Archive for the ‘BlogTalkRadio’ Category

Ive Been There A Discussion With a Young Professional 04/03 by Jennifer R Stevens MA CT | Blog Talk Radio.

Check out my interview with social work student, Elizabeth Hendrickson.

Then pop over to www.namasteconsultinginc.com to see her blog posts this week — all about supporting grieving kids and teens.


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Here is a copy of the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights by Jo Horne

 A few of the rights include:

To take care of myself.  This is not an act of selfishness.  It will give me the capability of taking better care of my loved one.

To reject any attempts by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, and/or depression.


www.alzheimersspeaks.com — Award-winning site by Lori La Bey

www.carepages.com – Forums for caregiving, health conditions, etc.

www.care-givers.com – Journal Exercises, Messages Boards, and chats

www.caregiver.org — A Family Caregivers Alliance — info on legal issues, teleconferences, newsletters, etc

http://caringforthecaregiver.org — Lists support groups for the Syosset, NY area, Downloadable 10 page caregiver manual

Podcasts On Itunes:

Long Distance Caregiving by Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

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Timers — Enzo Timer   I cannot tell you how much I love my Enzo timer.  I have not had it long and I am still learning everything about it.  It has interval timers, meaning you can set the timer for several timers in a row.  For instance, if I want to alternate between walking and sitting meditation, I can set it for 45 minutes and then it rings.  When that is done, I move from sitting meditation to walking.  Then the bell goes off in 10 minutes and I go from walking to sitting meditation.  I think it can handle up to 99 intervals.

Not a bad option if you need to do something like take medicine every so often, meditate, or even if you have to do something in the other room and you don’t want to lose track of when you need to check on your loved one again.  You could set several intervals of 15 minutes or however often you need.  It has 2-3 meditation chime sounds, one like an alarm, and one like a wooden block being struck (my favorite).  I use this for all kinds of things now.

Digital Recorder or app for your smart phone/iPad — while you are traveling, record thoughts and ideas, notes to yourself, to do list items, etc.  Right now I have a Droid X and there is an app on there that lets me save a voice recording and it will email it to me.  Nice option.  I get home, there are a few MP3s in emails waiting for me to listen to and decide what to do with them.

Cloth Drawers — In the one “drawer” I have upcoming cards to send out… a few blank cards I send to my grandmother monthly.  She has dementia and I send her a card every few weeks, ones with brightly colored flowers or something simple and pretty on the front.  All of my stamps, gold crown seals, a few pens, etc are all right here.  In the bin next to it, I have things I need at my table in my living room — cords for my iPod, sticky notes, my dvr & dvd remotes, and a few pens.  Everything is at my finger tips.

Plastic containers — I keep all of my thank you notes, stationary, etc in this bin and have some Nag Champa Incense in this box.  The cards take on the faint scent of the incense and I know where all of my blank cards are.   I actually keep this behind a chair in the livingroom, near the front door.  If I get a card, mine are there and I can send one right out.  If I am on my way back to work at lunchtime and I need a sympathy, birthday, or thank you card, they are all right there.  This container has two layers to it.. the cards I use the most are on top… like blank thank yous…

“To Remember” Bag — So, I forget everything everywhere.  I’ve left iPods in hotel rooms and had to call to have them sent to me.  I leave things between my home and my parents…. so I know keep a bag by the back door and put things in it I need to bring certain places.  This one has muffin cups and a sweater for my mother, for my next trip up there.  And it has several books I need to bring to the Post Office.  I will put this in my car before leave for work.

You can do the same thing with a bag for doctor’s visits… a some snacks like granola bars, bottles of water, a few pens, a notebook of questions, a good book to read, tissues, Advil (or what you might need like cough drops, etc).  Keep a folder or manilla envelope in there for things you might need like copies of lab reports, print outs of prescriptions, etc.

Some doctors require that you bring the actual bottles of your prescriptions.  I’ve gotten into the habit (thanks to caregiving for my brother all those years ago) and keep a printed listed of medications I am taking with the dosages and a check in red next to it if I know I need a refill at that visit.

These are just a few ideas of things to help make your life simpler as you juggle things.  I have a typed out shopping list (including brands) that I have on my computer.  It has check boxes and I can print one off, scan down the list, and mark it as I need things.  It’s helpful especially if you send others to the store for you… there is no coming home with Hellman’s when you want Miracle Whip when it’s all there in black and white.

I also have a blank “menu sample” for the week that I can use.  That I used to you when I was doing Weight Watchers and counting points and doing a lot of food prep for several of us for the week.  It came in handy, helped with the shopping, and kept me on track.  This one is a Word doc so you can modify it and use it yourself.  Mine was detailed because several of us were preparing meals… fill it out as simply or thoroughly as you need.

Think of the things that might be helpful to you.  Get them, organize them, and then, most importantly…. USE THEM!

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from A Caregiver’s Challenge:  Living, Loving, Letting Go by M. Schacht

You have the right to:

  • be comfortable with your physician.
  • a second opinion (or third).
  • interview a physician.
  • refuse a particular therapy.
  • refuse medication.
  • think things over and not rush into action.
  • your anxiety.
  • see your records.
  • copies of letters and x-rays.
  • know what side effects may come from sugary, medication, radiation, or chemotherapy
  • have a family member or other support person with you when a plan of action is being explored or explained.
  • make your own decision and not to succumb to pressure.
  • resist emotional blackmail.
  • explore alternative therapies (Herbs, acupuncture, etc.).
  • remain silent.
  • chatter.
  • seek a support group.
  • dignity.
  • grieve.
  • manage your own case!

Don’t think you have to be a patient with a life-limiting illness for this to apply to you.  Remember, if you aren’t your own advocate, who will be?  Who else has your best interest at heart, the way you do?

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Signs of Compassion Fatigue or Burnout

  • Perfectionism – focuses on what needs to be improved, rather than on what has been accomplished, feel like you never succeed at anything
  • Never-ending tasks — work that appears to lack both a beginning and an end, no closure, therefore, feel like nothing is completed
  • Multiple roles – feeling of being overwhelmed by playing numerous roles at work and in personal life
  • Substance abuse – marked increase in consumption of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and caffeine
  • Loss of self-esteem – decrease of self confidence
  • “Negative” Emotions – anger, anxiety, dissatisfaction, guilt, irritability

Related Resource:

The Five Things We Cannot Change by David Richo

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Exercise Promotes Stress Reduction

  • Exercise helps release built up tension from the body
  • Exercise can give you a venue for releasing happy tension as well
  • Exercise releases endorphins and other “happy hormones” in the body, promoting a feeling of well-being
  • Exercise helps promote overall health and wellbeing, which can also lessen your stress experiences
  • Some forms of exercise allow you to be social; other forms can allow meditative states, increase oxygen intake, raise self-esteem & improve quality of life
  • Yoga, Karate, Swimming, Walking, Biking, Non competitive sports like tennis, Hiking, Stretching

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Cover of "Awake at Work: 35 Practical Bud...

Cover via Amazon

In Michael Carroll’s book Awake at Work:  35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work’s Chaos he has a chapter on Extending the Four Composures.

I like the idea of using these composures for our “work” by the bedside. . . when we are being caregivers.  When I apply them to what we do, they remind me of Frank Ostaseki’s Five Precepts for Compassionate Companioning.

Let’s take a look.

  • The Composure of Kindness — Michael write, “The kindness we extend to ourselves in meditation we can now extend to others at work.”  In this section, he talks about letting go… letting go of the story lines in our head, the beliefs that we have about a situation or a person.
    • Instead, he suggests that like when we are on the meditation cushion, come back to the present moment again and again, the thing that teaches us to have kindness and compassion for ourselves as we sit.
    • So can you imagine when you are sitting with your loved one, your patient, your client, waiting at the doctor’s office, or any of the things we do as caregivers, can you say to yourself, come back to my breath?  Drop the storyline?  Be present?  Can you take the extra bit of effort to breathe deeply and let your shoulders drop and your brain waves change there, in that moment?
  • The Composure of Respecting Difficulties —  Michael states, “By sitting still with ourselves, we learn to respect and attend to our “negativities” rather than resist and argue with them.”  In this section, he discusses the ability we foster. . . learning to respect what some might call our shadow side.
    • Can you imagine what that might be like?  To be able to be okay with your grumpiness, your short-sightedness, all of the things that we find to be awkward, stick, and uncomfortable about ourselves.
    • Instead of our usual ways of dealing with ourselves and our “faults”, we can learn what might be like to have the energy it takes to usually push these parts of us away?  Maybe that energy could be freed up for us to actually learn to have more patience, compassion, speak wisely, etc.
  • The Composure of Calm Alertness — In this section Michael reminds us, again, what we learn to do on the cushion is what we learn to bring out into the world with us.  While we’re on the cushion, we may notice that we are bored but we continue to come back to the present moment, attend to our breath.
    • Instead of following up on the story that we are bored and seeing where that takes us — to the kitchen, to the television, etc. we sit with it.  We place gentle attention and focus to our boredom and realize that we can have a level of calm alertness as we attend to our breath.
    • Can you imagine?  What would it be like in the fogginess of running around to doctor’s appointments, running errands, setting up meds, etc if we just sat and attended to that which is there, readily available, moment to moment.
      • Think about the alertness that comes from the practice of Yoga Nidra, attending passively to the consciousness in different parts of our body and the profound effect it has on our brains.  If you didn’t see my other blog and the entry, click here for more on this practice.
  • The Composure of Availability — In this section, Michael states, “On the cushion, we learn to be open and attentive.”  Of course, remember, Michael is talking about using these precepts at work and for this lesson, he discusses applying effort that is not seeking results but being present to what is.  Honestly, I don’t think it is any different in our lives at home either.
    • We are a being that is stuck on the past, moving toward the future, and has difficult being in the present moment.  But that’s why we practice, right?  We learn to let go of reliving the past again and again.  We learn to let go of putting effort into plans for the future.
    • Imagine what it might be like, to be present with the person you love.. not thinking about your adult child as the little kid who scraped their knee or thinking ahead to this Christmas or Passover when that person may or may not be here.  But being really present, making a snapshot, a memory right here and now, crystal clear to cherish.  We can’t create that moment if we can’t be present to it.

Michael says in the book, Awake At Work, “Buddhists regard the very act of sitting itself as the ultimate expression of human decency and poise. Having the composure to sit down and be still is considered utterly dignified and profoundly human.”

Can you imagine what that might be like?  What is it to be dignified and profoundly human?  What does it mean to be that present to ourselves?  to another person?

Can you imagine you, in this relationship with your loved one and it being an awakened relationship?  One that helps you come to and be awake for the only thing that really matters, your love in that very moment.

Peace, Jennifer

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Improving Communication

  • Stay focused
  • Listen Carefully
  • Try to see their point of view
  • Respond to criticism with empathy
  • Own what’s yours
  • Use “I’ messages — “I feel hurt when you don’t talk to me and sleep all day.”
    • “I need to be able to go see friends once in awhile if you don’t want friends to come here”.
  • Look for compromise
  • Take time out
  • Don’t give up – progress can be slow but rewarding
  • Ask for help if you need it

Resources for Communication:

Nonviolent Communication  — Book

Nonviolent Communication — Audiobook

The Five Keys to Mindful Communication: Using Deep Listening and Mindful Speech to Strengthen Relationships, Heal Conflicts, and Accomplish Your Goals — preorder at amazon.com

Related articles

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Being Spread Too Thinly

For many of us today, we’re juggling.  That’s not terribly surprising; people have had to juggle different parts of life for many reasons.  Families who grew up on farms often had to juggle tending to the animals, the fields, the house hold, and the family.  But today, things are a bit different.  On the farm, you might have multi-generations living together or extended family.  I am sure life looked differently when there were more people around to spread life’s duties among many.   Today, it seems like we have just as many responsibilities, less time, and less support.  Rather than having the opportunity to spread out responsibilities like elderly parents, a sick spouse, children who are struggling to make careers, we’ve become spread too thinly.  Often this happens at the expense of our health.

The effect of trying to be everything to everyone is that we have no time for renewal, rest, and recreation.  How do you know when you are spread too thinly?  There are some common characteristics that can be guideposts to keep you from totally hitting the proverbial “brick wall”.  You may find yourself being focused on what needs to be improved rather than on what you’ve accomplished.  Conversely, you might feel like you have never-ending tasks which can bring up the experience of nothing ever being completed.  Finding unhealthy ways to comfort you on the run can go from being an occasional thing to an everyday way of life, such as overconsumption of alcohol, food, cigarettes, or caffeine.  With just these few things going on, self-esteem can decrease and emotions such as anger, anxiety, guilt, dissatisfaction, and irritability may increase.

So what’s the magic formula?  There’s no one answer because our lives are so different.  A few healthy suggestions follow:  practicing stress-reduction techniques that lower hormones related to our stress response and developing a strong support system whether that is a group of friends to walk with or go to a comedy with occasionally.  Both laughter and light cardiovascular exercises can reduce hypertension, increase our immune system, and increase endorphins, our body’s natural pain killers.  Setting realistic priorities and finding ways to balance all the parts of our lives can help us from stretching our limits and being spread beyond healthy boundaries.

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Healthy Care for the Caregiver 03/11 by Jennifer R Stevens MA CT | Blog Talk Radio.

Check out tonight’s show.


Namaste, Jennifer

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