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Family Caregivers and Stress: Day 9 NaBloPoMo

9 Nov

More than a third of the adults in the US are taking care of someone who is ill, disabled, or is limited because of issues associated with aging.   No doubt the rise in diseases that have some element of dementia and cognitive dysfunction has contributed to the growing number of family members who are now being asked to care for someone they love.

Peaceful Place

Imagine a stress free zone and give your brain a NAP!

Family caregivers face very unique challenges.   Just think about the changes that come with being on call all the time.  Add to that the constant heightened awareness that comes with anticipating moods, behavior, and safety; the psychological challenges of dealing with cognitive problems accompanying pain-, disease-, or age-related brain changes; and the purely physical demands of providing care and you have a whole lot of people under serious amounts of stress.

In particular, what happens to the caregiver’s brain?

  • Prolonged stress leads to hypersecretion of cortisol, which damages the hippocampus, affecting the caregiver’s cognitive ability.
  • A highly controlled study showed a significant decline in the verbal IQ and working memory of caregivers.  Controls made it very clear that this decline  had nothing to do with the caregiver’s age and everything to do with the stress she regularly endures.

It is essential to find ways to reduce stress and find those things that fit in your already over-burdened life because, after all, when in a caregiving situation, who has time to care for herself?   Enter Sherri Snelling, the with Me Time Mondays.   Click on the link to watch a solution oriented video about the“sandwich generation” and understand why I love Sherri’s vision and approach to caring.

Me Time Monday – Solutions for the Sandwich Generations

Bright spots and hope?

Pew Research says that 80% of all caregivers are tied in to the technology and actively use it to find solutions, support, and solace.   There are great groups like the Caregiver’s Action Network that provide excellent links to resources for caregivers.


Time to breath....With advice from people like Sherri Snelling and the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, Cranium Crunches created RELAX by Cranium Crunches for the even those with no time to spare to take down the stress and breathe.   (Insider scoop – an update with brain boosting exercise from ARPF, Tai Chi, and 9 new 3 minute or less yoga routines is coming out next week!)

You can also use technology to keep caregivers, care receivers, and families connected and engaged.   Try SKYPE or a Google Hangout.  These personal connections, even remote ones, make providing and receiving care better by taking away any feelings of isolation and being in this whole thing alone.  Reach out and give a caregiver a real or virtual hug.NaBloPoMo November 2013

My Gracefully Aging Brain

18 Aug

Practicing What I Preach and How a Swag Bag Helped Boost My Self-Esteem

Fact of aging:  overall health and well-being is, like it or not, partially driven by how we feel about what we see when we look in the mirror.   Some days it does not matter how quickly I think on my feet, that I am a better problem solver now than I ever was, or that others find what I have to say interesting and intelligent.   What matters are the lines on the sides of my smile, the droop around my eyes, the overall tension of my skin, my not as thick as it used to be hair, and my not so bright and shiny teeth.

A little background for the transformation process…  Three weeks ago I went to a huge women’s blogger conference, BlogHer, in Chicago.   I am not primarily a blogger and my posts are always on a “brainy” mission so I almost passed because I believed I really would not fit.   My friends at BOOMBox Network, however, offered me an opportunity to not just sponsor a party on the last night, the B(L)oomer’s Party,  but to also try out a concept that I have been working on – bringing interactive brain games to brand promotion through a combination of online and “In Real Life” activities all in a party atmosphere.   I just could not resist.

So… I committed to going to the conference, prepped, read up on the protocol, finalized the details for the party game, and, like a good little sponsor, started promoting.

Two conference notes….

The conference, from my “brainy” perspective, was more than I hoped not because of what I learned (although I did learn some new, invaluable things) but because I stepped outside my comfort zone and made deep human connections with people who enhance my life and make me feel (and therefore think) better.    I laughed (until I cried) with this group of like-minded, passionately positive women who share my mission for thriving as we age — with our minds, dignity, and destiny in our control.   (See the bottom of this post for links to some of their blogs.)

Second, the “game” was a total success — all of the numbers point to, “Brand Engagement with a capital E”.   Trying new things in business and, again, stepping outside of my comfort zone to try something untested, in a public arena, helps me nourish my brain in so many ways.

So even before I got home and I opened my swag bag from the B(l)oomer’s Party, my confidence and self-esteem were on the rise.   I guess I got these products free so I probably should disclose that fact.   I might not have tried any of them if someone had not given them to me but they did and I am glad.

Three weeks later a couple things stand out.

Thank you for the hair!First, I have hair or at least what feels and looks like thicker hair.   Biota Botanicals shampoo is awesome.    I love that, for the first time in 26 years, I don’t look like I have 3 strands of hair plastered to my head!   Nice!

rocJPGSecond the lines around the side of my mouth are almost gone, the skin around my eyes is not sagging as much, and overall my complexion is brighter and tighter.   No kidding…. I used a combination of things from my magic swag bag but here are the main pieces of the puzzle.  I used Murad Renewing Eye Cream at night and ROC MultiCorrection 5in1 Daily Moisturizer both in the morning and at night.   Even though my life has been quite intense the past 3 weeks, I look less tired and that makes a huge difference in how easy it is to push forward!

Hello toothpaste!Third, my teeth have not aged as well as the rest of my body.   I was excited to see a 99% natural toothpaste in the bag that promised to “strengthen and whiten”.  I might have tried this product in the store had I seen it because of its wonderful, unassuming name (“hello”) and the fact it says it was “made in the friendly USA” by Hello Products.   Bonus – it works, it tastes great, and it makes me smile every time I pick up the container and it says “hello”!

My 3-week self-promotion through swag project was pretty successful!

The following are links to the writings of some of passionately positive and positively inspiring women I met in Chicago.

Midlife at the Oasis
Grandma’s Briefs
Books is Wonderful
The New Elizabeth
Connie McLeod
An Empowered Spirit
Patricia Patton
First Class Woman
Reason Creek
The Succulent Wife
In the Powder Room (Janie Emaus)
Apart From My Art
Chloe of the Mountain
Carpool Goddess
…and some powerful resources for a better life
RTime (PK Fields)
Ellen Dolgen
…and sooo many more that I will remember and update later!

You may find a huge collection of these voices at

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