But Who Cares for the Caregiver?

Caring for a sick family member can be tolling, even causing caregivers to sometimes become sicker than those they are caring for. According to the American Journal of Nursing (2008), “Caregiving has all the features of a chronic stress experience.” We’re in a generation where life expectancy has increased and medical advancements have moved forward at a rapid rate. Although these two facts are positive in and of themselves, when combined, this translates to people living longer but in an unhealthy state.

Dialysis, for instance, can potentially add 5-10 years to a person’s life span. However, this also means the individual is visiting a dialysis center 2-3 days a week and exhausted from the procedure, leading to poor quality of life in their last years. This also means someone is likely at home with this person and caring for their daily needs. Most times, that person is a loved one who is witnessing the agonizing decline of a parent, partner, sibling or other loved one.

This can be particularly difficult for those who have no idea how to navigate their roles as caregivers. Most people are muddling through each day trying to figure it out, often feeling overwhelmed and isolated. Those who have a medical background are blessed in these circumstances but even then, there is the emotional stress – anxiety, depression, exhaustion, feelings of grief and loss – of caring for someone you hold dear. So how to go about this thing called caregiving?

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Thankfully, resources are available, and knowledge from those who have been through the trials and successes of caregiving is priceless. One such book, which is listed on http://www.caring.com’s list of best books for caregiving in 2017 is Role Reversal, written by Iris Waichler. The book focuses specifically on the process of caring for parents while also attending to self-care.

 

For free information on caregiving, visit the author’s Facebook page. Details about Role Reversal can be found at www.iriswaichler.

 

Feel free to contact me for additional resources and support:

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.iriswaichler.com

 

Postpartum Depression and the Danger of ‘Bad Mom’ Stigma

Postpartum Depression is very real. The irony of how it makes mothers feel is heartbreaking and induces great shame. Read more about it here from an article on Girls Globe.

Girls' Globe

I felt so trapped, like I had a made a huge mistake in having my child.

It’s heart-wrenching to imagine any mother having to say these words about her own child merely days after giving birth. But while interviewing Serena*, a young, resilient, postpartum depression (PPD) survivor last year, I was taken by surprise by this phrase.

Serena’s story about her struggles as a mother suffering from PPD were poignant. From difficulties getting out bed and taking care of herself, to a severe emotional disconnection from her own child and family, Serena suffered for weeks after giving birth to her first child. She felt unsupported and, after hearing accounts of mothers who were enjoying motherhood, she soon labeled herself a “bad mom” which caused her depression to deepen further.

It was not until she found a support group with other women going through similar struggles that…

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Sugar as Damaging to the Brain as Childhood Abuse?

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So there seems to be research suggesting that consumption of sugar is as equally detrimental as early childhood abuse and neglect. Sound extreme? Well, yes, however, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And am I researching the negative effects of sugar because I’m having a rough time giving it up? Well, yes, but that’s another story.

Based on an article from www.knowingneurons.com, the hippocampus – the area of the brain that involves learning, memory, and information processing – is clearly affected by consumption of sugar. The same damage caused by abuse, neglect, trauma and other early life adversities is what happens to the hippocampus when sugar is consumed excessively. I’d guess too that the combined effects of early life adversity and sugar consumption may be even more damaging.

Okay, I think I’m ready. Bye, sugar.

Complacency No Longer an Option

This is an article I wrote in late October of 2016 as elections were nearing. I don’t think the woman I refer to in the article realized how damaging complacency could be. Yesterday, we were all reminded:

Way too Political

It was a fairly warm evening for late October. I was at an author’s reading and just finished hearing an essay about the approaching elections, a topic heavy on many minds. Most agreed that voting for the lesser of two evils was the safest choice, both literally and politically. Then again, I recently read an email that many doctors would not even bother casting a vote because neither choice would be a healthy one for the American people.

The concept of electing our first female president may have been thrilling to many, conjuring up visions of “I can do anything you can do better.” Yet is it enough that it be any woman regardless of her history of fickle decision-making? But then again, a poorly tanned narcissist isn’t much of an alternative either.

The guest author enthusiastically expressed his opinion of our crooked-wigged candidate and highlighted his many toxic plans for our country. The author went on to dissect the candidate’s strong objection to those who create the mosaic that is America.

Maybe bizarrely, I believe there is great value in highlighting the potency of racism that exists in our country, often masked but very much alive. But with the way it’s being done, tactlessly and risking the safety of millions of Americans, people are emboldened to be more openly hateful again. This is America. Great. Again.

Even still, there is something uglier, something more insidious than exposing the realities of hate in one full swoop, and that is perpetually ignoring the severity of mounting injustice. Yet this is where some people’s minds have lain dormant for some time now, bolstered by the election of President Obama. “We have a black president. How can we possibly be a racist society?” In some people’s minds, this made everything right in their privilege-padded worlds. I suppose their assumption is that Mr. Obama’s election instantly changed the views of millions of callous people just like that because it’s that easy.

There was a reception and book signing after the author’s talk. Because he is a connoisseur of birds, there was a spread of various nuts, crackers with small seeds, owl shaped cookies and wine, much-needed wine. As another attendee and I were reaching for a spoonful of sunflowers, she stopped and turned to me.

“What did you think of tonight’s talk?” she asked.

“Pretty sobering,” I said.

“Well, I didn’t like it. It just wasn’t entertaining. It was way too political for me.”

Sad, I thought, that something that is a necessity for me happens to be an inconvenience for someone else. The advancement and protection of my rights as a woman of color mean absolutely nothing but a missed night of amusement to someone who is otherwise unscathed by the slurs and threats that were to become far more overt, post-election.

Is the harassment and violence still too political for her, I wonder? And if undeniable recognition of hate has been the one mildly positive thing that has come out of this election, how then may her understanding of advocacy change from “too political” to too detrimental to ignore?

What might she have to say now? Hopefully not, “We should wait and see what happens.” It’s already happened. Hate is being actively promoted. Accounts of simple-minded, sometimes life-threatening behavior are streaming onto news circuits at a disturbing rate. While this oblivious but otherwise seemingly decent person can afford to tell herself she’s going to wait to see what happens, the safety of my children, my community, my country depends on my being far more political than many might ever appreciate.

WHAT MAKES YOU MATTER?

Multiple powerful insights in this piece by Dr. Jonathan, whose ideas on health are life-altering. Pay close attention to the questions you should consider asking your doctor.

All About Healthy Choices

dr-seuss-600I was taught the importance of an education as a young child. This education became more concentrated as I grew up and attended college. As a result, I developed a PASSION for HEALTH which became my primary focus in education. This culminated in a career as a physician.

This title, “PHYSICIAN” created a cloak of authority and power. My life developed “value” as my patients turned to me for guidance and instilled their confidence in my health decision making skills. It reinforced my “relevance” and proved to society “I MATTERED.” Thankfully, maturity and experience taught me how naive this perception was.

Most of us experience this “I MATTERphenomenon. Whether we become a “VALUED” employee or produce a “VALUED” product or service, we often use these values to determine we MATTER.

Our government values us based on our ability…

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“Natural Flavors” are so Not Natural

Well, it says “natural flavor.” It MUST be good for me.214

And this is what led me to believe that natural flavors were harmless, and in fact, pure. And most anything that is labeled “natural” reminds us of clean air, lush rolling hills, violets and butterflies. Or maybe we picture a flowing waterfall within a forest of magnificent trees. Ah, so… natural. But truth is, marketing teams depend on our tendency to create vivid associations to sell products.

Natural flavor – after water, salt and sugar, it’s the fourth most common item listed on the ingredient list of many foods. But what the heck is it? Well, it’s an extract of the original product, let’s say oranges, and then a ton of chemicals are thrown in to enhance the flavor.

Here are a couple of reasons for doing this versus simply using oranges: Adding chemicals to recreate the taste of orange is more cost-effective and therefore profitable. Secondly, manufactured  flavor creates consistency so that you can have the same exact product every time.

I, like most people appreciate consistency. I’d hate to try something, love it and then buy it again just to find that it tastes different. But the reality is that foods might vary in taste because of natural changes in soil, climate, rain and a million other factors. It’s what’s supposed to happen. As expected, most fruit will not have the perfect balance of sweet and tart throughout the year. And ultimately, the variation in taste is often slight.

So question is, would we rather have consistency in taste or know we’re avoiding a modified chemical that can lead to physical and mental decline? There are many products that don’t require us to sell our souls. It’s a matter of reading labels to find out which are safe. In fact, it’s often easier to find natural flavors on packages because they are proudly written right on the front, as if they’re good for us.

Calling genetically modified foods “natural flavors” and placing them on the front of products is pretty low down. That’s okay though, now we know. And knowledge is the best way to combat the evils of deceptive marketing practices. For more on natural flavors, read this report by CNN.

The Daily Toxin Takeover

img_5213Most of us get up in the morning, (and hopefully) brush our teeth, swish around some mouthwash and take a shower with our favorite soap bar or body wash, shampoo and conditioner. We glide on deodorant and use some hair stuff to get our locks or mullets just right. We squirt and step into a mist of some sexy smelling perfume, just like on TV. It’s winter. Better fight dry, ashy skin with a good slathering of lotion. Maybe we put on some combination of makeup – lipstick, foundation, eye liner.

At some point, we might go into the kitchen, heat a skillet, line it with that spray bottle oil and crack some eggs, maybe some turkey bacon too. The aromas are hypnotizing. Oh, and can’t forget OJ. Pop a vitamin for good measure. Maybe take a medication regimen. Go to the coffee shop drive-thru even though we’re running late, get super annoyed at how long the line is, wait anyway and finally order coffee with five pumps of flavored creamer. No six. Perfection.

The morning rushes by at work. It’s lunch time. Running behind, as usual. Better grab something fast. We run to the closest fast food place. We justify that a certain sandwich spot isn’t as bad as some of our other options because in fact, they tell us we’re “eating fresh.”

We get home, hand the kids a quick snack before homework, maybe a peanut butter jelly sandwich, scoop dog food into our spazzy puppies’ bowls and start making dinner. Grab some canned vegetablesbeef and rice. Sweet tooth hits. Grab a couple of pieces of chocolate. We wipe the counter with a kitchen cleaner after dinner. Fill the dishwasher with soap. The dog farts. Ugh. Spray some air freshener. And at the end of the night, maybe a glass of wine or tea as we read a good book.

Time for bed. You know what that means. Brush our teeth, swish around some mouthwash. Go to bed. Wake up. And here we go again.

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Yes, every bold item most likely has preservatives in it. I know. It’s overwhelming to think about all the ways we’re exposed to them. But if done in steps, it’s possible to significantly decrease their use. One big way to prevent daily preservatives is by reading labels, and closely. Then, over time, substitute products you’d usually consume with natural ones.

By the way, if you’re not sure what an ingredient is, research it before buying. Some ingredients are masked as safe (natural flavors, for instance), while others sound much scarier than they are (sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda). It may initially mean you’re at the store far longer than you’d like to be, but the investment will be worth it.

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Some grocery and department stores have aisles dedicated to natural products. There are many independent businesses popping up too, because people are literally sick of using preservatives.

My sister and brother-in-law are one example. They’ve created Organic Memories, where they offer preservative-free products like body butter, salts, lip balms and soap. The Natural Products Association can provide information on where to find preservative-free products close to you.

So rise and shine. What’s your day going to look like?

 

We’d like to hear about your preservative-free routine and recommendations on your favorite natural products.

Renewal of the Mind

A new year might bring on many thoughts of renewing ourselves in some way, maybe in our outlook on life, health, spirituality or relationships. It’s a good time to reflect on what we’d like to change and improve. But it doesn’t mean we have to take on the responsibility of making drastic changes all at once.

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Small changes over time are what bring results. In considering this, we can use the beginning of the year as a time of reflection on how we would like to renew ourselves as we move forward. Many blessings in the new year.

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Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

 

The Freedom to Make Resolutions Any Ole’ Time You Please

Eat, Breathe, Think

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Did you get that gym membership yet? Swear off sugar, wine or cigarettes? Feeling a bit overwhelmed? A little jittery from chocolate withdrawal, maybe? Yes, yes, I know it’s only January 3rd, but a sense of discouragement can set in surprisingly quickly sometimes. Why? Unattainable goals are not real goals. They’ll only lead to quick burnout and bad feelings.

Resolutions are decisions. We make them at a point when we’re so tired of wanting to change that we decide to take the steps to do things differently. For many, coming to that point is a journey of frustrating and sometimes unfortunate events. And this is precisely why New Year’s resolutions usually tend to fail. They begin on a day chosen collectively by society, rather than by a true inner desire to change and the much needed experiences that drive our resolve forward.

New Year’s resolutions may often feel like a burdensome obligation instead of an exciting, well thought out plan. Just because we’re embarking on…

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