Exploring natural stress relief for caregivers with CBD hemp oil

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Caregiving is stressful. Even the most well-adjusted individual can find themselves struggling with the mix of emotions that a caregiver can experience. On top of stress, being a caregiver can be isolating, leading to depression.

I know I was totally stressed out when I was a caregiver for my parents.  There was that “always on edge” feeling, waiting for that phone call that someone had fallen or someone was headed to the ER. As a long-distance caregiver, there was a sense of helplessness and lack of control. When I moved in with my mother to help in her recovery from a colostomy, I experienced a different kind of stress. My mother and I were complete opposites personality-wise, and we often butted heads.

As I look for ways to help caregivers deal with stress, I’ve explored many options. While yoga and meditation can be beneficial, it can be difficult for caregivers to find time for such activities.  Pharmaceuticals work for some people, but come with a host of side effects. The key is to find something that could help relieve stress, anxiety and depression, but without making one loopy or sleepy. Caregivers have to remain alert in order to perform medical tasks.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about Cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil, and its potential in naturally relieving anxiety and depression, without the psychoactive side effects of marijuana.  My curiosity was piqued. There is  a lot of misinformation about CBD and hemp oil, so I began to investigate its potential for caregivers. Hemp comes from the cannabis plant but it is not marijuana and contains very little THC, which is what causes marijuana’s “high.”

Recently I launched a website, CBDforCaregivers.com. It’s an informational site that includes reviews of CBD hemp oil products that I’ve personally tried. My focus is on how these products can help ease anxiety and depression, along with offering pain relief. (The physical labor involved in caregiving can cause chronic pain.)

I’m excited about the potential of CBD hemp oil products, but the products remain in a murky legal state for now. The hemp provisions in the Farm Bill of 2018, if it passes, could remove the cloud of uncertainty at the federal level, though some states are targeting stores that sell CBD products.

It’s important to check your local laws and consult your doctor before using any natural supplement.

If you’ve tried CBD hemp oil, I’d love to hear about your experience.

 

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The many benefits of weightlifting for older adults

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We know as caregivers that keeping elders active is important to support physical and mental health. But when we think about exercise for elders, we may picture a nice walk versus pumping iron. As it turns out, there are many science-supported benefits of weightlifting for older adults.

According to Nicholas Rizzo’s article on RunRepeat, there are 78 science backed benefits of weightlifting for seniors, to be exact. This excellent resource, along with the accompanying infographic, is useful for anyone caring for an aging relative who needs a jump-start in their fitness routine. Dementia caregivers will want to note the section on the mental health and cognitive functioning benefits of weightlifting. Studies show that weight training can help relieve depression, which is commonly seen in dementia patients. Weightlifting can also improve memory functioning, even in those with dementia.

Of course, safety is paramount when it comes to physical activity. Before beginning any kind of exercise regimen involving older adults, make sure to consult a health professional who can assess the person’s health and determine if there are any limitations. A weightlifting routine should begin with a proper warm-up, involve a safe progression of weights as tolerated and always focus on proper range of motion. When performed correctly, weightlifting can actually help prevent injuries in older adults and reduce their fall risk, by increasing balance, flexibility and mobility, relieving arthritic pain and increasing bone mineral density.

Reading this article makes me want to add some weight training to my exercise regimen and I’m not quite an “older adult.” I’m a walker and stay in decent shape that way, but neglect activities like weight-based exercises which are also important for overall health.

Do you have any weight training tips for older adults?

 

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Caregivers facing tough financial times need better options

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No one likes to talk about money and that’s why so many of us have money issues.

Caregiving can leave one financially devastated. I found myself in this position over the last few years, and I finally took concrete action to rectify my situation. Why did I put it off so long? I thought I could fix it on my own, pay down my credit card debt the old- fashioned way, through dogged dedication and hard work.

The one thing I’ve learned in the post-caregiving phase of my life is that life doesn’t go on pause while you are tending to an ill loved one or grieving over a family member’s death. In my case, I’ve had legitimate expenses like replacing a rotting porch and replacing a busted water heater (that my home warranty wouldn’t cover unless I replaced the pipes in the ENTIRE house.) I took a few trips, but no fancy overseas adventures. I didn’t live on rice and beans, but I wasn’t slurping down caviar, either.

I’ve always been pretty good at managing my debt, but things were not going in the right direction, and I had to set aside my ego and look at my options. I decided on a personal loan, to consolidate my credit card debt and establish one reasonable monthly payment. I had a lot of trepidation about doing it, but the process went fairly smoothly and I feel more in control of my financial situation. In hindsight, I probably should have done it sooner.

In an ideal world, caregivers would have greater access to financial support, so they wouldn’t have to go virtually bankrupt just because they are taking care of a loved one. It’s insane that the government thinks the average, middle-class person can be a full-time or even part-time caregiver and still earn enough to pay the bills without sinking into debt. And that’s if you are able to care for your loved one at home. Facility care can run thousands of dollars per month, and only the wealthy can afford that on a long-term basis.

There are no easy answers, but as more people find themselves taking on the caregiving role, we are going to have to find some practical solutions. Finances are one of life’s most stressful issues and the last thing a caregiver needs is any more stress!

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How genetic testing helped me learn about potential, serious health issue

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There is a lot of buzz these days about genetic testing. Companies like 23&Me have come under fire as critics fear the genetic data could be used by health insurance companies to deny coverage, along with other privacy rights issues.

While I understand these arguments, for me personally, the information I have learned via genetic testing has been very valuable. The following isn’t an endorsement; I’m just sharing my experience.

I did the 23&Me genetic testing years ago. It flagged conditions I already knew I was at risk for, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and what I already have, such as Celiac disease. But the most curious result was the high risk I had compared to the general population for hereditary thrombophilia, which is a predisposition to developing harmful blood clots. I didn’t know what to make of the result (which indicated I had roughly a 60% higher risk than the average person) because blood clots have never been an issue in my family and I’ve never experienced one.

Then my mother became ill, and after her surgery, developed multiple blood clots. Those clots complicated her recovery, so instead of being able to return home post-surgery, she had to spend two months in a rehab center. She required an additional surgical procedure to address her blood clot, which led to its own complications, in which she began to bleed out. She eventually recovered, after spending months on blood thinning medication, which requires strict oversight.

Recently, 23&Me updated their genetic health risk results system and unveiled a new interface in which to interpret the results. By viewing this, I saw that I carry two major genetic variants linked to blood clotting issues: Factor V and Prothrombin G20210A.

So what does this mean for my health? It means that I am aware that because of my genetic makeup, I should alert medical staff before having surgery and I should be vigilant about maintaining leg movement when traveling for long distances. Fortunately, I don’t smoke and I’m not obese, two risk factors, though risk increases as one ages. With precautions, many blood clots are preventable. The problem is, people usually don’t know they are at risk until it’s too late. Just read these stories from the National Blood Clot Alliance.

Let’s face it, my risk for blood clots is not something that would have been uncovered during an annual physical. I have no idea if my mother had the same genetic variants that I do, but I know she would have wanted to know before going through the medical setbacks that the blood clots caused her.

Have you done any form of genetic testing? If so, did you find it helpful or not?

 

 

 

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Food And Alzheimer’s: How To Maximize Nutrition And Make Mealtimes Easier — The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Good tips here! While my dad retained a remarkable appetite when he was in the memory care center, when he landed in the hospital, his appetite dissipated. Caregivers should be prepared to “bend the rules” and let dessert be eaten first, etc. In the end, it doesn’t matter about the order of consumption, as long as your loved one is happy and eating.

Sign up to get these posts and a whole lot more delivered right to your inbox! The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver – Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy, and deal with the rest! 97 more words

via Food And Alzheimer’s: How To Maximize Nutrition And Make Mealtimes Easier — The Diary of An Alzheimer’s Caregiver

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August 21, 2018 · 8:35 pm

A son’s moving musical tribute to his mother with Alzheimer’s goes viral

If you’ve spent time on social media over the past month, you may have seen a video of a touching performance by a young country musician from Iowa named Jay Allen. While Allen may not have been a household name before, he certainly is now.

Allen now lives in Nashville but on July 28, he was performing at Dubuque County Fair in his home state. He had a special guest, his mother, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. Sherry Rich was diagnosed at just 53 years old, and it has been devastating for the entire family. It prompted Allen to write a song, “Blank Stares.” It includes such moving lines as, “If I could only seal the cracks you’re slipping through,” and “Deep down somewhere I swear I still see you/Between the blank stares.”

Allen performed “Blank Stares” at the fair with his mother by his side. A fan captured the touching moment on video, and it was posted on Facebook, where it quickly went viral. The video has been viewed over a million times.

While heartbreaking, it’s wonderful to have young people like Jay Allen raising awareness about this terrible disease. I so appreciate him talking about the financial hardship that Alzheimer’s can cause, because that’s a topic that is not discussed enough. He has touched many people, and proceeds from “Blank Stares” are raising money for Abe’s Garden, a memory care center in Nashville.

If you’ve seen the video or heard the song, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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“Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death” a fascinating documentary

Leave it to me to find the heartbreaking, gut-wrenching yet powerful documentaries. While films about dying are always an emotional experience for me, I also find them thought-provoking, which is why I keep watching them and sharing with others.

The latest film I watched is titled, “Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death.” It aired on PBS earlier this year, but I caught it on Netflix. What I liked most about the film was the diverse range of subjects who were interviewed about their perspectives on death. From people of faith to scientists to a former member of an Islamic extremist group, those interviewed were candid about their thoughts on the meaning of life, death and the afterlife.

I loved the imagery captured in the film, such as a son finding an acorn in the pants pocket of his recently deceased father, or a favorite family photograph of a parent and child on the shore of the beach. There was also an interesting discussion of near-death experiences.

One of my favorite death positive advocates, Caitlin Doughty, is also interviewed for the film. A traumatic brush with death as a young child greatly influenced her life.

The most moving segments were with those who were actively dying. Anyone who has spent time with a dying person knows they often offer an insightful take on their imminent demise. Some people fight death until the very end, but others make their peace with death in order to better appreciate the time they have left.

The overall message I took away from the film is that each of our lives are unique stories, and all stories must come to an end eventually.

Watching such a film made me reflect upon my own views of death, as well as those of my parents. My father, a staunch Catholic, had an intense fear of death. Did his dementia offset that fear, or intensify it? There is no way for me to know. My mother, on the other hand, had a more positive end of life view. She thought we “go to a good place, and a right place,” based upon whatever our views are of the afterlife.

For me, I’m more afraid of terminal disease and the dying process than death itself. I dread the idea of pain, misery and loss of self-control. I also dread the loss of mental faculties, but know that is a distinct possibility, as Alzheimer’s is all over my family tree. I admire those that make peace with death, as I think it is the best way to go. At some point, the fight to live is over, but I don’t see that as giving up. I see that as focusing remaining energy on the life you have left.

If you’ve seen the documentary, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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