New Life for Caregivers. Part 1

New Life for Caregivers. Part 1

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 info@bodyenergy.net.

 

Being In-the-know When It Comes To Concussions

Being In-the-know When It Comes To Concussions

Concussions and other TBIs take us out of the know by damaging our brain health. From the young child to the professional, sacrificing the head for the sake of excelling on the playing field is part of the unspoken package of success. This is a shout out to all of us to get ‘in-the-know’ around prevention and rehabilitation. One way we can do this is by learning about the therapies available and effective for brain health.

The resources are growing exponentially and are explained online through articles and videos revealing all angles. But here are four therapies I believe are pretty easy to find and try in most cities.

1. Acupuncture is the first one. Not only is a D.O.M. (Doctor of Oriental Medicine,) fairly common, but America is boasting solid schools to train us westerners in this ancient medical modality, enculturing us into some of the wisdom originating about 3500 years ago in chine.

Acupuncture works with the life force, which is called Qi or Chi of the body bringing balance and flow between the surface and the organs. In the system there are 2000 points on the body connected by pathways called meridians. Once an analysis is conducted usually feeling pulses and looking at the tongue the doctor will use needles lightly inserted into the surface of the skin to modulate or effect the flow of Qi and bring balance to the body. Where there needs to be stronger Qi the needle will be turned in one direction, and where Qi needs to be tempered it will be turned in the opposite direction.

2. Massage is the second therapy and is, as you know, much more hands-on. This is much more than instant gratification, though the effects of nurturing and touch are not to be underestimated. It also detoxifies the lymphatic system, helps release metabolic waste build up, improves blood flow, helps close the gate of pain messages which is the path of trauma speaking to the brain reinforcing the pattern instead of releasing it. Massage also bring the anatomy into alignment and even stimulates health production of hormones to relieve stress, anxiety and depression.

3. Reiki is on the opposite end of physical body manipulation. It is perhaps the lightest touch of the therapies, if you are even touched at all. The practitioner focuses upon being a channel or vessel of Chi to strengthen the non-physical energy of the person, ultimately bringing health to the physical body. The physical body is seen as the densest of ‘what we are,’ and therefore the product of our more subtle energy. Reiko operates under the premise that Chi/life force/energy is what informs the universe, and by virtue of us being part of the creative universe, us as well. The practitioner oftentimes lays hands upon the body in a stationary and systematic fashion, being a point of focus for Chi to go where it will. Since Qi/Chi always seeks full health, it will always move as it will and where it will to accomplish this end.

4. While there are many more modalities to share with you, this last reference is to Craniosacral therapy which situates itself (in the manner of touch) between Reiki and massage. Most CST practitioners draw upon both of these however during a session. The Upledger pioneered technique works with the craniosacral system (its membranes and cerebrospinal fluid,) through gentle touch to enhance the system and improve the central nervous system. CST is shown to help an ever widening array of conditions including concussion and TBI since it works with the fluid in the brain it is directly helpful for all head injuries. IN addition CST helps autism, chronic fatigue, spinal chord injuries and my passion the prevention and reversal of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

These are just a few, there are many more. So email me to learn what you can do for your own brain health. With so many easily accessed options, why not be in-the-know?

 

 

 

Lessons Learned from the first CSG2 Class

I had the honor of teaching the first 2 day CST and Geriatrics class last week in Southern California. Here are some observations about the class:

1. It works! Students were able to easily learn how to palpate the CranioSacral Rhythm and learn how to do a still point on each other. The easy pace of the class gave students the time to have all their questions answered, get validation, and to gain confidence in their own ability to treat patients.

2. Variations on a theme: How to modify the still point to treat patients in a geriatric setting was very successful. Students learned how to treat in situations that will support more challenged clients.

3. The mix of beginning and more advanced students worked very well. Advanced students (SER 1 and above) were able to refine their listening skills and prepare themselves and apply their knowledge to a geriatric population. In addition, they became a resource for the new students who may want to refer their patients to others for more advanced work.

4. Our presentation of the mechanism of what causes Dementia and Alzheimer’s, which included the inflammatory process, was well received. It was simple enough for everyone to ‘connect the dots’ to their own experience.

5. Lastly, we were able to treat three Geriatric patients that were in their 80’s. Each felt the benefits of the treatment. Students were able to feel and see the changes that their CranioSacral Training brought about. The students were able to practice a simple protocol that, in 15 minutes, allowed them to relax their patients, find areas in the body that needed treatment, and reduce inflammation in the body.

During our time together we found, in the process of treatment, many of our seniors were able to tell their life story and have somebody listen. It was very validating to see our seniors respond in such a positive way.

The CSG2 Story: Art and Science

You’ve heard the expression “this is as much of an art as it is a science.” This was never as true as in our research on CranioSacral Therapy and Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I learned in the process of coordinating this study that a scientific study is not just all white lab coats and clipboards. There is a lot of subjective “behind the scenes” observation and assessment.

One of the things I begin to notice as I would check in on the patients in our six-week study is their starting point. If you’ve been around a Dementia or Alzheimer’s patient you notice how withdrawn and deeply inside their psyche they seem to be. Having also worked with a number of autistic and cerebral palsy children, I was also familiar with that withdrawn, “hard to get to” mental place. Although the mechanism of why these kids display their symptoms is a bit different, the outcome is the same-lack of connection and communication with the outside world.

We began to notice that about halfway through our six-week Alzheimer’s study the patients started to change-get more interactive, more cognizant, more changes in verbal and social behavior. I began to ask our key investigator, “Do any of these patients have any prior disease process or history?” It was as if I’d asked the stupidest question in the world. “Of course” was the answer.

It turned out when I was able to examine the medical history of these patients that many of them displayed indications of sometimes decades old inflammatory processes diabetes, arthritis, and a whole host of problems that we commonly associated with the aging process. I would notice that our subjects seemed to be sitting on a mountain of accumulated issues, and as the momentum of our 5-10 minute daily treatments took hold, not only would they display momentary clarity but also begin to process and release restrictions that might have been lodging in the body for decades. We had one 100-year-old woman in a nursing home in Minneapolis who started speaking in complete sentences and was able to start feeding herself.

In my own experience of treating early onset dementia I found a common first response is that patients feel more relaxed and less anxious. This is also something the caregivers and family members notice as well. The less stress there is on the body, the healthier the immune system and the greater the fluid flow.

Another effect we noticed was that family members and caregivers were able to have much more interaction with the patients. As the patients began to retrieve some memory of who they were speaking with, sometimes surprised caregivers had the opportunity to interact in a more meaningful way. This is not usually the case in the degeneration that is associated with this condition. Our hope is that continued application of these CST Techniques will offer even more improvement.

The CSG2 Story

Through my teaching of CranioSacral Therapy and my study of natural healing practices over the last 20 years, I’ve become aware that in many “traditional” cultures the elders are an integral part of the family, the culture, and the web of life. The elders are, in essence, a resource for the younger generation. I was so struck by this reality that one day I will publish a book entitled “Honor the Elders, Rituals and Ceremonies Throughout All Stages of Life.”

It was upon this realization that I begin to think, “How could CranioSacral Therapy assist the aging population to transition in an easier, graceful manner as their chronological age advances?” Having a stepmother in an Alzheimer’s unit in California and, later on, a sister-in-law who succumbed to some of the same symptoms, I began to think that CranioSacral Therapy (CST) might be a key for their challenges. About this same time my mentor, Dr. John Upledger, wrote an article about the circulation of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) in the brain, and how even middle to aging adults had half the circulation of their younger counterparts.

There are many coincidences that seem to occur in CranioSacral work. In my case, I had some clients and associates who were retired Professors of Nursing at the University of Iowa. With their help and research they confirmed Dr. Upledger’s findings, and found, even more to the case, that circulation of CSF in patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s was even less than that of aging adults, even half again as much. To put a number to this, a normal adult produces 800ml a day of CSF, a “middle age” person perhaps 400ml a day, and a person with Dementia and Alzheimer’s 200ml a day.

We quickly began to assess the implications of this lack of CSF flow in the brain. You see, CSF has a “chelating” or washing action which helps removes heavy metals across the blood brain barrier. In addition, immune system factors, which in a normal adult keep the brain free and clear of inflammation, become compromised when CSF flow is lessened. We began to think that if we could somehow increase the flow of CSF in at-risk patients or patients in any stage of Dementia, would it have a positive effect?

Well, it turns out there is one tried and true CST technique that accomplishes just this. It’s called the Still Point. It increases the flow of CSF in any client. We designed a 6-week study to assess the effect of CST on agitation in patients in various stages of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Agitation is one measure that any institution would like to manage better if they could. Published in 2008, our study shows that regular application of this CST Technique has clinical and statistical significance.

That’s how CSG2 came into being. Building on this research we want to get the information out to the public-to laypeople, caregivers, therapists and others who treat this population.