I like to regularly feature one-on-one conversations with a family Caregiver from either my Happy Healthy Caregiver Facebook Group or the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel encouraged by others.
Meet Creative Family Caregiver – Carole Brecht
Carole Brecht’s first exposure to family caregiving occurred when she had just closed her art gallery and was planning to secure a job in her industry. Her dad worked full-time and her mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Carole had the time to step up as the daughter to help, not even knowing what a Caregiver was, nor hearing the word Caregiver until the end of her journey. She just knew her mom needed assistance with daily tasks and transportation and advocacy at her doctor appointments. Like many of us, Carole had no formal training in caregiving and learned as she went. Her caregiving journey with her mom lasted several years until her mom passed away two years ago. During this time, Carole didn’t have a support system. She felt caregiving was a lonely, isolating journey that caused her to withdraw. Carole is currently her father’s Caregiver.
Caregiving took Carole down a path she didn’t anticipate. Her personal experiences inspired her to explore two positive, creative outlets: Zentangle art and writing.
A guest post written by Lorna Scott, The Caregiver’s Lighthouse
It is a pleasure to be here today and a huge bundle of thanks to Elizabeth for inviting me to share with you some ideas and strategies to help you get through the holiday season without having to dig deep for willpower to say no to every yummy looking holiday treat.
Beware of the Holiday Sugar Monster
I’m not sure how the last two months of the year became most famous for all the sugar filled food that you find on every corner in every store. In Canada, it starts even earlier with Thanksgiving in October. Soon it’s Halloween, American Thanksgiving and before you blink an eye you are rolling into the rush of Christmas. There’s no time to catch your breath in between pumpkin pie, Halloween kisses and candy canes. How can anyone expect to get through the relentless bombardment of “eat this treat and be happy” messages?
This can be especially true for family caregivers. Really, what is easier than grabbing a leftover Halloween goodie or candy cane to give you a boost of energy? Sounds good and you might even feel great for a few minutes. And then the fatigue and fogginess returns quickly, and often is worse than before. So you grab another treat, the same thing happens, and you grab more, and soon, you have been sucked into the grasp of the sugar monster.
I know how easy this is to do because I just lived through it. For some reason I caved into that cycle this week. I have a sweet tooth and while I’ve never sworn off all sweets forever, I am usually very careful about giving in to the sugar cycle. I know it takes me off course in every aspect of my life, hurts my body and adds weight I’ve just worked hard to release. It’s insidious, and I gave in to it.
Expert Interview – Karen Habra Smyth
Karen not only wants to aspire and achieve health and happiness goals for herself and her family – she wants you to adopt a deliberate vision for your life, too. Karen and her business partner Jodi offer products and resources to help everyone, including family caregivers, create the vision for their life that they deserve.
Surprising many that knew her, Karen Habra Smyth resigned from her corporate job about 10 years ago. She was trying to start her family with her husband Michael, she wasn’t feeling fulfilled by her career at that time and she wanted to grab the reigns to influence the outcome she desired.
Each month, I have a one-on-one interview with a Caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel encouraged by others.
I’m excited to introduce you to my wonderful sister Susie!
Susie lives in Pennsylvania and is the amazing primary caregiver to our 78 year old mother and 53 year old brother with Asperger’s.
On top of this, she manages a household of four very active children ranging in age from 17-22 and she is a marvelous oil painter! For my entire family, the past few years have been crazy! Not only did we lose our father and move mom four times but Susie also went through a divorce.
Chances are we all take better physical care of our smartphones than we do ourselves.
I’m not hating on the smartphone though as it’s a powerful little tool that helps caregivers in many ways.
We all have our phones with us wherever we go and there are some powerful tools we can take advantage of to make our caregiving days a little easier.
Caregiver, please don’t make this mistake. If you are already making it…it’s time to course correct it. It’s never too late to start.
There is a big common myth among caregivers. Caregivers believe that they are supposed to give and give everything they have to those that they care for. Caregivers usually feel guilty if they don’t do this. They believe if they aren’t 100% focused on the person they are caring for then they aren’t doing enough.
Analogies to get your attention
If you were a hearty steak and potato dinner, there would be only so much of you for every one to consume before there was no food left. We need food to survive. Eventually, your house guests will get hungry again and you’ll either have to whip up something else or head to the store for more food.
You have a big heart. If you also had a surplus of extra cash for charity, there would only be so much good you could do before you’d have to return to work or acquire donors for your cause to earn more cash so you could go out and do more good.
If you were a full tank of gas there would be only so many places you could go before you’d run out of gas and need to stop for a refill. (more…)
A guest post written by Beth Phillips, blogger and Happy Healthy Caregiver Community member
As caregivers, we are vulnerable to stress, exhaustion, anxiety and a variety of other factors that can lead to depression and other types of illness. We know that paying attention to our own health and happiness will give us the energy to care for others but it’s hard to find the time or energy when there are so many other things on our plates.
Lucky for us, there’s a lot of new science on happiness and it’s role in success, productivity and high performance. Even better, researchers have identified simple practices to increase happiness. Many of them can be executed in less than three minutes a day and the tangible, physical and emotional benefits can be realized in less than a month, if practiced consistently. (more…)
I have read and heard much about meditation, especially in recent years as our lives continue to get stuffed with so many demands. ‘They’ say it can improve your life.
Once you hear that, how can you not try it?
The benefits of meditation
Then you hear about all the benefits of meditation. Here are a few that captured me:
- it reduces stress (Yes! I need that! What caregiver doesn’t?!)
- it improves concentration and mindfulness (Ok, guilty of not always living in the moment…that sounds good.)
- it encourages a healthy lifestyle and benefits cardiovascular and immune health (I want to maintain that!)
- it increases happiness (wait, healthy AND happy…I’m sold!)
- it slows aging (I’d like to be around longer especially if I’m healthy and happy!)
- it increases self-awareness and acceptance (validation that I am enough is always welcomed.)
Top that list off with the fact that you never hear anything bad about meditation and then you really feel like you have to make this a new habit. (more…)
Each month, I have a one-on-one interview with a caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel a little bit stronger.
Beth lives in Pittsburgh, PA area and has been caring for her 80 year old elderly aunt in her home for almost 2 years. Beth has four teenagers and says she is married to ‘one of the nicest people she’s ever met’. Beth enjoys running and writing about interesting things on her ‘Being Home‘ blog.
Beth’s mother lives across the street which she says played a huge part in allowing herself to even consider taking this primary caregiver role on in the first place. In addition to her mom, Beth has lots of local support including her cousin and a doctor neighbor who willingly makes house calls.
Beth is also grateful Aunt Linda is overall pleasant, in spite of her progressing dementia and other ailments, including diabetes. (more…)
Have you created a bucket list? In this post, I’m going to share mine with you. It’s my ’50 before 50′ bucket list.
So often I see caregivers put aside all their own dreams and goals in order to care for others. I know their heart is in the right place when they make this either conscious or subconscious choice. We all have to do this from time to time in an urgent short-term situation. Caregiving is a marathon not a sprint. There is no way to know as caregivers how much energy we need to sustain and how much damage we are doing to our own physical and mental health by pushing this aside until ‘later’ or ‘someday’.