Treat Clean

We've talked about thinking and feeling clean, i.e., swapping out toxic, quick fixes for long-term, effective, clean strategies for managing cognitive, mental, and emotional health. These are individual choices, however, what about if you are a professional treating patients or residents. What are their choices? Often in medical settings, it's quick to prescribe or give a pill to fix these very concerns. Like, a dementia patient starts to yell out, is repetitively talking, and wandering around, often they are given a PRN medication to calm them down. Why? What else could have been done? It's our due diligence to inform the patient, resident or their family on alternatives to medication - non-pharmacological interventions. What are those alternatives?

Great alternatives for mental and emotional health are essential oil use, like lavender for relaxation or agitation, peppermint to focus and socialize, or lemon or wild orange to boost mood. Other alternatives might be journaling,...

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Is Your Community CLEAN?

As time progresses, we think it is safe to say that we are maneuvering under a strict cleanliness guide. At the very least, it is the one thing we know for sure.

Unfortunately, COVID has presented challenges in communities that have been difficult to navigate. Each day, we struggle with deciding our next steps as the unknown is great. Emotionally and physically, we are challenged as each day passes to create a safe environment. Statistically, the vintage folks are at a much higher risk, but we believe that natural solutions can be quite effective and consoling.

We have been extremely impressed with some implementations that have been occurring in communities and facilities. Essential oils and aromatherapy have been used for thousands of years and can be added to aid in cleanliness. This tool is popping up more and more in the medical community as a way to aid them for their patient care. It is such a positive step in the direction to supporting the body and brain at being...
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Think Clean

Everyone is pretty keen on cleanliness these days! And, why shouldn't they be? We are living in a society that has relied heavily on being clean. What does that mean? Should we be concerned with over-clean? Don't we rely on bacteria and viruses to keep our immune systems strong? Is there a balance? How about being clean with your emotional and cognitive health?

We think that there is and so do other communities, like yours, that are adding additional layers of support using non-pharmacological care. We thought we would share some really great ideas that you can implement; we can even help create a program just for you and yours in mind. Here is some food for thought.

In a small study of 28 individuals with dementia, a blend of rosemary and lemon were used in the morning, and one made from lavender and orange in the evening, as summarized on Health and Healing NY. Patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's showed a positive change in dementia...

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Depression in Dementia

During this pandemic, many have had to reflect on how this has impacted their mental health. However, our residents, patients or loved ones with dementia aren't able to reflect like this and need us to really help them through this. 

I wanted to share an excerpt from my upcoming book on dementia care directed towards families about how to help those who have dementia and are experiencing depression.

"Depression is very common for individuals living with dementia. Although the exact causes of depression in Alzheimer Disease are unknown, it is clear that changes in brain chemistry play a role. Changes to brain chemistry may be triggered internal by aging, genetics, or another disease, such as Alzheimer disease. External factors such as experiencing the death of a family or friend, work or troubles, or other traumas and stressors may also trigger changes to brain chemistry leading to depression.

            With this...

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To Be or Not To Be

This pandemic has driven many down the road of negativity. Some will continue down that road but others may be sitting back and reflecting, saying, "I can't do this anymore. Something has to give." Perhaps vacillating between "I can either keep eating like this and continue to gain weight or get back to my healthy eating and exercise habits" or "I can keep drinking everyday or cut down or stop all together" or "I can keep miserating in my bed or get back up." Did you hear that...."GET BACK UP". That's the key.

Get back up to being healthy again. Get back up to being present for your family. Get back up to be able to enjoy work again. Whatever your story. Get back up, and get your life back!

You need to find what works for you. Perhaps you have things that have helped you in the past that you just simply need to brush the cobwebs off, like journaling or gardening. Or maybe there are new ways to cope that you have never tried but want to - have you tried brain exercises or using...

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Stay Positive

As we all navigate through our "new normal", changes continue as we struggle to stay present and positive. This past week brought a whole new meaning to that for me as a parent to a teenager. Quarantine has meant different changes for each, but this past week created quite a struggle to practice what I preach. 
 
My son's childhood friend committed suicide. An Instagram post stuck out as he scrolled on a lazy Sunday, as most teens are doing early afternoon. His face was awe struck as he reached out for me, like he did when he was little. I had no idea in that moment what a new reality I faced as a mom. A conversation that I had with countless students 20 years ago when I taught high school but not as a mom! I wanted to wish it all away, after all, had we not been discussing the mental state of our children with this quarantine; no school, no sports, no family, no friends....how are they supposed to survive without each other or their outlets?
 
I had a choice. I...
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The Road to Recovery - "Got Tools?"

“It’s going to be ok. I am here for you. You will be at peace. Hail Mary full of grace…” I’m examining her face. She has such a beautiful glow to her skin, as if she aged in reverse in a matter of hours. She appears at peace, but she has shallow breathing. Her mouth open; eyes open but focused on heaven. Although she has had dementia for several years, the coronavirus has chosen her. I wish her life didn’t have to end this way. I rub her hand with my plastic covered thumb as it’s cupped in hers. As she’s passing, there is nothing I can do, as these were her wishes. All of sudden, I wake up drenched in sweat, breathing heavy. Within a few seconds, I realized I was just dreaming, but was I really?

Working with individuals with dementia who have contracted COVID-19 has been rewarding yet incredibly challenging. After a few of these nightmares, I realized quite quickly, I don’t want to go down this road again. I experienced PTSD...

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Practicing Gratitude

Through all the loss that people have experienced recently (loved ones, jobs, money, etc.), at some point, if not frequently, you stop to think about what you're grateful for. Your mind wants to shift gears from being trapped in  the negativity, reaching for something more. 

I've talked in the past about one coping skill in my toolbox is practicing gratitude. Gratitude is a reflection on what you are thankful for, what you can and should appreciate, a moment for you to stop and be in the moment with your thoughts.

Practicing gratitude might look different for you than me, and that's ok. This is how I do it. Every morning, right after I wake up, I write down in my journal 5 things I'm grateful for. I then envision me practicing that gratitude by either thanking someone if that is what I am grateful for or giving back to what I am thankful for. Lastly, I carry out that act sometime that day or week. 

Notice that it's not just about writing it down but actually...

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Post-Traumatic Stress: This is My Story

I sit here holding your hand with my gloved hand, stroking it gently with my thumb back and forth and back and forth. I look into your eyes and give you a look to reassure you. We spend time together - me exchanging words with you, making sounds, or humming a song through my face mask and goggles. Your breaths become rapid. We call your family. They get to see you one last time. They cry, but you give them a look that everything will be alright. You are at peace. Your vitals are dropping and breaths become even more rapid. You look back at me and close your eyes. 

Working the frontlines over the last few months has been incredibly rewarding yet exhausting, touching yet sad, hopeful yet hopeless, all at the same time. I’m one of the many that sit with your loved ones or patients with dementia day in and day out as they struggle with COVID-19. I’m the one of many that help feed and take care of them. I’m the one of many that rush to grab the oxygen when they are...

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The COVID Trauma Through My Eyes: A Look into the Temporary Stay-at-Home Parent

It’s been a solid 13 weeks since the insurance company I work for sent us home to work remotely due to the pandemic. I thought, “Holy cow, this is a dream come true!! Roll out of bed and just log on to my computer to work, wear pajamas all day, have no one breathing down my neck, this will be a cake walk.”  As they say, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ Or is it?

My wife works in corporate healthcare and quickly her flexibility was gone. She was pulled to the front lines to help as other workers got sick or absent due to fears of catching the Coronavirus.

Now she is gone 12 hours a day working in a COVID unit at a nursing home. It's scary enough that she could contract the virus, get sick and die, but also bring it home, possibly infecting myself or our two children (4 and 5 years old). That’s pretty stressful in itself as we all live in the same home, touch the same door handles, eat at the same table, and sleep in the same...

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