Have you met Monika, the Dementia Hub’s Clinic Director? With nearly 12 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist (OT) and seven years in home-based healthcare, Monika is dedicated to creating practical ways to promote dignity, community, and compassionate planning in dementia care. She is the leading lady behind Oakwood’s Caregiver Support Groups and strives to create a strong support network for caregivers traveling through all stages of dementia progression alongside their loved ones. In this blog, Monika reflects on the importance of simple self-care and its benefits for combating the heavy burden of stress many caregivers carry.
A Message From Monika About The Importance Of Self-Care:
During this week’s Caregiver Support Group, we picked a quote to press into a donated sandwich board at Oakwood’s Town Center Day Club. The chosen quote from author and poet E.E. Cummings reads, “The most wasted of days is the one without laughter.” The process of pressing each letter into the old-school felt board was cathartic and laughter-inducing, inviting some relief for caregivers who certainly needed a break from their endless roles and responsibilities.
Throughout this process, we as a group learned the importance of caregivers being able to break away every once in a while to take a moment for ourselves – but it’s admittedly much easier said than done sometimes. Stress can grip us, which makes it harder to step aside from the daily hustle and bustle for a moment of peace. Guilt is quick to settle in, and the storm of incessant thoughts swirled by the day’s need-to-do lists often overwhelms us. It might seem impossible, but I promise you, it really is doable, and I am here to show you how. First, let us look at WHY it is actually so important to take a beat for some simple self-care:
Did you know stress can either be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic)? Short-term stress happens as a reaction to an immediate threat, such as jumping when you hear a loud noise. When the threat goes away, so does the response or stress in your body. Long-term stress or chronic stress, on the other hand, is a reaction to stress that is ongoing, such as caregiving for an extended period of time. In long-term stress, the body stays tense UNLESS or UNTIL you use stress reduction strategies that can trigger a relaxation response (COPE Program Manual, Gitlin & Piersol).
Stress can significantly impact our lives emotionally, mentally, and even physically, but stress can also be lessened – or at least addressed – in less than 10 seconds. It’s all about finding the right trigger that works best for you.
Check out this video where, together, we will walk through one of the solutions to triggering a relaxation response to help you combat stress: taking deep breaths. It sounds far too easy to be true, but I implore you to try sitting with me through this short, five-minute video as we practice a simple deep breathing exercise designed to effectively release all the tension in your mind, body, and spirit.
The best part? This exercise can be done anywhere, anytime, and on your terms.
You are not alone!
Did you know Oakwood Creative Care will soon be offering a Dementia Care Guidance Program for families of those with dementia? The program is based on evidence from Drexel University and the name of the program is called COPE. It stands for “Care of Older People in their Environment.” Watch a video about it here.
This unique opportunity will be provided through the upcoming Dementia Hub and, under the guidance of The Hub’s occupational therapist, nurse practitioner, and social worker, will work with families on:
- Enhancing the quality of life for the person with dementia and their caregiver
- Reducing caregiver stress
- Increasing caregiver confidence in redirecting challenging behaviors
- Preventing institutionalization in the form of placement out of the home
- Improving meaningful engagement for the person with dementia
Upcoming sessions will be flexible, may last approximately 60 minutes, and range from 4 to 14 sessions.