Caregivers come in all ages and are responding to just as wide span of need as they are of circumstances.
Are you a caregiver?
There tend to be two things all caregivers have in common. The first is that they are in service to someone they love or feel a commitment to help; and second is that their service, even when done out of love, is all consuming and influences the trajectory of their life.
Whether you are a caregiver or know someone who is, this article is for you. Even though the focus of my work is upon Alzheimer’s, dementia and overall aging conditions my focus is focused upon you here.
Why? Because the role of caregiver is increasing in our country exponentially to the point of it being an unpaid full time job for many who assume the job. And this has implications for every area of that person’s life all the way to every area of our health as a functioning society.
Many of my memory challenged clients with husbands or wives, moms or dads, cannot be left alone…they need to be watched and if they are not watched, they will at some point, wander off. My clients, these loved ones may be able to still feed themselves, dress themselves and even drive. Yes, they may still have a relatively functional life, these who suffer dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, yet they cannot always do these very simple tasks.
Sometimes they cannot remember what clothes they have, or who their spouses are…and anxiety worsens everything. Anxiety of the caregiver, perhaps someone just like you, that your loved one suffering will be okay…anxiety that you will fail in some small way to be there that will result in them being hurt.
When it comes to those suffering the conditions I help I am keenly aware that evidence shows they will die, eventually…There is no known cure and no known survivors. The clock is ticking and even if it ticks slowly it moves in one direction. Slowly these precious individuals lose their memories, lose the very sense of who they are and caregivers lose the very ones they love.
The prevailing logic is to encourage caregivers to return again and again to memories. There is the encouragement to support the caregivers to understand how to keep themselves healthy as they watch the decline day after day of the one in their care.
Does it have to be that way?
Sometimes decline is the path to be taken but I do not believe it always has to be that way.
If the words of Einstein could stir our hearts, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,’ could we work together towards a different way to grow older in life and navigate debilitating conditions? I believe so.
And my research supports it. Period.
I do not claim to have a cure, but I do claim to be working towards different outcomes creating a breaking light of hope.
Now, if you read my blogs you hear me talk over and again about my modality CranioSacral Therapy. Have you read that we are finding 10-15 minutes of CST on a daily basis is influencing our clients powerfully?
YES! We are finding their memory is returning, they are finding their words more easily and they are recognizing their caregivers.
These kinds of results offer good news for everyone one aging in need of care and everyone assuming the role of caregiver. Taken seriously, the quality of relationship between both parties can go from complicated and stressful to easeful and life giving. Yes, aging can happen with greater grace.
The results my fellow colleagues and I are finding have spurred us with greater vigor to reach for the next level.
Want to learn more about the next level and how it will give you support? Tune in to my next blog.
Want to learn more about CranioSacral Therapy? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medical science equipment. Shot in a laboratory by © Andrey Kiselev.
You have surely heard the term, ‘evidenced based,’ and most probably have a pretty accurate idea of what it means. But do you know exactly what it means? While evidence based has brought us many of the present day health care options, it continues to push us onwards beyond the mainstream paradigms into NEW paradigms.
After all, at one point or another, every great breakthrough has come about because it showed its effectiveness in achieving its aimed for goals. Can you remember back about 40-50 years ago when chiropractic was on the fringes? And yet, it is now commonplace for an individual or company to rely upon chiropractic as a part of their health plan.
Evidence based practices (a term coined by Dr. David Sackett are abounding all around us. One of the compelling methods making progress in shifting paradigms and introducing solid results is CranioSacral Therapy. In fact CST is a stellar example of what is referred to by professionals as Evidenced Based Practice, the practical application of evidenced based research and expertise.
Sitting for all to see on the Duke Library website is Sackett’s definition of EBP: EBP is “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It is the integration of clinical expertise, patient values, and the best research evidence into the decision making process for patient care.
Clinical expertise refers to the clinician’s cumulated experience, education and clinical skills.
The patient brings to the encounter his or her own personal preferences and unique concerns, expectations, and values.
The best research evidence is usually found in clinically relevant research that has been conducted using sound methodology.” (Sackett D, 2002.)
CST is not only showing results coming to us through the trained clinicians’ recorded data- clinical expertise; but also proving its effectiveness in the research projects attentively relying upon the above mentioned ‘sound methodology.’
This is worthy of lifting your eyebrow and piquing your curiosity to learn more.
There are notably three ways a new method’s results are proven.
The first is the evaluation of a program never evaluated before. The pure canvas can be subjected to investigation without the muddiness of having been around for many years in diverse ways.
Second is antecedal evidence, that is testimonials from patients or clients showing desired results.
And third, research subjected to rigorous scientific methodology showing desired results, which in turn are usually published.
CST is showing up with greater and greater recorded success in a category effecting our nation by the millions- patients suffering early to late stage dementia.
YES, CST is actually showing improvement in those diagnosed with conditions that are determined to be going in only one direction- progressively worse.
This is an exciting time for CST as evidence is opening new doors of confidence for doctors and patients alike. CST is slowly being included in other senior health care programs like art therapy, healing touch, music therapy and more.
As evidence mounts, co
sts decrease and practitioners increase…and the health of our nation takes a turn for the better.
*For more information about upcoming research or to participate as a client or practitioner email: email@example.com and put HP somewhere in the subject line.
What would it be like if we were rewarded everywhere we went for making healthy choices?
Imagine with me for a moment. You walk into your workplace, an environment that gives you a little bit of stress because of the deadlines you are under, or the relationships that are not happy making. Your boss calls a meeting. As you sit there he/she goes on, ‘I want to offer an incentive to each of you. Each time you use our workout room I am going to give you a bonus of 50.00 on the paycheck for that period.’
Would that motivate you?
What about this scenario? Your insurance agency calls, ‘We are giving incentives now for healthy eating. If you will submit a journal of what you are eating to us and we can see you eat 5 servings of vegetables a day and no more than 3 servings of processed bread a week, we will lower your rates by 25%.’
Would that motivate you?
What would motivate you to take care of yourself?
What would our country be like if we rewarded good behavior?
And how imperative do we find it to make changes in our country’s paradigm for health care?
What would it be like if YOU created a gap between your chronological and biological age. This would reap the benefit of energy to spend with those you love, clearer thinking in all the decisions on your plate every day, our elder generation remaining self sufficient for a longer portion of their life span, meaning less time for caregiving, less money for medical attention and more time and money to simply enjoy the beauty of life.
This all sounds great, right?
So why are the cases of organizations and groups employing this strategy so few and far between? Why is it the exception and not the rule?
Perhaps the futility of old patterns is not yet causing enough discomfort to evoke change. Growing diseases like Alzheimer’s WILL take a toll on our economy and resources if we do not do something about our attitudes around health care, including the care of our senior population.
I would like to suggest we start NOW and not wait until things are bad and force us in a new direction.
This is not to undermine the value of any of the forms, practices and ideologies around medicine only to emphasize that we NEED to focus on the simple and potent building blocks of health. If we do, this alone could turn things in a positive direction for our society. While there are many for me to share with you, here are three fundamental ones.
Number One: Choose a nutrition rich diet.
Processed foods cause inflammation, inflammation causes stress throughout the body, and stress throughout the body is going to lead to LESS health. It is simple and logical.
But are consumption of food is not based on reason, it is largely based on emotion. So the question is not how to produce the research that shows this is so, we have that don’t we? The question is how do we create the environment where it feels GOOD to eat healthy? Where it is not so much a sacrifice but a luxury because of the quality and the way we make it affordable and available?
Number Two: Make a commitment to steady exercise.
This is the same series of challenges. We have plenty of proof of the benefits of exercise and if you have a bit of a steady practice you can attest to it as well.
But exercise is still sometimes framed as ‘work,’ or ‘sacrifice,’ what can we do to alter that attitude? What sorts of structures need to be in place to make it accessible and attractive to our culture that is often over worked and under paid?
Number Three: Sleep.
Sleep is when our brain releases toxins. Sleep is when our body repairs and re-energizes. Sleep is not an option it is a necessity.
What can we do as a culture to increase the awareness around sleep and its importance? And what changes can we make to support it as an attractive choice for a world where lights and stimulation go on through the dark hours all around the world?
These are big questions, and from a large view, difficult ones to answer. However, we can begin where we are to make choices for our selves and our loved ones that put a new paradigm in motion.
From this one point we can begin to look locally, state wide and globally.
Health is not optional it is a necessity.
If we take these building blocks seriously we can even shift senior health issues like the debilitating cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia spreading like wild fire. The advantages would be our senior population moving into the role of mentor and support rather than feeling at the end of their lives they have to become dependent to the point of total care.
THIS would be life giving at its finest.
Join me in asking these questions that could change the horizon of health care for all ages and all time.
When it comes to health of the brain, you might be surprised to hear that the gut and the immune system are major players! Yes, even though the gut resides far away from the brain, and the immune system seems to be in its own league of influence they are important to talk about when we talk about the health of the brain.
In fact, the entire craniosacral system is in dynamic relationship with the gut and the immune system. Understanding these relationships can help us understand how to promote longevity and go so far as to reverse debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
But before we go that far, let me start simply by talking to you about the brain, the gut and the immune system.
As we all know, advanace in anatomy do not come at a very fast rate, at least not typically. In the last few years, however, there has been some exciting developments worth sharing here. Researchers at the University of Virginia found that there is evidence of a nerve tract which extends from the meningeal system in the brain all the way to the gut! The meningeal system lines the inside of the bones protecting the brain a bit like a shower cap and closely relates and works with the craniosacral system.
For quite a long time it had been thought there must be some correlation between the information and communication between these two but up until now solid scientific support has not existed, you can only imagine the excitement in the discovery.
Are you wondering why noting this connection is important? Before I connect these dots, let me introduce the immune system.
Just as the meningeal system acts like a shower cap for the brain, so there are protective barriers that exist inside to gut to protect the food we intake and keep it isolated so it doesn’t flow inappropriately into other parts of the body. A common condition occurring when the barrier fails is called leaky gut syndrome. But how could it fail?
The largest cause seems to be the types of food we eat or when inflammation occurs. Processed foods and sugars are one such food. Both causes leave more acid in the mucosal lining of the gut. This acid creates microtears, or holes. And these holes cause a leaky gut.
But wait! The plot thickens. Food particles move through the holes, or pores, and enter the body cavity. Since the food is not where it is supposed to be, it is spotted by the immune system and believed to be an invader. In a way, the food is an invader so the response of our bodies is appropriate. In order to protect the body, the immune system turns its attention to gobbling up the food particles. Resources are drained from the immune system and the resilience of the one suffering declines.
So here the immune system is strained, the gut is experiencing trauma and the brain is in the loop because of the connection through the hard wire tract providing connection.
This set the stage for our next article when I connect the dots, not only on how the connection of these three can increase stress in the person but even better, how the powerful technique, Craniosacral Therapy has a way to reach all three at once.
With Alzheimer’s and dementia on the rise it can be empowering for us to understand what is actually happening in the brain when it deteriorates. Why?
Because there are choices we can make to help increase brain health for ourselves or our loved ones even in the presence of decline or diagnosis.
The key players here are neurons, synapses, glial cells or the glymphatic system, cerebral spinal fluid and plaques such as amyloid beta. What is the relationship of all these pieces? Let me first define each one separately, then we can put the puzzle pieces together.
The most obvious or known to most of us are the neurons and synapses. The brain functions by way of firing electrical information across synapses from neuron to neuron. When the brain is healthy, the firing is healthy and contributes it’s part to the health of the entire person.
Cerebral spinal fluid, or extracellular fluid, sits like a thin membrane right inside the skull and around the brain. It both protects the brain as a whole and nourishes the neurons and neurotransmitters as it washes around and through all the cells.
This brings us to the glial cells, or glymphatic system.
Cutting edge research is shining a light upon the newly defined (and Nobel Prize winning) research identifying this system that runs through the body and brain.
The glial cells surround all the cells in the body to provide a way for waste to move out. In the brain they work a little differently. Billions, about a hundred billion to be a bit more exact, of glial cells form tendrils as fine as a web that extend from the periphery of the brain down deep into every single tiny space inside the brain. The tendrils are sometimes called astrocytes.
This vast network provides a way for the cerebral spinal fluid to move through the brain to do its nourishing job and to remove toxins. When the flow is steady the brain maintains greater health. When the flow is constricted, the neurons cannot do their job and sometimes even die. Inflammation is named as the chief cause. Inflammation comes from many causes but one to mention here is the last player in our series of definitions.
Amyloid beta. It is a protein toxin that clogs the brain. It is called a plaque, so you can think of plaque that collects on objects like our teeth, or on a mored boat. When this plaque increases, inflammation increases and the astrocytes become constricted.
Which means the cerebral spinal fluid cannot wash through all the places of the brain to refresh and renew.
One chief result is memory loss, from simple decline all the way to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
So now knowing the players we can change our choices to increase the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid, to decrease inflammation through diet, exercise and the focus of the next article, sleep.
Have you ever felt there is a little truth to the statement, cranky old man? While no one wants to generalize in a negative way there oftentimes is some reason the phrase has come about in the first place. The statement leads us to wonder, ‘Why did it come about anyway?’
A plausible explanation could be quite simple. When someone older is cranky it could be that their health is compromised. Waking up with aches and pains (another one of those statements;) dealing with the inability to physically perform; feeling stressed over finances shrinking and health care expenses rising are all factors that can show up as crankiness.
But crankiness does not have to be one of the defining qualities of aging. What if crankiness could be turned to happiness?
With all the research devoted to longevity, with all the professionals (like me,) giving their entire lives to create a new paradigm we have reason to believe there is hope.Hope is not just an airy sentiment, it is the realization that our health can be influenced by our choices.
This is the time I get on my soap box, in a gracious way of course. What we put into our bodies will influence how we feel. If we are set on the quick fixes of simple sugars and processed foods we will have the high that leads to a low. But there is more to this than meets the eye. Putting these foods into our bodies is ultimately toxic. YES, toxic. Our body is put into a mode of having to handle the stress of processing these simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. And stress is what takes a toll. Stress breaks down our ability to think clearly. Literally. Stress and pour nutrition are the leading contributors to cognitive decline.
The downwards spiral starts here. As cognitive decline sets in, our choices become weaker and weaker and we fall into a pattern, a habit, of giving ourselves a quick fix. The quick fix causes inflammation. The inflammation causes unhappiness. The unhappiness decreases our quality of life.
Take a look at the pioneering contributions of Dr. David Perlmutter, author of The Grain Brain and Dr. William Davis, author of The Fat Belly, and you will see clearly that much of the power of our health and happiness lies within our choices. My own life’s work is to this end. To help people move from crankiness to happiness; yes, to be a source of hope. My book, The BodyEnergy Longevity Prescription gives the recipe for this hope which includes nutrition.