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Powerful Tools For Caregivers

December 8th, 2015

More than 800,000 people in Washington  are family caregivers. Nationally that number is 65 million according to the Caregiver Action Network. Yet these big numbers don’t tell the whole story. Caregiving has changed. Advanced medicine and better treatments for chronic illness means that loved ones are experiencing longer lives and richer programmatic opportunities which, in turn, requires sustained caregiving lasting 5 to 10 years or more. Caregivers are being asked to manage complex medical maintenance or navigate the long term care system while simultaneously trying to keep their own lives stable and balanced. It can be overwhelming. One of the strongest caregiver support programs available nationwide is called Powerful Tools for Caregivers.

“I’m one of Powerful Tools’ biggest fans,” social worker and Powerful Tools facilitator Carin Mack confessed. “Powerful Tools is a 6 week free intensive program that offers family caregivers the opportunity to learn new strategies for self care within a caring community,” she said. Classes, held once a week, enhance caregivers’ self-care, emotional balance, coping skills, and confidence. In particular, Mack noted, “The group offers ways to handle some of the most difficult emotions experienced in caregiving such as guilt, depression, anger, frustration and grief. It offers new Read the rest of this entry »

Dotty’s Ten Tips For Communicating With A Person Living With Dementia

October 2nd, 2015

I first encountered “Dotty’s Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living With Dementia” when it was published within a blog at The Art of Alzheimer’s in July of this year. Authored by Dorothy DeMarco and originally appearing at the Alzheimer’s Reading room Dotty’s Ten Tips are republished here with the kind permission of her son, Bob DeMarco.

Dotty’s Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living with Dementia

1. You know what makes me feel safe, secure, and happy? A smile.

2. Did you ever consider this? When you get tense and uptight it makes me feel tense and uptight.

3. Instead of getting all bent out of shape when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me, and perfectly nutty to you, why not just smile at me? It will take the edge off the situation all the way around.

4. Please try to understand and remember it is my short term memory, my right now memory, that is gone — don’t talk so fast, or use so many words.

5. You know what I am going to say if you go off into long winded explanations on why we should do something? I am going to say No, because I can never be certain if you are asking me to do something I like, or drink a bottle of castor oil. So I’ll just say No to be safe.

6. Slow down. And don’t sneak up on me and start talking. Did I tell you I like smiles?

7. Make sure you have my attention before you start blabbering away. What is going to happen if you start blabbering away and you don’t have my attention, or confuse me? I am going to say No – count on it.

8. My attention span and ability to pay attention are not as good as they once were, please make eye contact with me before you start talking. A nice smile always gets my attention. Did I mention that before?

9. Sometimes you talk to me like I am a child or an idiot. How would you like it if I did that to you? Go to your room and think about this. Don’t come back and tell me you are sorry, I won’t know what you are talking about. Just stop doing it and we will get along very well, and probably better than you think.

10. You talk too much — instead try taking my hand and leading the way. I need a guide not a person to nag me all the time.

Boost Your Energy and Immunity with Laughter Yoga

August 11th, 2015

Laughing at Ida Culver

Laughing at Ida Culver

You may have noticed, on our calendar, that Ballard Senior Center features a free class in Laughter Yoga (LY) every Thursday. Maybe you’ve encountered Laughter Yoga in one of Seattle’s assisted living settings,  in a corporate context, on the curriculum at Bastyr University, Bellevue college or the campus of University of Washington. Laughter Yoga is embraced and offered in many venues because it’s fun and healing and you don’t have to be in a good mood to reap its benefits! Find relaxation, improve your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and reduce stress while you laugh. LY exercises are suitable for all ages and require no equipment… just you, your stamina, and your willingness to try it.

laughter at the hub

Verde and class at TheHub

Laughter Yoga is fun and playful yet, as Teresa Verde, a pioneer, of Laughter Yoga in Seattle and Certified Laughter teacher since 2001, explains, “This is a vigorous exercise. It is basically a “laughter workout.” Is Laughter Yoga good for elders? I asked. Yes. Laughter increases energy by oxygenating the system and triggering the “happiness factor.”  Keys to a positive experience? Being open to new things, having some level of stamina, and participating in a group that embraces the idea.  Caregivers? Laughter Yoga is also good for you. It relieves stress, can be practiced in the moment, and promotes wellness. Read the rest of this entry »

Easing Caregiving Stress With Mindful Self-Compassion

July 31st, 2015

B. Bartja Wachtel spoke to a packed crowd of caregivers at DSHS’s Giving Care, Taking Care conference. They were there to hear about what some call techniques, skills, or methods  for easing on-the-job stress, but Bartja calls them, “ways of being in the moments of suffering.” Wachtel, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Professional, and Child Mental Health Specialist, and Mindful Self-Compassion Trained Teacher led the group through sometimes moving and deeply effective meditations that can be practiced in moments of difficult feelings or in-the-moment caregiving stress.

Mindfulness Self-Compassion (MSC) practices can be brief or more involved.  Do it in 3 minutes or devote your lunch break. To begin, simply settle into a comfortable position. You may have time to do a 2 minute body scan (a check in on you and where you are in the moment) or perhaps you can manage only a few deep slow breaths into the present moment. Put your hand over your heart to bring affection into your awareness if you like then continue. On a difficult day, maybe you can find 7 minutes for a  Self-Compassionate Break?  If not, Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher, co-developer of  MSC curriculum and narrator of the Self-Compassionate Break audio,  says, this can be used in the heat of the moment. It’s a portable, powerful and flexible tool for managing the stress of difficult emotions.

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