Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Three ideas for caregivers this winter

Sometimes, being a caregiver can take its toll. At times you may find yourself running out of ideas, but don't let that get you down. Here are some tips and tidbits that can help you as a caregiver stay in the loop. You might just be inspired, too!

Lighten your mood
In winter, it's not unusual to miss summer days and sunlit rooms. But for some, winter and fall depression can be debilitating. Why? Because the lack of sunlight during cold months can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Physical limitations and living in isolated environments can cause seniors to be especially vulnerable to this seasonal form of depression.

SAD happens because the body’s internal clock is disrupted. Symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, low energy, and apathy. Plus, reduced sunlight can result in less serotonin, a chemical in the brain that modifies mood. 

Do you know someone suffering from the winter blues? Is it severe enough to be seasonal affective disorder? A visit with a doctor or other medical professional is necessary to diagnose a patient with SAD. Treatments such as imitating outdoor light through light boxes (also know as light therapy boxes or phototherapy boxes) are often used to ease symptoms of SAD. Bright light can create a chemical shift in the brain, alleviating a sufferer’s mood. In some cases, an artificial light source is combined with antidepressants or counseling.

Memory Cafe provides a meeting place
A monthly program called Memory Café is a chance for individuals with dementia to share time with others and gives care partners an opportunity to relax and socialize with other caregivers. Each meeting has a theme, and participants can discuss traditions and memories or bring in objects to share with the group.

Memory Café was started by U of L School of Nursing Caregivers Program and the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana. “Part of the reality for both a person living with dementia and their care partner is the struggle to maintain the facade of normalcy that is expected in society,” says Bari Lewis, Alzheimer's Association chapter director. “In a safe, social atmosphere designed to engage both parties, no one needs to worry about forgetting a train of thought or missing a social cue because everyone in that room has been there.” Memory Café is not a place for embarrassment or uneasiness, she says. “It is just a time to relax and enjoy each other and even develop new friendships.”

Memory Café

When: The last Monday of each month at 2 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.
Where: The Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Alzheimer’s Association, 6100 Dutchmans Lane, Suite 401, Louisville, Ky.

Tune in to worship

Does your loved one miss going to church? Try these television broadcasts.
EWTN: Global Catholic Network
Services are broadcast at 8 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m. every day on Time Warner channel 275. Also available online.
ION: Channel 183
Time Warner channel 183 has religious programming from 9 a.m. - noon, Sunday through Friday.
Southeast Christian Church
Services are broadcast on Sundays at 10 a.m. on WAVE 3, channel 3. Also available online.

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