3 Book Recommendations for Caregivers


Reading a good book can feel (almost) as good as a warm hug from someone you love. It can make you feel understood and comforted. It can give you ideas for how to tackle life’s challenges and empower you when you’re feeling down. A good book can make you laugh out loud and catch your tears.

For caregivers, reading a good book might be just what you need to help you wind down after a long day, or to fill some time while waiting for your loved one at doctor’s appointments. Not sure what to pick up? Read on for three suggestions.

THE DWINDLING: A DAUGHTER’S CAREGIVING JOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF LIFE, BY JANET DUNNETT | The Dwindling chronicles a ten-year caregiving journey of twin sisters Janet and Judi with their parents, Betty and Fred. This is a read filled with hope, laughter and bravery. PS – Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Janet Dunnett on the blog!

BURNOUT: THE COST OF CARING, BY CHRISTINA MASLACH | If you are a caregiver, you are at risk of burnout. Even if you feel that you are coping well, this is a must-read for anyone caring for a loved one. This book is filled with tips, symptoms, and strategies for preventing and recovering from burnout.

CAREGIVING: THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF LOVE, LOSS, AND RENEWAL, BY BETH WITROGEN MCLEOD |This book is helpful for anyone at the beginning of their caregiving journey, to get an overview of what they might expect and to learn tips for how to navigate the health care system and get support. For caregivers who have been on their journey for quite some time, this read can help with filling in the gaps they might be struggling with.

What books have helped you on your caregiving journey? We’d love to hear from you!


Cassandra Van Dyck



Review of Mindfulness Magazines

Here are some magazines on mindfulness available by subscription or on newsstands:

‘Mindful’ magazine:

-this is a U.S. magazine, good for resources such as books, websites, meditation retreats or information about  certification programs

-great articles on psychological issues such as: stress, anxiety, loneliness or grief

-regular tips on how to meditate

-but–is U.S.-focused magazine, meditation retreats and mindfulness events are all located in U.S.

‘Mindfulness : The New Science of Health and Happiness’:

This magazine is put out by Time, it came out this year, is available until August at newsstands, others may follow

-great informative articles on basic mindfulness skills such as meditation, mindful  eating, yoga, and how to set an intention

-great mindfulness digital resources such as a review of meditation apps you can download to your smartphone for a small fee

-overall, great mindfulness resource for those who are just starting out on their journey to mindfulness

These magazines, besides their obvious benefit in providing useful information, can also have a calming effect as the information and topics covered are mostly positive and soothing, so in a sense, just reading about mindfulness can be relaxing in itself, I used this on my last plane trip.

Happy reading!

Calm Pond

The North Van Caregivers Blog: A Year in Review


As we begin the new year, we’d like to say thank you to all the guest writers who contributed to our blog this year. These people are talented, local professionals, experts, and individuals who gave their time and knowledge to our caregiver community.

Thank you to:

We’d also like to thank our committed volunteer, Calm Pond, for the numerous posts she has contributed to our blog over the years. Her post, 9 Symptoms of Burnout, was our most viewed and liked post of the year!

Finally, a special thanks to you–our readers–for your comments, your feedback, and your dedication to our community in 2016



Recommended Article: When MS Means Mighty Stubborn by Cheryl Ellis, Caregiver.com


Karyn recommends the article, “When MS Means Mighty Stubborn” by Cheryl Ellis on Caregiver.com. If you have struggled with your loved-one’s desire to remain independent and your desire to maintain their health through preventive measures, this article will be of interest.

“Both caregiver and patient have heard the phrase ‘you are not MS’ repeatedly. An unfortunate truth is that while the individual is not the disease, the disease affects their body and often rights of choice,” writes Cheryl Ellis. “Caregivers have been given custody of their loved one’s trust in addition to handling various affairs, but the original relationship between the MS patient and the caregiver remains. Remembering that relationship and putting it first, both verbally and by action, can offer an independence for caregiver and loved one.”

While the article specifically addresses the relationship between someone who has MS and their caregiving loved-one, the article offers communication tips to negotiate the tasks that a carepartner and caregiver does.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section.


Guest Post: Decision Making With More Ease by Cheryl Brewster of The Intuitive Life

As a caregiver, are you feeling weighed down with guilt, frustration or worry? How do you navigate change with more confidence? How can you make decisions with more ease?
The answer? More mindfulness.

 Mindfulness is the ability to notice what’s happening in your head so you can make better decisions. It frees you from past conditioning, fuzzy thinking, overwhelm and unconscious patterns that keep you in fatigue rather than energy with clarity.
Mindfulness is a hugely important ability to foster and has gained massive respect around the world and particularly, in business.  Over 22% of major business organizations in the US include some sort of mindfulness training in their human resource offerings to staff. It reduces stress, promotes clear thinking and focus, and improves health and well-being.  As a caregiver making critical decisions for your loved one, mindfulness is no longer an option… it’s a necessity.

Here’s a quick outline of how Mindfulness can help with the decision making process: Aware, Breathe, Connect.
1. Aware – Be the observer.
What’s happening to you as you consider the decision you need to make?
Watch yourself.
What are you thinking, feeling, sensing?
Notice your body sensations.

Developing the habit of observing yourself can pop you out of the unconscious knee-jerk reactions that occur, especially when you feel worried about someone in your care.

2. Breathe for “one mindful minute”
It sounds too good to be true, but one “mindful minute” can save the day, let alone your sanity. Once you’ve established yourself in observer mode, stay there for one minute… don’t try to figure anything out…just be present in watching yourself. Allow the mind to settle into the breath, not carried away by thoughts, sensations or emotions, just focused on even, regular breaths. Breathing for just one minute helps you find your centre again.  From here, knee-jerk reactions or emotions can be identified and set aside. Mindful breathing unhooks you from the flight/fright/freeze that is the natural consequence when feeling uncertain or threatened.


3. Connect – by asking yourself what is the next right thing?
The clarity you will receive from this very short process is astounding. It creates a laser-like beacon for you to follow. You can only ever do one thing at a time so mindfulness reminds you of the choice and power you have to do that one right thing.

This does take courage. Why? Because this process promotes change. And sometimes (or should I say often), we don’t want to change! But when change has the capacity to instantly take us out of worry, frustration, fear or guilt and back to peace and confidence, then we need to ask ourselves…

What price am I willing to pay to return to peace?
Often times, most times, it’s simply the decision to let go of things needing to be so painful or so hard. As caregivers, overwhelm can become a habit so we must remain diligent in letting things be easier.
If you’d like to learn more about Mindfulness to create more ease in the decision making process, then be sure to attend the workshop on October 26, 2016 with Cheryl Brewster of The Intuitive Life, to inspire and guide you into decision making with more ease.


Caregiving in the U.S: Millennials

photo-1429080542360-e39b1a6c57c2.jpgI am following up on a previous post on caregiving in other countries:

In the U.S, 10 million members of the millennial generation (ages 18 to 34) are caring for adult family members. 25% of U.S caregivers fall into that range, according to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Bulletin.   These young people often don’t have much experience with serious illness. Some are long-distance caregivers with new careers, feeling guilty when they can’t visit family members.

Many support groups available to caregivers aren’t focused on this age range.

Caregiver Hannah Roberts, 28, cares for her mother who is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She’s taken a year’s leave from medical school, and moved into her parent’s home in a Boston suburb.  She drives her mother to medical appointments.

Many young caregivers feel that caregiving is “a way of giving back for them bringing you into this world.”

This completes my focus on Caregiving in the U.S.

Calm Pond

Online Caregiver Support Groups & Forums


Time, location, and overwhelming responsibility can all be cause for missing out on caregiver supports. If you struggle to make our regular Network Meetings or Walk & Talk sessions, you may be feeling the need for support but unsure of how to access it.

Here is a list of 7 online support groups and forums for caregivers: 

  1. I Care for Someone: CanadianVirtualHospice.ca offers several discussion forums, including one for caregivers and one on grief. Each forum is easily accessible and recent comments show a response time of several days and more.
  2. Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories: This online gathering place offers a place for caregivers of people with Alzheimer`s Disease to connect.
  3. COPD International: If you are caring for someone with COPD, the online community includes a chat room and a message board to share your experiences of caregiving.
  4. Cancer Chat: The De Souza Institute offers online support groups for caregivers of people with any cancer diagnosis or prognosis at set times and dates for those who can schedule the time but have trouble getting away. (The next session begins on October 6th, 2016.)
  5. Caregiver Support Group: This online forum for support groups has an extensive member list and a response time of a few days.
  6. Caregiver-Online Support Group: An unmoderated email group for caregivers from the Family Caregiver Alliance (US). Share your stresses, concerns, and feelings about caregiving with others by sending and receiving email.
  7. LGBTQ Community Support Group: Also hosted by the Family Caregiver Alliance, this unmoderated support group offers a place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender caregivers of adults with chronic health problems to discuss the unique issues of caring for their loved ones over email.

Did I miss any that you use? Please share it with us in a comment.


An Awesome Article on Medical Alert Devices

photo-1455758190477-ac7265bc8139If your loved one is requiring a medical alert devices, this awesome article will be of use, particularly if they are resisting the process. Susie Slack of Today’s Caregiver provides some helpful advice on the topic of discussing medical alert devices with your parent, though the information can apply to anyone you are caring for. As Susie describes, “Falls are the leading cause of injuries, including fatal ones, for people in the 65-and-above age group.”

She also points out how medical alert devices have been around for 30 years. Nowadays, technology has evolved when it comes to medical alert devices. You can now get devices that look like jewellery or pedometers!

Did this article help you? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section.


North Shore Health Matters

Health Matters Series Poster (September-November)-page-001On the North Shore, clinics are currently overloaded with patients, making it difficult for most people to get quality time with their doctors and learn more about their health conditions. Recognizing this issue, the West Vancouver Memorial Library—along with North Vancouver City Library, North Vancouver District Library, Vancouver Coastal Health, Liberation Fitness and Lions Gate Cardiac Rehab—have developed a partnership in order to provide community members with more access to health experts and reliable information.

With this partnership in place, the North Shore Health Matters Lecture Series was created!  This lecture series, which will be hosted across the three North Shore Libraries, includes free presentations on a variety of topics, including:

  • Mindful Eating
  • Diabetes Management
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Positive Mental Health
  • Child Development

During these health talks, participants will get the chance to speak with local doctors, dietitians, counsellors, and clinical educators, as well as learn more about the health conditions and solutions they are interested in. Also, individuals are highly encouraged to attend these sessions as a way to have informative discussions about different health issues and connect to other people who have similar challenges and interests.

No registration is required for any of these health talks!

See you there,


West Vancouver Memorial Library

Book Review: “Mental Resilience: The Power of Clarity” by Kamal Sarma

41yEOJraUwL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Author Kamal Sarma offers a 21-day mental resilience program in his book Mental Resilience: The Power of Clarity (how to develop the focus of a warrior with the peace of a monk) (New World Library, 2008). Meditation CD included.

Sarma gives the reader straightforward practice, no hype.  His audience seems to be particularly busy executives or people with very busy lives for whom stress causes all sorts of problems, such as lack of sleep, tension, or headaches.

Apparently the left prefrontal cortex has been associated with happy thoughts.  Meditation helps people develop this area of the brain, leading to greater mental well-being.  In addition, studies have shown that meditation helps slow the process of aging, particularly in the brain.  Meditation helps the individual develop equanimity, the realization that everything changes.

Sarma offers several easy ways to practice mindfulness, such as:

  • mindful eating: notice the appearance of food, tastes, textures, and sounds of eating
  • mindful showering: notice the smell of the soap or shampoo, the temperature of the water and your body
  • mindful walking: sense the feelings in your feet, notice your rhythm and posture
  • mindfulness at traffic lights: notice your breathing, be absolutely present until the light turns green

Stay tuned for a review of Richard Davidson’s The Emotional Life of Your Brain

Mindfully yours,

Calm Pond