March 2017 Newsletter

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NOTES FROM FEBRUARY MEETINGS

Deaf CenterBrain Injury Alliance Support Group for Adults  met Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at Sanderson Community Deaf Center in Murray.

This is a social group where dinner is enjoyed together and then games played or crafts made. All caregivers and survivors are welcome. In February, the second Tuesday fell on Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed a Panda Express dinner together and made valentine cards. Jennifer Gee and Beth Cardell do a great job directing this group. For more information call: Jennifer (801) 468-0027 or Beth (801) 585-5511


communicate Caring For the Caregivers met Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in Murray. The speaker, Kim Kirkham, M.S. CCC-SLP shared Tips for Improving Communication.

Notes from caregiver, Barbara Wilson

Kim directed a helpful discussion and gave valuable communication tips. She was the perfect choice for this topic based on her profession as a speech therapist and personal experience with her dad being a TBI survivor. We appreciated her sharing information with us. Some helpful tips Kim shared: Body language is 55% of our communication. Tone of voice is 38% and the words used are merely 7%.

People will remember how they felt in your presence rather than the words you said.  Don’t have problem solving conversation when either one is tired. Have good lighting on your face and use eye contact, especially if hearing is an issue. To get their attention, use their name and move closer instead of getting louder.  Decrease background noise, if possible. If they’re in a chair, sit to the side of them. Standing in front conveys authority, not equality.

If memory is a problem, chalk or white boards are helpful for important events or schedules. Write in caps, it’s easier to read.

Repeating causes distress and frustration. Set boundaries to help you stay compassionate. Be mad at the disease and not at the loved one.


fatigueBrain Injury & Stroke Survivor Group met Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in Murray. The Speaker, Dr. Jason L Smith, DC spoke on, Natural Ways to Decrease Fatigue and Improve Endurance.

Notes from survivor, Greg Nordfelt  gregnordfelt.com

Dr. Smith gave an educational presentation and slides. What we eat instantly impacts “neurodegeneration” (loss of connection between brain cells, fatigue and symptoms of aging, Alzheimer’s, etc). The same is true if we stop learning: it immediately impacts our stomach, our physical body starts to age, taking cues from our brain that we have passed our learning stage and are now physically supposed to start aging, become more lazy, tired, less active, less muscular, etc.

3 Keys to Decrease Fatigue:

  • Decrease sugar & increase protein! Stay completely away from fake sugar (it’s poison flat out!) Increase blood flow. Exercise 5 minutes as soon as you wake up!
  • Decrease inflammation. Don’t eat grains, dairy or soy. Exercise or walk (or move available body extremities) vigorously at least 2 miles 3 times a week (refer to Dr. Doidge’s 2nd book “The Brain’s Way of Healing”. This is the number one way to fight against neurodegeneration and fatigue. Exercising 2 miles generates dopamine. It also generates new brain cells.
  • Learn something new. Challenge your brain to learn new things as you age. This, along with exercise and feeding our stomach healthy protein, will release good brain chemicals and grow good brain cells.

Last, but definitely not least, five minute brain breaks per hour decreases fatigue. If you’re in a stressful time crunch, take 6 calm breaths because if you don’t, he said, “you’re going to crash”.

Dr. Smith says, “The brain and the stomach are connected. Feed both and exercise to win the daily fatigue battle.”

Thank you, Greg, for sharing your notes!


Bright Ideas

USEFUL WEBSITES:

www.caregiver.org (online webinars for caregivers)

www.tbicommunity.org (online educational programs)

www.braininjury.com (medical, legal, information resource)

www.abta.org (brain tumor education and information)

www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi (brain injury facts, programs, education)

www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/all-disorders (education for brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders)

www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support (resource for those with MS)

 www.epilepsy.com/utah and/or www.epilepsy.com (seizure education and support by state or national)

https://biau.org (resource for those with brain injury)

http://www.brainline.org (preventing, treating and living with TBI)

Laptops http://www.brainline.org/abbymaslin (blog about loving and learning after TBI)

 www.unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com (caregivers sharing stories, tips and thoughts)

www.facebook.com/UTteensupportgroup (social interaction and the exchange useful resources)


Thank you for reading

Thank you for reading. To subscribe to a monthly emails list, please email Barbara@UnitingCaregivers.com

A Good Understanding

Listening involves more than the use of our ears. Listening with our mind our thoughts are focused. Listening with our eyes we see their emotion. Listening with the touch of our hands show that we care. Listening with a facial expression such as a nod, smile or frown gives feedback. Listening with our heart helps us understand feelings. Having someone who cares enough to listen fully and understand you is appreciated more than one who is anxious to give advice. People don’t always need advice, but they just might ask for it after we’ve shown that we truly care by listening with more than our ears.

Advice1What are your thoughts about a good understanding?

 

Ideas for Dealing with Cognitive Issues

Since I wrote A New Routine, I’ve been thinking about some of the strategies our family  and therapists used in dealing with cognitive issues.

From the beginning:

  1. Caregiver-handsUse normal tone of voice, staying calm and reassuring.
  2. Talk to the person as if they understand everything you’re saying. Never discuss subjects that may be upsetting in front of the person.
  3. Keep comments and questions short and simple.
  4. Let them know what you’re going to do before you do it.
  5. Allow the person extra time to respond.
  6. It’s okay if responses are inconsistent or don’t occur.
  7. Have only one person speak at a time.
  8. Tell the person who you are if you’re not sure they know.
  9. Remind the person of the day, date, name and location of where they are.

To stimulate memory:

  1. If they’re in the hospital, bring favorite belongings, pictures of family members and friends.
  2. Play their favorite music.
  3. Read familiar books and magazines to them.
  4. Watch their favorite TV shows or movies.
  5. Talk to them about family, friends and activities they previously enjoyed.
  6. Keep a notebook nearby for family and friends to sign so the person can read and remember who visited. If they can’t read, you can use it to remind them of who had been there.
  7. Write down improvements so they can read it or you can remind them of the changes.
  8. Don’t assume the person will remember what you tell them. Frequent repetition is often required.

To stimulate senses:

  1. Gently massage lotion on their arms, hands, legs, feet, face, back and stomach. It also helps prevent skin breakdown.
  2. Use a variety of soaps and lotions to stimulate smell. Talk about what they smell like.

If the person is agitated:

  1. Make sure they are getting the rest they need.
  2. Keep the room calm and quiet.
  3. Limit the number of visitors to two or three at a time.
  4. Allow them to move as much as safely possible.
  5. Moving them to a different location might help.
  6. Take them for a ride if permitted.
  7. Don’t force the person into activities.
  8. Listen to them and follow their lead if safely possible.
  9. Don’t laugh at, play into or reward inappropriate behavior.
  10. If reasoning is not successful, try redirection and distraction to stop inappropriate behavior.

If conversation is confused, unusual, insistent or bizarre:

  1. Tell them where they are and reassure them they are safe.
  2. Help the person get organized for tasks and activities.
  3. Provide a rest time.
  4. Be careful with humor, teasing, or using slang. Sometimes it works and other times it’s misunderstood.

Other useful hints:

  1. Expect the person to be unaware of their deficits and the need for increased supervision and/or rehabilitation.
  2. They may insist nothing is wrong with them and that they can resume their usual activities.
  3. Realize that redirection is not always effective and arguments can be frequent and prolonged.
  4. Encourage the person to participate in activities. Help with starting and continuing.
  5. Treat the person with respect while providing guidance and assistance in decision making.
  6. Talk through problems about the person’s thinking skills, problem solving or memory challenges without criticizing.
  7. Encourage the person to improve cognitive skills with games and/or therapy.
  8. Check with the physician regarding any restrictions such as driving, sports or drinking. Let them be the bad guy.
  9. Encourage the person to use note taking and recorders to help with memory deficits.
  10. Discuss situations where the person may have had difficulty controlling emotions.
  11. Talk with the person about yours and their feelings and offer outside support such as counseling and/or support groups.
  12. Make sure you have the help, support and respite care you need.

Resource: http://www.jhsmh.org

What ideas can you add to this list? Please share what has or hasn’t worked for you.

 

 

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Writing is Therapeutic

It’s good to look to the past and gain appreciation for what we have in the present. This also gives perspective for the future. If the pioneers or forefathers didn’t write about their experiences, we wouldn’t have records of it. How could we have learned from them if they didn’t share their thoughts and events through their writing?

WritingAs a teenager I faithfully kept a journal and found it helped me understand my roller-coaster feelings of the love/hate relationships between young boys and girls. A few years ago I read it and didn’t want anyone else to know those inner feelings, so I decided to destroy it. Even though that journal no longer exists, I believe it helped me navigate through some rough teenage years.

After the car accident I felt the need to write again. My head was spinning with all kinds of worries about Mark, our children and how I would juggle all the responsibilities. My attention span was very short. I couldn’t watch T.V. or concentrate on a book—so I wrote. I would maybe write a few sentences about my worries, but mostly I recorded Mark’s progress such as how many breaths he took on his own that day and what his temperature was. I wrote about things most people don’t think about let alone write or read about, but it helped me focus on the positive. I still have that notebook and like to look back on it to remind myself how far Mark has come.

The past nine months I’ve benefited from writing about “Our Story”. Putting words to our experience brings meaning to it and helps me understand the purpose in the events. It’s amazing the clarity that comes from writing. Through writing I am able to sort out and work through the emotions by searching for the right words to describe it. The act of writing has provided me with a greater depth of self-knowledge and has helped me become a resilient person. Some seek the comfort of a therapist’s office, I find it in writing.

Writing is so much more than a method of communication. I’ve listed six benefits of writing:

  1. Writing is a powerful teacher that can guide us toward a happier, more contented and positive purpose-driven life.
  2. Writing promotes self-awareness and personal growth.
  3. Writing enhances knowledge, which guides us towards realizing our truth and values.
  4. Writing is a support system which creates confidence in our own unique style. With thought and purpose to what we’re writing, it can be done without apology.
  5. Writing can educate, inspire, influence and help others.
  6. Writing is like a sieve, separating worries and insecurities. It compels us to do the daunting task of confronting them, which facilitates in understanding them. Ultimately the words help us leave our fears behind.

typingYou don’t need to be a professional writer to achieve the benefits. Writing is an exceptional tool for self-exploration and inner growth which is available to everyone. It can facilitate understanding and change in our lives. From the art of writing, we learn and grow and it is a powerful method to share our love, happiness, gratitude and fulfillment.

Do you write? How has it helped you? If you don’t, you really ought to try it. Whether you write it for yourself or want to share it with others, it will be therapeutic. I dare you to try it.

Twelve Steps for Self Care

12 Steps for Self Care

1) If it feels wrong, don’t do it. Usually, when I do something which doesn’t feel right it ends up being a disaster.

2) Say “exactly” what you mean. Communication can be frustrating and sometimes I wondered why the other person didn’t understand what I meant to say. When I analyze what was actually said, I realize I didn’t use the proper words or maybe I was trying to sugar coat it or danced around the meaning, which left a false impression. Other times I just didn’t know exactly what was meant until the conversation was over. Maybe those are the times it’s best to be quiet and just listen to the other person.

3) Don’t be a people pleaser. It is enjoyable to please others, but when words are just said and not heartfelt, it’s lost pleasure and becomes bothersome. When you hear “we should get together sometime” or “let’s do lunch” from the same person every time you run into them, it’s lost its meaning.

4) Trust your instincts. Remembering this can save grief and regret later on. My best results come when I listen to the inner voice and trust my instincts.

5) Never speak badly about yourself. Sometimes I do this in an attempt to be humble, but it doesn’t build self-character. On the other hand, when I hear someone else doing this I feel uncomfortable and don’t know how to respond, wondering if they’re looking for compliments or sympathy.

6) Never give up on your dreams. I feel uncomfortable using the word never, however it’s true that if you don’t dream it, you won’t achieve it. Some dreams just need adjustments along the way while achieving them.

7) Don’t be afraid to say “No”. It’s not possible to do everything, therefore saying no is better than saying yes and not doing it.

8) Don’t be afraid to say “Yes”. Sometimes “no” is the easy way out when asked to do something we’ve never done before. When we say yes and stretch outside our comfort zone, we learn and grow.

9) Be KIND to yourself. It’s easy to judge ourselves without understanding why we can’t accomplish what others do. Often we compare our imperfection to someone else’s perfection, not realizing their circumstances or the time and effort they’ve put into perfecting this skill. Because we’re usually striving to be a better person, it’s difficult to accept our own shortcomings and mistakes. It’s important to be the best you can be, while forgiving yourself and learning from your mistakes.

10) Let go of what you can’t control. A lot of energy, time and emotion can be wasted on things out of our control. Progress is best made by focusing on what we can control.

11) Stay away from drama and negativity. I usually avoid this by not listening to talk radio or watching much television, but I don’t stay away from people I care about because they are going through a rough time which is causing them to be negative.

12) Love. There’s a difference between love of self and an excessive love of self. A balanced love encourages us to love others equally. I undoubtedly cross over the line sometimes, but try to be aware of it. I know I’m happiest when giving genuine love to other people and realize that’s when I feel the most loved.

 

Tips For A Successful Doctor’s Appointment

doctor-cartoon-characterCommunication is the key to a successful appointment. Have you ever been frustrated when the doctor leaves the room because you forgot to give him or her some important information? Do you think of questions you regret not asking—leaving your doctor’s office dissatisfy?

Your relationship with your doctor should be a partnership. The better you are able to communicate your needs and understand your options, the more productive your appointment will be and the more likely you are to get the necessary treatment. The time you have with your doctor is brief—if you’re lucky you get fifteen to thirty minutes.

Preparation will help you make the most of your appointment—and that anxious moment in the exam room as you wait for the doctor to arrive is not the best time to begin preparing for your visit. I’ve listed some steps I like to take before seeing the doctor.

1)  Write down all your symptoms, noting when they started and whether they get worse at certain times of day or in certain situations. The more accurately and completely you can describe your symptoms, the more likely it is that your doctor can identify your health problem and prescribe an effective course of treatment.

2)  Research your symptoms. The more you learn about the possible causes of your symptoms—and what your treatment options may be—the better equipped you’ll be to discuss your care with your doctor and understand his or her instructions.

3) Write a brief outline of your medical history, and list all medications you’re currently taking. Always keep a copy of the history and medication list to use at future doctor appointments.

4)  Learn all you can about the procedure. If you’re likely to need a medical procedure—whether surgery or a diagnostic test, such as a colonoscopy or mammogram—before your visit learn all you can so you’ll understand your options and be able to discuss them intelligently.

5) Make a list of questions to ask. When the doctor sees you have a list, he or she realizes you’re prepared and will want to make sure they have covered everything on your list before leaving the room.

When you go to your doctor’s appointment equipped with the above information, I’ve found it’s easier to lead the conversation and get the most out of the visit. The best part—the doctor will appreciate you coming prepared.