Saturday, March 26, 2016

Essential Tips for Dementia Caregivers

Activities directors and other healthcare professionals here is a great dementia resource for caregivers and healthcare professionals.Benevolant Society

Here is information on being the best caregiver you can be

Here is a way for nurses administrators, social workers and other health care  professionals to get an easyceu or two

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Marguerite Manteau-Rao

The journey of dementia is never easy, and it can be made many times worse if family members do not have the internal tools to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Here, based on years of experience in successfully navigating the dementia care landscape, are 13 tips that may save you a lot of grief as a care partner (caregiver) of someone with dementia.
1. Start your day with a few minutes of sitting mindfulness practice, and end the same way.
Mindfulness practice, even for a few minutes a day, can reduce stress. It is also a good way to start your day from a calm, centered place, which is what your loved one needs most from you. If you're not sure how to practice, simply find a quiet place, close your eyes, sit in an alert yet relaxed posture, take a few minutes to check in with yourself and then turn your attention to your breath. Let your body breathe, and simply watch the in and out flow of your breath. You will notice thoughts and sounds coming and going. That is a normal part of the experience. When that happens, simply return to observing the breath. Sit like this for a few minutes.
2. Incorporate mindfulness into your routines: walking, doing chores, caring for loved one, etc.
The same way you were observing your breath while sitting, you can also pay attention to the sensations of your feet on the ground while walking. You can practice while walking alone or with your loved one -- the slower the better. While washing your hands, you can become aware of the sensations of the water running over your hands. While assisting your loved one with dinner, you can focus on the experience of filling up the spoon, bringing it to the person's mouth and their experience of eating. Remember, it is about being present for the experience in the moment, all of it and regardless of what it is. You may do this as often as you want throughout the day.
3. Practice recognizing and being with your emotions, including difficult ones.
When caring for someone with dementia, you are bound to experience many -- and sometimes difficult -- emotions: grief, anger, boredom, tiredness, fear, anxiety, frustration. A very powerful and simple practice is to simply acknowledge the emotion and its physical manifestations in your body. Where am I feeling it? How does it feel? What are the sensations? Also, recognize whether it is pleasant or unpleasant and feel the whole extent of the pleasantness or the unpleasantness. And when you need a break, focus your attention on the breath and watch it come and go. Lastly, identify the thoughts that come with the emotion and see where you are getting caught. Are there changes you can make in the outside world, or do you need to change your attitude?
4. Practice loving kindness for yourself, and also for your loved one.
When the fear or the anger get to be too much, mitigate with some kind energy of your own. Think about someone, something or a place that is very dear to you. Feel the love and kindness emanating from your heart and send it to yourself. While you may not "believe" in it at first, trust that it will make its way through to you eventually. You are working on rewiring your brain, and it takes time! Quietly say something like this to yourself: "May I be at peace, may I be at ease," and repeat a few times, wishing you well. You may then send that same kind energy to your loved one, this time repeating the words, "May you be at peace, may you be at ease," wishing him or her well. This is a simple yet very powerful practice if you do it often.
5. Share your mindfulness practice with at least one other care partner.
When led into a sitting mindfulness practice for the first time, caregivers almost always report feeling incredibly at peace and say they wish they could start their days in that way. Then comes the question of: Why not? That's the thing about mindfulness -- simple in principle, yet very difficult to practice and sustain on one's own. Unless you find at least one other person to practice with or who encourages you to practice every day, chances are you will not keep up with it. It could be another family member, the paid caregiver who is helping you or people in your local caregivers support group.

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