A Year of Caregiver Hugs, Hygge & Happiness!


Our wishes every year are for caregivers to find the balance they feel they may need in caring for their loved one and caring for themselves.

This year we’re sending caregivers more hugs (eight hugs a day have proven to be neuroprotective), more hygge (the trend of 2017 continues with caregiver coziness tips) and more happiness (scientific studies have shown that people who are the healthiest and live longer have quality-time based relationships.)

It’s nice to know that caregiver health is not all about good nutrition and exercise (although they are still important!). Instead, there are simple but impactful avenues to achieve caregiver self-care and we’ll be blogging about this all year.

Read more:

You can also read these articles from our CEO Sherri Snelling:

Why Laughter is Crucial for Caregivers  (originally published on PBS Next Avenue)

Caregiving Is A Small World After All (originally published on Huffington Post)

Watch more:

You can also watch our Me Time Monday video for more tips on finding caregiver happiness and avoiding caregiver burn-out:


TV Icon Norman Lear on Longevity, Laughter & Love for America

Norman.tifAs the TV industry honored itself tonight with the annual Emmy Awards (normally we get excited by these events but woefully tonight was a yawn), we offer something far more entertaining: our CEO Sherri Snelling’s interview with TV icon Norman Lear.

At age 94, Lear is the definition of aging well – which is why we showcase him as part of September’s Healthy Aging Month.

Sherri’s interview with Lear is insightful as he believes laughter is essential to living longer. And, in an era when patriotism is being attacked daily, Lear talks about his love for America and why we all have an obligation to uphold the principles and promise of the Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. For you history buffs, Lear owned one of the few Dunlop broadsides – an original copy of the Declaration of Independence — and toured it around the United States over a dozen years ago so that U.S. citizens, especially younger generations, could see “America’s birth certificate” firsthand.  Now that’s putting on a show!

Along those patriotic lines – we give it a caregiving spin — check out below Sherri’s recommendation for the Caregiver Bill of Rights.

Click here to read Sherri’s interview with Norman Lear for PBS Next Avenue:

Norman Lear – Longevity, Laughter, Love of America

Click here to read Sherri’s article on the Caregiver Bill of Rights for Huffington Post:

Let the Caregiving Movement Begin with the Caregiver Bill of Rights

Norman Lear on Longevity, Laughter and Love for America

Recently I interviewed Norman Lear for PBS Next Avenue. The 92-year-old TV producing icon remains sharp – both in wit and wisdom. For September Healthy Aging Month, I share his prescription for a long, happy life that includes tips which many caregivers may find helpful while navigating their caregiver journey.

Read the full PBS interview here: Norman Lear – Longevity, Laughter, Love of America

Norman Lear sandwiched between Sherri Snelling (left) and Alex Witt (right) of MSNBC

Norman Lear sandwiched between Sherri Snelling (left) and Alex Witt (right) of MSNBC

©2015 Sherri Snelling


PBS Next Avenue Articles

PBS Next Avenue together

Following are all of Sherri’s articles for PBS Next Avenue:

17 Essential Books for Caregivers

90-Year-Old Billionaire David Murdock Doles Out Advice

Alzheimer’s App Uses Singing to Boost Mood

Alzheimer’s Epidemic Hits Women Hardest

Are You a Caregiver or Just a Good Child? (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)

Can caregiver guilt be good for you?

Caregiver Tipping Points

Caregivers of 9/11 – Cancer and PTSD New Challenges for Survivors

Caring for Her Blind Husband Challenged Her Marriage

Casey Kasem’s Legacy for Caregivers

Dark Side of Caregiving – Elder Abuse News

Difference in Caring for Moms versus Dads

The Emmy Awards We’d Give – TV’s Best Caregivers (2012)

The Emmys We’d Award – TV’s Best Caregivers (2013)

Employers must do more to support working caregivers

Finding Affordable Home Care for Your Parents (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)

First U.S. Dementia Village

For Caregivers, New Tracking Technology Offers Peace of Mind

Fran Drescher on cancer and 3 tips for caregivers (PBS 2015)

Glen Campbell’s Farewell Tour

Healing Power of Pet Therapy

Help Your Parents Join the Aging in Place Revolution (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)

Holly Robinson Peete’s Most Challenging Role – Sandwich Generation Caregiver

How Online Volunteers Support Caregivers

How Strong is Your Living Will? (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)

How to Avoid the Goldilocks Syndrome

How to Care for Your Parent Without Losing Your Job (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)

How You Can Combat the Senior Hunger Crisis

Joan Lunden on challenges of guilt and caregiving

Kimberly Williams Paisley Chronicles Her Mother’s Dementia

Latest report shows rise in male caregivers

Meet the Hall of Fame Caregiver Who Changed the NFL

Moving Together to Prevent the Risk of Falls

New Report Highlights Stress of Long Distance Caregiving

Norman Lear – Longevity, Laughter, Love of America

The Osmond Family’s Greatest Act – Winning the Daily Battle Against MS

Patient Navigators – New Help for Caregivers

PBS Powerful Expose on Assisted Living (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)

Rise of Men as Caregivers

Robots vs. the Real Thing in Pet Therapy

Rosalynn Carter – A Pioneering Caregiving Advocate Says More Must be Done

Seth Rogen Getting Millennials to Care About Alzheimer’s

The Sibling Caregiver

Social Media Dangers for the Modern Caregiver

Suze Orman’s Lessons Learned on Long Term Care for Her Mom

Tax Rules for Caregivers

A Victory for Alzheimer’s Patients and Caregivers (Sherri Snelling quoted in article)

The Village Movement – Redefining Aging in Place

Virtual Reality Is A Caregiver’s Empathy Machine

Waltons reboot – multigenerational living is back!

Want to Live Longer?

What Lies Ahead for the Nation’s Caregivers?

What Parents of Wounded Veterans Need

What We Can Learn from Brittany Maynard’s Death

What’s Next in Caregiver Technology

What’s Your Caregiving IQ?

When the Old Care for Their Children

When Parents Face Driving Retirement – Alternative Senior Transportation

Why Caregivers Need to Plan for the Worst – Emergency Preparedness

Why Laughter is Crucial for Caregivers

Why You Need to Make Your End-of-Life Wishes Known

Why and When Denial is Good for Caregivers

Your Real Age – 8 Tips to Help Caregivers Find Their Inner Child

I recently celebrated my birthday and it got me to thinking about our “real age.”  Whenever I meet a friend for coffee the conversation now turns to our latest health issue (we are at that age) – hurt knees from running, migraines from changing hormones, sun spots on our face, wrinkles on our foreheads, and intestinal rumblings from last night’s Mexican food.  And, when the bill comes, we all hold the check back about 12 inches so we can read it (always forgetting the reading glasses which are now common among my friends).  However, we marvel at how we don’t see ourselves as our real age – and as friends we even comfort each other that we certainly don’t look our real age either.

As we grow older and start to care for aging parents, what is our risk as caregivers for being “older” than our real age because we often neglect our own health and wellness needs?

Real Age Calculator

If you want to take the scary leap with me (make sure you put your knee brace on first) – there is an online calculator developed by the now well-known authors of You – The Owner’s Manual  books, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen.  It is called the Real Age Test and it takes about 15 minutes to complete the online questionnaire.  Be prepared – it will ask you about your cholesterol levels, blood pressure reading, eating habits, fitness routine, sleep patterns, etc.

What you get is an estimated “age” based on your health and wellness answers as well as tips on how to improve your age score (meaning scoring younger than you really are) in the various areas.

Advice to Caregivers – Don’t Act Your Age

What struck me as I took the test was that so much of what is truly good for our bodies, our minds and our souls are things most of us did when we were kids.  When I recently interviewed Joan Lunden, who cares for her 93-year-old mother, she told me that she tries to find her “inner child” when I asked her how she finds her “Me Time.”

While all childhoods are not alike, here are my 8 Tips to Caregivers on how to tap into the kid you once were and embrace that youthful, carefree time once again that will improve your health and wellness:

1. Naptime:  Health experts say we should get 7-8 hours per night. A study showed that sleeping too little or at odd hours can increase your risk for diabetes and obesity because lack of sleep messes up your insulin levels and slows your metabolism.  In one study, getting only 5.5 hours of sleep a night translated into 12 extra pounds a year.  Remember taking naps as a kid and going to bed at 9pm?  Try to plan your naps and bedtime as if you were nine-years-old again.

2. Bath time:  Remember how we used to hate taking baths as a kid?  Well, as a stressed out adult caregiver, baths are a luxurious dream for which you typically don’t have time.  Baths – especially those taken with Epsom salts and fragrant oil like lavender – help reduce stress, improve circulation and aid relaxation.  A study done in Japan showed that the stress relief from baths helps you fight colds through vascular and lymph system stimulation which encourages bacteria-destroying properties in the immune system.   Take 10 minutes for a bath at least three times a week and don’t forget the rubber ducky.

3. Playtime:  It sounds silly but playtime can actually help caregivers avoid the burn-out they so often face.  While escaping to summer camp may not be feasible, riding your bike, finding a local summer fair to ride the carousel or roller coaster, or jumping into your backyard or local community pool (doing your best cannonball!) can give you the mental health break you need.  Find a few minutes every day or at least once a week to “play.”

4. Outdoor Fun and Sun:  10 minutes of sunshine a day is enough to boost your natural levels of Vitamin D (which promotes calcium absorption needed for strong bones) that have been proven to aid prevention of health risks such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, allergies and osteoporosis.  In addition, sunshine boosts your mental health – brain functionality and optimism all improve with increased levels of Vitamin D.  In fact, one study in the Journal of Finance found that stocks traded on sunny days were more profitable than those on cloudy days.

5. Seashells by the seashore:  One of my favorite childhood memories is collecting seashells along the beach with my mom and brother.  We would walk for what seemed like miles to find special colors and shapes.  Since heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, walking 30 minutes every day gives you the cardiovascular exercise you need to keep your heart healthy according to the American Heart Association.  If you don’t live near the beach, find a hiking trail or just take a brisk stroll through the neighborhood.

6. Daydream:   Remember lying on your back and looking up into the clouds deciding which shapes you could find?  A lion, a car, or even hearts?  If you can find a patch of ground – whether it is your backyard or your neighborhood park, take a few minutes each week to just lie on your back and watch the clouds scroll by (or forget the clouds and just lie on your back in your living room – no TV, no music, no external disturbances allowed).  It is a variation of meditation that ensures you have the mental stamina to keep going as a caregiver.

7. Laugh:  Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  Being a caregiver is nothing to laugh about – it can take a toll on you that is physical, emotional and financial.  But finding the funny bone in caregiving can get you through the day.   My mom told me that when she was caring for my grandma after a stroke, they both slipped as she was transferring her from wheelchair to bed.  Rather than be sad or upset, they both sat on the floor laughing at the absurdity of the situation. One study showed that laughing is a mini workout – it burns calories, increases your heart rate and sends more oxygen to your tissues. Maybe laughter is the best medicine.

8. Hold hands:  Remember the first time you held hands with someone you liked?  Your heart beat faster, your oxytocin levels (“cuddling hormone”) surged and a warm feeling of happiness came over your whole body.  The National Alliance for Caregiving found that most caregivers feel all alone and 10 percent of caregivers who reported a decline in their health had turned to alcohol or prescription drugs to cope with their stress.  Hand-holding can be the prescription caregivers need.  A University of Virginia study showed that wives who held the hands of their spouse or a friend reduced their stress levels.  Reach out physically to a friend or family member or virtually such as through the help of the online site Lotsa Helping Hands that can connect your volunteer community to get you the break to do all the things above.

Becoming a caregiver is a huge responsibility but taking the time to embrace your inner child will help you find the balance you need between caring for yourself and caring for your loved one.