How Light Therapy Can Help Caregivers

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!

Cassandra Van Dyck


Creative Expression for People Living with Dementia: The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care


“Where rational language and factual memory have failed people with dementia, the arts offer an avenue for communication and connection with caregivers, loved ones, and the greater world.” – Anne Basting

In January of 2012, Janet Bolton was awarded the Winston Churchill Fellowship to investigate “dementia and the use of creative arts to maintain personhood. “Personhood is described as ‘a standing or status that is bestowed on one human being, by another in the context of relationship or social being.’ It is unique and almost sacred essence of the person; it is maintained, grown and restored when we treat each other with deep respect. The person living with dementia is seen to have 6 core psychological needs, the central need being to love/or be loved,” writes Bolton. The researcher’s work took her to care facilities in Australia, New Zealand and Canada to watch how different people and organizations were using creative art to support people living with dementia. Bolton saw patients use different methods to engage creatively, such as painting, laughter, and analyzing works of art. She notes the importance of this kind of engagement, and believes it can indeed support those living with dementia to maintain personhood.

The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care provides a program similar to those Bolton witnessed on her travels. “The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care is built on the premise that older adults and people living with dementia have the right to dignity, to be heard and to be valued. The Society provides an interdisciplinary forum for creative expression with older adults by bringing together academic research and practical knowledge. The Society aims to disseminate knowledge and establish links with organizations with similar values worldwide, thereby improving the quality of life of older adults, especially those living with dementia.” The organisation acts as a resource for people who support loved ones with dementia, in hopes they will provide them with access to the creative arts. The Society offers workshops and conferences to provide education, networking and collaboration.

If you wish to start providing your loved one with the tools to use artistic expression at home, take a look at Creating Art as Therapy for Alzheimer’s.

Have you accessed any art programs for your loved one living with dementia, or experienced positive effects of creative expression? We’d love to hear from you in our comments! 


Cassandra Van Dyck


Healthy Foods for a Healthy Mind


In this post I will explore the relationship between healthy eating and dementia prevention.  Certain foods can cause inflammation  and may increase the risk of dementia, and other foods are anti-inflammatory and may decrease the risk of dementia.

Here is what The Women’s Brain  Health Initiative recommends:

  • stay away from sugar, white flour products, and processed foods
  • eat leafy green vegetables, salmon and other cold-water fish, berries, extra virgin olive oil, and cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
  • eat whole grains and limit your consumption of saturated fats
  • the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is recommended.  This diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits and fat-free or low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils, and limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages and red meats.
  • the Mediterranean diet is also recommended.  This diet includes relatively little red meat and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats

For more information on dietary recommendations visit Memory Morsels

Calm Pond

Review of : 10,000 Joys 10,000 Sorrows

Recently I read Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle’s ‘ 10 000 Joys, 10 000 Sorrows : A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s’.

Her quote ‘enjoy the passing show’, meaning live fully in the present, reminds me of a recent cruise my parents took to Alaska. I thought of them sitting on their balcony, sipping cool drinks and watching the beautiful scenery.  Her other quote is ‘death behind the door’ meaning, that you should be ready for death at any moment (as we are in life, so we are in death). So as a caregiver I often think: how much longer do I have with my parents? Maybe I should make the most of this moment together.

A lot is going on in the field of Alzheimer’s. Organizations like Alzheimer’s BC promote awareness with their annual ‘Walk for Memories’ every January.  Alzheimer’s research is taking place in the new Djavad Mowafaghhian Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia.  You can visit a very user-friendly website on Alzheimer’s and related dementias at the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

I highly recommend this moving book, however, it can get quite intense at times. It is not light reading.  It would be an excellent book, for example, to read in a book club.  This would allow readers the opportunity to discuss passages they found particularly moving. As it happens, this book is available at the North Shore Community Resources Caregivers Library.

Stay tuned for a review of the book ‘Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No’ by Cloud and Townsend, also available at the Caregiver’s Library as of mid-August 2015.

Happy reading!

Calm Pond

Communication and Coping Strategies Workshop

Communication and Coping Strategies Workshop

Family caregivers often ask me “How can I stop the difficult dementia behaviors my loved one is experiencing?”  Nobody wants to see their parent or spouse acting out in the throes of anxiety or confusion.  We want to fix their problems, and in doing so ease their discomfort as well as our own.  The best question to ask is “Why are they behaving this way?”  The solution may be easier than you think, and only requires an open mind and some simple fact gathering.

On February 16th, 2015 the North Shore Caregiver Support Program hosted this workshop to inform caregivers of effective strategies to manage difficult dementia behaviors while taking care of themselves at the same time.  It was an engaging group of caregivers who openly shared communication styles and brainstormed new techniques for coping through difficult situations.  I’d like to thank program coordinator Karyn Davies for this opportunity to encourage people to care for themselves while caring for others.

Yvonne Poulin, RMT

Elder Planning Counselor, Vancouver Dementia Care Consulting

Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories 2015

Recently I walked the Alzheimer’s Walk for Memories at Stanley Park. The event was very well attended, I listened to a couple battling Alzheimer’s speak, it was a very moving experience.  The weather was unusually warm for the time of year, very mild.  I was happy to participate in the walk as my grandmother had dementia and I wanted to make a difference.  If you are interested, you can visit the Alzheimer’s BC website

Thanks for reading!

Calm Pond