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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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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The Next Pandemic: Post-Traumatic Stress

From the beeping of machines to patients gasping for air, from seeing your loved one for the last time on FaceTime to making funeral arrangements, from working in your office at work to filling your full-time hours at home while homeschooling your children, from socializing in your community groups to being isolated at home, from working on the frontlines to then developing symptoms and isolating from your family, from going to regular Tuesday BINGO group to being in your room all the time in a nursing home  and watching through the window young kids playing in their pool across the street, this pandemic has affected all of us in some way. All of our experiences might be different but what is common is the realization that this has been a traumatic, trying time etched in all of our minds. 

I believe our next pandemic will be suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Trauma is experienced differently from one person to the next. Someone may be coping well while another may feel...

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Anxiety in Dementia

Anxiety and worry will show up differently for our family, patients and clients who have dementia. It would be great if they could just say, “I’m feeling really anxious right now.” To recognize and then verbalize it is something we might expect but won’t get. If we continue to expect this to happen, then this in of itself leaves us as caregivers endlessly frustrated. I mean, many of us don’t recognize and verbalize it unless we have really good insight. How would we expect people with dementia to do this?

So why can’t they just tell us? Unfortunately, the skills needed to do just this simple task are dwindling, like insight, good judgement, problem-solving, anticipating risks and language, because the parts of the brain that manage and control these skills are affected by the disease little by little. 

Therefore, instead of words, individuals with dementia are going to show us in other ways that they are anxious. For instance, they might...

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