Tag Archives: caregivers

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Yoga and Meditation Can Be a Boon to Seniors and Their Caregivers

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Yoga and Meditation Can Be a Boon to Seniors and Their Caregivers

By Harry Cline :newcaregiver.org

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Yoga and meditation offer a number of important benefits to seniors and those in a caregiving role.  Bending and stretching are good for our minds and bodies at any age.  Our physical and mental wellness can be improved with some basic exercises, helping us to better flex and focus.    

 

 

Older, Wiser, And Stronger

Many people apply the phrase “use it or lose it” to aging bodies and minds, but it’s often done so tongue-in-cheek.  However, as Psychology Today points out, physical activity is especially important as we grow older, and it’s not just our bodies that benefit.  In fact, 70-year-olds who exercise an average of 200 minutes per week can maintain or even improve their brain function.  Their brains actually start growing, effectively reversing the aging process, when their sedentary peers are experiencing brain shrinkage.

Yoga and deep breathing exercises offer special benefits, helping to reduce stress hormones.  Participating in any form of yoga program can help improve flexibility, strength and balance, which is important to seniors since falling becomes a higher risk if those aspects wane with age. 

Pretzels, Floors And Handstands

Yoga can be intimidating to many seniors.  Creeping around on the floor, bending into impossible positions and throwing your legs over your head might sound like a great way to end up in the emergency room, or at least laid up in bed for a week.  It’s important to keep in mind you don’t need to participate in an extreme program to reap the benefits of yoga.  You don’t even need to go to a gym, since there are in-home exercises for seniors using technology such as YouTube exercise videos, fitness apps and Wii games. 

There are gentle yoga classes designed for people who are new to yoga and chair yoga is a smart option for those with limited mobility or who just want a set of exercises they can perform anywhere.  In addition to being able to participate in any location, many chair yoga poses are simple.  You just need a sturdy chair and comfortable clothing.  For gentle yoga, Sixty & Me suggests getting started with an instructor or watching some instructional videos.  Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and keep a floor mat handy for a soft exercise surface.

Feeling, Sensing And Thinking

Practicing yoga involves meditation.  Meditation involves mindfulness, which is basically being in the moment and aware of the sensations you are experiences.  You can improve your sleep habits by focusing on what you are feeling and by doing deep breathing exercises.  Being more aware of messages from your body can help you better cope with pain and avoid overeating.  Meditation can improve your patience, focus and self-esteem.  Mayo Clinic explains meditation can help manage symptoms associated with many chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and asthma. 

For those who are under a great deal of stress such as in the role of caregiver, mindfulness is a particularly useful stress relief tool.  To get started, contrary to what many believe, you don’t have to have silence.  Some people find it helpful to listen to environmental sounds or soft, soothing music.  Soaking in a bath can also be helpful, offering gentle sensation to contemplate.  Avoid being judgmental about what you are feeling and thinking, and allow yourself to sense and focus.  Awareness of your breathing and the associated sensations can help ease you into a mindful state, and it’s a technique you can use in any circumstances. 

Growing older doesn’t have to mean loss of ability.  With some simple techniques, you can enjoy the many perks of participating in yoga and meditation, enhancing your physical and mental wellness.  Improved health of the mind and body can mean better quality of life for seniors and their caregivers. 


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Caregivers, Don’t Neglect Your Own Needs

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Caregivers, Don’t Neglect Your Own Needs

Posted by: Harry Cline – 6/9/18

Caregivers, Don’t Neglect Your Own NeedsYou can’t take care of others if you aren’t in good condition yourself. That’s why your well-being  — both mental and physical — is so important for you and everyone else in your life, including the elderly that you look after. Your demanding schedule may not allow a lot of free time, but there are a few things you can pencil in to help you achieve a peaceful state of mind and body and be your best at work and at home.

 

A Good Workout

That alarm already goes off too early, and you’re not sure if you want to rob anymore precious sleep from your tired body. But you can, and you should. You already know that exercise burns calories and keeps you trim, but you may not be aware of the other benefits of a brief jog in the morning or a session of aerobics.

A good workout gives you an immediate mood boost thanks to the release of “happy chemicals” in your brain called dopamine, and there are long-term effects as well. Subjecting yourself to low-level physical stress by raising your pulse and breath rate on a regular basis will make other events in your life easier to handle, a sure way to relieve anxiety. And you can always do it in the evening if that suits you.

 

A Healthy Diet

And that brings us to what you’re putting in your body on a daily basis. Nutritious meals are imperative for staying on your feet at work, and you should be extra attentive to what you eat if you’re adding exercise to the mix. There are a number of diets on the market being sold as a panacea, but don’t believe the hype and stick to the basics.

One thing you definitely need is plenty of vegetables. You can’t live happily without them as they have a positive effect on your mental state as well the physical side of things. Although restaurants are a nice treat every now and again, you should try to avoid eating out when possible. When you eat out you can’t easily control what goes in the dish you’re ordering, and cooks go a bit heavy on the butter and salt.

 

A Little Meditation

As busy as your life is, it may seem a bit silly to settle down in the lotus position and think about nothing, but it’s worth it. “A vast literature of controlled studies has found that mindfulness meditation is related to improved mental health across a variety of disorders,” says Mindful, a website devoted to mental well-being and those disorders include anxiety and depression.

You’ll also get a better night’s rest, which means waking up more refreshed to tackle the day’s duties. While it may not put you down immediately, it does clear your head and shut off distractions so that you sleep deeply and don’t wake up in the middle of the night tossing and turning.

 

A Soothing Massage

A little indulgent, yes, but pleasure is a part of life, and this is a little treat that will do wonders for your well-being besides just helping you relax. There’s research behind the benefits of a good rub down, according to Science Daily. In the short term, you’ll experience less tightness in the muscles, better blood flow, along with reduced stress and anxiety.

The effects are cumulative, and just one session a month is sufficient for someone who isn’t suffering from any serious physical injuries and just needs to unwind. Sounds like quite a deal.

 

A Helping Hand

It may seem counterintuitive to ask for help as you’re normally the helper. However, taking a few chores out of the routine would give you an extra few hours to make some of those little life changes that you’ve been reading about. Hiring a house cleaner to come in once month would free up some space in the schedule, as would calling a dog walker to take your four-legged friend for a walk around the block.

Take a few deep breaths before you plunge into rearranging your lifestyle. Starting all at once is stressful in itself, so make one small change at a time. Perhaps today is the day to start eating more vegetables? A nice salad would be just perfect.

 

 

About the Author

Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.