“Mollie, what shape appeals to you?” Denise asked, offering a purple felt square and a red triangle.

Mollie points to the square.

“I don’t know what to do,” Mollie says, a frequent refrain. Her encroaching confusion has knocked the center out of her normal confidence and rendered her nervous.

art supplies“Just sit here with me and help me make this picture,” Denise says.

Denise offers Mollie a choice between lilac and purple tissue, then sea green and dark green options.

“You’re an artist,” Mollie says, looking at the tissue flowers that have miraculously bloomed on the page. A garden is beginning. “You’re really an artist,” Mollie repeats and Denise smiles.

“Thank you Mollie. Can you take this brush and spread the glue?”

The brush shakes in Mollie’s hand but she manages to even out the glue, preparing the page for a tangerine and lemon colored blossom.

“This is art,” Mollie says.

“You like art, don’t you?” Denise says. “You have quite an art collection.”

Mollie nods. As she spreads the next glump of glue, Denise asks her about the antique shop she ran for many years and about her travels to get art. Mollie answers but she seems more focused on the page in front of her, the new art that Denise is bringing into her life.  art cartoon

Deborah is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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