lifestyle

10 Tips for Supporting Caregivers

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 6.56.59 PM.png

We all know a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, who is a caregiver of an aging, ill or disabled parent, spouse, sibling or child. Unless you’ve done this work of caregiving, there’s no real understanding of the limitations, the complexity of difficulty, or the toll it takes on the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial well-being of the caregiver. And although it’s extremely rewarding, it’s a very tough, never-ending job. 

It’s not uncommon for caregivers to give and give and give with little in return. Oftentimes the person being cared for is unable to reciprocate appreciation or affection, especially over time. As a result, many caregivers feel isolated, and for a number of reasons, are unable to ask for help. An elderly woman caring for a sick husband may fear losing her independence, the mother of a disabled child may worry about how she is viewed as a mother, a man caring for his demented mother may feel he’s not living up to his role as a son. There is an entire range of unspoken emotions and thoughts to deal with, none of them easy.

So, supportive interaction becomes critical to the stability and stamina of caregivers. Support must come from the heart, clothed in genuine love and compassion. There is no room for criticism or controlling gestures. Here’s how you can help:

1. Pick up the phone and call. Caregivers need human connection. More importantly, make the call about THEM. Ask how they are doing. Bring them some good news. Make them laugh. Do it often.

2. Give ample notice when extending an invitation. Attending something as simple as a lunch date or holiday party often requires advance arrangements to have someone ‘stand in’ to provide care. 

3. Learn about dementia, Aspergers, autism, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask/talk about these conditions in an appropriate setting. Pretending nothing is wrong is isolating. 

4. Be aware that caregiving is very different from (and often more challenging than) raising children. With childrearing there is an end goal in sight. Your children are growing UP and, at some point, moving on to their own lives. Even as our children lose their innocence, there is a lasting sense of pride and joy that comes from raising a child into adulthood. With caregiving, temporary illness care aside, the opposite is usually true. There is a deep sense of loss (of that person, of one’s personal life, of one’s freedom from the situation, etc) that accompanies caring for someone who will never be independent or who is slowly moving toward the end of their life. 

5. Be sensitive.  Some caregivers are on limited or fixed incomes, sometimes having had to give up their job/career to care for someone else or living on part time employment wages. Something to consider when asking them to go out or travel. 

6. Visit. Traveling with a sick or disabled person is disruptive, often requiring both the caregiver and the one being cared for to go without resources they rely upon for activities of daily living. Traveling without one’s charge means finding someone trustworthy or paying HIGH fees for their care in your absence. So if there’s a family gathering or special occasion in the works, consider bringing it to the caregiver’s home! Since those being cared for usually respond best to routine schedules, be sure to include the caregiver in all the plans … and be prepared to lend a hand when you arrive.

7. Help them locate community resources - home care aides, physical or occupational therapists, chaplains, social workers, hospice. See if they are interested in attending a caregiver’s support group. If so, locate one (or several) and perhaps offer to go with them. This can be especially helpful for long time caregivers who’ve never sought help but are exhibiting signs of caregiver stress.

8. Ask how you can help. The caregiver knows what they need but may need a little coaxing. Be prepared for anything from ‘would you sit with him/her while I take a bath?’ to ‘can you recommend a ____?’. 

9. Know the signs of caregiver stress (denial, frustration, anger, guilt, social withdrawal, depression, lack of concentration, loneliness, exhaustion, unchecked health problems) and how it affects health. Encourage and do what you can to make it possible for them to take better care of themselves, to get out of the house, and to enjoy life.

10. Reassure them know you are there for them. And really, really be there when they need you.

Managing Moods

Moody.
1. Given to frequent changes of mood; temperamental.
2. Subject to periods of depression; sulky.
3. Expressive of a mood, especially a sullen or gloomy mood
— www.thefreedictionary.com/moody
Image: Mood Mix by  Aqiylah Collins . All rights reserved.

Image: Mood Mix by Aqiylah Collins. All rights reserved.


Image: Blood Brain Barriere by Ben Brahim Mohammed is used here with permissions granted under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Osteoporosis: are you at risk?

Osteoporosis has been called the silent disease. As we age, particularly beyond menopause (for women), it's not uncommon for bones to thin, weaken and fracture without warning.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, those who meet the following conditions are at greater risk:

  • female
  • advanced age
  • Caucasian
  • a history of fractures
  • a small thin frame
  • alcohol and tobacco use
  • family history of osteoporosis
  • surgical ovary removal
  • early menopause
  • a low calcium diet or poor absorption
  • lack of weight bearing exercise
  • long term use of certain medications (steroids, anti-convulsant drugs, HRTs)
Image:  Age and Bone Mass  by  Anatomy and Physiology, Connexions Website  is used here with permissions granted under the  Creative Commons   Attribution 3.0 Unported  license

Image: Age and Bone Mass by Anatomy and Physiology, Connexions Website is used here with permissions granted under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license


But there's good news! Osteoporosis is preventable. Even though some factors can't be altered (gender, ethnicity, family history, etc), others can. Prevention begins with doing what you can to minimize the risks. Even if you've already been diagnosed, these steps can slow down the progression of bone loss. Start now and do what you can.

Get serious about giving up tobacco. See your medical doctor for advise. If traditional methods aren't successful, try hypnosis or neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Calcium is crucial to building and maintaining solid bone mass and density. Up to age 50, the average adult needs 1000 mg per day. For women over 50 or at the onset of menopause, and for men older than 70, the requirement increases to 1200 mg per day..

Beyond dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), be sure your diet includes plant-based calcium-rich foods such as fresh leafy greens like collards and cabbage, sardines, salmon, soy, almonds, and pistachios. Vitamin D aids calcium absorption and may be lacking in certain regions or during winter months when sunshine is minimized. Also, salt intake interferes with calcium absorption, so lowering your intake may be helpful.

Begin a regular routine of walking, running, jumping rope, aerobics, take a Zumba class, or find a tennis partner and dust off the racket. Any exercise that requires you to use the weight of your body increases bone density.

Detecting Osteoporosis is as simple as getting tested. The test, called a bone mineral density scan (or DEXA) can identify early osteoporosis and monitor treatment. For convenience, many radiology centers can schedule a scan at the same time as your annual mammogram.

Best of all, the test lasts about 30 minutes and is simple, painless and non-invasive.


Image: Human Hip Bone by Patrick Siemer is used here with permissions granted under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Verbal energy

Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. -Pearl Strachan

A while back, a friend shared that she was about to receive her college degree. I asked what her major was and she replied, "Art History, but I could only go part time so it's just an Associates degree".  

Say what?! ONLY? JUST?? 

Uh last time I checked, earning a college degree was a huge accomplishment in and of itself, so it's a pretty BIG DEAL for a single 37-year-old mother of 2 with a full time job

I clearly remember a special day many years ago. My grandfather woke me early so we could shine our shoes before gathering round the dining room table for my grandmother's homemade breakfast. Then we donned our Sunday best and piled into the family car. Everyone was smiling as we headed to my mom's graduation from the local community college. I was 9.

Being present when Mom received that Associates of Science degree in Political Science remains one of the highlights of my life! For 3 years, I lived with my grandparents during the week so Mom could attend night school after working all day at her full time job, to earn that darn piece of paper. This day represented triumph over the history, obstacles, and the naysayers. Mom was the first in our immediate family to both attend AND graduate from college.

Yet the real success rested in reclaiming HER personal dreams and writing her own story rather than succumbing to perceived notions of a young single woman of color raising a child in a world that deemed her future as limited. That day, I learned many great lessons about being a strong, resilient, determined, goal-oriented woman, as well as the necessity of a powerful support system.

Today, I feel the impact of those two small words - JUST and ONLY - in diminishing the hard work and sacrifices we make to achieve a dream or reach a goal or shine from within or simply function. As a health coach, I personally witness people giving away their power, their energy: "I only ate 3 vegetables today" or "I'm only 23 so no one is going to take me seriously" or "I'm just a paralegal" and "I'm just working out 3 days a week". 

Using these two words, in this way, is an unconsciously learned behavior that is rooted in our history. The practice sucks the life out of our accomplishments, and all that went into achieving them. It's an unintentional dishonoring of how we've spent our time and our energy, which is the stuff life is made of, truly. 

The good news is that we can choose to energize our lives by honoring our efforts! And let me be clear that this is not bragging but rather stating what is AND not making excuses for it in the same breath.

My challenge to you is to take the 3-day Words Have Power Challenge by committing to:

  • being more conscious about the words you use
  • spreading the word about self-limiting vocabulary

Start whenever you want or whenever you can. If you forget, start again. Make it fun by engaging a partner. No rules. Just be more mindful of your own vocabulary and inspire others to do the same in a loving and gentle way. I hope you'll share how you are embodying this new verbal energy. Your words have power, so use them wisely!

Much ♥


9 natural UTI prevention tips

A urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection occurs when harmful bacteria take up residence in the bladder or ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder where it is stored until emptied via the urethra). Urination is a natural process that flushes bacteria from the body.

Although infection can be caused by many things, women are at greater risk for UTIs than men. A shorter urethra and closer proximity to the anus, making them more likely to develop infection following sexual activity. Women who use a diaphragm, are pregnant, or have entered menopause seem to be more susceptible as well.

Other risk factors include diabetes, loose stools, extended periods of immobility, bowel and urine incontinence, surgery, having a catheter, advanced age, kidney stones, enlarged prostate, problems emptying the bladder, or anything blocking the flow of urine.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain or burning when urinating 
  • Foul smelling urine 
  • Cloudy urine or traces of blood in urine 
  • Frequent urination or inability to hold small amounts of urine 
  • Weakness 
  • Excessive tiredness 
  • Back pain or pain below the rib cage 
  • Pain or pressure in the rectum (men) 
  • Pain or pressure near the pubic bone (women) 
  • Mental confusion, refusal to drink water, or loss of appetite (elderly) 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Fever or bleeding, if the infection has moved into the kidneys or bloodstream 
Image:  lllu Urinary System  by  Arcadian  is used here with permissions granted under the  U.S. Public Domain  (original works of the Federal Government)

Image: lllu Urinary System by Arcadian is used here with permissions granted under the U.S. Public Domain (original works of the Federal Government)

Sadly, I've been down this road enough times with folks to know that the healing modality depends on the particular bacteria strain. A urine culture will reveal the strain of bacteria you are dealing with, and most doctors will tell you if a UTI can be managed without antibiotics. Something like ecoli (yes, you read that right) requires a remedy more powerful than what's discussed here. If you cannot take antibiotics or prefer not to, consult a qualified herbalist.

As for prevention or early first sign of UTIs, consider the following ...

  1. Practice good genital hygiene. Avoid unclean public toilets. Keep a squeeze (perineal) bottle with warm water by toilet and use to wash front and back after eliminating, and be sure to ALWAYS wipe front to back. 
  2. Always practice safe sex, exercise caution during sexual activities, and bathe afterwards. Be sure to properly clean intrauterine devices (IUDs). 
  3. Cranberries contain hippuric acid which create an acidic environment, making the urinary tract unattractive to bacteria, and helps to inhibit their growth. Use a pure cranberry juice or tablet. For recurring UTIs (aka RUTIs), select a high dosage cranberry tablet with a non-acidic vitamin C (I favor Ester-C with Cranberry by American Health). 
  4. A probiotic designed to reach maximum effectiveness in the lower intestine. (I highly recommend Ultra Flora Plus by Metagenics). 
  5. Drink LOTS of fresh water. 
  6. Avoid cheeses, carbonated and caffeinated beverages, chocolate, alcohol, yeast, and cigarettes to inhibit bacterial growth. 
  7. Increase garlic, tumeric, clove and other spices with antibacterial properties, prunes and plums (for their hip pubic acid), plus grains, corn, beans, lentils, walnuts, and peanuts for their acidic value. 
  8. Mix equal parts of tea tree, frankincense, bergamot, and juniper essential oils with EVOO or fractionated coconut oil and massage over bladder. Can also diffuse the essential oils into the air. 
  9. Eat foods high in Vitamin C. A list of the best choices can be found at World's Healthiest Foods

Note: A bladder infection is a serious condition that left untreated or improperly treated can lead to severe complications, kidney damage, and even blood poisoning. Please consult a medical or naturopathic doctor if you suspect or develop an infection.


Image: Pyuria by Bobjgalindo is used here with permissions granted under the GNU Free Documentation License

Life's not-so-little reminders

Funny how we plan, and then another Plan comes into play. You know the One. The One we never take into account when we are doing what we do. The One we conveniently forget about as we move-n-shake our way through life. Yeah that One. The Ultimate Plan.

While it is true that we can manifest what we want in our lives, it is also true that life is interconnected. And every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It's the domino effect.

So, in the words of my grandmother, "be careful what you manifest. Think it through, yet know too that there exists what you cannot see or know or plan for, so be prepared for life to throw you a curve when you least expect it, but most need it". Wisdom.

Recently, a bout of severe pain, chills, fever, exhaution, a trip to the emergency room, and a diagnosis of pneumonia, brought my Nana's words rushing back to me and everything of real importance into clear focus ... again, because we get off-track. And I am reminded of a few observations to share:

  • Slowww dowwwn
  • The healthier the body, the harder it fights to maintain homeostasis, and the faster it heals
  • After 3 days of self-treatment with no improvement, seek medical care
  • A strong tolerance for pain is NOT a permission slip for needless suffering
  • Allow those who love you and can see what you can't, to advocate for you
  • Doctors are great diagnosticians and symptom-solvers
  • Sometimes the immediate benefit of drugs outweighs the potential harm
  • 'Healing' is a personal commitment we make to ourselves every day
  • Strengthen the use of foundational wellness tools (like prayer, Reiki, healing affirmations, essential oils, fresh water, fruits and veggies) at every stage of dis-ease and every stage of wellness
  • Get with a health coach to improve daily wellness choices to cleanse properly, boost the immune system, and regain strength
  • Give thanks - good health is a precious, delicate, beautiful gift

Peace and good health!


Keeping bugs away naturally

Gardening? Camping? Playing? Spending time outside? Traveling to or through a mosquito-infested region? Then you are likely trying to avoid getting bit by any number of menacing mosquitoes this year.

Not only are mosquito bites annoying and painful but they can be a source of transmitting serious diseases like Lyme disease or West Nile Virus. So it’s important to protect yourself and your children from bites when possible.

Unfortunately, most bug repellents on the market contain DEET, a chemical with known toxic side effects. Research shows that certain essential oils like citronella, lemongrass, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus, are highly nontoxic and effective alternatives to DEET. Although natural remedies may require more frequent application, they are safer and effective, especially for children and the elderly. 

Choose a safe, effective, nontoxic  bug repellent

dōTERRA’s TerraShield Repellent Blend™ is one such formula. A proprietary blend of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oils including lemon eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass and 12 other balanced oils blended in a base of 100% pure fractionated coconut oil, TerraShield can be used safely by the entire family, and reapplied every 4-6 hours for maximum protection without worry of harmful side effects or toxicity.

Users report the following uses for TerraShield Repellent Blend™

"A few drops mixed with water and sprayed on windowsills, prevents bugs from getting into the house."

"A great rub for the inside of horses ears."

"Spray around kitchen vegetables and fruits to prevent fruit flies."

"25 drops in a spray bottle of water with a drop of dish soap, sprayed on the counter will repel ants."

"Put a few drops in the water used for plants and flowers will eliminate bugs and flies."

"Add to homemade natural lotion and apply to skin."

"Apply to insect bite sites to reduce swelling and redness."

 

Order dōTERRA’s all-natural, concentrated TerraShield Repellent Blend™ today and discover all the ways it heals and protects you or learn more about the benefits of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils!

For more information on mosquitoes, read Mosquitoes: Natural Bug Repellents and Bite Remedies.

[Full Disclosure: Aqiylah Collins is a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate]