Physical Fitness and the Caregiving Journey

Traditionally Spring is a time of fresh starts, cleaning, and new activities.  Fitness and nutrition become a focus with increased outdoor opportunities. But families caring for a loved one with dementia are often overwhelmed with day to day care.  Research shows that both Alzheimer’s caregivers and their loved one with dementia greatly benefit from twenty to thirty minutes of moderate intensity walking five times a week. Benefits of this simple plan include: decreased caregiver stress, burden, depression a slowing of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages improved overall quality of life A similar study looked at behaviors of the individual…

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Five Features of an Expert

What is the definition of expertise? When choosing assistance of any kind for your loved one you want to separate the experts from the novices. There are five key qualities of an expert: • History of success • Affiliation • Longevity in practice coupled with contemporary research and innovation • Appraisal and authenticity As a dementia coach and memory care expert, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach meets all five qualities of expertise. When assessing the expertise of a consultant you want to ask if she/he has the stability of longevity in memory care as well as the flexibility of multiple roles….

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The “We’s” Have It

Whether you are introvert, extrovert, caregiver or care recipient one variable that proves powerful in health research is social support. As the national and international discussion swirls around the dangers of the “lone wolf” the value of spending time with select others is reiterated. In Alzheimer’s research this has been particularly emphasized. Alzheimer’s caregivers who have social support report higher confidence in their caregiving and higher life satisfaction. Yet having been a family caregiver, I have experienced the drop-off of friends and family when I needed them the most. How do I gain or maintain social support in the face…

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Caregiving and Exercise

Traditionally January is a month of reflections on the old year and resolutions for the new. Fitness and nutrition are key elements of many resolutions. But families caring for a loved one with dementia are often overwhelmed, particularly after the holidays. Research shows that both Alzheimer’s caregivers and their loved one with dementia greatly benefit from twenty to thirty minutes of moderate intensity walking five times a week. Benefits of this simple plan include: • decreased caregiver stress, burden, depression • a slowing of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages • improved overall quality of life A similar study looked…

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Anticipation & Presence

Having just returned from a whirlwind trip to Tampa, we are now preparing for a week in MD followed by two weeks in Spain.  Each trip is full of family and memory making presence.  Looking back I remember the same anticipation as a young family with selective purchasing, wrapping, preparing.  Today we purchase plane tickets, we pack, we prepare in different ways.  But the common ground is anticipation.  Presents for the family are now translated into presence with the family.  This season  is a wonderful gathering point, regardless of what holiday you are celebrating.  It is a time of decreased…

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Further Neurology Diagnostics

My dementia spouse immersion program is proceeding with intensity and verve. After our first brush with a neurologist whose diagnosis of MCI reported on earlier this year; we decided to seek further information. With our home-base being in the Caribbean, we decided to stay medically near my grand-daughter. As a mecca of national think tanks and healthcare options, we proceeded to investigate. The royal “we”, a term we joke about as things progress. Meaning I do all the work while he interjects. The quality of interjection is for another post. So about eight months ago I proceeded to contact several…

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Land of Milk and Honey, Tierra de Leche y Miel

As a recreation therapist I have long held that the senses are where it is at. When it appears that there is little left, the senses remain. I just returned from a short trip to MD. Four evenings, five mornings in the land of milk and honey. As I opened the shuttle door my senses were delighted with the symphony of crickets unique to impending fall in MD. I looked up to a sky full of stars. My skin was pleased with an evening temp of 68. Refreshing. Glorious. Only the whimpers of my dearest Boston terrier enticed me inside….

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Denial and Isolation

Well, I humbly come to you no longer from the sidelines but from the field. Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach has been forced to put on a helmet and uniform. Yet even as I write this I question if indeed I am exaggerating. Just because my spouse has said for the past three years that he is having processing problems. Just because he emits off the scale anxiety around any new process, including opening a new piece of equipment . . . I do not have a diagnosis. Maybe it is all in our heads. Maybe he is just crying wolf…

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Not All Specialists Are Special

We were recently referred to a neurologist based on my husband’s feeling that he was losing his memory. At the age of 64, his general practitioner agreed that it was an issue worth investigating. This is a life curve that provides me with an insider view resulting in quandary and possibly denial. It is like walking through steady fog, I think I see clearly but maybe I do not. So the dementia coach in me was in absentia when I scheduled the second neurology appointment in three years. Despite the many family caregivers who had expressed that the best evaluation…

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“You’ve Got This”

We recently had the honor of witnessing the birth of our grand-daughter. It was a long labor. I found the difference in perspective enlightening. Let me simply state, the view is drastically different from the receiving end of natural birth.  In the final hours of my daughter’s labor, I definitely wanted to intercede. It was more difficult than I had remembered. I realized that it is all in your perspective. The same perspective shift that I am experiencing as a spouse of someone reporting memory decline. As I, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach, try to practice what I preach. As I…

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