Oct 272013

We’ve all heard that exercise is “good for you.”  But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

You bet it is. For caregivers, it can make the difference between pain and harmony.

There seems to be no end to the benefits of exercise. Studies have found that regular exercise can prolong life, keep your lymphatic system moving, build stronger bones, and help maintain a healthy weight among many other things. And those are just the primary benefits; as a result, you are less likely to  suffer from arthritis, broken hips, sore knees, and countless other ailments caregivers are often only too familiar with.

Caregiving is already a physical job. Adding a workout when you’re full of aches might sound like a recipe for pain. However, you will find your level of hurt decreases as your body strengthens. Exercises that work with your “core” – your abdomen and mid to lower back – are especially helpful in reducing pain in a life full of lifting, crouching, and bending.

Here’s a simple core exercise to get started;

Lie down on your back. Keep your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest, touching your shoulders (you’ll look sort of like a mummy!) Take a deep breath. Then, keeping your chin straight up, lift your upper back and shoulders off the floor while tightening your belly. Remember to slowly exhale as you go up – it keeps your blood pressure from rising during this exercise. Hold for three seconds, then slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Take another good breath, and repeat. Do this a few times every day or two, and your   (not you’re) core will grow stronger.

Want something even easier? Try going for a nice, refreshing walk! If you can, a stroll outside in fresh air can calm your mind while the cardio exercise does wonders to help your body.  Over time, build up to short spurts of  brisk walking, followed by a few minutes of slow walking. This alternate walking intensity  is an easy, yet most beneficial exercise.

Even if that’s not an option, there are plenty of ways to benefit from walking. “Mall walkers” visit their local mall and stroll from end to end (a setting which might be fun for some, not for others). Going up and down stairs at home is another, often quieter choice. Or, if you can afford it, investing in a treadmill could be worthwhile.

Oxygen feeds your muscles, so it’s important to take full, deep breaths while exercising.  Using essential oils also oxygenates your system. Scientific studies have shown that  therapeutic essential oils increase the intake of oxygen and ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fuel for individual cells.  Black Pepper is a single oil noted particularly for increasing cellular oxygenation.  In studies conducted at Vienna and Berlin Universities, researchers found that sesquiterpenes, found in essential oils such as Cedarwood, Frankincense, Melissa, Patchouly, Sandalwood, Vetivir can increase levels of oxygen in the body and  brain by up to 28% (Nasel 1992).”

One or two drops of an essential oil, applied to your hands, then rubbed over your head, neck, chest, and/or bottom of your feet  is all it takes.

Research indicates that when essential oils are diffused, they can increase atmospheric oxygen and provide negative ions. My understanding is that all the low pressure, low heat, steam distilled therapeutic grade oils increase the uptake of oxygen in the body. All the citrus oils are excellent and smell so good.

Caregivers, if you feel cooped up or are too exhausted to exercise on a regular basis, rethink those thoughts – your caregiver performance will get better as you get more oxygen in your system and as you strengthen it with regular, even if brief, activity and essential oils.

With Love and Gratitude.


P.S. also an excellent choice is the “Rebounder.” It gets your lymphatic system moving – and those benefits are excellent and needed.

Oct 232013

To Cope with Death and Loss – Ritual is Important

Death is an American taboo. It’s not spoken of very much and is often considered a “personal” matter. We don’t want to talk about it with those who are experiencing a loss. I’ve had the opportunity to share the life stories of many people from all walks of life and their journey through the darkness called the death of a loved one or someone close to them.

Almost to a person they tell stories that are of a would of, should of, or could of nature. Stories that tell me that those left behind put themselves through unnecessary pain and suffering. These people more often than not carry with them guilt about all that they meant to do with their departed loved one but never got around to.

Just how are we to respond when someone close to us dies? Certainly with sadness. Sadness over never feeling their touch again, hearing their voice, or seeing them smile. A sense of loss. Now each of us will deal with loss on our own time table, but all of us will go through a grieving process that includes these five stages:

  1. Denial:
    • Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me!”
  2. Anger:
    • Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!” “How can this happen, I hate this world!”
  3. Bargaining:
    • Example – “I should have…, If I had only done…, If I had it to do over I would…”‘
  4. Depression:
    • Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I want to die . . . What’s the point?”
  5. Acceptance:
    • Example – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well deal with it.”

The problem for all too many is that they get “stuck” and never get to the final step: acceptance.

It is when we can accept that our loved one has moved on that we can begin to heal. Start the road to recovery that can be both enriching and fulfilling. Sounds impossible? It’s not. Most of us are taught to think in a linear manner. That is everything has a beginning and an end and that the beginning and the end are absolute, set in stone if you will.

Let’s look at life and death through the ways of the Native Americans who see all of creation as a circle. Without an arbitrary beginning or end. Yes the Native American feels exactly what you and I feel when facing the loss of someone we love, the difference is in the perspective they take when remembering that person. Rather than dwelling on the would of, could of, or should of they choose to honor the memory of that person through their actions.

The memory of that person lives on through me. It is by the actions I take toward others that I show honor towards those that have gone on before me.

It almost becomes a ritual. You encounter another person or event then you ask how would my departed loved one handle this encounter, then you act in that way. Knowing that by your action you have remembered your loved one while doing something good or positive.

Ritual is important. We all are involved in ritualized events every day of our lives. One ritual worth considering is to associate the memory of your loved one with a fragrance. Take any of the Young Living Essential Oils, find one that brings you a sense of comfort, than apply a small amount whenever you are troubled by a memory of your deceased loved one. Allow yourself to think only good thoughts when the fragrance of Young Living Essential Oils is encountered.

Yes, death can be painful, but when we learn to replace hopelessness with hope, when we seek the guidance of God in all that we do, when we live to honor our departed loved one we along with Paul can say   “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” 1Cor 15:55 RSV

Oct 192013

I cared for my mother for the last three years of her life. She was at home most of the time and moved to an inpatient facility for the last three weeks. My mom was a rather private person and anyone who knew her, knew that. That’s why I was absolutely astounded when it came to visits by friends, associates and especially family.

I remember growing up and going to see people in the hospital. There were specific days and times that anyone could visit and outside that forget about it. What changed? I’m not sure how to answer that question but I know one thing I had to find a way to get control of my front door!

It occurred to me that many visitors never thought about much of anything prior to visiting.

What’s to think about?

  • Calling ahead to see if it is a good time
  • Asking if the care giver or patient need anything
  • Is anyone already there? it can get crowded quickly
  • How many people are you bringing to visit?
  • Setting a time limit for the visit and sticking to it

Something else to think about is bringing children to visit. As wonderful and beautiful as they are, young children are busy and can add stress to an already stressful situation. My mom had eight grandchildren and relished every opportunity she could to see them. During the late stages of her illness, I had to limit these visits and eventually stop them.

It was also evident that many visitors ignored my mother during their visit. I administered many doses of medication and my mom would doze frequently. She was not always asleep. A family member or friend would drop by and begin asking questions about her condition, speaking as if she wasn’t in the room. I simply tired of telling everyone, “She can hear you” and let them ramble. We had a few good laughs around those visits.

I remember from my dog training days that it was essential to get control of the front door. This was the mindset when I decided to develop my rules for visitation: 

Do call ahead for a home, or hospital visit.  Why walk in on an unexpected bath or potty break, or just walk in unexpected

  1.  Upon arrival, check with the caregiver about time limits, you may not be as welcome as you think.
  2. Ask before bringing flowers, (allergies) unless you just want them for your house.
  3. Respect meal time, bath time, and family time don’t stare while I’m eating or bathing!
  4.  Don’t hang around if the doctor shows unless you brought your proof of insurance.
  5. Quietly exit the room if the nurse enters, needles, enemas, shall I go on?
  6.  Do direct questions about the patient to the patient if at all possible; hearsay is inadmissible in court.
  7. Remember medication does not render deafness.
  8. Leave your personal issues at the door; I have plenty to deal with.
  9. Bring a smile and a good joke, I need a good laugh.

Published by Essential-Caregiver.com with permission from the author who likes to remain anonymous.

Oct 172013

Of all the stress-relieving options out there, few are as easy or as effective as meditation. If caregiving is causing stress to build up, I strongly encourage you to give meditation a try – it takes only a few minutes a day, and doesn’t cost a penny.

Meditation is essentially focused relaxation.

The goal is simple; reach a state of calmness and serenity by clearing your mind of the thoughts racing through it. The benefits of that kind of relaxation goes beyond emotional – scientific studies continue to prove meditation’s positive effects on high blood pressure, allergies, sleep problems, and pain relief.

There are many ways to meditate.

Tai Chi and Yoga are examples of using physical action to help relax the mind and body. Others use prayer or a “mantra” – a constantly repeated word or phrase – to help prevent distractions. But meditation doesn’t have to be so complicated.

If you’re a caregiver with only a few minutes to spare, here’s a simple way to achieve the tranquility of meditation:

Find a nice, relaxing place. Some people prefer quiet, while others might enjoy soothing background noise. Sit down in a comfortable position and take a long, deep breath. Close your eyes, and concentrate on the air you’re taking in. Feel it filling your lungs. Hold for the mental count of 3, then slowly exhale. Focus all of your attention on your breathing, blocking out all other thoughts. Try to keep this up undisturbed for at least 3 to 5 minutes or longer. Do this when ever you need to calm down, but better yet, do it once or twice a day before you need it to calm your nerves.  You will find that over time you become a more balanced, calm individual.

To meditate is not difficult, and yet, the more you do it, the better you get.

If you think you didn’t “do it right” the first time, don’t worry, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate, only guidelines to help you find an internal harmony of mind and body.

Adding a relaxing fragrance to the area where you meditate makes it an even better experience.

Outdoors, meditating near fragrant roses, honeysuckle, jasmine, citrus in bloom, or under pine or cedar can greatly enhance the meditation experience.

Indoors, diffusing or spritzing one of the above mentioned fragrances in form of essential oils can enrich the experience. People often associate certain aromas with certain moods.  Do you have an aroma or fragrance which has calming effects on you?

For me, the fragrance of citrus in bloom has one of the most relaxing associations. When I first came to California, the orange and lemon trees were in bloom. I so loved that fragrance that I decided to sleep near or in an orchard. Being near blooming citrus  trees always relaxes me and even quickly brings on sleep.  For many years I wished there would be a way to capture that fragrance in off season, until I discovered the aroma of Young Living’s Lemon oil. There are few aromas that have that kind of refreshing, invigorating and yet relaxing fragrance than YL’s LEMON essential oil.

Read more here: http://essential-caregiver.com/lemon-oil-magic-for-caregivers/

With Gratitude and Love,

Margarete de Gaston