Comforting Touch: Tools for caregivers


 Recently our Caregivers enjoyed learning some gentle massage techniques for the hands and face, as a way to provide extra comfort to care partners. As they worked in pairs people commented, ‘This feels so relaxing’.

Often, when the routines of conversation change and a loved one is less able to engage freely in chatting, touch becomes even more important.  Massage can be very soothing when someone has difficulty sleeping, or when they become anxious throughout the day. Touching their hands can be a simple yet meaningful way to connect, and slow life down a little.

Restoration        Connection          Calm

I’d like to share an excerpt from Josie’s piece on Comforting Touch, found in our July/August newsletter.

Massage has long been used to reduce the pain of sore muscles and joints and to improve circulation to the affected area. It’s also been found to help conditions such as headaches, anxiety and insomnia.

On Monday, June 2, Registered Reflexologist Shirley Gibbins led our Comforting Touch session. She demonstrated a range of gentle hand and facial massage techniques that can be used to create comfort and relaxation.

Caregivers who attended the session had the opportunity to practice the on each other. Adding to the positive sensory experience was the lotion that caregivers applied to their partners’ hands. Scented with just a hint of lavender, it helped make the massage smooth and seemed to generate a comfortable warmth.   -JP

In our Caregiver Library we have a book called Healing Massage by Daphne Roubini, which is a great resource for practicing your massage techniques.  Karyn also suggests that caregivers book themselves in for a massage, to release tension often held in the body while providing emotional and physical care to others.





Taking a mini holiday

IMG_20140717_135546   A sunny day on Bowen Island!

Our caregivers took a Mini Holiday recently, a chance for them to relax, unwind and enjoy good company while taking a break from the usual demands of caregiving.  Participants arrived at the B&B to be welcomed into the vibrant setting of a historic house with a gorgeous garden. We enjoyed a sharing circle where people were encouraged to hear what inspires others on their journeys, and we feasted on a delicious lunch prepared by Chef Dan. After lunch we had fun doing some creative arts with painting and poetry.

Caregivers’ comments from the day:

“It gives us strength to carry on, empowering eachother”  

“I felt so relaxed. It was just what I needed!”

When you provide ongoing emotional or practical support to someone, your energy can become drained. Whether you take a day trip someplace peaceful, or find respite care for your loved one and spend a restful day or two at home, taking a few hours’ break is often very rejuvenating. A little time away from being conscious of others’ needs can help you re-connect with how you’re feeling, and allow you to do something you find life-giving.  It can also be wonderful to book a night away with a good friend that you can laugh with, share an unhurried meal, and find the space to simply breathe.

What kind of mini holiday would you like to take?  


A Guide to the Caregivers Library

What? The Caregivers Library at North Shore Community Resources

Where? Capilano Mall, (2nd floor), 201-935 Marine Drive, North Vancouver

When? Hours: 9:00 am-4:30 pm Mon-Fri

How?  If you are a registered member of the program, you simply sign out materials at the Front Desk.  Most materials on loan for up to a month.

How much? It’s FREE!

Why? Great books, DVDs, CDs and articles.

How many? Close to 170 items.

What kind? Topics: Aging; Supporting a Parent; Caregiving Experiences; Relaxation CDs; DVDs; Encouragement and Inspiration; Grief and Loss; Self-Care; Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias; Helping Dynamics; End of Life Care; Plus booklets on many different seniors issues such as substance abuse; Resource Guides.

Languages Available: English (check out materials and see if they are available in other languages eg at Public Library or Amazon et cet)

Large Print? No, not currently.

Stay tuned… Tour of Health and Wellness section of West Vancouver Public Library. Great selection, restful atmosphere…

Happy viewing, reading, and listening!

Calm Pond

Therapy by any name

MH900445114Retail therapy – it’s a term often used in a tongue-in-cheek way to refer to the fun of shopping. While it’s true that buying something new can lift your spirits, it may not be therapeutic for the budget. Also the thrill of something new can fade surprisingly quickly, so in the end, shopping as a form of therapy may not be especially helpful.

But the experience of getting out into the community, whether it’s to a shopping mall or a local market, can be a pleasant excursion for someone unable to get out on their own. It’s not about spending; it’s about seeing a whole range of people, experiencing the seasons and see new things – whether it’s the latest shoe design or fresh in-season fruit. Stop for a coffee break or for lunch; browse through a favourite store or just stroll along the street. It’s a chance to get out and be part of everyday life.




What does green feel like?

Recently I came across this video in which Blind Film Critic Tommy Edison, who has been blind all his life, asked people to describe colours to him. I was impressed with what people came up with:

Describing something visual in non-visual terms takes thought and creativity. As caregivers, we are often caught up with the business of life and we forget to pause and think in abstract terms.

Brief moments of reflection can be a way to become more aware of your senses and provide a momentary break from your busy day.

– Josie

Finding balance and serenity

Balance and calm picture

From our guest blogger, Alicia Kent. She taught our caregivers how to use self-acupressure for relieving feelings of grief, loss, stress and physical pain. Thank you Alicia for being so kind and thorough!

For so long, we humans have been for the most part taught to not feel.

All this “not feeling” creates so much “armouring” or “blocking” in our bodies that many times we can’t feel anything at all.

I remember during my time of 30 years working as a hospital employee and after a critical incident where I experienced PTSD…..and wondering why, after all the years of working was this happening now? I’ll always remember the advice I received from a councillor… “Alicia,” she said….”you have an opportunity to feel so grateful that you still feel after all the trauma of all these years working in a hospital.”

Yes! It is normal to feel!! And to express these powerful feelings. If we can’t feel our sadness…we won’t be able to feel our gladness!

So, you might be asking…”What happens when we repress these feelings?”….especially for many years, as so many of us have.

The answer is that we become so armoured we can’t feel at all. We crave and seek more and more sensation to try and feel….

some turn to drugs, sex, alcohol, and chaos…just to feel.

When we are armoured it creates energetic blockages in our bodies…..which eventually leads to not only discomfort, but many times to dysfunction and eventually in many cases disease

What if there was a way to assist one to release this armouring from the body…allowing you to access all that blocked energy?

The newer field of Bodymind work does exactly that.

The modality I have found so powerful, Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® blends the ancient discipline of Acupressure with modern Bodymind processing.

Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® releases both mental & physical stress and tension, and since it stimulates the production of endorphins,it induces a pleasurable state of Peace and Relaxation as well.

Balance, serenity and peace are found in working with Body, Mind and Spirit.

For more information on my work with Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® please go to

-Alicia Kent

Summer Events Calendar!! July Edition

This summer there are no excuses to not go out and enjoy the weather! With our Out and About calendar there’s almost something to do every day this summer. Whether it’s enjoying one of the many concert series scattered across the North Shore or letting out your inner child at a craft fair; so get out and enjoy the sun! – Bryce Letham

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