How to Deal with Cabin Fever

Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.

In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.

Indeed, cabin fever is a series of emotions or symptoms people experience when they’re confined to their homes for extended periods of time. This may be due to a variety of circumstances, such as a natural disaster, lack of transportation, or even social distancing for pandemics like COVID-19.

Recognizing the symptoms of cabin fever and finding ways to cope may help make the isolation easier to deal with. Keep reading to learn more about how to do this.

What is cabin fever?

In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you’ve been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that’s not the reality of the symptoms.

Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they’re isolated or feeling cut off from the world.

These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of social distancing, self-quarantining during a pandemic, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.

Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.

Cabin fever isn’t a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or “stuck” at home. They’re rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:

  • restlessness
  • decreased motivation
  • irritability
  • hopelessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irregular sleep patterns, including sleepiness or sleeplessness
  • difficulty waking up
  • lethargy
  • distrust of people around you
  • lack of patience
  • persistent sadness or depression

Your personality and natural temperament will go a long way toward determining how cabin fever affects you.

Some people can weather the feelings more easily; they may take on projects or dive into creative outlets to pass the time and ward off the symptoms.

But others may face great difficulty with managing day-to-day life until these feelings pass.

What can help you cope with cabin fever?

Because cabin fever isn’t a recognized psychological condition, there’s no standard “treatment.” However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.

The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you’re secluded in the first place.

Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.

The following ideas are a good place to start.

Spend time outdoors

Research shows that time spent in nature is time well spent for mental health.

Not only does spending time outdoors boost your cognitive function, it may also help:

Depending on your reason for isolating, be sure to check all local regulations and avoid any spaces that are closed for safety or health reasons.

If getting outdoors isn’t an option, you could try:

  • opening up your windows to let the outdoor breeze in
  • adding a bird feeder outside your window to bring birds closer to your living space
  • ordering or buying fragrant, fresh-cut flowers and placing them where you can see and smell them throughout the day
  • growing herbs or small plants on a windowsill, patio, or balcony

Give yourself a routine

You may not have a 9-to-5 job to report to while you’re isolated, but a lack of routine can cause disruptions in eating, sleeping, and activity.

To keep a sense of structure, try to create a daily routine that consists of work or house projects, mealtimes, workout time, and even downtime.

Having an outline for your day helps you keep track of the trajectory of your hours and gives you mini “goals” to hit throughout the day.

Maintain a social life

So you can’t go to the movies or meet your friends for dinner. But you can still “meet up” with them — just in a different way.

Use real-time video streaming services, like FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype, to chat with your friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Face-to-face chat time can keep you in contact with the “outside world” and make even your small home feel a whole lot bigger.

Connecting with others who are in a similar situation can also help you feel that you’re not alone. Sharing your thoughts, emotions, and challenges with others can help you realize that what you’re feeling is normal.

Connecting with others may even help you find creative solutions to an issue you’re grappling with.

Express your creative side

Did you play a band instrument in high school? Were you once interested in painting? Do you have stacks of vacation photos you once promised yourself you’d put in a scrapbook? Is there a recipe you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time?

Use your time in isolation to reconnect with creative activities that you’ve had to put on hold because life got too busy. Spending time on creative activities keeps your brain busy.

Keeping your mind occupied and engaged may help ward off feelings of boredom or restlessness and make the time pass more quickly.

Carve out some ‘me time’

If you live with others, feelings of cabin fever may be intensified by the nearness of other individuals.

Parents have responsibilities to children; partners have responsibilities to one another. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any time on your own.

Give yourself time “away” from others to relax. Find a quiet place to read a book, meditate, or pop in some earbuds for an engaging podcast.

If you’re feeling stressed, you may even want to tune in to a podcast on mental health or anxiety.

Break a sweat

Research has shown that people who exercise regularly are less prone to anxiety than people who don’t exercise. That’s because physical activity lowers your body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol.

At the same time, exercise causes your brain to release endorphins. These neurochemicals can boost your mood and overall feeling of well-being.

If you can’t get outside, you can do a strength training workout at home using just your body weight or simple equipment, like dumbbells or resistance bands.

Or you can put together your own routine by focusing on a few basic but effective exercises, such as:

  • pushups
  • squats
  • burpees
  • lunges
  • planks

If you need a more structured program, there are plenty of online exercise options on YouTube and through various exercise apps.

Chill out

Not every minute of every day you spend at home has to be planned. Give yourself some time to rest. Look for constructive ways to relax.

Mindfulness, deep breathing, and relaxation exercises may help you maintain your emotional health and balance feelings of isolation or frustration.

When to Get Help

Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.

Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.

What’s more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of anxiety and fear are valid.

In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.

If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you’re experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.

Of course, if you’re in isolation or practicing social distancing, you’ll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.

Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don’t, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.

If you don’t want to talk to a therapist, smartphone apps for depression may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.

The Bottom Line

Isolation isn’t a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other’s company. That’s what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.

However, whether you’re sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.

If and when it’s necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.

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LOL: Reduce Caregiver Stress with a Good Laugh

For family caregivers, the mountains of laundry, endless messes that must be cleaned up, constant doctor’s appointments, complete surrender of one’s personal life and the painful process of watching aging loved ones decline is no laughing matter. We usually feel like crying more often than we feel like laughing.

But many experts say that laughing in even the grimmest situations is good for both our mental and physical health. A case of the giggles can relieve stress and boost “happy chemistry” within the body. Most caregivers desperately need to decompress and lift their spirits, and one way to go about meeting these needs is to teach yourself how to laugh despite the challenges you face every day.

The Science Behind the Benefits of Laughter

Gelotology is the study of the psychological and physiological effects of laughter on the body. Numerous scientific studies in this field suggest that laughter is a powerful form of complementary medicine that yields the following benefits.

  • Improved blood flow: William F. Fry, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University and pioneer of gelotology, and Michael Miller, M.D., cardiologist and professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, found that laughter causes the tissue that lines the insides of blood vessels to dilate or expand to increase blood flow to bodily tissues. This effect was so pronounced that it was similar to the increased blood flow caused by aerobic activity or statin therapy for lowering cholesterol.
  • Strengthened immune responses: Research led by Lee S. Berk, DrPH, a medical researcher at Loma Linda University, has found that laughter has a positive effect on the immune system, including increased production of antibodies and activation of protective cells like T-cells and Natural Killer cells that fight viral infections and tumor cells.
  • Reduced blood pressure: A study conducted in Japan showed that seniors attending adult day care experienced significant reductions in systolic blood pressure and heart rate following regular laughter therapy sessions.
  • Increased pain relief: Researchers from Oxford University studied the effect of laughter on pain perception and found that “social laughter elevates pain thresholds both in the laboratory and under naturalistic conditions.” Endorphins released while laughing can have an opiate effect thereby increasing pain tolerance.

The benefits of laughter may be tied to human physiology. “Babies laugh long before they learn how to talk,” psychologist and laughter coach Annette Goodheart explains. “Laughing is a wonderful, cathartic process. I’ve worked with Auschwitz survivors who told me that the people who were able to laugh were the ones who survived.”

Laughter may seem like an inappropriate reaction to difficult scenarios, but just because you laugh doesn’t mean you don’t care or understand the gravity of a particular situation. Laughing in response to even the saddest circumstances helps you deal with your emotions rather than keeping them bottled up. Sometimes laughter may lead to tears, but Sebastien Gendry, renowned yoga instructor and CEO of the American School of Laughter Yoga, assures that’s perfectly normal. “You cannot open up a box of emotions selectively. A hearty bout of laughter may lead to a good cry, which is also cathartic. If you have unexpressed emotions, laughter may help bring them out.”

Life isn’t always funny, particularly when caring for loved ones who are chronically ill or dying. Laughter forces you to be at peace with who you are and where you are. No one has a perfect life. “Laughter therapy is about how you react in the face of adversity. Sometimes, you can’t control your circumstances, but you can always control your reaction. How you react is always negotiable,” Gendry says.

How to Laugh When You Don’t Feel Like It

To reap the benefits of laughter, you don’t even need to be happy or have a reason to laugh. Faking it works just fine. “The body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter; you get the same physiological and psychological benefits,” Gendry explains. “We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles in our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, which sends more oxygen to our tissues.”

The American School of Laughter Yoga recommends the following laughter exercises that caregivers can try at home. You can experiment with these exercises for 30 seconds or a few minutes at a time—whatever feels good to you.

  1. Gradient Laughter: Fake a smile, giggle and then laugh slowly. Gradually increase the tempo and volume of your laughter.
  2. Hearty Laughter: Spread your arms out beside you, look up and laugh heartily from deep down inside.
  3. I Don’t Know Why I Am Laughing: Laugh (faking it is perfectly fine) and shrug your shoulders as you look at yourself in a mirror. Use your eyes and body language to convey the message that you have no idea why you are laughing!
  4. Find Your Laughter Center: Probe your head with one finger as if looking for your laughter center. Imagine that each spot you push on triggers a different type of laughter and then act it out.
  5. Conductor Laughter: Imagine you are a conductor. Direct an imaginary orchestra with enthusiastic arm movements as you sing a song of your choice in laughter sounds only, such as “ho ho ho” or “ha ha ha.”

Join a Laughter Club

Since Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician from Mumbai, India, launched the first Laughter Club in 1995, Laughter Yoga has become a global phenomenon. This type of yoga (also known as Hasyayoga) is a dual body/mind approach to health and wellness. Today, there are Laughter Clubs around the world where people come together to use unconditional laughter and yogic breathing (Pranayama) to relieve stress and promote health. There are more than 100 Laughter Clubs across the U.S. and most of them offer free weekly meetings. You can find a club near you by visiting the Laughter Yoga University website. There are also laughter sessions available via telephone and Skype that are perfect for busy caregivers to participate in.

Learn to Minimize Caregiver Stress

The reality is that stress will always be an unavoidable part of life. The only aspect you can control is how you choose to deal with the negativity and tension that you encounter. Laughter is a simple and free way to cope with life’s ups and downs.

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For Caregivers: Respite for Two

Adult day care centers provide a break (respite) to the caregiver while providing health services, therapeutic services and social activities for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, chronic illnesses, traumatic brain injuries, developmental disabilities and other problems that increase their care needs.

Some adult day care centers are dementia specific, providing services exclusively to that population. Other centers serve the broader population.

One difference between traditional adult respite, both group and in-home care, and adult day care is that adult day centers not only provide respite to family caregivers but also therapeutic care for cognitively and physically impaired older adults.

Benefits of Adult Day Care

Adult day care allows caregivers to continue working outside the home, receive help with the physical care of a loved one, avoid the guilt of placing a loved one in institutional care, and have respite from what can be a “24/7” responsibility.

The caregiver’s loved one can also benefit from adult day care. He or she is able to remain at home with family but does not require 24-hour care from the primary caregiver. Adult day care participants also have an opportunity to interact socially with peers, share in stimulating activities, receive physical or speech therapy if needed, and receive assistance with the activities of daily living with dignity.

Contact the National Adult Day Services Association for a set of guidelines for adult day service programs. The U.S. Administration on Aging Eldercare Locator can also direct you to adult day care centers in your area. Ultimately, word of mouth is often one of the best ways of finding quality adult day care.

How Do I Choose an Adult Day Care Center?

  • Conduct an individual needs assessment before admission to determine your loved one’s abilities and needs
  • Is there an active program that meets his or her daily social, recreational, and rehabilitative needs?
  • Does the center develop an individualized treatment plan for participants and monitor it regularly, adjusting the plan as necessary?
  • Are there referrals to other needed community services?
  • Are clear criteria for service and guidelines for termination established based on the person’s functional status?
  • Is a full range of in-house services offered, such as personal care, transportation, meals, health screening and monitoring, educational programs, counseling and rehabilitative services?
  • Does the center provide a safe, secure environment?
  • Are the volunteers qualified and well-trained?
  • Does the center adhere to or exceed existing state and national standards and guidelines.

Article from Today’s Caregiver.

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6 Ways to Be a Great Long-Distance Caregiver

At some point, you may end up being a caregiver for one of your senior loved ones. Whether your parent or your grandparent needs your assistance, you might be wondering if you can fulfill this role without moving them into your home or relocating to be closer to them. Today, it is easy to be a long-distance caregiver for a loved one who is still able to maintain a certain degree of independence but may have limited mobility or need someone to keep them on track with their medication schedule and regular doctor’s appointments.

Of course, some seniors with conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s will need daily, in-home care, but for seniors with conditions like Parkinson’s, support from a long-distance caregiver can be extremely helpful. If you are about to take on long-distance caregiving responsibilities, here are a few tips to help you fulfill your loved one’s needs while living in another city or state.

Navigating Medicare

If you are becoming a long-distance caregiver for your senior loved one, it’s crucial for you to understand the Medicare system. You and your loved one should be aware that Medicare has an Annual Election Period from October 15 through December 7. If your loved one needs to make changes to their Medicare plan, this is the only time of year that they can do it, so make sure that you are prepared with all of the necessary paperwork before by mid-October. This checklist should include their Medicare card, their previous medical bills, and other documents.

Both you and your loved one should also discuss options for long-term care in an assisted living facility if it becomes necessary. Since Medicare does not cover extended stays in assisted living facilities, you should familiarize yourself with Medicaid and what kind of coverage your loved one would be eligible for.

Are you concerned that your loved one will not be able to advocate for their own healthcare needs in the future? Talk to them about naming a trusted relative as power of attorney.

Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Even if you have to travel to see your loved one, it’s important to visit them on a regular basis so that you can see how they’re doing. Yes, you can call them or video chat with them a few times each week to get an idea of how things are going, but when you spend time with them in person, you’ll be able to get a read on how they’re really feeling. If you can’t see them as often as you would like, ask another family member to check in on them sometimes.

Assist With Home Modifications
Although your loved one may be perfectly capable of managing most of their own daily tasks, they may not be able to move around their home as easily as they did in the past. For example, a senior who recently had a hip replacement might be unable to walk up the stairs, while someone with Parkinson’s may feel more comfortable bathing with a shower chair.

If you think that your loved one would benefit from certain home modifications, recommend a reputable contractor. This will give you peace of mind when you’re not physically around to help them.

Medical Alert System
A medical alert system is a must for any long-distance caregiver and their loved one. It will notify you if your loved one needs immediate medical attention.

According to PCMag, seniors can choose from several varieties of medical alert systems, including wearable devices like bracelets or necklaces, fitness trackers, cellular alert systems, and more. Choose one that works for your loved one’s lifestyle.

Digital Pill Dispenser
Many seniors take some kind of medication to manage a chronic medical condition. Whether your loved one takes medication for Parkinson’s or high cholesterol, you should make it a point to ensure that they are taking their pills on time.

You may want to set up a digital pill dispenser for your loved one. A digital pill dispenser will notify you when your loved one takes their medication, so you can get in touch with them if they forget. According to GlobalRPh, seniors who use these dispensers are more likely to take their medications as prescribed. If they frequently forget to take their medication, you can ask their doctor for help to remedy the situation.

Hire a House Call Service
Yes, you’ll want to stop by and visit your loved one when you have the chance. But what if they need medical attention, and you’re not there to assist them? Or what if they have a doctor’s appointment scheduled, but they’re not able to drive safely?

Hiring a house call service can fill in the gaps when you’re not around. On house calls, doctors can provide many beneficial services, and your loved one can receive care in the comfort of their own home.

Whether you are moving in with a loved one to help them or handling these responsibilities from afar, becoming a caregiver can be challenging. Thankfully, the technology we have today makes it possible to look out for your senior loved one’s best interests, even when you can’t see them every day.

Claire Wentz is a contributor to Caring from Afar. For more information, visit

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Holiday Help: Relieving Caregivers’ Stress

Who doesn’t feel overwhelmed sometimes by the bustle of the holiday season? Add to that the responsibility of caring for a frail elderly loved one, and burnout is simply a concept waiting to become reality. But wait. If you’re one of the millions of households providing care for a family member or friend, there is hope. Stress doesn’t have to take the starring role in your family festivities this year.

If you’re like the increasing number of Americans who are trying to offer a sense of dignity to your parent(s), include them in seasonal events and help them stay in their own home, safety is your number one priority.

Most accidents happen at home in unsupervised situations. This season, enlist the help of older children or a spouse, playing games with (Great) Grandma and (Great) Grandpa while you change beds, do the laundry and other chores. Instead of decorating to the hilt, keep holiday décor simple. Eliminate the need for extension cords on the floor and “declutter” your notion of decoration: use colorful paper garlands strung high instead of breakable objects placed within reach. Remove anything a child or a frail elderly person may stumble over. Replace candles with bright centerpieces of fruit or flowers. Keep candy to an absolute minimum to prevent sugar highs and lows.

With the emphasis on “good cheer” during the month of December, the options are many. But don’t wear yourself out trying to make the holidays “happen” for everyone. If you don’t get yourself in a situation where you “overdo” you’ll be more alert to hazards—even emotional ones. Holidays bring emotions to the surface because they hold the most intense memories for your loved ones, and some may not be pleasant. You may find that tears fall for no apparent reason, or that a frail elderly parent suddenly seems gruff or annoyed just when you think everything is fine. Sometimes, the emotional stress of the season makes a frail aging parent seem distant, just when you want to draw them close. We never know what precipitates these reactions; we only have to deal with them. That’s not an easy task, but first and foremost, a caregiver must keep her own emotional balance.Set a few guidelines as to what you expect from yourself. From the very start, set your intention to be positive during the holidays, and to respond with calmness to upsetting scenarios. Sure, things may come to the boiling point at times, but the resolve not to react in like manner will bring the most effective results. People don’t intend to be grumpy, distant or to give you a hard time. These behaviors may simply be a way of asking for help. The best way to give it is by remaining patient, offering consistent encouragement, and setting safe boundaries.

You cannot make everyone happy at all times, but you can take responsibility for your own emotional highs and lows. Preserve a few moments each day all for yourself. Take a half-hour break while your children entertain the frail elderly with Christmas music from the 30s, 40s and 50s or interview their grandparents about favorite holiday memories. You might enlist the services of a home-help organization to do some of the household chores while you go grocery shopping or simply take a walk. Professional caregivers can also help alert you to signs of stress or special needs that you might not recognize on a day-to-day basis, curtailing accidents or emotional spills.

Keep in mind that a frail person may tire more easily during the holiday season, need more sleep as the days grow shorter, and also need their own “space.” Ask for their help; ask them to let you know what they need and how they want to celebrate. Their answers may surprise you. Above all, an older frail person may crave our respect and our admiration. When we praise the good things they’ve accomplished in life, make certain they know that we appreciate their legacy, and tell them we’re happy they’re with us, things will be a lot easier. If they seem only to complain more, well, just grease the wheel with a little praise for yourself. Send positive messages to yourself out loud and mix in a few more affirmations for them.

The holidays are a great time to slow down instead of speed up. Think about all the things you can let remain undone instead of all the things you need to do. Give yourself a challenge to match the tempo of your frail elderly relatives or friends, and see if you don’t enjoy the season more. And after all, isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

Article from Today’s Caregiver.

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Caregivers: 8 Things Caregivers Need

It’s not uncommon for spouses to decide to leave when the other gets sick. I think it could be a matter of “having had it up to here” and then finding out the one you’ve “put up with” for so long now has a condition that will most likely make your life — and theirs — a lot more difficult. Parkinson’s may change the relationship between a married couple. Bonds between a father and son. Between a mother and daughter. Friends. It comes in and subtlety takes away the ties that once bound these relationships together.

The PD patient changes. They are physically familiar, but mentally and emotionally, they’re not the same. And the caregiver is left struggling with how to deal with this new role in life: taking care of someone else while taking care of themselves.

If you are a caregiver to anyone, first of all, thank you for your commitment and sacrifice. You might get hit, have to change yet another big girl or big boy diaper, clean up another spill, or wash another naked body, but we (your charges) appreciate you more than we might be able to say or show.

Following are eight little things you can do as a caregiver that will hopefully, make your role easier:

  • Breathe deeply and when you get one free minute, do one thing that puts a smile on your face. Go out to the garden and breathe in the fragrance of a rose. Put on encouraging music. Read a short devotional. Fix a cup of tea. Scream. Screaming is highly underrated.
  • Don’t focus on the what-ifs. They’ll defeat you most every time. Do focus on “now.” It may seem like a tremendous struggle at the moment, but things could be worse. Today may be one of the harder days, but when the clock strikes 12, it’s a new day. Something wonderful could be ahead, waiting to happen. Your patient may turn into a pumpkin! Don’t lose hope.
  • If you don’t have one already, get a sense of humor. Without one, you’ll often despair. Find something funny in every day. You need to laugh.
  • Get yourself into a support group locally or online. You may not think you need it, but you do. Especially as the road becomes bumpier. And it will get bumpier. Get some support in place now, as it will make things easier to deal with later.
  • You need your friends. Don’t alienate them by thinking you can do this by yourself. Accept their invitations to help. Accept an hour off, washing the dishes, picking up some groceries, dropping the kids off at practice, or cooking your family a meal. Give yourself some slack and let your friends feel needed, because if they are offering to help before you have even asked, they may see your need better than you can.
  • Try to think ahead. Your loved one’s mental faculties may not be so great anymore. A daily schedule may be useful, with a reminder for doctor’s appointments, visitors, special occasions, etc.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. There will be good days and bad days. You may have more bad days now due to your new, unwanted role. And because this admittedly is an unwanted role, you feel like your life has been swallowed up along with the one you’re caring for.

You have thoughts of packing it in. Giving up. Throwing in the towel. Walking away and leaving the patient to fend for himself or herself. You’re tired, weary, spent, worn out. You want it to end and you feel guilty for thinking and feeling the way you do. And it’s OK. It’s normal. You’re caring for the one you’re grieving, while at the same time grieving what you’ve both lost already and what you could very well lose still. It’s OK to be frustrated, to go outside for a reprieve and scream. It’s OK to let the tears flow. Just remember: The one you love is in this fight with you, not against you. They just aren’t able to fight as they once did. Try to remember them as they were 10, 15, or 20 years ago when you laughed together and lived life together.

Also try to remember that if your husband could get out and mow the lawn again, he’d do it in a heartbeat. If the wife you care for could brush her own teeth and tie her own shoes, you’d both be ecstatic. Whatever you’re losing, they are losing as well. They’ve been dreading the days to come with a vengeance.

If they could, the one you are caring for would take this bitter cup from you. However, that cup may one day soon be empty, so enjoy it now while there is still some liquid left, even if sour at times.

Article from Parkinson’s News Today.

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Caregivers: Overcoming the Grief Caused by Parkinson’s

One thing that many people might not associate with experiencing Parkinson’s disease is grief. Experiencing grief with this disease is real. It can be felt deep down in your soul, whether you are the one who actually has the disease or you are the caregiver. You mourn for a life that used to be, and fear it may never be again.

Although our life changes in unexpected ways and fear threatens to consume our days and terrorize our nights, we can learn to overcome those wretched feelings. Innumerable people miss out on the rich experiences and blessings they have been given today because they can’t stop worrying about their future with Parkinson’s.

In “Living Beyond Your Feelings: Controlling Emotions So They Don’t Control You,” author Joyce Meyer writes, “The three most harmful negative emotions are anger, guilt, and fear.” When we have Parkinson’s disease, we are particularly susceptible to anger and fear. 

We experience anger, as evidenced when we ask ourselves the age-old question, “Why me?”

We pump our fists in the air and ask, “What did I ever do to deserve this?!” Our dreams of a better tomorrow feel as if they have been sucked dry and replaced with feelings that frighten us and worries we can’t seem to get under control. 

We think about what used to be: The days when we were able to work at a job we loved; the times when we could get down and play with our grandchildren; the summer vacations we took that used to reenergize us instead of wearing us out. Grief steps in and leaves us feeling fearful and despairing.

Two weeks ago, I lost someone dear to me. She was like a second mother to me. I babysat her daughter as a newborn. She was my maid of honor at my wedding. And when I think of her, a great sadness overcomes me: grief. It not only came upon me at the news of her passing, but also returns each time I think of her.

Getting a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be like losing a loved one.

There is the initial grief, but waves of grief can still overcome us, sometimes when we least expect them. Often, those waves of grief are accompanied by fear. Not only are we dealing with what we’ve lost, but also we are fearful of what we may still lose.

Getting through grief over the loss of a loved one takes time, and the amount of time varies with each individual. It’s the same with the grief of having Parkinson’s. 

Grief is normal.

Grief is a part of life. While we must learn to accept it, it is still OK to cry. It is OK to mourn what we have lost. In that mourning, however, we need to remember that life goes on. While we may not know what tomorrow will bring, we know we have this moment right here, right now, and Parkinson’s can’t take that away.

Article from Parkinson’s News Today.

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Cognitive Activity: Mental Focus

Memory Recall Activity: One-Way Journey

Objective: To improve visuospatial orientation (the thought processes that involve visual and spatial awareness), and to improve memory recall skills.

– Select two well-known places that you must travel mentally as if you are walking between them.
– For example, the origin may be your home address, with a movie theater as your destination. Which streets do you take? Which way do you turn? For a greater challenge, draw a map.

Activity from NeuronUp.

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Care Partner Focus: Outdoor Activity

Fresh air and sunshine can help relieve stress from being cooped up together all winter, and break up the day-to-day the routine that can occur when we are stuck indoors for long periods due to weather or illness.

This spring, find some activities you and your loved one can do in your area that will bring joy or relaxation while you spend time together.

All too often, quality time spent together is lost in rushing to appointments, running to get errands done or just trying to adjust to changes in daily living as symptoms change.

Together, jump into summer with new plans for socializing, spending time together, with others or alone in outdoor activities like bird-watching, walks, biking, traveling or just enjoying a peaceful day at the lake watching boats pass by together!

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Caregivers: Considering an adult day program? Trust your instincts.

Baby Boomers, more than 77 million strong, are also known as the Sandwich Generation. They are the ones raising their own kids and having to care for their aging parents at the same time. In one way, an enviable position to be in for those whose parents are in good health and maintain an active lifestyle. But for other Boomers whose parents have chronic health issues, are isolated or depressed, the responsibility can be daunting and overwhelming to you, the caregiver.

One solution that could bring you some relief is a community-based program known as adult day health care. There are more than 4,000 centers across the country with more than 78 percent operating on a non-profit basis. All medical model adult day health care programs are affiliated and licensed under nursing homes. If you are considering an adult day health care program, here are some tips to help you get started in choosing the one best suited for your loved one.

Selecting the Appropriate Adult Day Health Care Model

First, decide which type of adult day health care program you need. The two types are: medical and social.

  • Medical Model Adult Day Health Care Program: The medical model program offers adults who are chronically ill or in need of health monitoring access to nursing care, rehabilitation therapy, social work services, and assistance with personal care. Medical model programs have a registered nurse and rehabilitation therapists on site.
  • Social Model Adult Day Health Care Program: This is the most common type of adult day center. The main function of the social model is to provide seniors with supervised care in a safe environment, as well as a place to socialize and stay physically and mentally active.

Round-Trip Transportation is Key

Most adult day health care programs provide door-to-door, round-trip transportation. The vans should be equipped with an electronic lift and other equipment to accommodate people in wheelchairs, walkers or canes.

Trust Your Instincts

As Barbara Walters, the television celebrity and news personality says, “Trust your gut.” Ask yourself some questions when visiting the adult day care health care programs. What’s the first impression you have after walking through the door? Are the staff and patients happily engaged in activities together? Are the recreation and dining areas clean? Are the walls brightly decorated with patients’ artwork? Are there people who speak my language or come from a similar background? Are the activities offered age appropriate for me? Trust your gut!

Emergency and Safety Plans

Every adult day health care program must have a medical and safety emergency plan. Ask the program’s director or the person who takes you on a tour to show you the written plan. Feel free to ask questions. For example, you could ask: What’s the procedure if someone goes into diabetic shock; or if someone falls? In an emergency, how are clients evacuated from the center? When touring the facility, notice if there are smoke detectors mounted on the walls. Do you see fire extinguishers? Ask if they have a defibrillator on the premise. Safety first!

Activities for All

Adult day health care programs should have a posted weekly or monthly calendar of activities and events. If it’s not already posted, ask for it when you’re on your tour. Offerings should range from group activities such as exercise programs and drumming circles or to activities such as arts and crafts, dominoes, or crocheting. Ask whether they provide trips to museums, shopping malls, baseball games or the local theater. Do they bring in outside guests to entertain, educate or inform individuals? It will quickly become apparent if the program is going the extra step to keep individuals motivated and actively engaged.

You Are What You Eat

Adult day health care programs generally provide at least one healthy meal and a snack during the day. Specialty diets, such as low sodium, low sugar and low cholesterol are accommodated at most programs. Ask the center for a copy of their weekly or monthly menu and, if possible during your tour, taste the food.

Personal Grooming Is So Important

Your loved one may need some assistance with personal grooming. Does the program have adequate staff to handle those needs, such as toileting, showering and other personal care? And, for those folks who are incontinent, does the staff handle toileting with sensitivity allowing the individual to maintain their dignity.

The Choice is Yours

After evaluating and experiencing a few adult day health care programs, seeing the range of activities and enthusiasm of the staff, taking a look at the menus and simply “getting the feel” of the programs, you’ll be in a better position to select the program that you feel is the most appropriate for your loved one. It’s also a good idea to speak with participants about how they feel about the program while you are on your tour.

But in the end, the choice is yours. And remember, “Trust your gut.”

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