3 ways to get a peaceful sleep

How are you sleeping? Here are some tips on getting your best sleep in the heat. Be prepared this summer!

North Van Caregivers

Care manager. Wife extraordinaire. Cook. Social coordinator. Housecleaner. Warrior husband. Any of these might describe what your caring role looks and feels like.

When you’ve been running around for most of the day, managing appointments, mealtimes, and making sure things go smoothly- by the time it’s evening, you might be tempted to just crash …. falling into bed without any wind-down time. While this is alright to do on occasion, it’s really important to create a routine that allows you to relax before going to bed. A wind-down routine signals to your mind and body that it’s time to stop doing and going- and to simply rest. And now that summer is on full blast, it can be inspiring to stay up late and watch the stars, or to get one more thing done during the long evening.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetNighttime routines help you:
Let go of the day, and release any physical tension…

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How to Stay Energized in the Heat



The lower mainland is in the midst of a heatwave, and some of you may really be feeling the heat. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures, but even if you don’t fall in to either of those categories, you might be noticing your energy levels have dipped in recent days. Drinking water is the best and fastest way to stay hydrated, but sometimes you might need a little something extra to give you energy throughout the day.

You might have seen commercials for energy drinks that encourage you to replenish your electrolytes after sweating, but do you know what electrolytes are? I will be the first to admit that I had no idea. “Potassium, sodium, and chloride are the three most important electrolytes. Other biggies include magnesium, calcium, and phosphate. These micronutrients are all salts that form ions in water and are capable of conducting electricity, meaning they actually have an electric charge,” explains Brigid Titgemeier. If you’re drinking water regularly, eating balanced meals, and getting moderate amounts of exercise, you should be getting more than enough electrolytes in your diet to stay hydrated. If, however, you experience muscle spasms, headaches, or digestive upset, you might need to supplement your water with electroytes to bring your body back in to balance.

Commercial energy drinks are full of sugar. If you’re a high-performance athlete, they might help you, but if you’re like the majority of the population, you’ll likely be better off with a healthy alternative. If you’re experiencing headaches or digestive upset in the heat, try these natural electrolyte restoring drinks. *

Please note: if symptoms persist, pay a visit to your family doctor. 


“Natural coconut water contains five key electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Coconut water is packed with potassium, more than found in one banana or 15 sport drinks,” says Sports Nutritionist, Kyle Levers. Just make sure to check your labels when purchasing coconut water in stores. You want to only read “coconut water” in the list of ingredients.


Carley Mendes wrote this recipe for laboring mamas, but it would work just as well for someone who is electrolyte depleted. Click here for the recipe.


Cassandra Van Dyck

Making Time for Self-Care


“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” – Audre Lorde

It may seem almost too obvious to even state: caring for a loved one takes a huge amount of energy, time, and resources. Your care partner’s health and well-being likely takes up much of your thoughts and might leave you wondering what happened to old friends or hobbies. Although acceptance of where you’re at is helpful for your emotional well-being, it is also important that you pursue some of those passions and stay in touch with your friends. Connecting socially and doing what lights you up is a way to practice self-care, and as we know by now, practising self-care is crucial if you wish to be able to care for your loved one long term.

Today, I offer you a challenge. First, I want you to think of one friend that always makes you feel good, and get in touch with them. Send an email, or call them up on the phone. Even if you don’t feel that you have time to meet with them in person, take 10 minutes to write to them or speak with them on the phone. Second, think of something you do that lights you up. For some it could be painting, for others it might be hiking or swimming. Look at your calendar, and make a plan to do that activity for at least an hour sometime in the next two weeks. Once you’ve planned it out – stick to it.

We’d love to hear from you once you’ve completed one or two of these challenges. What were the barriers to taking time for self-care? How did you feel after? If you regularly take time to see friends or to do the things you love, how do you make time?


The Power Of Music

Some thoughts on the power of music from the archives.

North Van Caregivers

Whether or not we actively search for and listen to songs, sing, or play an instrument, music plays a big role in our lives. It’s played at graduations, birthday parties, weddings and anniversaries. It’s in our cars, in busy downtown streets and can even be heard through other people’s headsets or through open car windows. It could be argued that it is almost impossible to live life without having music associated with memories. Some of those memories might be happy – the song that was playing when you were first kissed or the lullaby that was sang to put you to sleep when you were little. Others might be sad. A man once shared with me that he is unable to listen to Amazing Grace without crying because he had heard it at so many people’s funerals.

For those living with dementia, listening to and participating in musical activities can…

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The Sibling Relationship When Caring for Aging Parents


Witnessing a parent’s health decline is difficult as adult children come to terms with the idea that the relationship with their mother or father is changing. If you are currently caring for an aging parent, you may be experiencing this sense of anticipatory loss. Your siblings can be a source of support since they are experiencing these same emotions alongside you. However, the emotional impact of caregiving can also cause friction among your brothers and sisters. If you feel you are often in conflict with your siblings while caregiving for your aging parents, know that you are not alone.

The Caregiving Role

Caregiving for an aging parent is a multifaceted job that involves the financial, legal, physical and emotional well-being of your mother or father. You may encounter many different opinions between your siblings on what decisions need to be made, which can lead to confusion about what people will agree upon. In addition, if your siblings have questions about the estate or their inheritance, this can have place pressure on the caregiver who is managing the financial and legal affairs of the parent.

The sibling relationship is an important factor in the care of aging parents. For one, siblings need to make key decisions and communicate their  feelings and opinions in terms of their

parent’s care. Combined with the emotional process of accepting their parent’s declining health, you may observe that your brothers or sisters may be attempting to resolve long-buried feelings with the family or may be unintentionally inciting sibling rivalries by falling into old family patterns.

Family Roles and Patterns

A major complication of the sibling caregiving relationship is that childhood roles within the family re-emerge. Family members can view the adult siblings with the same labels that they acquired—perhaps unfairly—as children. Birth order and gender may also influence these sibling dynamics. For example, if you were the highly-responsible child in the family and are now handling your parent’s care, your siblings may feel that you have everything covered with your aging parent, and not know how to help. Just as you would want to be acknowledged for the person you are today, rather than how you were characterized in the past, it is necessary to acknowledge that these labels may have a damaging effect on the sibling relationship. A question to ask yourself in your communications with family members is whether your feelings or opinions are based on the present situation or are remnants of the past relationship. Be mindful that you are offering space for your siblings to contribute in the way they can.

Relationship with the Parent in Care

Your siblings have a different relationship with your parent than you do therfore they may have different needs in caring for your parent. If your sibling has resentments towards your parent that are coming up at this emotional time, resist judging them for their feelings as we all have our own individual process of letting go. It may be helpful to reframe how the siblings views the role at hand. Express your own need for assistance and ask for their support in your role as primary caregiver, if they cannot offer this to your parent.

In another common scenario, your parent may have helped resolve any disagreements among your siblings. Now with your parent unable to intervene, your siblings might need to devise new communication and conflict management strategies.


Effective communication is important to ensure trust and transparency between your brothers and sisters. Your siblings can provide helpful input in the decisions you face as the primary caregiver. Regular and consistent communication with your family members (especially those that live out of town) can alleviate tension between siblings. Some primary caregivers may send regular email updates to siblings, or make use the apps such as Tyze now available for managing the care of a loved one. Communication can also motivate people to contribute and ensures that each family member is on the same page with the care of your parent.

A family meeting can help establish new patterns and build trust with your siblings for your abilities to care for your parent. If needed, a counselor or psychologist can help facilitate your family meeting to ensure turn-taking in talking and guide the process towards a productive outcome.

Be aware that each sibling is processing the emotional situation of their parent relationship at their own speed and to the best of their abilities. You can help to create a better connection with your family by providing positive feedback when siblings help, listening intently to what your siblings say, and by clarifying issues as soon as they arise. This does not mean that you have to compromise your own feelings in the relationship; rather, you have a duty to express yourself in an honest and non-accusatory way that. If in the end, your siblings are still not responding to your efforts, it may be time to step back and recognize their limitations in caregiving. At times, you may have to take on the role without any assistance of family members. If this is your situation, reach out for the support of the caregiving community to ensure your own needs are being met.

Come by and borrow these library resources:

  • Caring for your Parents: The Complete Family Guide (Book) by Hugh Delehanty and Elinor Ginzler
  • Family Meeting: A Media-Based Approach to Planning Care for Family Elders (DVD) by Sheri Hartman and David Kleber
  • Online: Handling the Sibling Relationship (Podcast), http://archcare.ecarediary.com/CommentRadioShow.aspx?id=215


By Lindsay Kwan

*Adapted from the July/August 2016 Family Caregivers’ Grapevine

When It’s Hard to Feel Grateful


When you are in the throes of your caregiving journey and stress is at an all-time high, it can feel impossible to express or feel gratitude. A lack of sleep, nourishing food, and self-care can wreak havoc on your nervous system. You might feel like there’s a dark cloud hanging over your days that’s hard to get out from.

When someone close to your heart is struggling, it can feel very uncomfortable to give yourself permission to feel gratitude. You might think, “How can I be happy when this person I care about so much is not?” Although it’s challenging, being able to tap in to gratitude, even if it is for the smallest joys in your days, is crucial if to maintaining a sense of well-being. Gratitude allows you to be present in whatever moment you’re in. It can give you strength, and even hope.

Remember that you do not have to have a complicated gratitude practice, and that you do not have to be grateful for everything. Life is not perfect, and bad things do happen. It’s okay to be upset about them and to know that you can safely express those feelings. Feeling and expressing gratitude is not about trampling out the not so great emotions, it’s about bringing your attention to the good things that may not be so apparent when you’re struggling.

If you’re struggling to feel gratitude, start with the smallest thing possible that made even the slightest difference to your day. Here are a few ideas:

a warm mug of coffee or tea first thing in the morning

a glass of cool water when you’re on a hot day

stepping in to a hot shower 

the person who held the door for you and your loved one the other day

putting on pyjamas when they’ve just come out of the dryer

spring flowers

They are just small things, but when you start to pay attention to their occurrences, they become powerful.

Try writing down three things you’re grateful for in the morning, and three things at night before going to sleep. Continue this practice for just one week, and see what sort of difference it makes in your mood.

Please remember that if you’re continuing to struggle and feel like you can’t pull yourself out, reach out to a professional for help. The caregiving journey can be a hard one, and support can make all the difference. 


Cassandra Van Dyck