How many hours out of your week would you say that you spend planning meals and cooking for yourself and your loved one? The whole process can take up a lot of mental space, and getting to the grocery store to pick up what you need may sometimes be more than you can handle. Grocery delivery provides an opportunity to ease the stress of sitting in traffic, loading up a cart, waiting in lineups and carrying everything in to your home.
Fortunately, we now live in a time and a place where you can access several online grocery delivery services. Here is an invitation for you: decide that for one week, instead of doing a big grocery shop or stopping multiple times a week at the store, spend an hour or so planning out your main meals for the week. As you plan, write down the ingredients you need on a piece of paper. Go online, choose your grocery delivery service, and order what you need. At the end of the week, observe how you feel. Did it ease stress? Did you spend less time thinking about what to eat? Did you save money by planning ahead? If any of the above are true, you may be on a new, easier grocery shopping path!
Here are some grocery delivery services to consider if you live on the North Shore:
Last week, my hairdresser, when I mentioned I was a caregiver, said: “And who will take care of you?” Indeed, that’s a good question.
In answer to this question, I went online and read an
article entitled: ‘Quebec asking caregivers on how to help them help others.’
(CTV Montreal, Tuesday December 11, 2018)
In the article, they discussed some of the issues today’s
caregivers routinely face, such as: burnout issues, lack of appreciation,
financial problems and stress (in some cases, leading to nervous collapse, as
one caregiver shared.)
Marguerite Blais, Quebec’s Minister for Seniors, (herself
once a caregiver for her husband), thinks that
caregivers need support both from the community and from government. She
proposed public hearings, and a possible action step of medical plans for
As promised, I will share notes from the book I mentioned in
my last post: ‘Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger’ by Soraya Chemaly
In the U.S., 54% of lower income women spend
more than 20 hours a week of unpaid care work for families (p. 72). Depressive
symptoms have been described by sociologists as ‘the cost of caring’ for women.
Further, women taking care of parents were twice
as likely to develop anxiety and depression (p.88), while women caring for
disabled spouses are six times as likely, as women who didn’t shoulder similar
Canadian Stats Canada says 8 million Canadians
provide care to loved ones, most are women between the ages of 45-64. (2012)
Finished recording Talking Album (Create-A-Memory) for Dad’s
birthday. Even a sibling living in Ontario contributed via WhatsApp (which is
bringing us closer together, bridging the distance between East and West.)
At times I feel like I’m running a Michelin 3-Star luxury
hotel! I made my parents Cream of Asparagus soup from scratch. I’ve been
serving a lot of homemade soups lately, as my parents taste seems to run for
lighter fare these days.
Siblings stepping up to the plate to offer help and support.
Huge relief. I’ve been feeling like a one-woman show lately, or like one of
those Chinese acrobats that spin plates. The trick is to keep multiple plates
spinning in unison and not letting any one plate fall to the ground. It’s an
art (as well as a science.)
Also, sometimes my siblings don’t want to hear the Truth (as I see it). I try to stay positive above all and keep the lines of communication open and flowing. You have to be a bit of a diplomat, I find.
Caregivers may struggle to feel resilient when they’re worried about their loved ones and juggling the demands of caring for a spouse or parent while also managing their own lives. Resilience is what keeps us afloat, and it can be something we can build.
Read this post from our archives to learn how you can increase your resilience, and please let us know what you’ve tried in the past! We’d love to hear and learn from you.
“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
Resilience is the capacity to bounce back quickly from hardships. You might know some people who seem to be more resilient than others. When their loved one fell ill, they brainstormed ways to get them support. They stayed positive and found ways to laugh with their spouse. Other people in your life might come to mind that seem to have less resilience. Their care partner’s diagnosis made them anxious or depressed, and they disconnected from social activities. Maybe you’ve noticed that these people have a demonstrated a pattern of how they respond to adversity. Although a person’s ability to respond with resilience may be predictable, it is not something that someone simply “has” or “does not have.” Resilience can be developed, and it can falter.
Have you tried breathwork? “Breathwork is about grounding the nervous system, moving energy, and integrating our past,” says Ashley Neese. There are many ways to practice, but this simple, 2-minute exercise is a great way to start. If you need a pick-me-up in the middle of your day, or some motivation to get going in the morning, give it a try! It claims to work better than a cup of coffee. What do you think?
“To be self-nurturing is to have the courage to pay attention to your needs” – Alan Wolfelt
Have you considered accessing respite services for your loved one? It can be a tough decision to make, but one that is incredibly beneficial to your well-being. Read this post from the archives to learn four positive effects of accessing respite.
My definition of respite: Time away from regular caregiving duties that gives you a much deserved break, and helps you regain strength.
It is normal for a caregiver to have LOTS on their mind. Lists of phone calls they need to make; upcoming appointments for a loved one; worries about house maintenance or finances; the busyness of preparing meals and keeping the house organized.
All of this can be stressful and tiring, even when you are supporting a parent or spouse out of a sincere desire to be there for them … even when you truly love this person and feel positive about your ability to manage all that needs to be done.
Whether your care partner lives with you or elsewhere, it’s essential that you sometimes get a break. For your mental well-being and peace of mind, it is helpful to have your loved one looked after by professional…
Fortunately, Spring is just around the corner. Unfortunately, as many West Coast dwellers know all too well, it does not mean the end of overcast days. If you know that you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), or you’re simply aware that you feel down during the cold, dark months, you may benefit from a light therapy box.
Light Therapy Boxes deliver a bright light that mimics outdoor light, and has been shown to boost moods and energy when people sit near them. They have been used to treat depression, SAD, sleep disorders, and even dementia. So, how can they help caregivers?
Caregivers often experience low-moods and sleep deprivation, and light therapy may help with these challenges. Try starting flipping on a light therapy box first thing in the morning and writing in a journal, reading, or meditating for 30 minutes before getting out of bed. If you can carve out some time in the early afternoon, have your lunch or some tea next to your light.
If you are curious about trying a light therapy box, the best thing to do first is consult your doctor. Certain conditions, such as bi-polar disorder, may require specific guidelines for use, and your doctor will be able to advise you if it’s appropriate for you or your care partner. Make sure that when you’re purchasing a light therapy box, you are buying one that is 10,000 lux or above to reap the therapeutic effects.
Have you tried using a light therapy box? We’d love to hear about your experience!
Finally, I finish the 300-page tome ‘Rage Becomes Her: The
Power of Women’s Anger’ by Soraya Chemaly (Atria Books, 2018), actually a book
on 14-day loan from the library and it was so good, I finished it in less than
a week (more on that book in next post).
A trip to Tapestry, an independent living residence for
seniors near the UBC (University of British Columbia) campus, as I’m currently
scouting out housing options for my parents.
Having finished reading the ‘Worry Workbook’ by Melissa Robichaud and
Kristin Buhr (New Harbinger, 2018) I’m braver about facing my own and my
At Tapestry, there is even a 50-seat lecture hall, as many
of the residents are retired university professors, and academics never stop
working there’s really no set age to stop when you’re in academia. Because of
the ‘Worry Workbook’, I set goals every week for what are called ‘behavioral
experiments’. For example, I could say to myself : “if I’m nice to myself maybe
I’ll work harder” and test out my theory. Does being nice actually inspire you
to work harder? And then you try it out.
International Women’s Day: I’m thinking of my mother, an academic since her 30’s. One of her profs recognized her abilities and got her started. She taught me about being strong. There’s an amusing story she told me about the time she was mistaken for cleaning staff in her department. It was assumed, because she was female, that she must be cleaning staff and not a prof. She answered politely but firmly that she was, in fact, on staff as prof. The life of a female academic is not an easy one.
I have my hummingbird feeder ready for when the season starts to warm up. A delightful colour brochure of all the world’s different kinds of hummingbirds. There is quite a variety. I think my parents will enjoy watching them feed. A Whatsapp call from siblings. How gratifying, to feel supported. Oftentimes technology is more of a burden, but today it is digital magic that brings our family together.
If you are caring for or have cared for a loved one with dementia, you may find solace in this touching documentary. Curl up with a cup of tea and some tissues, and be reminded that there are others out there going through similar experiences. It may not be a club you wanted to join, but you may find some comfort there.
Do you struggle with frustration? It can be a common, challenging emotion on your caregiving journey. Between the stresses of navigating the healthcare system, managing your personal relationship with your loved one, and finding enough support to care for your spouse or parent, frustration is sure to come up sometimes!
Print off this tip sheet and keep it with you. When you’re feeling frustrated, take a look and work through the steps to ground yourself.
What do you do when you’re frustrated? We’d love to hear from you in our comments!
Today we’re introducing a new series on the North Van Caregivers blog: Emotional First-Aid for Caregivers (EFAC). We created this series in hopes of supporting unpaid family caregivers through the triggering emotions that often come up on the caregiving journey. These posts should help you to identify the difficult emotions you’re experiencing and give you some tools to work through them quickly. You can print off the image or save it to your phone for easy reference.
Please remember to seek support if you’re noticing the same emotions coming up over and over again, either from a network group or a professional counsellor or therapist. Extra support is often needed and helpful when you’re finding yourself stuck or suffering.
What other emotions would you like us to cover? Please let us know in our comments!
Resilience is something that we all need to survive and thrive. There are times when we’ll feel stronger and moments when we’ll be brought to our knees, but what’s most important is that we’re able to work through challenges and regain strength. When you’re a caregiver, your resilience will be tested. Here are some tips from the American Psychology Association to help you build resilience.
Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.